Knowing how to find leaks in pipes helps pinpoint the exact location of many plumbing issues. Homeowners can take timely action even before plumbers arrive and prevent further harm. However, some leaks aren’t in plain sight, and finding them without damaging certain areas of your home in the process can be challenging.
How to track down leaks in a house
Checking water bills
Since homeowners usually receive nearly identical numbers on their water bills, seeing a much higher bill can point to a water leak somewhere. Average families generally use up to 12,000 water gallons every month, except for the summer (lawns and garden irrigation needs). However, if there’s a leak in the house, over 10,000 water gallons can be wasted a year. Look for spikes in water bills to detect potential leaks.
Ask the water meter
If water bills have suddenly gone up, but your water consumption has remained the same, it’s time to examine the water meter and see if there are significant fluctuations. Here’s how to do it:
- While outside, turn off all water sources, such as the garden hose. Also, turn off the water supply for the inside before checking the meter.
- Look closely at the meter’s leak indicator and see if there’s any movement. The hand typically has a triangular shape, but it can also resemble a silver wheel that rotates when water flows.
- If either dial is rotating even after turning the water supply off, the chances are that there’s a leak.
- To check if anything’s changed, take a second reading and wait for up to two hours.
Once you’ve verified that there’s a leak by checking the water meter, it’s time to inspect potential culprits. The first stop is the faucets.
If the leak is indeed coming from a faucet, shut down the water from under the sink, or turn off the main cut-off valve. Then, reach the gasket by removing the faucet handles. Find a replacement for the gasket at a local hardware or home improvement store and get the proper tools to replace the item, or call your local plumber.
Check the toilet
The next step in detecting leaks is the toilet. It’s a common cause of leaks, and it often goes unnoticed. But given that it can waste hundreds of water gallons, addressing the toilet’s state is necessary. Here’s how to check if there are leaks in the toilet:
- Remove the tank lid.
- Pour several drops of food color into the tank. You can also purchase some dye tabs and use them instead of food color.
- Allow the color to saturate the water in the toilet. Wait about half an hour without flushing.
- If any color penetrates the tank and enters the bowl, there’s likely a leak.
Usually, all it takes to fix such leaks is to replace the flapper. It has most likely deteriorated over time or cracked, causing water to penetrate the bowl inconspicuously and steadily.
Wall or ceiling leaks
These leaks can go unnoticed until they result in severe discoloration or staining. Thankfully, most of these leaks can be spotted with a simple visual inspection. Check if some regions of the ceiling or walls contain small stains or discoloration. Moisture can lead to mold, so try to find some visible parts of mold or detect it by following its musty smell.
The moment you notice signs of wall or ceiling leaks, get professional help. Prolonged exposure to moisture can make entire sections of walls and ceilings cave in.
Check for underground leaks
If there’s an area near your yard that’s continuously wet even when it’s not raining, this is a sign of a potential leak. Be on the lookout for sections that contain dark spots or areas that are softer than the rest.
If you suspect that there’s a leak somewhere in the household, apply the detection methods described and reach out to professional plumbers to take care of your plumbing issues.
By Richa Khandelwal