We have a major & expensive mystery?

Somewhere out there we have a huge water leak and we have a big yard, there are another two areas not shown here. Normally we would know where all the water lines run and be able to find it under the house probably. But the crawl space is completely dry and nothing in or under the house appears to be the problem.

However the previous owner installed an underground sprinkler system for the whole yard, which is wonderful in the summer. But when you have a major water leak it rapidly becomes a nightmare, as we have water lines all over the front and back yards as well. We have already done the obvious, like walking the yard feeling for soft or wet patches and sticking in a metal stick intermittently. We do have a plan of where all these lines are, but we can't use any kind of detector, because it will pick up water in the lines.

After long discussions with our city maintenance man, the Hubster this morning dug up around the sprinkler cut-off valve to check it, we were praying it was the source, but sadly it's not.

So he's back on the phone now chewing it over, and I have called his bestfriend to come and give his input to. The sprinkler system has been turned off for the winter but somewhere out there it's leaking. We are sure of this because we had a small leak last winter and the moment the system was turned back on for spring, it went away and we thought problem solved.

We have to find it fast. In November we used 10,000 gallons in the month, we have just used 12,000 gallons in the past 5 days! Our January bill is $120 which we still have to pay, normally it would be under $40! Unlike in England, the water comes from the city, so there is no water company to call for help.

I know it's unlikely, but if anybody has any good ideas on how to find the leak, please jump in.


Pat said...

It is so strange that you have not found any wet places on your property. That must mean that the water is going down, not up. Do you have a layer of "hardpan" in your area of OK? If you do and the water is draining down under the hardpan, ooo, that's bad. (sorry) :-( Could it possible be your water meter is not working right?

Brit Gal Sarah said...

We think its strange too Pat, but then the sprinkler lines are pretty deep. The meter is fine, that's been checked.

We have now found a small leak on the cut-off valve. About as big as a pencil width, Hubster and his friend are now situating a second cut-off valve further along and will see if that stops the meter turning. That leak doesn't seem large enough, but it's so hard to tell. We also now have a second hole in the yard!

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

We test our gas lines with water and a very small crack can leak a huge amount of water. So maybe you have found it.

A Brit in Tennessee said...

If the water is running through your meter, and it is on the side of the city's lines then they usually will give you a credit on your water bill.
Hope that's the case !

Kay said...

I don't know what to do, Sarah. However, when we were trying to find the water line so we wouldn't damage it in order to add the electrical line to the house during our renovation, the city came out with little machines that could tell you where the water line was. I don't know if your water company will do that for you. I know the misery of what you're going through. We had our water line burst twice during winter in Illinois. Thank goodness the second time was on the city side of the property.

Anonymous said...

From the photos it looks like the land is pretty dry. You'd think if a lot of water was seeping into an area then the grass above it would be greener than the rest.

I don't really know what to suggest. Can you obtain a sensor/detector that allows you to adjust the sensitivity? - ie the water in the lines would be ignored and only a large sodden patch would be picked up.

Alternately, switch off the water to the house, run the water out of the lines and then go over the land with a sensor.

Hope you get an answer soon!

Oz Girl said...

I hope the pencil size leak you found is the problem... these can be the most frustrating types of problems! Hubby is digging in our yard today too, but our problem is the septic. No fun there! He thinks he may have found our problem and is going to replace some pipe tomorrow, AND we're going to have the septic pumped, which is something we should have awhile ago anyway.

I'm crossing my fingers that you've solved your problem and we've solved ours... at least we can be thankful for the warmer weather, which allows digging!

Winifred said...

Sounds a real pain, especially in the pocket. Does your house insurance not cover this sort of thing?

You'd think the city or whoever supplies your water would be more helpful. After all it's such a waste of a precious resource never mind the cost to you.

Brit Gal Sarah said...

Well it's not at the front and it's not the sprinkler system for sure. We cut the pipe and there's no water getting into the system after the cut-off.

So we are down to 2 outside faucets. I took a 3ft metal spike we have and went to try and stick it into the dirt by them as far as I could. The one on the east side, came out pretty dry and I couldn't get it down too easily.

But the one on the north side I could push in nearly all the way with not too much strength. Plus the dirt that came back up was definitely alot damper, although not sloppy wet. So tomorrow morning we will be out there digging the north one out and praying that's the source!

Sherri said...

Oh Sarah that is horrible! I hope they find out where the leak is soon. Sorry I don't have any ideas on how to solve the leak issue.

Pam said...

Ack! Call the plumbers!!! Frozen pipes from the Christmas freeze maybe?

SweetPeaSurry said...

Yikes ... it's too bad you can't put bubbles (soap) in your sprinkler system, where the water bubbles up would be your problem area! Of only it were that simple, right?

best of luck!