How to Find a Water Leak
The EPA estimates that 3,000 gallons per year can go to waste from a leak at the rate of one drip per second. Aside from wasting a precious resource, water leaks also impact your budget. Whether you put the water to good use or not, you’ll be charged by the meter’s gallon count.
Another way water leaks will cost you is with water damage accumulation. Fort Worth property owners may not notice faulty plumbing or malfunctioning appliances in tucked-away places (like a water heater) until nearby items and construction have already been ruined.
If the amount due on your water bill is surprisingly high and your utility company can’t explain why then it’s time to look around your property for answers. Today, we’ll walk you through how to find a water leak.
How to Find a Water Leak in Your Home
Some water leaks in the house are obvious (like drips under the sink or behind the toilet. If you discover a problem and fix it, does it stop there? Perhaps not. There could be other leaks that are still wasting water.
Why not take the time to do a full inspection of your property to make sure there are no other problems? A thorough search for water leaks could save you in the long run - both with utilities and damage repair costs.
Examine Fixtures and Appliances
How to find a water leak in your house begins inside with a high-level inspection. This includes checking all the fixtures and appliances that the plumbing routes to.
- Toilets: Look over the toilet’s tank parts for wear or weaknesses (especially the flapper valve).
- Bathtubs and showers: Check bathtubs and showers for drips or puddles around the bases of toilets, tubs, and separate showers.
- Sinks and cabinets: Look under kitchen and bathroom sinks for signs and smells of water. Check each cabinet near a water usage area to make sure everything is dry.
- Clothes washer and dishwasher: Run the washer to check for malfunctions. Pull out the appliances to check the connection hoses for leaks. Also, check for puddles around the washer.
- Water heater: Examine water heater for connection hose leaks or water collecting below. Since water heaters are usually out of sight and out of mind, you might consider fitting it with a moisture sensor alarm, so you’ll immediately know if it springs a leak.
If you come across any puddles, shut off the water supply to the associated appliance or fixture and contact a plumber for further assistance.
Observe Your Water Meter
How to detect water leaks begins with water meter leaks confirmation.This is a surefire way to know if you have an unresolved water leak with your property.
A water meter is usually found near the road where the utility company can access it without intruding on your property. Look for a covered box or a covered manhole.
If you have trouble locating the water meter, contact your utility company to ask where it is. Once you find the meter, follow the four steps below.
- Stop all running water by turning off all water faucets, the washing machine, or the dishwasher. They will need to remain off for the duration of the test. Ask members of the household to cooperate with this by not using any sinks, tubs, showers, toilets, or water-using appliances until the test is complete.
- Go to the water meter and copy down the number on the counter.
- After some time has passed, check to see if the numbers have changed:
- If after a few minutes, you see the number has increased, there is likely a fast-moving leak.
- Check again in an hour or two. If the number goes up, then there is likely a slow leak. If the number still hasn’t changed after two hours, then it’s not likely that there are any leaks.
- Once you detect a leak by meter confirmation, you can rule out if the leak is happening with outdoor functions. You’ll do this by shutting off the house’s main water supply.
Keep all water turned off as mentioned in the above steps, but then shut off the water supply to the house itself. This control may be in your basement or utility room. Write down the meter’s counter number. Check again after an hour to see if the number on the counter has changed. If it hasn’t, the leak is inside the home.
Monitor Your Water Bill
How much water use is considered excessive? For a household with four members, a bill that reflects a usage total of more than 12,000 gallons in a given month is too much. A spike like this could mean that there is a leak somewhere.
You can track changes in usage by comparing billing statements over several months. If you see that there is an abrupt change in the amount due (or in the total gallon count), you’re likely being charged for water you haven’t really used.
Unless someone is somehow stealing water from you, this change can probably be blamed on water leak problem(s). The water leak issues could be complex or underground.
Be Aware Of Leaking Clues
Once you’ve checked the areas where leaks commonly occur, you’re ready to go a bit deeper in your search for any peripheral issues.
Water leaks can be inaudible or invisible when behind walls or ceilings. If these leaks go on for some time, they eventually make themselves known by showing signs of damage. Here’s what to look for:
- Wall or ceiling discoloration: Water stains signal that a water leak from pipes or a faulty roof has been going on long enough that the wall and ceiling material is now becoming saturated with water. These marks are typically a yellowish or brownish color.
- Dripping sounds: It can be hard to hear dripping water behind a wall or ceiling, so if you do hear dripping sounds, this signals that the problem may have progressed into an urgent matter.
- Deformed walls: Walls and ceilings should be flat and smooth. Any bubbling, bulging, swelling, or warping of paint, drywall, or wallpaper is a sign that water has accumulated so much that it is soaking through the materials.
- Seeing or smelling mold: Mold can be discovered by its musty odor or dark and speckled spots. This means that water damage has been sitting long enough for mold spores to take root and colonize.
Water ends up where it doesn’t belong by way of failures with plumbing, appliances, fixtures, or structure (such as the roof or windows). Awareness of how water leaks make themselves known can help you spot trouble right away.
Food Coloring in Your Toilet
How to find where a leak is coming from can be done with a clever color test. This lets you know if your toilet is faulty.
Put a few drops of dye or food coloring in the toilet tank. Do not flush the toilet. Wait for 10-20 minutes. If you see the water in the toilet bowl is tinted with the color you used, this indicates a leak.
This kind of toilet leak happens when the flapper (rubber stopper) in the toilet tank wears down over time. A weakened flapper allows water to bypass the seal. To solve this water wasting issue, replace the flapper with a new one (appropriate for your commode).
Water Leak Outside Your Home
Once you’ve ticked all the boxes for indoor inspection, you can check the rest of your property. Take recent weather into account. If it has recently rained, then it’s uncertain if the puddles or saturated ground is due to a water leak.
Even when finding a water leak outdoors was ruled out by the meter test, you can still check the external water functions for signs of wear (that may lead to future problems). Here’s how to find a water leak outside.
Inspect Your Shut Off Valve
The outdoor shut-off valve is usually located around the water meter. Look for nearby puddles or signs of water saturation around the shut-off valve and any exposed supply lines.
Greener Patches of Grass
How to find a water leak underground can be as simple as looking out over the lawn. Are there patches of grass that are a brighter green than the rest? This could be a sign that some parts are getting more water than others because of a water leak.
One possible cause is a fault with the irrigation system. If the leak is severe, puddles may form on the surface near the watering system.
Don’t forget to check outdoor spigots, hoses, gaskets, and connection pieces for breakage or aging. Turn on the water to check for weaknesses. Apply the appropriate repair methods to these problems or contact a plumber.
Becoming aware of what seems to be wearing down now helps anticipate future water problems.
Contact the SERVPRO Professionals of Fort Worth Water Damage Restoration
Being on the lookout for signs of water leaks could mean saving lots of money in repairs and utility bills. Those who own properties that are older than 20 years should especially be observant of breakdowns from years of wear and tear. It’s a good idea to schedule routine inspections and maintenance for your home.
SERVPRO of North Richland Hills has successfully resolved water leak issues and repaired water damage for countless properties in Fort Worth, Texas. We have the expertise on how to find a water leak and quickly stop the problem at its source.
Our water damage restoration Fort Worth services response team is trained on the latest industry advancements, and we send them out with the best equipment in the industry.
Don’t let a water leak issue get out of control. We’re here to help you solve the root causes of water leaks and do the necessary fixes to prevent secondary damage (like wood rot or mold growth). Call us at (817) 589-1499 today!