Leaks are without a doubt a major annoyance for homeowners. If you don’t catch them early, they can cause great damage and cost you a ton of money. However, there are many pipes and plumbing structures within a home that aren’t seen every day. Potential hidden leaks could be silently increasing your water bill every month and wasting gallons upon gallons of water in the process. We’ve put together a few things to look out for and tips on how to prevent hidden leaks from happening in the first place.
If you’re concerned about a potential leak, before you do anything else, check the areas where a leak is most likely to occur. This includes under the sinks in your kitchens and bathrooms, showers, hoses, behind your refrigerators and washing machines, and anywhere else pipes can be seen throughout your home. Some leaks aren’t visible, though, and you’ll also need to keep your eye out for mold, funky smells, or other signs of wetness that could indicate that a leak was present.
A telltale sign that there may be a leak is if your bill is noticeably higher. If your water bill keeps rising without a known reason, this means your usage somewhere is increasing. In this situation, it would be best to call a professional plumber to check through all the pipes. Many of the pipes are underground or otherwise located out of view, and you’d need a professional in order to identify the problem.
The easiest way to confirm a leak is to check the leak indicator located on your water meter. Generally, you’ll find your water meter in front of your house near the front curb, in a concrete box marked “water”. The leak indicator may look like a small triangular dial. If the dial is moving, there’s a leak. If you don’t have a leak indicator, there’s another easy way to figure out if the leak is located in your main water line. First shut off the water in your home, and make note of the reading shown on your water meter. Wait two hours and read the meter again. If the meter reading increased, you’re dealing with a leak.
Leaks don’t just happen indoors, they can happen outside as well. Make sure you double check hoses and your irrigation system. Attach a garden hose to your spigot and let the water run. If water trickles through, this is considered to be a leak. Although this can be easily fixed with a rubber hose gasket, a small leak like this can waste over 6,000 gallons of water a month. By wasting this many gallons of water, you can expect that your water bill will spike.
Overall, toilets usually account for around 30% of water usage within a home, and a leaky toilet can increase that percentage exponentially. To test and make sure your toilet is running properly and without any leaks, grab some food dye and add a few drops to the toilet tank. The idea here is that after you flush, if the toilet is working properly and isn’t leaking, the color should be gone. After flushing, wait about 10 to 15 minutes and then take a look at the bowl. If the color shows up in the bowl, you most likely are dealing with a leak. Fixing a leaking toilet usually involves replacing the rubber gaskets around the tank bolts, which is a relatively simple fix for a profressional plumber.
Sometimes a sign of a leak isn’t in the leak itself, but the odor it gives off. If you notice a smell of rotten eggs or sulfur it could potentially mean you have a sewage leak. Any sort of gas from your plumbing should not be released, so if this is something you are smelling, it is most likely because of a leak somewhere. In order to locate the exact spot where the gas and any potential liquid is seeping out of, we highly suggest calling a professional.
A puddle of water near your water heater could indicate a leak—or, it could be harmless condensation. To determine if your heater is leaking or not, start by checking the cold-water inlet and hot-water connection outlets. These are the pipes that connect to the top of your heater. The cold-water inlet valve is where cold water enters the heater. If you have a leak here, you should be able to see water dripping. But if you don’t, take a paper towel and wipe the valve with it. If the towel comes back wet, then you’ve got a leak.
Loose or corroded pipe fittings can also spring leaks. Take a close look at the connection points between pipes and your water heater to see if any water is leaking out, or if any corrosion is present.
If your water pressure seems to be low every time you turn your sink or shower on, this could be a sign of a leak somewhere in your plumbing system. Depending on where exactly the leak is in the pipes, it might not even originate from your property. The water could potentially be leaking underground or in the pipes under the street. All the more reason to keep track of your water bill each month for signs of trouble!
If it hasn’t rained recently and you still continually notice water pooling outside of your home, this could be a sign of a leak or some other pressing issue with your drainage system. Sometimes, tree roots can grow into your pipes and create leaks. These leaks allow for excess moisture to flow into your yard, creating moist spots and (in extreme cases) sinkholes. If you believe you have a leak caused by tree roots, a plumber can diagnose the problem with a video inspection.
If you think you might be dealing with a plumbing leak, let the professionals at Chas Roberts help. We can uncover what’s going on deep within your plumbing system with our tools of the trade, including video drain inspections. Contact us to get started.