Sometimes finding a plumbing leak can be difficult so it's important to know what to look for. In this article, we list the most common leaks, how to find them and what causes them so you can address the problem quickly before it causes expensive damage to your home or business.
What are some common indicators of a plumbing leak and how do you find them?
Be proactive by looking, listening, and feeling for these common signs. It will save you a lot time and money down the road.
- LOOK for evidence of water damage. This includes water stains on the ceilings or walls, warped floors and of course mold.
- LISTEN for dripping noises and strange sounds coming from the walls or a plumbing fixture. That’s a good indication that you have a leak.
- FEEL for a sudden decrease in your water pressure, you may have sediment build-up, a leaky pipe, or faulty valve or seal in your system.
Is it more difficult than usual to turn off the water or open the faucet? Is your water bill suddenly higher than usual? These signs cannot be ignored! Leaks never go away on their own, and the longer you wait, the more expensive they can become.
Visual inspections by room
Examine the flooring around fixtures and appliances that use water, including toilets, bathtubs, dishwashers. Cracked or warped floors indicate moisture presence in this area which can lead to mold growth if left unchecked.
Inspect exposed pipes in basements and crawlspaces. Corrosion, mineral buildup, or moisture present around the pipes indicates a leak. If you see mold, mildew, or rotted wood around these pipes, your leak is probably in this area. Water tends to travel downward, and often the location of water stains is not the exact location of the leaking pipe.
For kitchens and bathrooms, shine a light through the cabinets and look for moisture at the joints. Also, look for corrosion on supply line fittings or valves. Water stains on the bottom of cupboards or below sinks, along with dampness/mold growths inside cabinets typically mean there is an issue with leaking pipes.
If you suspect a leak in your home, don't wait! Give us a call right away. Most importantly, know where your main water shut-off valve is and how to use it, in case a small leak turns into an overwhelming flood.
What causes plumbing leaks?
Leaks can be annoying, but they could also point to a larger issue. The most common causes of leaky plumbing are water pressure issues, damaged pipes, untreated drain clogs, and damaged seals. Here are some of the basic indicators and causes of plumbing leaks by fixture.
Tub, Faucet, or Shower Leaks
- Mineral deposit build-up
- Faulty handles - screeching, clanking, spitting and dribbling could mean you have worn washers, a clogged aerator or a dirty diverter.
- Worn or cracked cartridges- cartridges help regulate the flow of hot and cold water and can develop leaks as it starts to wear out.
- Bad seals ( look for mold or poor adhesion) .
- Movement of the shower tray / base - crack in the grouting or a poor seal between the shower tray and the wall will cause a leak.
- Improper slopping- all shower surfaces must slope to the drain in order to avoid water damage.
- Pooling water at the base - indicates the seal is worn out.
- Running toilets- indicates your float, refill tube, and/or ballcock needs replaced.
- Phantom flushes indicate a leak between the tank and the bowl.
- Bubbling or gurgling sounds coming from the pipes - means there is negative pressure in the line which is most likely caused by a clog.
- Inspect the tubes and pipes entering the tank - make sure the seal is tight.
- Check the pressure relief valve near the top of the tank - older valves leak and must be replaced after wear and tear.
- Check the drain valve for escaping water - replace immediately if there is drip.
- Raised or uneven flooring near the base - means there is a leak
- Puddles or condensation at the bottom of the tank - indicates there is a leak inside the tank. If the tank is new, you many need to tighten nuts and bolts or replace element washers. Otherwise you need to replace the water heater.
- Musty or moldy smell in the laundry room or kitchen
- Pooling water on the floor by washing machine or dishwasher
- Cracked or bulged hoses
- Loose or rusty connections
If you have a leak or other plumbing problem, don't wait to fix it. Even a slow leak ( three drops of water per minute) wastes about 157 gallons of water a year. Leaks also corrode your pipes, cause structural damage and increase your utility bills. If you are experiencing any issues, give us a call. We are leak detection experts and can help you address the problem quickly with an affordable solution.