Water is one of the most vital renewable resources in your home. However, they can also be the most destructive element when they flow to places they are not supposed to.
Water leaks are often silent killers. It’s easy to spot them when visual cues are available. But water leak detection becomes tricky when they leave no liquid breadcrumbs behind.
Unfortunately, you’ll only feel their wrath once the damage escalates into a full-blown structural problem that requires expensive repairs.
You don’t want that. And Drain Magic is here to prevent that from happening.
So how exactly do you detect hidden water leaks?
Read on because this article explores 10 ingenious ways to go about water leak detection.
1. Inspect the pipes under sinks
This is the simplest way to detect leaks on the list. Pipes under the sink use different connections, and leaks can occur without them being tightly sealed. Incorrectly installed P-traps can also be the root cause of leaks in the household.
Check for mold, dampness or musty odors under the sink. If there is, you might have to get your tools to tighten up those pipe connections and prevent leaks.
2. Check your water meter
More often than not, water leak detection for hidden cracks is an experimental process. Observing your water meter is one way to investigate if you have a hidden leak on your property.
Start by turning off all water facilities and fixtures in your household, including your dishwasher and washing machine. Next, note the number on your water meter and return after an hour without using any facilities.
If the numbers change, there’s a leak somewhere.
To determine if the leak is inside or outside your household, shut off the valve of your main water supply for another hour. Again, take note of the change in numbers after an hour:
- If the number changes, the leak is outside
- If the number stays, the leak is inside
3. Monitor your water bill
Another simple way to detect (or confirm) water leaks is by reviewing your water bills.
It’s easy to find the pattern in your monthly water bills if you’ve lived in the household for over six months. An unusually high bill should make you a little suspicious. However, before jumping to conclusions, interview household members about any changes in their water usage. Those might explain the outlier in the numbers.
If not, you might be dealing with a hidden pipe leak at your home.
4. Look for water stains
Unusually high water bills are only a single facet of the water leak theory. While you may call a drain specialist immediately, you may want to investigate further.
The lack of visible liquid does not imply the absence of a water leak. Water may evaporate quickly during hot seasons, erasing any indications. But sewage tends to leave visual and olfactory (smelling) signs.
Try looking for water stains inside your house or suspicious water puddles on your lawn.
5. Listen for the sound of running water
Unfortunately, many hidden water leaks don’t leave any visual or smell cues you can detect. In these cases, you must rely on your hearing to find the root cause of pipe damage.
Some leaks have a dripping sound, giving you a clue to the leak’s general location. Meanwhile, others produce more aggressive noises like roaring, whining, squeaking, hissing, or banging sounds.
6. Use a food coloring test
Sometimes, homeowners will not find water leaks in pipes but in water fixtures, specifically toilets.
Your toilet’s flapper (or the rubber stopper that prevents water entry into the bowl) may become brittle. As a result, water from the tank will uncontrollably trickle into the bowl.
You can use food coloring to check if your toilet suffers from internal leaks. Pour a few drops of food coloring into each tank of every toilet in your household. Check whether the color appears in the bowl after five minutes. If so, your leak is from the toilet flapper.
7. Check the water pressure
For this water leak detection strategy, you will need a water pressure gauge tool to detect leaks. Here’s how you can detect leaks using this technique:
- Make sure there is no running water fixture within your household
- Attach the water pressure gauge to a spigot or hose bibb outside the house
- Shut off the valve on your main water supply
- Loosen the faucet’s valve, where your water pressure gauge is attached
The gauge’s needle will move according to the water pressure and remain static for 10-12 minutes. If the needle slowly moves downward during that period, you are dealing with a leak in the water line.
8. Use a moisture meter
Another specialized tool you can use for water leak detection is a moisture meter. Before you begin measuring signs of moisture, calibrate the tool according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Begin measuring moisture by analyzing areas you would consider dry. Get the average moisture value for a sense of the overall situation. Then use the tool to explore the moisture in the suspected area.
If the readings are higher than average, you may have a pipe leak at that location.
9. Check the caulking for cracks
Water from pipe leaks rarely stays in one place. They often travel along gravity into possible exit points, like caulking. Caulking seals gaps and joints between plumbing fixtures, like sinks, bathtubs and showers, and walls or countertops.
When water penetrates caulking, there will be visible signs of damage. It begins with a yellowish discoloration that escalates into the caulking, appearing spongy. Finally, caulking seals crack when moisture exceeds their water-holding capacity.
While not indicative of water leaks, observing caulking for any damage is good practice.
10. Hire a professional plumber
While there are DIY ways to detect water leaks in the household, nothing beats a professional assessment. Plumbers and drain experts are equipped to locate water leaks using their specialized tools and equipment.
If you suspect a pipe leak on your property, we can help you nip that in the bud. Drain Magic uses sewer camera inspection and remote robotics to identify pipe cracks and crevices.
Drain Magic is the number one partner for Pennsylvania homeowners in finding and fixing pipes in their plumbing systems. If you live in the area, don’t hesitate to call us.