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How To Find a Water Leak in Your House

water dripping off a pipe

Your home may seem like a serene haven, but there might be sneaky leaks ready to wreak havoc. Leaks can cause massive spikes in your water bill and damage your beloved house. The key to preserving the peace in your home is early detection.

The sooner you sniff out a water leak, the less trouble it can cause. To help you, here are the common signs of a water leak you should look out for. Contact the professional plumbers immediately if you notice anything suspicious. They have the tools and expertise to perform the necessary repairs.

How To Find Water Leaks in the House

All homeowners will face a leak at some point. It’s a common problem even in new homes. Unfortunately, leaks aren’t always obvious, so you have to be extra attentive to find a water leak. Here are the most common signs of a leak.

Changing Water Meter

If you think there’s a leak at home, the best way to confirm your suspicions is by checking the water meter. First, shut off the water supply to your home and turn off the faucets. You must also ensure that the washing machine, dishwasher and other appliances that use water are off. Next, go to the water meter and check it. If you see it moving, you have a fast-flowing leak. But if it doesn’t change, give it two hours and check again. If you notice a change, you likely have a slower leak.

Skyrocketing Water Bill

Your monthly water bill should be more or less the same every month. If you suspect a leak, gather your past statements and see if there’s a steady increase. According to the EPA, a four-member family typically consumes no more than 12,000 gallons monthly. But a small leak can waste as much as 10,000 gallons yearly. That’s why homeowners should monitor their water bills.

Common Areas Where Water Can Leak

If you believe you have a water leak, there are a few places where you might be dealing with it. You can try checking some of these appliances and areas to pinpoint the leak.

Leaking Fixtures and Appliances

If your water meter confirms the presence of a leak, inspect the cabinets under the bathroom, kitchen and laundry sinks. If they are wet, moldy or emitting a foul smell, you might have found the source of the leak. You should also check around the shower, bathtub, toilets, water heater, dishwasher and washing machine. If you spot puddles near these fixtures and appliances, turn off the water supply and contact a professional plumber.

Leaking Toilet

If none of the fixtures and appliances are the problem, one of the toilets is probably leaking into the bowl. Food coloring can help you confirm this. Add a few drops into the toilet tank. You’ll know there’s a leak if color appears in the bowl within five minutes. Perform this test on all of your toilets at home. The toilet flapper stops the water in the tank from flowing into the bowl until you flush. But this part wears down over time and can cause a leak. It’s best to have a professional plumber replace this part.

Exterior Leaks

If you can’t find the leak inside your home, look outside. Patches of greener grass on your lawn could indicate a leaking water line underground. You might even see puddles if it’s a powerful leak. You should also check the spigots outside. Attach a garden hose, let the water run and see if there’s a leak through the connection. If so, get a new rubber hose gasket and tighten all connections. If you have an irrigation system, have a licensed irrigator conduct annual maintenance to prevent leaks.

Clues Around the House

Even if your water meter tells you there is no leak, that doesn’t mean one can’t develop later. It is always good to look for signs around the house. One of them is wall discoloration, indicating a leak behind the drywall. These water stains are usually brown or yellow. Another is bubbling paint or wallpaper, meaning the wallpaper no longer adheres to the wall. Musty smells are another clue. Leaks make your home an ideal place for mold to grow, explaining the odor.

If you think there’s a leak in your house, but you can’t find the source, let the plumbing professionals take over. They can determine the cause and resolve the problem.

a water meter

Where Is My Water Meter?

Your water meter is a crucial part of your home. It measures the total amount of water that passes through it. The meter is helpful if you’re trying to catch a leak in your house. Many water meters have leak indicators with high sensitivity, allowing them to detect even the tiniest leaks. Unfortunately, not all homeowners know where their water meter is. If you can’t find yours, here’s a guide to help you locate it.

