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How to Tell If You Have a Water Leak Underground

By September 17, 2020June 23rd, 2021Inspections
How to tell if you have a water leak underground

Water can puddle in the yard where there is improper drainage or at the bottom of a slope.  How can you tell if you have a water leak underground and it isn’t just the way the ground is situated? 

Well, there are signs to look for as well as places to check around the house. Water leaks can happen for many reasons such as a water main break due to shifting of the soil, eroding, or pressure on the pipes. 

Let’s take a look at how to tell if you have a water leak underground, the signs, why it needs to be fixed, sounds you might hear, and who to call.  

Signs there may be a water leak underground
Low water pressure from the sink

Signs There May Be a Water Leak Underground

As mentioned above, water pooling in the yard can be an indicator of a leak. Here are additional signs there may be a water leak underground:

High water bill

Unless you have kids home from college or your lifestyle has changed, the water bill should stay about the same each month.  Look at water bills from the past few months. If you notice an increase, it is a good time to call a home inspector to check out the plumbing.

Low water pressure

If you notice low water pressure and your municipality hasn’t notified you about it, it could be a leak. This could be the pipes are clogged, eroded, or ruptured. 

Sometimes this happens in neighborhoods where there is new construction.  Therefore, notifying the superintendent in charge or the builder may be helpful so they can check the drains outside.

Use this hack to check for low water pressure: turn on the water in the shower and then flush the toilet. If the shower stops running water, you have low water pressure.

Cracked pavement or bulges in the driveway

These signs indicate there is a pipe that has cracked.

Sinkholes or potholes in your yard

The holes indicate there may be a cracked pipe.  Sinkholes and potholes are nothing to play with and calling a home inspector is important in case there is danger in the near future.

Cracked foundation or wet spots

If you see indicators, there may be a cracked or broken pipe that is leaking and seeping through the home.  If not caught early enough, it can weaken the foundation of the home and ruin the structure. This will make the home unsafe.

Air or dirt in water

This is not normal in your water. If you are finding this, there may be an issue somewhere in the pipes.

Unpleasant smell

If dirty water isn’t going where it is supposed to, the sewer, and it is starting to smell, there could be a blockage or cracked pipe.  This is a great time to call a home inspector to check it out.

Water in street

This is often in front of homes that a pipe has burst.  As a result, the water has nowhere to go so it heads to the street.

Homes over 30 years old

Older homes will have issues with plumbing as their life expectancy is only so long. Thus, the plumbing may be on a downward spiral as some pipes may become corroded or break due to weather or the age of the home.  Inspecting the plumbing system early is important so you can tell if you have a water leak underground.


Trees like the nutrients and the water that is in the pipes. Ultimately, they can grow close enough to crush the pipes and cause leaks.

A sewer scope inspection can be done to see if there are any issues in the piping and you can order this before purchasing a home. As a matter of fact, this is a service that you can also have while living in the home if there are issues with water or want to know the condition of the pipes.

Cabinets and basins should be checked underneath
Checking underneath the sink for a leak

Cabinets and basins should be checked underneath

Check annually to make sure there is no discoloration in the cabinets or water as well as mold.  Catching it early can help you save a lot of money and stress later down the road.

Other areas to check annually
Sump pump is an area that should be check annually

Other areas to check annually

Around the sump pump, connections at washing machine, and dishwasher to make sure nothing is leaking or corroding.  If you are unsure, contact a home inspector to look into it for you.

Why a Water Leak Underground Needs to be Fixed Right Away

Leaky or damaged pipes are not something to disregard and put off.  As mentioned earlier, they can cause sinkholes in the yard (which is dangerous). Structural damage to the foundation, and a lot of damage inside and outside of the homes can also occur.

A DIY to check for an underground water leak

Here is a video on the steps you can take to check to see if it is a leak. Below are the steps you can also follow:

  1. Find the water meter – it is usually outside, on the ground near the driveway, and under a heavy lid.
  2. Use the shut off valve and turn off all the water.  The shut off valve may be in the basement or front or corner of your home.
  3. Turn off all faucets in the home
  4. Mark the rim of the gauge in the water meter
  5. Leave shut off for 30 min and see if the needle has moved.  If yes, call a home inspector to find possible areas of leaking.

Check outside spigots

  1. Connect your garden hose to the spigot
  2. Make sure the water is going into the hose at the connector and not out the sides. If it is, this is wasting water
  3. If needed, replace the rubber piece for the connector so no water is leaking and you are wasting gallons of water

Sounds From the Pipes and Sewer Scope

If you hear sounds coming from the pipes, it is a good time to call a home inspector.  He/she may use a sewer scope to look at the condition of the pipes. This involves the use of a flexible camera that looks for cracks, damage to the lines, and roots that may have grown in underground.

Hissing –a sound that signifies a decrease of pressure in the water

Splashing – water is flowing around the pipe

Clinking– can be pebbles and stones flowing through and banging into the pipes

Bubbling in the toilets– clogged drain or broken pipe

Who to call

Always call the home inspector first.  They will diagnose the problems and refer you to the proper professional.  You will need to do your research and find a certified and highly rated professional with great reviews and recommendations.


A water leak underground is not a good thing but if caught early, it can save you a lot of money.  Keeping an eye on the areas mentioned above and looking and listening for signs will be helpful.

Boggs Inspection Services uses Thermal Camera Inspection to look around the pipes inside the home and sewer scope inspections to find leaks outside! If you need our help, drop us a reply or contact us soon!