Finding Hidden Plumbing Leaks

Paying attention to the little issues can prevent big problems

Plumbing leaks tend to be a pain even when they're relatively easy to fix, but when they're hard to spot, they can be a nightmare. If water is dripping away somewhere in your home without your knowledge, it could be promoting the growth of mold and mildew, rotting your woodwork and running up a significant water bill. The best way to avoid this problem is to be vigilant about the early signs of potential trouble.

Watch Your Meter

Sometimes, the problem isn't finding the source of a leak — it's knowing the leak exists in the first place. One of the easiest ways to safeguard against a hidden leak is to make a habit of checking your water meter. If you notice a sudden increase in your water consumption — whether you catch it at the meter or when your monthly bill arrives — you should consider the possibility of a leak.

There's a simple test that can confirm whether or not a leak is behind the surge. For a period of a few hours, disable any appliances that automatically consume water, such as your freezer's ice maker. Make a point of not using your sinks, showers or even flushing the toilet. If you notice that the water meter continues to show consumption during this time, you know you're dealing with a hidden leak.

The Search Is On

Once you've confirmed a leak somewhere in your plumbing system, the next step is to find the source. Start with the obvious locations: inspect any pipes, fixtures, or valves visible both inside and outside your home, and make sure to check for puddles on the floor or wet spots in the soil. Keep quiet and listen carefully as you search — you might even be able to hear the flow of water when you get close.

If you don't turn up anything in your initial inspection of your plumbing, it's time to search for signs of damage. Visible mold, or even the scent of mildew, could provide clues as to the source of the leak. Pinhole leaks can be especially troublesome, because while they're difficult to find, they're capable of causing significant damage to your home infrastructure.

When you find the leak — or if you can't pin it down — don't hesitate to call in the pros to help you search and make repairs.

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