How To Analyze A Leak

Overview

The console helps you to analyze water usage and determine the possible sources of the leaks. Here we provide some useful tips and guidance how to analyze a leak as well as real world examples of what different leaks look like in our console.

The first thing to check out is the dashboard instructions where you can find a guide on the features of the console and how to use them. 

Most Common Sources of Leaks and Water Waste

Doing a quick search around a building at these sources usually finds the leak.

  1. Toilets. 20%-30% of toilets have a leak. Flapper valves on toilets should be replaced every 3-5 years, otherwise they degrade and begin to leak. Sometimes it's hard to tell if it is leaking. The best way to tell if it is leaking is to put food dye in the toilet tank, wait 10 minutes, and see if you see dye in the bowl.  How to Fix Instructions.
  2. Faucets, shower heads, tubs. It's common for these types of water fixtures to have leaks at the valves. Look around the faucets to see if there's a puddle or flow of water coming from them.
  3. Irrigation Systems. Irrigation systems for the landscape around properties are a common source of leaks. Look for faulty valves or puddles around the irrigation system.
  4. Water Heaters. These are one of the most common sources of destructive leaks. They usually start as small leaks and then become catastrophic. Look for a puddle at the base of the water here.
  5. Broken Pipes. This is also a major source of destructive leaks. Look for water stains on floors, ceilings, and walls. This would indicate a pipe in the wall or ceiling is leaking.
  6. Faulty Appliances. Broken appliances or faulty appliances can leak water or go through faulty cycles and wastewater. Check for random cycles of the machine or puddles near the machines.
  7. Pools and Fountains. Any water fixture is a potential source of a leak.
  8. HVAC Systems or Sprinkler systems. 

 

Retail - if your building has retail, check the equipment there, this has been a common source of leaks. I.e. ice machines, washing machines, etc..

Having an issue finding the leak? If it is possible to shutoff the water flow to parts of the property, turn off the water for a night to parts of the building more likely leaking. For example, turn off the water to the retail while the company is not in operating and watch the water usage. 

Tips for Diagnosing Leak

Here are useful features for diagnosing leaks.

Night Mode

When looking at the usage graphs, selecting the time period of Night can be very informative. It shows the period of midnight to 5 am. This period usually has the least normal usage by people so it is easier to analyze leaks and wasteful usage. 

Test Mode

In the Device Settings as seen below you can see an option for Test Mode.

When clicked this mode will tell the node to start sending data points up once a minute instead of once every 5 minutes for Normal Mode or once every 10 minutes for Power Saving Mode. This added resolution can help determine the leak type. Once you click the Test Mode option it takes a bit for the node to go into the mode, the device must first receive a downlink to it which can take a few minutes. Once it is in Test Mode wait a while to get 1 minute spaced data points. When you are done, put it back in Normal Mode or Power Saving Mode.

Note: Do not leave a device in Test Mode for too long (over one day), it drains the battery much faster.

You should see something like below with Test Mode, notice how much more granular the data is.

 

Examples of Leaks

Continuous Leak

The flow rate graph below shows a minimum flow over night of 11.6 gal/hr. This continuous leakage is wasting over 8000 gal. of water per month at a cost of $78 per month.

Examples of continuous leaks are dripping sinks or tub faucets, shower heads, leaking appliances, water heaters, toilets that have a faulty fill valve or stuck open flapper valve (often from a wrapped chain or stuck flush handle), leaking toilet tank fill lines or deteriorated wax rings. A continuous leak left uncorrected, even a very small one, from an appliance, the feed line to a toilet tank or a toilet wax ring can cause structural damage to the flooring underneath.

The graph below shows a property where the water is constantly flowing during the night. The minimum flow is 11.6 Gallons per hour. This is likely due to a leak.

If you think you see a continuous leak, setting the time interval to Test (one data point every min.) and leaving this data rate over night, you can generally see a continuous leak very clearly the next morning using the NIGHT setting. Below is an example of a 10 gal/hr continuous leak using this method. You clearly see that there are no periods of zero flow.

 

The next morning, be VERY SURE to set the time period between data points (using the Device Settings dropdown) back to Power Saving Mode.

Case Studies

Check out more real world examples of leaks here: https://nowisensors.com/pages/case-studies