Hidden water leaks in your home and property can cause significant damage. Long before they’re found or even recognized as a potential problem, moisture can be gathering in walls and causing rot, damage to electrical components, mold growth, or even nesting vermin. Leaks under your concrete slab foundation can cause cracks in your foundation and other major damage.
Meanwhile, you may wonder why your water bill is rising, but summer lawn watering or more frequent laundry and showers might be the cause. How do you identify the excessive water use that leaks cause? Are there ways to pinpoint the source of the leak once you realize it’s happening? As professionals, we have advanced technology, years of experience, and special techniques for locating leaks. As a homeowner, though, you can take some important steps in discovering the problem and getting information gathered before you call us.
Types of Hidden Water Leaks in Your Home
Anywhere there’s plumbing, there can be leaks. Sources can include damaged pipes, joints, and valves. When the leak is found, you may be surprised about the cause, which could include corrosion or decaying plastic pipes or even metal pipes vibrating against each other over time or against a metal hanger.
Of course, fasteners such as screws or nails can damage pipes as they pass through the wall, and pipes in uninsulated walls may surprise you with freezing-related leaks. Even repairs using the wrong types of metals can increase the rate of corrosion at the joint and lead to leaks. Where can you find water leaks in your home? Examples include:
- Basement plumbing
- Under slab pipes
- Wall and ceiling pipes
- Appliance connections
- Under bathroom and kitchen sinks
- Inside walls and ceilings
- Around fixtures such as shower heads controls
The First Step to Finding Leaks is Becoming Aware
There’s just too much to take in during our daily lives to start diagnosing problems. That’s why it usually takes a while for us to recognize that a tire is going flat while we’re driving. It’s just a slow background change that our attention eventually turns to for investigation.
The same goes for hidden water leaks, which may have a slow rate of water loss but keep going over time. The secret to protecting your home from expensive water damage is to watch for typical signs of water leaks from time to time, and investigate even the ones that seem like “nothing.”
Signs of Water Leaking in the Walls and Ceiling
The ominous dripping from the ceiling or down a wall that you see in the movies may be the sign that a major leak is developing, but smaller leaks can cause just as much damage over time. Wallpaper and wallboard damage are common, along with ceiling paint and plaster.
Inside the wall, accumulation of moisture can result in mold and mildew, slow decay of construction materials, and infestation. There may be insects living in the moist space, or even rodents and other vermin thriving inside. Good detective work can identify:
- Odors near your walls, especially musty ones
- Small creatures or insects discovered near your wall or above your ceiling
- Sounds from insect or vermin activity in the walls
- Moisture-damaged, peeling, or discolored paint, wallpaper, or other materials
- Dripping sounds or other indications of water flowing
- Electrical arcing sounds, smells of something burning, or electrical problems
- Warped wood trim, stairs, or other wooden materials
Wandering Water Leaks
When you discover signs of a leak, whether you’ve noticed moisture, puddles, or the consequences of long-term water accumulation, you may not have found the source. Water travels along pipes, beams, wires, and wallboard, sometimes even some distance horizontally or between floors. That spot on your wallpaper that shows there’s water behind the wall may actually be the destination of water coming from a bathroom on the floor above.
Water Leaks in Your Yard
When you’re tending to the landscaping, make sure you take a look around for signs of water leaks appearing as swampy areas near your home or along your water line. Excessively green grass or lush vegetation can also be a sign that there’s overwatering from below. Our plumber can check to determine whether the source of the problem is a water supply line or sewer line, and you may have already noticed foul odors that help determine the source.
Signs of Slab Leaks and the Elusive Hot Water Leak
Hopefully you won’t identify a slab leak by cracks in the foundation that occur when the growing volume of water presses against it. Before that occurs, you may notice damp areas near the outside of your foundation, sounds of water flowing under the concrete, or warm spots on the floor if hot water is leaking and accumulating.
In some, but not all, homes with plumbing under the slab, the hot water lines are routed there as well. It’s a good thing to consider when you have signs of hot water heater problems as well, such as energy overuse or insufficient supply.
More Visible Leaks You Might Miss
A guest room bathroom, child’s bathroom, or other area you don’t visit as often may develop leaks under the sink or faucet and shower valve problems. You can catch these when you’re hunting down the source of a measured leak that’s reflected in your water meter activity. Another way to protect against leaks and even forgotten faucets is to install leak detection devices that monitor the floor for the presence of excessive water. Our plumbers can also install leak protection that cuts off home or vacation property water if a burst pipe type leak is detected.
Listening for Leaks
A simple version of the advanced techniques we use to pin down leak locations is simply listening to exposed pipes using a mechanic’s stethoscope or similar device. Our plumbers are trained to use the sound quality and type to identify the leak type and location, but simply listening for water flow can help you identify a potential problem.
Plumbers’ tools for listening go beyond basic listening to filter and clarify the sound so it can be identified even in noisy environments or far underground. Ultrasonic equipment can even calculate leak locations to help avoid cutting into walls or concrete basements any more than necessary.
What About Drain Pipe Leaks?
Leaky drain lines, P-traps, and other wastewater piping may not be detectable but sounds caused by water pressure, but there are ways to locate the problem. Most of these are best performed by expert plumbers, since they involve specialized video inspection gear, temporary pressurization of the drain system, and other professional techniques.
Turning Over Water Leak Problems to Your Local Experts
There are many things you can do to recognize that your home has a hidden water leak and even narrow down the source of the leak. From that point, pinpointing the leak and identifying the cause are best done by professional plumbers, and of course repairs that last are what we do best. We’ll select the right repair material and technique, and make the repair carefully with plenty of experience. If a broader leak problems exists, we’ll catch it early.
Our plumbers are trained to recognize these concerns and help you to avoid chasing multiple leaks over time and cleaning up the damage from each.