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Water is a precious resource, so it’s important to address leaks wherever they may occur – including underground, where leaks can be difficult to detect. If you’ve noticed unusual fluctuations in your water bill or signs of moisture near your foundation, you may have an unseen leak draining your water supply lines from below.

In this guide, we’ll explore the most common causes of underground water leaks and provide easy-to-follow steps for accurately locating leaks. We’ll then review effective repair techniques like spot excavation, pipe sealing or full replacements. You’ll also learn best practices for inspecting lines regularly and installing backfill properly to prevent future issues.

Whether you manage a property or just want to conserve water resources, the techniques in this post will help you troubleshoot and repair underground leaks, saving water and money in the long run. Let’s begin understanding where leaks below ground are most likely to originate.

Causes of Underground Water Leaks

A sudden drop in your home’s water pressure is often a key indicator of a water leak on your property. There are a few common causes of underground water leaks. Ageing or corroded pipes are one of the primary culprits as the material starts to degrade or break down over 10-20 years in underground pipes.

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Movement in the ground from tree roots, freezing or thawing cycles, or seismic activity can also stress buried lines and cause splits or fractures over time. Accidental damage during landscaping or construction projects may puncture pipes.

In some cases, the materials used for the original installation were unsuitable for long-term buried use and became porous. Awareness of these potential causes can help narrow down where a leak may originate from underground.

Signs of an Underground Water Leak

A few signs can indicate an underground water leak is occurring. One of the most noticeable is an increase in your water bill as the leaking water is not being accounted for.

You may also see damp or soggy spots in the lawn or soil near the water line. Look out for signs of water staining on nearby driveways, walkways or foundations as well.

In severe cases, you may see pools of water collecting in low-lying areas close to where the water service enters your home. Paying attention to these subtle surface-level signs can help identify an unseen leak below that requires further detection and repair.

Methods for Detecting Underground Leaks

Identifying the source and location of a water leak underground can require specialised tools, such as:

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Acoustic leak detectors

These use highly sensitive microphones that can pick up the acoustic signal emitted by water leaks underground. Scanning the ground surface allows operators to identify the strongest leak sounds to begin planning repairs.

Tracer wires and probes

Permanent tracer wires laid with buried water pipes allow equipment to sense conductivity breaks, identifying damaged sections for follow-up. Portable tracers can also be inserted into valves to triangulate leak positions.

Infrared thermal imaging

This leak detection method is one of the most sophisticated techniques used to detect underground water leaks. Using IR cameras to view ground temperature variations can reveal “hot spots”, marking underground leaks and wasting heat as water escapes. This works best on recently leaked areas.

Underground cameras

Sewer cameras with locator transmitters can visually inspect pipe interiors for cracks from inside without excavation. Pinhole cameras attached to rods are inserted down access points. Regularly reading your water meter can help identify if you have a concealed leak.

Repairing Underground Water Line Leaks

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Once the source and location of an underground leak are pinpointed, it’s time for repair. Sealing around cracks with epoxies or pull-through liners can provide a trenchless solution for minor leaks.

Deeper splits may require spot excavation to access and replace damaged pipe sections. In some cases, if the full line shows signs of deterioration, complete replacement above or below ground may be best.

Proper backfill and compaction after excavation are important to prevent future issues. Temporary landscaping can restore yards until permanent fixings. The repair approach depends on leak severity, but all aim to stop water loss below the surface permanently.

Saving Water, Saving Money

With the right techniques and tools, underground water leaks don’t have to remain a hidden and wasteful problem. As this guide has outlined, detecting the source and making effective repairs saves both water and money in the long run.

If you believe you may have an unseen leak in your underground lines, it’s best not to go it alone. Contact the experts at Gold Coast Plumbing Experts for assistance. Our team has years of experience locating and fixing all types of buried plumbing issues. We can perform a routine inspection using specialised equipment or quickly respond to any leaks that may arise.

Identifying and dealing with leaks below the surface now helps prevent further damage down the road. For professional underground water line leak detection or repairs, you can rely on, call Gold Coast Plumbing Experts. Our team is standing by to ensure your water system functions efficiently and your home stays protected.