Bursting pipes have one good thing to them: they’re a dramatic problem and impossible to miss. Much more water damage is inflicted by subtle leaks that go unnoticed for a long time. Here’s how to discover hidden water leaks in different areas of your home, as well as your surrounding property.
Monitor your meter
One of the first things new homeowners learn about plumbing is how to monitor and manage their water metre. If you suspect a leak but you aren’t quite sure, here’s a refresher on what you need to do:
First, turn off the water in your home entirely. Turn off all the faucets. Shut off the heater. Confirm that the washing machine, the dishwasher, and any other such appliances are not in use.
Next, look at the water metre. If you see any change occur, you likely have a serious, quickly worsening leak on hand.
If you see no change, wait for two hours (leaving your water off) before checking again. Slower-acting water leaks take some time to produce enough of a difference to be registered on the metre.
Dye your toilet water to find hidden leaks
This is a popular old trick for identifying a common plumbing problem. Leaky toilets are usually subtle. They can cause massive waste before being detected. The amount of water escaping the tank tends to be very little at a time, but is constant.
Unless you are actively paying attention or the leak makes some noise, it can be a long time before you notice that there’s an issue. To catch them early, use dye as an indicator.
Simply get some food colouring and add it into your toilet’s water tank. Wait for about ten minutes and then check the water in the toilet bowl. If there is any colour, there is a leak. Here are a few bonus tips if you go this route:
- Use colours that are intense and easy to notice, like blue, deep green, purple, or red.
- Avoid yellow, pink, and similar light hues, as they can be diluted to imperceptibility.
- If you use a coloured toilet freshener product, choose a food dye in a different colour so as to be able to tell the difference at a glance. Also, don’t use the toilet nor flush anything for the duration of this leak test.
Photo by Mikhail Nilov: https://www.pexels.com/photo/couple-calculating-all-their-bills-6964107/
Scrutinize your bill
Pay attention to your water bill and be aware of the usual range so that you can spot any irregularities. If you notice a continuing increase, but the water consumption habits of your households haven’t changed, that signals an issue with your water system.
Sometimes the problem is in a non-obvious place. We don’t normally see much of our piping in the walls, basement, utility rooms, or underground. A qualified professional can help you locate the issue and diagnose its severity. Look for a service provider who knows the specifics of your local systems and legislation.
For example, a licensed plumber in Northern Beaches must meet the appropriate Australian plumbing codes & standards when performing repairs and inspections. Obviously the same goes for Canada and other territories and countries as well.
In addition to all the indoors faucets and fixtures, check any outdoors spigots. Attach a garden hose and turn on the water. Look at the connection (where the hose gasket is). If any water is seeping through, replace the gasket.
If you have an irrigation system, inspect that too. Your best bet would be to call in a professional plumber or landscaper (or both). Due to their nature and way of functioning, even very small leaks in irrigation systems can amount to tens of thousands of litres of wasted water per month.
Mind the underground plumbing as well. Look along your driveway and near the street for any puddles out of place. If a spot on your property looks darker, grassier, or feels softer than usual, it could indicate a leak. So could an area that stays wet after a dry spell.
Mind your walls
The condition of the walls in your home can point to the presence of leaks you might not otherwise notice. Learn the signs of hidden leaks outside the common sanitation cluster areas (e.g. if a pipe cracks in your living room).
The clues to look for include:
- Discoloration: water stains on walls and ceilings usually sport a brownish or yellowish colour.
- Bulging wallpaper or paint: bulges or bubble-like irregularities indicate wet wallboards where the paint or wallpaper is no longer properly adhering.
- Dripping sounds: sometimes leaks can be heard, so always investigate where any dripping noises are coming from.
- The smell: persistent water leaks in the walls are characterised by a certain mustiness. The smell is produced by fungi growing in the humid environment. It betrays that the leak has been ongoing for some time.
Be aware that leaks in the walls may be originating at your roof or windows as well as with faulty plumbing. Investigate thoroughly and promptly address the source of the leak before the damage becomes severe.
In conclusion, your best protection is constant vigilance. Keep an eye on your metre, bills, walls, and your surrounding land. If you discover a water leak, call in a licensed plumber to diagnose its severity and properly fix it.
By Lana HawkinsOur Latest Web-Stories Never miss an episode of our real estate podcast. Install our FREE Podcast App available on iOS and Android. For your Apple Devices, click here to install our iOS App. For your Android Devices, click here to install our Android App. Check my videos on Youtube