Your home is an important investment that needs protection from water damage caused by slow, hidden leaks. Small hidden leaks in your plumbing system can go unnoticed at first but may cause costly, serious damage over time. It’s important to know how to recognize indicators of such leaks early enough to call a plumber in order to prevent the water damage from spreading unchecked. Let’s explore some tips to detect and locate leaks in your home.
Identifying a Hidden Plumbing Leak
It’s common to spot water leaks coming from household fixtures, but at times, the plumbing pipes and joints in less noticeable locations within your home can spring small leaks. If you notice one or more of the following conditions, you may have a hidden water leak in your home that needs diagnostics and repair.
1. Your Water Meter Indicates Usage During a Test
If you suspect there’s a leak anywhere, the first step is to check your water meter as it tracks water consumption. Note the current reading listed on the meter. Then, turn off all fixtures and do not use any water for two hours. At the end of the two hour period, note if the reading has changed and if the flow detector currently shows any water is running through the system. Even a small leak should register on the flow detector dial, notifying you there is indeed a potential problem.
2. Unexplained Water Bill Increase
Water usage per household can and does fluctuate depending on the seasons and a variety of other factors. However, there are usually rough usage averages your home maintains during the winter and summer seasons. If you notice a significantly higher water bill than expected, this warrants investigation into the reasons why that is the case. If you have not been watering the lawn, did not add anyone to your household or can determine no other explanation for the increase, then the next possible reason could be a hidden leak.
3. Water Damage in Your Ceilings or Walls
When you look at the physical structure of your home, it may not immediately occur to you to look at the lower level ceilings. Bathrooms located upstairs for example, have multiple instances (sinks, toilets and showers) where leaks can slowly wind through the flooring. This leaking water can cause the ceiling paint to bubble slightly or bulge in a line due to gravity. With the walls of your home, any leaking water can more freely flow downward, often becoming noticeable due to discoloration or the presence of mold or mildew.
Locate the Source of the Plumbing Leaks
When you first suspect and confirm with your water meter that a leak is present, you should start by checking the fixtures and appliances before and after use. When your fixtures themselves aren’t leaking, it can be more difficult to ascertain the location of leaks in inaccessible places. Gravity pulls the flow of water downward, meaning it’s not always easy to pinpoint the leak source. However, there are certain places in your home or apartment to check for sources of these hidden leaks.
Inspect All Exposed Plumbing Piping
Take a look at your pipes and the area around them to see if there’s any discoloration, corrosion or moisture present. Check the pipe joints, valves and supply-line fittings – feeling for water and looking for signs of mold or mildew.
Check Exterior Faucets
Your outside spigots, valves and the pipes leading up to them can also be a source of interior leaks. Check around the exterior faucet for corrosion and look for damp spots below to see if there’s any issues. Turn the outside spigot on and off, then place a bucket below to determine if it leaks continuously afterward. It is also possible for a hose bib to develop a leak between the interior and exterior walls of your home. Look for dampness or odor in the lower level of your home, and if that is found, turn off the water supply to exterior plumbing fixtures.
Ensure Your Toilet is Evenly Bolted to the Floor
When you suspect water is leaking through the upstairs bathroom floor tiling, but can’t identify any leaks, check your toilet. Even if you don’t find a puddle around the base of your toilet, it’s possible the water is leaking slowly enough to flow through a crack in the tiling caulk underneath. If the toilet wobbles when you sit on it, it might need to be bolted tighter to the floor. If it still wobbles after that, there could be water seeping out eating away at the wax seal around the bottom of the toilet.
Contact a Professional Plumber
After confirming there is a leak present somewhere in your home, it may be difficult to correctly ascertain its source. Especially when hidden plumbing leaks threaten to damage your home, it’s important to turn off all water to your home as soon as possible using the main water shutoff valve. Once that is complete, seek out a professional plumber, who can promptly identify and fix the plumbing leaks to mitigate further or potential water damage to your home.
Leaks come from many sources – some easily identifiable and other hidden in places that can cause significant water damage and expensive bills if not spotted and fixed. Use these tips to identify hidden leaks to lessen the potential for damage to your home. Contact a professional plumber in the Northern Virginia area today to solve your hidden leak problem – call Atlas Home Services today.