When you discover a leak in your property it can be difficult to find out where the water is coming from.
A simple and cost effective way to find out, is by testing the water.
Option 1: Treated water is likely to contain chlorine, which is added to the mains water for sanitary reasons. Therefore, a good test to use is the Total Chlorine test. Chlorine levels in drinking water should be between 0.2 and 2.0ppm. The World Health Organisation has set a health based guideline maximum value of 5ppm (mg/l) for chlorine as a residual disinfectant in drinking water. Total Chlorine measures the amount of free and combined chlorine in water. A chlorine test works best when the leak contains fresh water because chlorine evaporates over time. If the water has been sitting for a while somewhere, then chlorine may have naturally disappeared and can not be detected anymore.
Option 2: Another option is to test the pH using wide range water pH test . The pH of water varies depending on its origin. Tap water should have a pH of 6.5 to 9.5. Rain water is usually more acidic, 4 to 5, due to its origin (primarily due to the presence of two strong acids, sulphuric acid (H2SO4) and nitric acid (HNO3)).
Option 3: If the chlorine and pH tests are inconclusive then a 5in1* test for nitrates, nitrites, hardness and alkalinity might provide further information. The main causes for nitrates in water include agricultural activity, inorganic nitrogenous fertilisers and manures, erosion of natural deposits, leaking from sewer tanks or sewage. The maximum contaminant guideline for nitrate (as NO3) in tap water is 50mg/l and for nitrite (as NO2) is 0.50mg/l. Available as a pack with 25 tests or 5 tests.
(*please note, that the pH range in this particular test does not cover the acidic range and hence might not show acidic rain water. The wide range pH test is recommended.)
Option 4: A basic laboratory chemistry test which checks the levels of pH, total hardness, Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), conductivity, calcium hardness, M. alkalinity and chloride – helps to compare 2 or more water samples to establish if they are from the same source or not. Often used when it is more tricky to establish the source of a leak or when a laboratory result is required as part of evidence.
Option 5: If you suspect that the leak might be from a sewage pipe, then you can test for the presence of coliform bacteria. Our double pack of 2 mini tests is ideal.
From customer feedback it seems that the tests in option 1 & 2 are often effective in establishing the source of a leak. The laboratory test is recommended when the other tests have been inconclusive or laboratory analysis is required to support the findings.
To use test strips to identify the source of a leak, it is best to test water from different sources around the property, note the result for each and then compare the results to the water in the leak:
- Test your tap water,
- Test your rainwater (collect some or use water from a water butt or bird table in the garden),
- Test groundwater, potential streams, wells and other potential sources of the leak,
- Test the water in the leak and
- compare all results to find a match.
Total Chlorine Test:
Contains: 50 strips
Testing Levels: Method A: 0, 0.1, 0.2, 0.5, 0.8, 4.0, 10.0 ppm (mg/l), Method B: 0, 0.05, 0.1, 0.15, 0.2, 0.5, 1.0 ppm (mg/l)
Total Test time: 33 seconds
Extended Range Water pH Test:
These wide range pH test strips are the convenient measurement tool for pH. It covers nearly the whole pH range from 2 to 12, whilst still measuring smaller increments in the crucial range of 6 to 10, therefore providing accurate results.
Contains: 50 strips per bottle
Testing Levels: pH: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 6.5, 7, 7.5, 8, 8.5, 9, 9.5, 10, 11, 12
Total Test time: 30 seconds
Water Test Kit (5-in-1) Aquaculture/Well (25 strips):
Contains: 25 strips
- pH (read first): 5.5, 6.5, 7.0, 7.5, 8.0, 8.5, 9.5
- Total Alkalinity (read second): 0, 40, 80, 120, 180, 300, 720 ppm (mg/l)
- Total Hardness (read third): 0, 25, 75, 150, 300, 1,000 ppm (mg/l)
- Nitrite* (read fourth): 0, 0.5, 1, 3, 5, 10, 20 ppm (mg/l)
- Nitrate *(read fifth): 0, 20, 40, 80, 160, 200 ppm (mg/l)
Total Test time: 1 minute 30 seconds
Water Suite 7-in-1 (Laboratory Test)
This laboratory test will check the levels of each of 7 elements in your water sample: pH, Total Hardness, Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), Calcium Hardness, Conductivity, M. Alkalinity and Chloride. This kit has been designed to help establish if water samples are from the same source (e.g. for leak detection) and is also useful to establish the scaling and corrosive tendencies/properties of water.
For leak detection: a minimum of 2 samples is needed for a comparison analysis.
Suitable for: Potable water analysis as well as fresh water samples, including water from tanks, taps, wells, springs, boreholes, ponds, as well as rain water.
Please note, that whilst it helps to test the water of the leak and the various water sources around a property, this may not be entirely conclusive. This will be the case when chlorine has evaporated from the water in the leak or the pH levels are too similar to make a clear distinction. A number of different tests may be necessary to eliminate potential sources of the leak.
Good luck with identifying the source of the leak!
Further Free Resources:
Got a question about water testing? Try our complete list of Free Water Testing Resources. Here are the most frequently read guides:
- Click here to download our FREE Water Guide
- Read an overview of the potential contaminants in your water
- Why test your water and water supply?
- Unusual colours, smells and taste of your water & further advice on finding the right test kit
- How to choose the right Water Testing Kit
- Choosing the right water testing kit for a water improvement & purification system, water cooler or a pool, spa or hot tub
- How to understand the results of your Quality Water Test Kit
- How to test for lead correctly and what immediate steps can be taken to reduce lead exposure
- How to get the best drinking water – which water filter?
- How to check if my water filter is working?
- How to test the pH of soap?
- How to find the source of a leak in a property
- How to look after your hot tub safely and test the water regularly
- What is best pH level for drinking water? How to measure the pH of water & other liquids correctly
- How to test the quality of Open Water for bathing or swimming
- Commercial Applications for Water Testing: Buyers Guide – Water Testing on vessels, ships as well as water tanks in remote locations
Disclaimer: Only opinions based upon our own personal experience or information detailed in academic journals or other publications is cited. This has been done exclusively for anyone who is interested in this subject but is not intended to replace proper analysis. We cannot accept responsibility and liability of any kind which may result from the application of this information. We always recommend to consult an expert to discuss any test results or get a full recommendation on the specific subject and specific to your situation by an expert.
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