water leak in front yard from main - How to find

I live in a house with a small front yard. The main water line and meter is at the curb, the water enters the house at the front corner of the house. It can be shut off there also. If I shut off the water entering the house, I am still using 10 gal/hr of water according to the meter, so there must be a leak in the line in the front yard somewhere. There is a big tree in the middle of the lawn, so I am suspecting some roots have broke the line, but am not sure. There are no soggy spots anywhere in the front yard. Anyone know of any ways to trace the line short of digging up the whole lawn?? I don't know what direction it runs from the meter to the house, how deep it is, whether it is plastic or copper.
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Be sure the water line does not go anywhere else like the backyard.
Try walking in a straight line from the shutoff valve to the meter. See if you get any wet "squishing" in a particular area. Might get lucky.
Also sometimes you can hammer a metal bar into the ground, place your ear to the bar, and hear hissing. Or if possible, place ear on pipe near house and listen for hissing. Then at meter. Would be louder closer to leak.
If you have to dig the whole works up to find the leak, might as well dig an entirely new trench which goes well around the tree. Then install a new line.
Probably need to get a permit to do this btw.

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Thanks for the tips, gives me something to try. I'm wondering if some kind of metal detector could tell me where the line is. Yes, I am thinking of digging a new trench
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I would call the town and tell them there's a leak....it might be the valve connected to the city's water main that is leaking and they would be responsible for digging up and repairing it. This is what happened to me and they dug it up and replaced it at no cost to me, and it was leaking for almost a year at that point. I too could hear and feel water running even after I closed the main shutoff valve in the basement. Even if the leak is on the pipe to your house, they may find it for you and fix it at a nominal price. Either way, it should not cost you anything for them to check and inspect 'their' equipement first.
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I would suspect that the leak is probably in two spots, first would be the the base of the house where the pipe enters, second the tree roots you mention.
Get a wire hanger and clip it with a pair of pliers, straiten it out to have a stiff wire approximately 3 - 4 feet long, start where the pipe enters the house and try to pierce the ground with it working your way to the water meter, when you get to the leak you will sense that the ground your are piercing is alot softer.
Good luck
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On 14 Nov 2005 09:18:55 -0800, "twice snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com"
:I live in a house with a small front yard. The main water line and :meter is at the curb, the water enters the house at the front corner of :the house. It can be shut off there also. If I shut off the water :entering the house, I am still using 10 gal/hr of water according to :the meter, so there must be a leak in the line in the front yard :somewhere. There is a big tree in the middle of the lawn, so I am :suspecting some roots have broke the line, but am not sure. There are :no soggy spots anywhere in the front yard. Anyone know of any ways to :trace the line short of digging up the whole lawn?? I don't know what :direction it runs from the meter to the house, how deep it is, whether :it is plastic or copper.
Since that tree is probably the culprit you might want to dig it up. In the process you might find the leak.
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