5 Ways to Determine if You Have a Plumbing Leak
A water leak can be expensive. Not only does it equate to higher water bills and a repair cost, it can also cause significant damage to your home.
Catching water issues early is critical when it comes to minimizing costs. However, finding a leak can be difficult because pipes are underground, in your home’s foundation, and behind walls where you won’t notice an issue until the damage is already done.
We’ve put together 5 ways to determine if you have a plumbing leak so you can identify and resolve issues before the problem worsens.
1. Check Your Water Bill
If you receive an unusually high water bill, this is a good indication that you have a water leak. Generally, it’s a good idea to know just about how much your bills are every month. This way, you can easily spot an unusual bill.
Also, pay attention to your water usage. Sometimes, water bills don’t jump high with a leak if the leak is a slow one. However, your usage will show it.
2. Check Your Water Meter
Utility companies will tell you the first thing to do if you suspect a leak is to see if it is on your side of the water meter. To do this, you need to turn off the water coming to the meter. Some meters may require you calling out someone from the water company to do that while others have a simple turn off that you can twist with a wrench.
Once the meter is turned off, look at the dial that indicates passing water. If it keeps running, the leak is in a pipe before it hits your meter. A stopped meter shows the leak is in a pipe on your side of the meter. This is important because utility companies are responsible for leaks in the public pipes while you are responsible for repairing leaks occurring on your side of the meter.
3. Check Your Yard
A busted water pipe in the yard can be fairly easy to spot. Follow the water line from the meter up to the house and look for soggy spots. You will need to pick a day where there hasn’t been any rain and you haven’t used the sprinkler. A spot that is soft under your shoe compared to the soil around it indicates the spot of the leak.
4. Check Outside Your House
If you can’t find a soggy spot indicating a leak in the yard, the next step is to check outside your house. This is done by turning off your main water valve to your home while the outside meter is on. This is typically found near your water heater or entry point of pipes in the house. Once you turn off the water going into the house, go back to your meter and see if it is still running. If the meter is still spinning, your leak could be either in the home’s foundation, the basement, or in a wall leading to the main point of entry. If it stops running, then the leak is most likely inside your home.
Two areas to check are the main water entry point and the water heater. Sometimes, a worn gasket at the entry point can cause a leak and require a replacement. Additionally, a water heater can have parts that go out, resulting in water passing through rather than remaining in holding. Signs of this include water coming out of pipes leading outside of your home, a lack of hot water, and a higher electric or gas bill as well as an increased water bill.
A common water tank problem is the pressure relief valve. These valves can be connected to a drain, preventing you from spotting a leak. A hissing sound is a good indicator of a leak.
5. Check Inside Your Home
This can be tedious, but it’s necessary when it comes to spotting a leak. You will need to turn off every sink and every toilet, one at a time, and see if it changes the meter’s running speed. If the meter suddenly slows down, this pinpoints the trouble spot. Also, look for damage such as rotten wooden floors, wet carpet, curling vinyl floors, moldy spots on the floors or drywall, water stains on the ceiling below a bathroom, water around the toilet’s base, or soft drywall – which can indicate a leak in your home.
A common bathroom issue that can lead to a leak is a broken wax ring on the toilet. A toilet that shifts slightly could have a broken wax ring or a loose flange – oth are fairly simple fixes, but either problem can cause serious leaks.
Another trick to find a toilet leak is to put a few drops of food coloring in your tank and wait 10 minutes. If the color shows up in the toilet bowl, you have a leak on your hands.
Be sure to look at your basement and crawl spaces as well. Pipes that have moisture or corrosion is an indicator of a leak. Additionally, check for rotten wood, mildew, and mold around the pipes, as these are also indicators of leaks.
Unfortunately, you may not always be able to determine where and if you have a leak, so it’s important to call a professional. Here at Kenneth McDonald Plumbing & HVAC, Inc., we are available 24/7 for all of your plumbing and HVAC needs. Our team of certified professionals services and installs water tanks, toilets, water lines, and more.