Last Updated Oct 25, 2018 · Written by Rob Schneider
Water leaks around the house can be obvious, but sometimes they are hard to spot. The best way to find them is to inspect all your water sources. Also, monitor your water use:
Water leaks are often undetectable, but there are ways to find out if you have water leaks even if you don't have a leaking tap. These are some things to look and listen for:
If you hear water running, even when no water is running, you may have a leak
Your water metre changes even when you aren't using more water
Your water bill climbs over a period of months
Walls or floors have wet areas even though nothing has been spilled on them
Foul odours may indicate a water leak
If you have a concrete floor, a warm area may be a sign of a water leak
These are all potential signs of a water leak, but you will also have to look carefully for water leaks.
Toilet leaks are common. A good way to detect a toilet leak is to remove the top of the tank and listen carefully. You may hear a hissing sound, which is an indication of a leak. Another way to find out if a toilet is leaking is to put a little food colouring in the toilet tank. If there is a leak, it will show in the toilet bowl. You may be able to fix this type of leak without hiring a plumber. It may be the "flapper" valve and you can find replacement parts at most hardware stores, but be sure to turn off the water before you work. Do this with every toilet in your home.
Leaking faucets are obvious, but what about other leaks? Look under your sinks and see if you can detect a leak under the sink. Use a flashlight and look for moisture. If you detect moisture, clear out the cabinet and look for signs of water on the bottom of the cabinet. There may be water stains, mould, buckled or peeling material. These are all indications of a water leak.
Sometimes hot water tanks have leaks. The first thing you should look at is the hot water valve. They can leak frequently and you may have to have the valve replaced. If it isn't the valve, look for signs of water around the hot water tank. Also listen for a hissing sound, which can be an indication of a water leak. Remember that hot water tanks have hot water in them, so avoid being scalded. It may be a good idea to contact a plumber, who will know how to fix the leak. If the leak is bad, you may have to replace your hot water heater.
Leaks around showers and bathtubs can damage the floor and tiles. A good way to find out if your shower enclosure is leaking is to splash some water on the seams. If the water leaks to the other side, you can use caulk to fix the leak. Bathtub leaks can be harder to detect, but they can do serious damage and may make wood rot under the bathtub. You may be able to see the leak from the crawl space under the tub. Use a flashlight and look for signs of water. You can also look for bathtub leaks by inspecting the floor around the tub. Loose tiles, curling vinyl, peeling paint and mould are all signs of a water leak in the shower or bathtub.
Outdoors, you may also have water leaks. A leaking outdoor faucet is easy to fix, but what about the pipes under the house or underground? One indication can be a damp spot on the ground when there are no damp spots in other locations. You may also notice a damp spot on your driveway or perhaps a puddle forms when there hasn't been rain.
Another way to detect outdoor leaks is to use a screwdriver. Put the screwdriver against the faucet and place your thumb knuckle against the screwdriver. Use your ear to listen for water leaks. The screwdriver works like a stethoscope and you can hear leaking in the pipes. Go to every outdoor faucet and if the sound is louder in one faucet, you are probably close to the leak.
If you have a swimming pool or spa, they can leak, too. Pools always lose water due to evaporation, but if there is a leak, it may be hard to detect. The first step is to check around the filter, heater and pipe valves. Next, look for wet spots around the pool area. Look for wet areas in the soil and sunken or eroded areas. While water does evaporate, you shouldn't lose more than 5mm or 10mm per day. Place tape at the top of the water line and come back and see how much water has evaporated. If it is more than 10mm, you probably have a leak.
Sewerage leaks can be hard to detect. Common causes of sewerage leaks are tree roots and leaking joints. You may notice a damp spot, but since sewerage pipes are underground, you may not notice a damp spot. If you suspect a sewerage leak, a plumber can use a camera to find the source of the leak.
Sometimes leaks can be almost impossible to detect. The water metre can be a good indication of a water leak. This is how to detect leaks with your water metre:
Write down the metre reading
Don't use any water for a few hours
Look again and see if any water has been used
If you haven't used water, the metre reading could be an indication that you have a hidden leak somewhere. It may be an underground leak you couldn't detect from a wet spot on the ground or on the driveway.
Sometimes water leaks can be hard to notice. The metre is a good way to detect leaks, but if you have done everything else, you may need to contact a plumber to detect the source of the leak. Plumbers have experience with leaks and know what to look for. They are also qualified to fix a leak.
Taking a DIY approach to fixing leaks is not a good idea unless you have a dripping faucet that just needs a valve replaced. For pipe leaks, sewerage leaks and other leaks, it's best to hire a plumber and they will know how to repair the leak. Finding a leak is a good idea and can save you money if the plumber doesn't have to locate the source of the leak. They can go straight to the leak and fix it. Also remember you may have more than one leak, so when you hire a plumber, let them fix all the leaks rather than call them out again when you detect other leaks. Plumbers charge call out rates and if they can fix all the leaks at the same time, it will save you money and you won't be paying for the extra water that is wasted on leaks.
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