No homeowner wants to experience the damage that an unresolved water leak can cause. Whether your water bill has increased, or you’ve noticed suspicious water stains around your house, detecting a leak before it leaves a trail of destruction in its wake is vital.
If you believe that your home is suffering from an internal water leak, how should you go about detecting it? The first step should be to check your water meter.
Start with Your Water Meter
The most prudent method for determining whether or not you have a water leak is by consulting your water meter. If you don’t know where this is on your property, call your local water utility supplier, and they should be able to inform you. When you’ve successfully located the meter, you need to turn off the main water supply shutoff valve.
Once you’ve confirmed that no water is flowing into your property, you need to consult your water meter to ascertain whether the leak indicator is moving. These indicators vary from provider to provider. Some denote this indicator with a triangular-shaped dial, whereas others have a silver-colored wheel that moves when water flows through it. Either way, if the indicator or dial is moving despite the water supply being shut off, you’ve likely got a leak.
Another way to detect if you have a leak is by taking a base meter reading, turning the main water supply shutoff valve, and then revisiting the meter after a couple of hours. If your reading has changed, you’ve got a leak somewhere in your plumbing system.
Determine if Your Leak is In-Home or Outside
The next step is to determine whether you have an interior or exterior leak. Fortunately, this is a simple process. Start by locating your home’s main shutoff valve. It’s usually located either in your basement or garage directly behind an outdoor faucet. It some instances, your shut-off valve may be found on the outside of the building.
Once you’ve shut off the supply to the home, repeat the water meter reading experiment described above. If there is no change in meter readings, or your leak indicator stops moving, you’ve got an in-home leak. If the leak indicator continues to move or the meter readings change, then the leak is located outside of the home.
Once you’ve established that there is a water leak inside your home, you need to move back into your property to investigate the most likely leak sites.
Assess Potentially Leaking Faucets
Faucets are one of the most common causes of water leaks, so it makes sense to start your investigation here. Start by evaluating the valves and washers on each of your faucets. The most common cause of a faucet leak is a worn rubber washer. You may be able to immediately spot the leak on visual inspection if this is the case.
You may need to shut the water off to each faucet (or to your home entirely) to be able to carry out a thorough assessment. If you deem the leak to stem from a faucet, try tightening valves and replacing washers. If that does not solve the problem, you should call in a specialized leak detection expert.
Check for Possible Leaking Toilets
Toilet leaks are potentially disastrous as they can waste hundreds, if not thousands, of gallons of water without any apparent symptoms. Therefore, you must check each of your toilets to make sure they aren’t the cause of the leak.
First, check to see if you have what is known as a “running toilet” which is usually caused by a faulty flapper valve. This is the rubber valve at the bottom of the tank that lifts when the toilet is flushed. If it’s old, worn, or cracked, it’s likely facilitating a continuous flow from the tank into the toilet bowl in between flushes.
A quick and easy way to determine if a leaking toilet is causing your water bills to soar is to place a few drops of food dye in your toilet’s water tank. Make sure not to flush the toilet in question and return at least 30 minutes later. If the food dye has made its way into the toilet bowl, then you have a leak.
Another test is to remove the toilet tank lid and listen for a “hissing” sound, which is usually another tell-tale sign of a leak. Toilets aren’t as simple as faucets, so it might be a good idea to call a leak detector in to get an accurate assessment of what’s causing the issues.
Search for Other Possible Culprits
The exact location of a leak is not always obvious. While the water you drink and bathe in is pressurized (and therefore changes are more noticeable), wastewater is not, making wastewater leaks much harder to detect. If you think your leak stems from a wastewater pipe, make sure to call in an expert leak detection company, since the leak will be almost impossible to locate without specialized knowledge and equipment.
Another issue to bear in mind is that the source of a water leak may be at a different location to where indicators of a leak might present themselves. For example, you may notice water stains spreading from the corner of a ceiling of a downstairs room. However, the source of the leak may originate from a bathroom waste pipe located several meters away, with the leaking water running down the outside of a pipe and collecting in the corner.
Excessive condensation is something else to look out for, as its presence is often indicative of a water leak. Unchecked, condensation will damage floors, ceilings, walls, and wooden furniture.
Early Leak Detection Can Save You Thousands in Property Damage
Water leaks can have a potentially disastrous effect on the structure and appearance of a home if not detected early. If you suspect you have a leak, then it’s best to follow the steps outlined above. If you still can’t find a resolution to your issues, then it’s time to call a leak detection expert.
At The Waterboy, our mission is to provide you with expert, cost-effective leak detection services, in a timely fashion. We understand that leaks can occur at any time, and an immediate response can help prevent further damage. We provide a 24-hour emergency response service for urgent problems.
If you think you have a leak, don’t hesitate to give us a call.