Your high water bill could be due to either a temporary increase in water usage or a leak. To find out if it’s a leak, first shut off all your water-using fixtures in the house. Don’t close the shut-off valve where the water supply enters or below the pressure regulator at your house at this stage!
Take the cover off your water meter box and flip open the protective cover plate on the meter dial. Normally, your metre box will be somewhere along the front property line, often near a corner. You may have to dig down a little in the dirt to find it.
The meter may be a newer one that has a small round or diamond-shaped low-flow indicator near the centre. The low flow indicator may be red or black like in the photo above. It should not be turning. But if it is, there’s a leak somewhere in your plumbing system. At a meter without a low-flow indicator, note the meter reading or take a picture with your cell phone. Check back in an hour or so and see if it has changed.
There are a number of places to check if the meter says you have water flow indicating a leak:
Not just the at the sink and basins taps! Also, check the taps at the washing machine hookup, bath, shower, and the outside hose taps.
2. Toilet Cisterns (tanks)
A flapper valve that doesn’t seat properly at the bottom of the cistern will cause a leak. Check the ballcock arm and overflow tube as well, it may also be defective. Drop a dye tablet (available in most hardware stores specifically for toilet testing) in the tank. Do not flush, and wait for 15-minutes. If the colour shows up in the bowl, the toilet needs repair.
3. TPR Valve at the Geyser
The small valve with a flip-up handle at the top or side of the geyser called a Temperature and Pressure Release (TPR) valve. This important valve is designed to open if the water gets too hot, to keep the tank from exploding. These valves sometimes fail by opening slightly and letting loose a slow trickle of hot water. The water normally runs in a steel or copper pipe to a location at the exterior wall. Find the termination of the TPR valve and check for a drip. NEVER work on these valves yourself! Only a suitably trained and experienced plumber should!
Spring has arrived at last! However, you should have inspected and maintained your gutters and roof by the end of winter. But, if you haven’t, you better do so now! They may be clogged with leaves, debris and dust.
Gather up your ladder, a plastic bag, your hosepipe and get busy. If you don’t, the timbers supporting your gutters may soon look like this!
If your roof does not have gutters installed, the roof structure probably has damage to the feet of the roof trusses. Check under the eaves of the roof for moisture damage before it’s too late.
Consider installing gutters before the roof timbers rot and fail. If they have rotted the repairs will be extensive and expensive!
Check your roof and gutters
Cut back trees and branches that deposit leaves and dead wood on the roof. Remove any debris from your roof. If you can’t do it yourself, hire a good roofing contractor to get the job done. This should be a priority. Debris prevent the free flow of rainwater off the roof! Roof tiling and roof sheeting are not 100% waterproof. These roofs are water-shedding systems rather than waterproofing systems.
Check your tiled roof while you’re up cleaning your gutters! Check for broken or cracked roof tiles, dislodged tiles and cracked mortar on the ridges and hips.
Foot traffic easily damages the tiles on your roof. If you walk on your tiled roof you will probably cause some damage. Also, consider the safety aspect! A fall from your roof can result in serious injuries and even death. Roofing specialists should repair any defective or broken tiling
Any structure requires ongoing roof inspection and roof maintenance to prevent leaks. By identifying minor problems you can save yourself major repair costs in future. You can thereby also extend the lifespan of your roof considerably before needing to replace it.
Types of Roofs
Together with walls and windows, roofs are a primary component which protects the interior of the building.
There are two main types of roof systems: low-slope (flat) and steep-slope roofs.
Most multi-unit residential buildings use low-slope roofing, while townhouse buildings and single detached houses generally use steep-slope roofing.
Both roof types may be used in some buildings.
Low-slope roofs have a waterproof membrane and a series of drains that remove water from the roof surface. As they are low-slope, these roofs must be water-tight to function properly.
The roofing membrane is applied as;
A liquid that cures or dries to form a waterproof surface,
Or fabricated from pre-manufactured sheets, joined together to create a surface, impermeable to water.
These membranes seal all openings and penetrations through the roof to prevent water leaks. With frequent roof inspections and maintenance, the membranes can provide a leak-proof for up to 20 years.
Steep-slope roofs have overlapping roofing materials to create a surface that, together with gravity, sheds water effectively. The roofing materials include:
asphalt or fibreglass shingles,
and asbestos/fibre or metal sheeting.
Why roof maintenance?
Reduce the likelihood of premature leaks and ageing by regularly inspecting your roof, and doing maintenance work where necessary. Sunlight, rain, hail, wind and temperature changes gradually break down the roofing materials. Eventually, the roof will need to be replaced. However, proper maintenance and care will maximize the service life of the roof.
Roofing systems generally have an anticipated “leak-free life”. The roof should not leak over this time span if properly designed, constructed and maintained. After this time the roof system may still continue to provide many years of service. Leaks will, however, occur eventually. These may increase up to a point when the entire roof will need to be replaced.
After a severe windstorm, or extreme weather, inspect your roof for damage.
Proper roof maintenance reduces costly premature damage. Undetected leaks can damage the building’s structure and interior finishes.
Roof inspection, maintenance and repairs
All roofs require regular inspection. Because of safety issues, a professional home inspector or professional roof inspector should be employed for this purpose. A professional inspector has specialist knowledge, uses the proper equipment and meets all safety requirements. You, your body corporate or maintenance manager should coordinate this work.
A possible roof problem can be identified by damage to the ceilings or walls of the home. If you are renting or living in a complex, notify your body corporate or maintenance manager.
The qualified professional inspecting the roof should
be familiar with the roofing system in your building,
be able to identify potential problems, and
know how to take the necessary safety precautions while doing an inspection or maintenance work.
Specific items for roof inspection and maintenance will depend on the type of roof(s) on your building. You will find a checklist of common roof maintenance items at the end of this article.
Inspect twice a year;
in the autumn or spring to address any possible summer or winter damage, and
In the spring or autumn to prepare for the upcoming summer or winter rain.
After any storm, high winds, extreme rain or hail, inspect your roof, including flashings and other accessories. If construction has taken place on the roof, check for leaks.
The roof inspection should include the underside of the roof structure and the outside of the building. These areas may show up potential problems with your roof.
Who does the roof inspection?
Hire an InterNACHI certified home inspector to inspect and review the condition of the roof.
A professional roof contractor should carry out any required roof maintenance. The professional will have the necessary tools and knowledge to repair identified the problems. Skylights and other roof penetrations may require specialized attention. A specialist supplier or manufacturer may need to be employed.
Weathering reduces the expected service life of the roof. Furthermore, it also affects the appearance of the roof. A yellow or brown stain on the ceiling could be an indication that moisture is leaking from the roof.
Roof leaks can result from overflowing gutters or backed-up downpipes. Debris in gutters and downpipes can prevent proper water drainage. Moreover, this may also result in water backing up and overflowing into adjacent building walls and moisture damage to the roof structure.
This makes periodic roof inspections essential!
I will do a RoofInspection and Report which will identify problems with your roof. The report will include the condition of the roofing products, materials and flashings. Furthermore, the report will also include any other roof maintenance issues.