Water and plumbing leaks are sneaky! They can invade your home or business without warning and significant property damage. Anyone with water pipes, shower, sink, and water using appliances can be a victim.
Unfortunately, even in new construction, water leaks are common. They can disguise themselves to the point you can’t be seen, hiding behind walls and under concrete slabs. Every home and business owner, as well as property manager should know how to catch a water leak.
Watch Your Water Meter
This is a great place to start if you suspect a water leak. According to Bob Villa, ‘How To: Find a Plumbing Leak’, you should follow these steps to monitor the meter:
- Turn off all water faucets in your home and make sure the washing machine and dishwasher are not running.
- Check the water meter and make a note of the numbers you see. Come back in an hour and check again. If the numbers have changed, there’s a leak somewhere.
- To determine if the water leak is in the house or outdoors (only for homes with meters located at the street), turn off the shut-off valve on your home’s main water supply pipe. This is either located in a basement or a utility room where the water pipe enters the home.
- Check the water meter, write down the numbers, and wait another hour. When you check again, if the numbers have not changed, the water leak is inside your home. If the numbers have changed, the leak is in the buried water line that runs to the house.
Look For Clues To A Leak
Knowing what to look for is half the battle. Water leaks can be very sneaky, if left on their own, they can cause extensive damage. Keep your eyes out for these clues:
Stay Alert to Leaking Clues
If a fitting on a supply line under your sink breaks and a spray of water comes shooting out, you know immediately where the trouble is, but some leaks are a lot sneakier! At worst, water may be trickling slowly from pipe fittings within a wall and go unnoticed until it causes extensive damage. Even if the water meter test indicates that you don’t currently have a leak, one could develop at any point in the future, so it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for:
- Wall discoloration. This could indicate water leaking from behind the drywall and soaking through to the front side. Water stains on ceiling and walls are usually yellowish or brownish in color.
- Bubbling paint or bulging wallpaper. Both are signs that the wallboard is wet and the paint or wallpaper is no longer adhering tightly. In some cases, you may also notice a bulge in the wallboard, which indicates the water damage is more extensive and the wallboard will have to be replaced.
- A dripping sound. While some leaks are totally silent—for instance, if water is traveling along a wall stud—other leaks can sometimes be heard, giving you a clue as to the leak’s location.
- A musty smell. Over time, a persistent leak provides the perfect humid environment for mold to grow. In some cases, you may notice black splotches on the outside of the wall, but often, mold will grow inside the wall where you can’t see it, so a musty smell is a red flag.