How to Detect a Water Leak
Water leaks can be a major source of frustration for homeowners. Drips bump up your water bill unnecessarily, and they can also cause damage to your home. What’s even worse is that an unchecked small leak can turn into an overwhelming problem, such as a broken pipe.
Of course, the first step to correcting a leak is to identify its existence. Unfortunately, detecting a water leak is sometimes easier said than done. To determine whether there is a leak in your plumbing, use the following suggestions.
Obvious Drips that could be due to a Water Leak
Sometimes, it is clear that you have a leak. Although the “drip, drip” of a leaky faucet is annoying, it is also an obvious indication that your sink is leaking. Sometimes, this sort of leak can easily be fixed just by replacing a rubber washer in the fixture.
You may also notice trails of water. Try to follow these back to their source.
Water Leak Signs
Even if you do not see drips or puddles, a leak will often leave behind telltale signs. For example, you may notice a musty odor under your sinks. You may also find mold creeping up in places or discover that your floors or woodwork are becoming warped.
Your toilets have the potential to leak in multiple spots. For example, a toilet may have a leak that is associated with the flapper valve, the overflow tube or the handle.
To test for a leak between your toilet tank and bowl, remove the cover from the tank. Add several drops of food coloring to the water in the tank. Leave the system alone for 10 minutes. Then, check to see if any of the colored water has seeped into the bowl. If so, you have a leak.
Toilets can also leak in other places. You may notice water or dampness around the base of the toilet.
Underground Pipe Damage
Leaks that occur in the pipes outside of your home can be particularly hard to identify. To try to find a problem area, look for areas of your property that are perpetually damp. You might notice continual puddles, dark patches of ground or the sound of running water. These can indicate that a damaged pipe is nearby.
However, you may never notice an obvious water leak sign outdoors. Therefore, it is a good idea to use your water meter as a guide to whether there is a leak on your property.
- Make sure no water is in use in your home. This includes sinks, dishwashers and washing machines.
- Take a reading of your water meter.
- Watch the meter. If it is changing rapidly, you probably have a fast leak somewhere on your property. It could be in your house or underground.
- If you don’t see a fast change, come back after two hours. Make sure not to run any water during that time. If the meter has changed, this is a sign of a slow leak.
- Some meters have a built-in leak indicator. It may turn or spin to show when water is flowing.
A sudden increase in your water bill can also serve as a sign that you have a leak somewhere on your property.
If your water usage indicates a leak, but you can’t find its source, you will probably need to a call a plumber to help identify the problem.
Leaks are annoying, but they can be fixed. To avoid major disasters, it is best to get the problem resolved as soon as you notice signs of a water leak.