How to Find a Plumbing Leak

Service Today

The faster you find a plumbing leak, the more damage you can avoid. You can also avoid wasting large amounts of water. Plumbing leaks are common in homes of all ages, types, and sizes. And it’s not always obvious that a leak is occurring. Professional leak detection can spot the source if you suspect a problem. But first, you need to know the subtle signs and steps to assessing the situation.

Clues to a Potential Leak

Unless you see a flood, a pool of water around an appliance/fixture, or a spray of water from a pipe, you may never know there’s a problem. That’s unless you know what to look for. Many pipes and fittings are buried behind layers of building materials in walls. By the time you discover a leak, extensive damage may have already occurred. Here are some signs that mean it’s time to investigate a potential leak further:
  • Discolored Walls/Ceilings: Usually brownish or yellowish, these stains mean water is leaking from a pipe and soaking through the material.
  • Damaged Paint/Wallpaper: If water is soaking through the wall, paint or wallpaper may not adhere to the surface as it should. A bulging wallboard means there’s more extensive damage.
  • Dripping Noises: You won’t hear water if it’s traveling along a wall stud, but some leaks have audible clues, which can point to their presence and/or location.
  • Musty Odors: A persistent leak provides the moist environment needed for mold to grow. You won’t see mold inside the wall, but if you can smell it, call a professional.
  • Low Water Pressure: If the pressure is low when you turn on a faucet or showerhead, a pipe serving it may be leaking and not supplying enough water.
If your hot water heater or boiler remains on constantly, there may be a leak in the hot water line. A running toilet may be leaking. Or, a water-using appliance may not work properly; check whether it has shifted or if a valve, pipe, or attachment is loose. Muddy patches of dirt or grass in your yard above water pipes are also leaking indicators.

Check the Water Meter

Some water leaks occur underground, so no matter how hard you look, you may not find anything. One way to determine whether there’s a plumbing leak is to test the water meter. Turn off the main valve and turn on a faucet to make sure the water is off. If the dial or digital display still moves, the supply line is leaking. You can also find evidence of leaks when the meter indicates water usage has increased yet you haven’t used more water than usual.

Water Leaks Under Concrete

Without experience, leak detection for problems under concrete is more challenging. However, damp patches and moldy smells apply to leaks under concrete as well. Cracked concrete is another sign, especially if there’s dampness or water escaping from the crack. An uneven surface can mean sections of concrete are being pushed up by the pressure of water below.

Track Your Water Bill

Typically, water bills remain fairly constant. They may rise and fall seasonally; if the utility increases prices, you’ll usually be notified. But if you’re suddenly charged more, and haven’t used excess water, it’s wise to suspect a leak. Even a small leak or dripping faucet can waste 10,000 gallons per year, so spotting changes in your water bill can help conserve and even save money in the long run.

The Toilet Dye Test

Toilet leaks often involve interior components. There may be a crack in the porcelain or the flapper may be worn out. To determine if your toilet is leaking, add a few drops of food coloring to the tank. It will appear in the bowl within a few minutes if there is a leak, so if you see food coloring in the water, call a plumber.

Install a Leak Detector

Older pipes and fixtures can develop pinhole leaks due to corrosion. A frozen or burst pipe can cause extensive damage before you realize it has occurred. One way to get around this is to install a leak detector. It constantly monitors for even small amounts of water. Hearing it’s loud, shrill alarm will prompt you to turn off the water supply and call a professional.

Schedule Leak Detection with Service Today!

Our leak detection experts employ the latest equipment and techniques to identify the source of a water or gas leak. Available 24 hours a day, we use the easiest access points for cameras to determine where the leak is, and can replace a pipe or apply a sealant if it’s enough to resolve the issue. Most often, we can repair the leak without breaking through walls, floors, or ceilings. Call 888-519-8550 to request immediate plumbing service in your area.