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9 Ways You Can Detect a Plumbing Leak

Technician explains how to detect a leak in Colombus, OH

Plumbing leaks are a common issue and one that has the potential to cause serious problems. Even a small leak can potentially lead to major water damage and mold growth if left unchecked. If the leak is larger, it can also cause your water bill to skyrocket and force you to pay far more than you should. The issue is that many leaks are difficult to spot as they can occur inside your walls, under your home's foundation, or even out in your yard. The good news is that the following methods can help you determine if you have a plumbing leak and hopefully pinpoint where the leak is.

1. Keep a Record of Your Water Usage

Your water bill can be a huge help in determining whether you have a plumbing leak. If you notice that your water bill is suddenly much higher from one month to the next, this is a good indicator that you have a leak. Water usage can vary from month to month especially during the summer when you might be watering your lawn more often or otherwise using additional water.

For this reason, it is also helpful to save your water bills or keep a record of your monthly water usage. This allows you to compare the same month across multiple years. For instance, if your water bills for this spring were unexplainably higher than they were the previous spring or two, the difference could be due to a leak.

2. Monitor Your Water Meter

Your water meter can also show if you have a leak. Many water meters have a leak indicator that will spin or rotate when water is flowing. To check this, make sure that all the water is shut off both inside and outside of the house, and then go check the meter. If the leak indicator is spinning or the numbers on the meter continue to rise, it indicates that you have a major leak.

You can also use the water meter to check for minor leaks. After shutting off your water, make note of the reading on the meter. Leave your water shut off for a few hours, and then check the reading again. If the numbers have gone up by even a small amount, you obviously have a leak somewhere in or outside your home.

3. Inspect Your Fixtures and Appliances

If you suspect you have a leak, the first thing to do is to check all your appliances and plumbing fixtures. Look under your cabinets for any standing water or other signs that your sink is leaking. Check around the base of the toilet and feel for moisture around the bolts where the tank connects to the toilet bowl.

Inspect around and underneath your washing machine, dishwasher, water heater, water softener, and other appliances. Sometimes you may not see any standing water, but you will often still see mineral deposits that let you know that there was water there recently.

You should also check all the water sources outside of the home for any signs of a leak. Check your hose spigots to make sure they're not dripping and inspect every sprinkler head to make sure they're not leaking at the top or at the base.

4. Pay Attention to the Condition of Your Yard

Leaks in your sprinkler system or the water main leading to your home are much more difficult to spot, but there are often still signs that can clue you in if you're paying attention. For instance, if one area of your yard is much greener and lusher than the rest, it could indicate that the grass in that area is getting more water due to a leak. If there is a major leak, you may also notice that part of your yard is constantly moist or soggy.

5. Look Out for Obvious Signs

There are often some obvious signs that will eventually appear if you have a leak. Look for obvious signs like bubbling paint on the walls or ceilings, loose wallpaper, mold spots, or yellowish water stains. If your toilet, dishwasher, or washing machine is leaking, you may also notice that the floor in that area is soft and spongy. The flooring may also start to raise or warp. If your plumbing is underneath concrete, warm spots on the floor can also indicate a leak.

It is important to note that not all leaks and signs of water damage are plumbing related. Water spots on the ceiling could indicate that your roof is leaking, and water spots on a wall could be a result of a leaky window. Whether it is a plumbing leak or something else, it is important that you get the issue fixed as soon as possible to minimize water damage and reduce the chances of mold starting to grow.

6. Use Your Nose

A small leak inside a wall may not show obvious signs for quite some time. However, when a leak is present, mold will quickly begin to grow without you knowing it. The first sign will usually be a musty or moldy odor, so this is something to look out for as well.

7. Listen for Drips or Running Water

If a pipe is leaking inside your wall, you may hear tell-tale dripping noises. Another good sign is if you hear water running through your pipes even when none of your plumbing fixtures are in use. In some cases, you may also hear water running under a concrete slab or foundation.

You should also listen to make sure that your toilets aren't running when not in use. If your toilet is constantly running, it usually indicates that the float valve is set to high which prevents the fill valve from shutting off. Luckily, this is usually an easy fix.

8. Test Your Toilet

Toilets often develop issues where water will slowly leak from the tank to the bowl even when not in use. This most commonly occurs because the flapper gets worn out and can no longer create a watertight seal between the tank and bowl. While this may not seem like that big of a deal, a badly leaking toilet flapper can potentially waste up to 200 gallons of water a day.

To check if your toilet is leaking, put a teaspoon or so of food coloring in the tank. Wait around 15 minutes, and then check to see if the water in the bowl is colored. If so, this indicates that your tank is leaking and most likely that the flapper needs to be replaced.

9. Watch Your Water Pressure

Your water pressure can also indicate signs of a leak. Your water pressure should always remain constant even when you're showering or running your dishwasher or washing machine. If your water pressure is suddenly much lower than it usually is and stays that way for more than a day or two, there is a good chance that the drop in pressure is due to a plumbing leak.

Reliable Leak Detection

At Apex Plumbing, Heating, and Air Pros in Columbus, we specialize in leak detection and have the knowledge and equipment to detect and find even the smallest leaks. We even have specialized cameras and ground mics for detecting slab leaks. Our licensed plumbers also work on sump pumps, septic systems, water heaters, and all other plumbing fixtures. If you're dealing with a clogged pipe or drain, we also offer drain cleaning and hydrojetting services. Give us a call today to schedule service.