Look for a Box in the Ground

Go outside through the front door and walk toward the street. Water meters are usually near the edge of the property line. Scan your yard for a flat area with a concrete box covered by a plastic, metal or cement lid. The cover can either be round or square. The grass might be concealing it, so examine your yard closely. After locating the box, grab the handle and lift the lid. If there’s nothing to hold onto, you might have to insert a tool to open it. You should find the water meter inside.

Search Near the Shut-Off Valve

Your water meter might be inside your home if you can’t find a box outside. Go to the garage, where the main shut-off valve is. You should see the water meter near it. Colder areas usually use this format because the water pipes can freeze outside. Some houses have both outdoor and indoor water meters.

After locating the water meter, the next step is to learn how to read and understand it. Check the reading, write the number down and indicate the date. After a week, recheck the water meter and note the number and date. Subtract the first measurement from the second to get the water usage during that period in cubic feet. Multiply the result by 7.48 to convert it to gallons. Finally, divide the water usage in gallons by seven to determine your average daily water usage.

water on the floor

What To Do When Water Is Leaking From the Wall

There’s nothing more unsightly than watermarks on your wall. But it doesn’t just ruin the look of your space. Watermarks indicate a water leak inside the wall, which can significantly damage your home’s structure.

There are many other signs of leakage inside a wall aside from watermarks. Wet spots, mold or mildew growth and bubbling or peeling paint are some of them. Pay attention to dripping sounds and musty odors, too. If you’re dealing with a wall leak, here are the possible causes.

Faulty or Damaged Plumbing

No matter the material of your pipes, they can develop cracks and become faulty over time. Pex plumbing is the most susceptible to damage because rodents find them irresistible and like to chew on them. Pex pipes don’t do well in cold weather, either. Lead or galvanized pipes in older homes can be troublesome as well.

Roof Leaks

If there’s a leak on your roof, water can get into your home and seep into the walls. That would explain the watermarks. Gutters and downspouts can also become clogged and cause the same problem. That’s why homeowners should regularly check on these parts of their house and arrange the necessary repairs or cleaning.

Below-Grade Issues

If the roof, gutter or downspout isn’t the issue, an exterior below-grade problem might be causing your wall to leak. Improper drainage, sprinkler valves leaking or incorrect grading are all possible culprits. Water should flow away from your home instead of pooling around it and soaking into the lower parts of your walls.

Detective work is as far as you can go with wall leaks. You can try to determine the cause, but fixing it may be beyond homeowners’ skills. Interior plumbing issues may require cutting the wall open and replacing the damaged parts. You also might have to patch up the wall and sand and paint it.

Once you notice any signs of a wall leak, contact a professional plumber who can address the issue and prevent further damage. Ignoring the problem can lead to costly damage to your home’s structure.

Ask for Professional Help When You Have Water Leaks in the House

Water leaks are part of owning a house. Everyone will experience them at some point. Many factors can cause this issue, and it can be challenging for homeowners to pinpoint the cause. Some may not even know they have a water leak problem until after seeing significant damage to their homes.

That’s where professional plumbers come in. They can keep your home in tip-top shape to prevent leaks. But, if you already have a water leak issue, they can determine the cause and perform the necessary repairs and replacements. They’ll come to your home and get things back in working order.

ABC Can Help You Lower Your Water Bill

When you suspect you may have a plumbing problem, don’t wait to call a professional. In mere minutes, a water leak can cause thousands of dollars in damage, sometimes making your home unlivable. When you have a plumbing problem, like a water leak or slab leak, count on the licensed, experienced professionals at ABC Home & Commercial Services to take care of the issue so that you can get back to enjoying your home.

Jim Brant

Jim Brant is the Plumbing Director for ABC Dallas and Fort Worth branches and has been with the company for five years. Jim has 30 years of experience in the plumbing industry and 14 as a master plumber. When Jim isn't addressing plumbing issues in the Metroplex and beyond, he enjoys off-roading in his Jeep.

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