Sleuthing Out Hidden Leaks
Water is a powerful force — even when it’s a slow-but-steady for months drip. Powerful enough that 10% of homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more per day! Leaks like dripping faucets and leaking valves can be easier to spot, but hidden leaks take a bit more time to locate. Finding and fixing household water leaks has the potential to save homeowners up to 10% on their water bills, so we want to help you tackle them as soon as possible.
Here are some simple ways to find out if you have a hidden leak:
- Check Your Water Meter: One of the best ways to tell if you have a plumbing leak is to check your water meter. First, turn off all the water in your home. This includes all faucets and making sure the dishwasher and washing machine are not running. Then, check the meter over a short period of time and see if it changes. If it does, you probably have a fast-moving leak. If it doesn’t immediately change, wait two hours (a great time to run those errands you’ve been putting off!) and check it again — if it has changed during that two-hour window, you are likely dealing with a slow leak.
- Monitor Your Bill: If your bill is rising consistently but your water use habits haven’t changed, a leak may be the cause. Check your past bills and see if there’s a steady increase. Because some of your pipes may be underground, you may never detect certain leaks, but they will show up on your bill! If a family of four is using more than 12,000 gallons of water per month, there is probably a serious leak somewhere in your plumbing system.
- Test with Food Coloring: Toilets potentially use up to 30 percent of your water usage and can be leaking without any obvious evidence. To test for leaks, add a few drops of food coloring to your toilet tank and wait 10 minutes. If the color shows up in your bowl, then that means that without even flushing you have a leak that’s going from the tank to your drain.
- Check Exterior Usage: Leaks occur outside too! Check your outside spigots for leaks, and check hoses for leaky connections. Consider calling a professional once a year to check your irrigation system for underground leaks.
- Look for Other Signs: Wall discoloration can be another indication of water leaking, this time from behind the drywall. On ceilings and walls, you are looking for stains that are usually yellowish or brownish in color. Bubbling paint or bulging wallpaper are also both signs that the wallboard is wet and the paint or wallpaper is no longer adhering correctly. In some cases, you may also notice a bulge in the wall, which indicates the water damage is more extensive and the wall will have to be replaced. Even a musty smell may be a sign of a persistent leak that is providing 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 the scent is all that tips you off.
If your plumbing system is older than 25 years, it may be on the decline. If you suspect a leak anywhere in your plumbing system, or you suspect a leak but can’t figure out where it’s coming from, call Wolcott’s pros to find and make the repair as soon as possible. Don’t wait until it gets worse and you end up with a real mess on your hands!