How To Find a Water Leak Underground

How to Find a Water Leak Underground

💧 How To Find a Water Leak Underground!

It likely means the leak is underground if you think you have a water leak but can’t find the source.

Finding a water leak underground can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be impossible.

This article discusses some of the methods and techniques for locating a subterranean water leak and what steps to take after you’ve located the leak.

💧 How Do You Know You Have an Underground Leak?

Finding a leak underground can be tough. It’s not like you can easily see it. Pipes and connections underground are subject to shifting ground, invasive roots, and corrosion.

So, if you suspect you have a leak, follow this simple test.

🧰 Locate Your Water Meter

residential water meter

Finding the residential water meter is actually quite simple.

Most of them are located near the street or curb in front of a house.

If it’s not in a prominent place, look for a box buried underground, with a plastic or concrete lid covering it.

If lifting this lid is too heavy, use a crowbar or large screwdriver to lift it away from its slot and get access inside your water meter box.

Once you’ve opened it up, ensure you’re wearing gloves before putting your hand inside to clear any debris away from the meter so you can read it.

🧰 Turn Off Everything!

man turning off faucet

Turn off all faucets and appliances, including washing machines that use water.

Even switch off your ice maker in your fridge if you have one.

We do this so we can isolate the leak if you have one.

Don’t switch off the main water supply valve, though.

We need moving water to check for underground leaks.

🧰 Note the Dial Positions on Your Water Meter

checking water meter

Most water meters will have a few different dials.

Find the one that indicates 1 cubic foot increments.

We will use this one as a leak indicator.

Note its current position and record the current meter reading.

If it’s hard to read, make a mark where the needle is as a reference.

🧰 Wait 30 Minutes


With the water supply turned off, wait 30 minutes and see if the needle you referenced has moved.

If it has, you have a leak somewhere.

Checking your water meter isn’t the only way to know if you have a leak, but it does give you an idea of the leak’s water usage.

Decreased water pressure is often a sign of underground pipes leaking.

💧 More Signs of an Underground Water Leak

When you have a subterranean leak, it won’t be as easy to spot as it would be inside your home, like water pooling or an obviously broken pipe.

Following an underground leak, you will normally notice a higher-than-normal water bill.

However, a few underground leak detection signs can give away a leak.

🧰 Checking For Damp Spots in Your Yard

One way to detect an underground water leak is by checking for damp spots in your yard.

If you notice unusually damp patches on your property that weren’t there before, it could signify an underground water leak.

You should also check around any outdoor faucets or sprinkler systems, as these areas can often experience leaks due to wear and tear over time.

If underground leaks are left for too long, you may end up with sinkholes.

Another giveaway is thick and dense vegetation in one area of your yard that’s growing faster than everything else in your garden.

flooded yard

🧰 Examining Your Property’s Plumbing System and Piping Layout

If you are not sure where the source of the leak is located, then it might be helpful to examine your property’s plumbing system and piping layout.

This can help you identify potential weak points in your plumbing system that could be causing the pipe to fail and lead to a pipe leak.

You should also look out for any visible signs of damage, such as cracks in pipes or fittings, that may indicate a potential problem area.

🧰 Check For Moisture with an Infrared Camera

An infrared camera can be used to detect moisture beneath the surface of your property which could indicate an underground leak.

This type of camera works by detecting changes in temperature, which can help pinpoint exactly where the moisture is located so that repairs can be made quickly and efficiently without unnecessarily digging up large sections of land.

plumber using infrared camera

🧰 Hire a Professional Plumber

Finally, if all else fails, you may consider hiring a professional plumber with specialized equipment such as ground-penetrating radar (GPR) or acoustic listening devices that can pinpoint the exact location of underground water leaks, even if it is several feet below ground level.

These tools will cost more than other methods listed here, but they will save you time and hassle when locating an underground water leak quickly so that repairs can be made accordingly before any further damage occurs.

Plus, the plumber is insured if they accidentally destroy your yard or home. (Well, they should be insured, so make sure you check!)

💧 Prefer to Watch a Video?

💧 Final Thoughts on Underground Water Leaks

Phyxter Approved Logo on Service Truck

Finding an underground leak might seem intimidating initially, but it doesn’t have to be!

Though if you are uncomfortable with any type of underground water leak detection, it’s best to leave that to the professionals.

PRO TIP: Call 811 – Know What’s Below. Call before you dig. It may seem obvious, but millions of dollars of damage are done yearly to underground pipes. So don’t forget!

They have the tools and the experience to find and repair that pesky subterranean leak without too much trouble!

Want to learn more about your home’s plumbing system? Feel free to check out our other plumbing articles!

Related Reading: DIY Guide to 15 Common Plumbing Problems & Solutions

Russell Jones

Russell, a native Australian and VP of Operations at Phyxter Home Services, is also part-owner of Vernon Air Conditioning, Plumbing, and Electrical Services. When he's not busy with work projects and renovations, Russell enjoys putting his vast knowledge of home improvement to good use by sharing his tips and tricks.

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Phyxter (pronounced Fix-ter) is a national home services brand specializing in Residential HVAC, Electrical and Plumbing solutions.

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