Here’s how to find water leaks in your home’s plumbing
Throughout the life of their home, most homeowners experience some kind of plumbing leak at some point. Some leaks are obvious, like frozen pipes that burst. Others are hidden, like loose connections in under floor plumbing lines. The sooner you see a leak, the sooner you can fix it, but you first need to know how to find it. That’s where we come in!
How do you know when you have a water leak?
Here are just some of the signs that you might have a water leak somewhere in your home or on your property:
- Drastic, sudden increase in water bills
- Musty smells
- Cracks in the foundation
- Wet spots
- Stains on floors, ceilings, and walls
- Visible mold and mildew (outside of the shower)
- Hissing sounds when water isn’t being used
Confirming you have a leak
If you notice any of the above signs, the first step is to confirm you have an active leak. Start by ensuring no water is being used inside the house (sinks, showers, dish washers, washing machines) or outside (hoses, fountains, etc.).
Once you’re sure no water is being used, check the leak indicator on your water meter. Usually a triangular dial or silver wheel, the leak indicator spins when there is water flowing through the meter. If no water is being used and the indicator is spinning, you likely have a plumbing leak.
Finding the source of water leaks
You first need to isolate whether the leak is inside or outside. This is easily done by turning off the main water shutoff valve and checking the water meter leak indicator again. If the indicator has stopped moving, the leak is inside the house, if it keeps moving, the leak is between the meter and the house.
If the leak is indoors:
- Make sure the flapper valve in toilet tank seals completely
- Check for water under sinks
- Inspect showers and tubs for drips
- Look for puddles around washing machines, dishwashers, and water heaters
If the leak is outdoors:
- Look for standing water near spigots
- Check for wet spots near sprinklers and irrigation systems when they aren’t being used
- Inspect plumbing lines to outdoor water features
What is professional leak detection?
Even using the methods above, you may not be able to pinpoint the exact location of a leak inside of your home. Leaks can be deceiving: the place where water damage is may not be where the leak is originating from. In fact, it’s not unheard of for an upstairs leak to drip down to a downstairs wall.
In such a situation, you have two options:
- Make some less-than-educated guesses about where the leak is and start hacking away at your drywall trying to find it.
- Bringing in a professional for expert leak detection.
Here’s what a professional has that you probably do not: acoustic detection equipment. This is the bread-and-butter of finding hidden leaks. Here’s how it works:
When the water in a pipe moves past a crack or fissure and leaks out, it generates sound and vibration. This is slight: even listening your hardest, you’ll never hear it. It’s far below the range of human ears. But, it is there, and thanks to electronic equipment, it can be detected. Acoustic leak detection traces the source of the sound back to its point of origin, giving our plumber a pinpoint location for the hidden leak, whether it’s behind a wall, in a ceiling, or under the foundation.
Of course, our plumbers have ways of verifying this location. In addition to leak detection, we have endoscopic snake tools that we can push into pipes to visibly see the leak or hole in the pipe. This is most useful once the plumber has a general ballpark idea of where the leak is.
From there, it’s just a matter of cutting into the drywall in that exact spot to access and repair the leak.
Repairing plumbing leaks
Always call a professional plumber to help you find, diagnose, and fix leaks. A water leak in your home is no time for DIY work! Our plumbers here at Wagner can help you find hidden leaks and deal with them fast, before they cause more damage to your home.
For 24/7 plumbing service here in Albuquerque, call our team today!