How to find a hidden water leak?

12 October 2021


Whether you rent or own your house, you’ve probably found yourself lying awake at night wondering where the water leak in your house is coming from and how bad it would be if you left it until the morning.

Perhaps you awoke to a flooded kitchen from a leaking dishwasher or washing machine, or a puddle of water with a hole in the ceiling from a busted pipe. Insurance companies pay out millions of dollars each day for water damage in homes, and it could be costly if you wait too long to address the issue. While you won’t be able to prevent all plumbing leaks, you may take precautions to limit the chance of serious damage to your house. 

How do I find a water leak that is not visible?

A water leak that is detected early on will save you money and prevent disaster. Here are three major indicators that you may have a water leak and you should seek water leak repair services from a plumber.

Check the Water Meter

Checking your water meter is one of the best ways to see if you have a leak in your plumbing. You’ll need to cut off all of the water in your house first. Make sure all faucets are turned off and the dishwasher and washing machine aren’t running. Next, check the meter to see if it starts to shift. If it does, you’ve got a fast-moving leak on your hands. Wait two hours and check the meter again if it doesn’t change right away. You may have a slower leak if the reading has changed despite shutting off all the water. 

Check Your Water Bill

If your bill keeps going up but your water usage habits haven’t changed, a leak could be to blame. Collect some bills from the previous few months and compare them to see if there has been a consistent rise. Your water bill should be similar from month to month. 

You should keep in mind that some of your pipes may be buried. Leaks in this area of your plumbing system may not be detected, but you will inevitably pay for them. It’s advisable to hire a professional plumber to inspect all of your pipes. 

Check Outside

Leaks don’t simply happen within the house, they can also happen outside. Attach a garden hose to your exterior spigots; if water seeps through the connection while the hose is flowing, replace the rubber hose gasket and double-check all connections. If you have an irrigation system, have it checked once a year by an expert. Even a little leak in your plumbing system can waste thousands of gallons of water every month.

8 best ways to find hidden water leaks in your home

1. Dye Test

If there are no puddles near fixtures or appliances, check to see if the toilet, which is a major cause of internal leaks, needs to be repaired. The flapper on the toilet (a rubber stopper that keeps water out of the bowl until you flush it) can become brittle over time, enabling water to trickle from the tank into the bowl. 

Fill a bottle with food coloring and drop a few drops into each toilet tank in the home. Color will develop in the toilet bowl within five minutes if the tank is leaking. Call a plumber if you notice color in the bowl.

2. Stay Alert

You’ll know right away what’s wrong if a fitting on a supply line under your sink breaks but some leaks are considerably more difficult to detect. In the worst-case scenario, water may trickle slowly through a wall’s pipe fittings and go undiscovered until it causes considerable damage. 

Even if the water meter test indicates that you don’t have a leak right now, one could appear at any time in the future, so keep a lookout for:

  • Discoloration of the walls. This could be the result of water escaping under the drywall and soaking through to the front. The color of water stains on ceilings and walls is usually yellowish or brownish.
  • Paint that is dripping or wallpaper that is bulging. Both of these symptoms indicate that the wallboard is damp and that the paint or wallpaper is no longer sticking properly. A bulging in the wallboard, in some circumstances, indicates that the water damage is more significant and that the wallboard will need to be replaced.
  • There’s a dripping sound. While some leaks are completely silent—for example, if water is running along a wall stud—other leaks can occasionally be heard, providing you an indication as to where the leak is coming from.
  • There is a musty odor. A continual leak creates the ideal humid environment for mold to thrive over time. You may notice black spots on the exterior of the wall in certain circumstances, but mold commonly grows inside the wall where you can’t see it. A musty odor is a warning sign. 

3. Look for Mold

Mold growth is indicated by unexpected color changes in the house paint, the floor, walls, or ceiling. Regularly inspect the backs of your bathroom and kitchen cupboards, as well as under sinks and drains. Mold growth is indicated by bad odors. Inspect your attic for roof leaks.

4. Be Aware of Underground Leaks

Finding a water leak in your house can be tricky and the problem may not even be originating from inside your home. If a section of your yard appears softer than others or if dark stains appear, you should be concerned. You should also keep a close eye on the area around your driveway and street to check if there is any unusual water movement.

It is not necessary for water to flow in a continuous stream. Even puddles that appear to be out of place can signal a subsurface leak. If you believe you have a water leak under your house, contact your local water or utility company right away. They have the tools and know-how to further investigate and resolve the problem.

5. Use a Damp Meter

If you suspect a water leak because you have some wet or cold areas on your wall, you should confirm that they are damp or cold by using a surface thermometer or damp meter. If you don’t have access to these pieces of equipment, you can identify cooler or damper regions of your wall, floor, or ceiling using the back of your hand.

A damp meter checks for moisture. You can also use a hygrometer, which measures the moisture content of the air in your room and can help you figure out whether your damp patches are caused by condensation or by a water leak behind or inside your wall. If you are unsure, contacting a plumber to discover signs of a leak is the best way to go!

6. Check the Shower

It’s a good idea to periodically inspect the seals around your shower and showerhead, as an unnoticed leak here can lead to a more serious plumbing issue. If water is regularly leaking and coming into contact with the surrounding wall or floor, it can cause significant damage.

Shower leaks can quickly turn into a costly plumbing repair if considerable renovation work is required. Wooden flooring and joists are prone to expanding and eventually decaying, which can result in an expensive replacement project requiring the removal of your shower tray or enclosure.

Peeling paint and deteriorating flooring are two things to keep an eye out for. If you have vinyl flooring, this is a bigger issue because water puddles can cause it to curl and deteriorate to the point where it allows water to contact whatever is underneath, which is usually wood.

When having a shower, keep curtains inside the tub to avoid water pools on the floor. Mold spots on silicone and seals are also a cause for concern. This can indicate that there are holes in the silicone that need to be filled.

7. Check the Toilet

A slow leak between the toilet and the waste pipe is the source of the majority of toilet leaks. This implies that water leaks every time your toilet is flushed. Because your toilet is usually used more frequently than your shower, floor damage can quickly snowball into costly plumbing repairs.

If your toilet rocked while you sat on it, it could be a warning that you’re in trouble, as the rocking could eventually break the flange seal and cause a leak. To ensure that the toilet is safe, check the seals at the bottom of the toilet where it touches the floor.

8. Check the Basement

Inspect exposed pipes in crawl spaces and basements. A leak is indicated by corrosion or dampness surrounding the pipes. Your leak is most likely in this region if you find mold, mildew, or rotten wood near these pipes. Because water flows downward, the location of water stains is frequently not the same as the exact location of the leaking pipe. Nonetheless, it is a good indicator of the overall location of the moisture source.

Perform an emergency pipe leak test

The bathroom is necessary for both your comfort and health so you shouldn’t take any chances. Our licensed plumbers can verify that the plumbing systems in your house or business are compliant with the law.

Plomberie Pro-Drain can assist you with a toilet, air conditioning, heating, plumbing steel pipe, or a shower redesign or repair. If you require extensive plumbing services for a construction or renovation job, our team of experts has the resources, equipment, personnel and the expertise needed to ensure that all of your installations are working properly and are in compliance with all applicable standards and laws.

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Our plumbers provide timely, friendly, and personalized service throughout the greater Montreal area and its environs, whether you’re on the south or north shore. We’re here to assist you in resolving your plumbing issues. Feel free to contact us if you’re interested in one of our services! 

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