How Can You Tell If You Have A Plumbing Leak?

Posted on: 3 February 2016

There are many ways that people come to the conclusion that they have a leak in their home. Knowing how to determine if you have a plumbing leak and how to find the leak can help you maintain your home's plumbing system and can also help you save on diagnostic costs from plumbers.

How can you tell if you have a plumbing leak?

There are many different ways that you may be able to tell if you have a leak. Some initial clues include:

  • The sound of running water in the walls when no faucets and plumbing fixtures are turned on.
  • Sudden appearance of brown spots on the ceiling or walls.
  • Damp spots on the walls.
  • A sudden increase in water bills.

Some less obvious signs that your plumbing is leaking includes:

  • Mold on your walls or ceilings.
  • Floorboards warping in one location only.
  • Bubbling paint or wallpaper.
  • Buckling linoleum.
  • Soft, spongy feeling across the floor.
  • A musty smell.

The most definite way to tell if you have a plumbing leak is to turn off all plumbing fixtures in your house, take a meter reading, wait a few hours, then take a second meter reading. If you have a water leak, the measurement on your home's water meter will increase.

What can you do to locate the problem if your water meter indicates that you have a plumbing leak?

Start by looking under all of your sinks and inspecting all visible pipes in your home. Feel the pipes for dampness. You may need to go in your basement or crawl space to inspect the pipes in those areas. Look inside any plumbing access panels.

If you see evidence of the leak (stains or dampness on the wall), but can't find the source, purchase a handheld moisture meter. Follow the dampness until you find the spot in the wall with the most water. The highest wet point on the wall is likely the leak's point of origin.

If you can find no evidence of a leak on the pipes or in the walls, check all the toilets in your home. To do this, put food coloring in your toilet tank and wait for several minutes to see if the dye from the toilet tank colors the water in the toilet bowl. If this happens, this means you have a leaky toilet.

If you can't find the water leak, but know that you have a leak and wish to get the problem corrected, call a reputable plumber. He or she can run a diagnostic, help you find the source of your leak, then make plumbing repairs as necessary.