Plumbing Leak Detection Methods For DIY’ers

By Danika | February 22, 2022

Plumbing Leak Detection Methods For DIY’ers

Leaky pipe

Plumbing leaks are notoriously inconvenient, expensive, and inevitable. Even newer homes cannot save themselves from this plight, making it beneficial for everyone to know the basic plumbing leak detection methods that work.

Catching plumbing leaks early on can end up saving you thousands of gallons of water, which will reflect on your water bills. You might also avoid a visit from an emergency plumber by stopping the leak before it gets worse.

In addition to the monetary benefits of early detection, you’ll likely end up saving areas of your home from water damage and the subsequent costs associated with damage. Take a few minutes to read to familiarize yourself with the following plumbing leak detection methods. It’s never a bad idea to understand how to spot them yourself. 

Monitor Your Water Bill

One of the best ways to detect a leak is by watching how much you’re spending each month on water. You’ll likely have a good idea of your average water cost each month, making it easy to compare on a month-to-month basis. If the bill seems oddly high without a known raise in your water consumption, you’re likely hosting a water leak. 

a rising water bill is one of the leak detection methods

Check Your Water Meter

The water meter box on the side of your house or in your basement can help detect the presence of a leak. For this experiment, you’ll need to turn off all the faucets and water-using appliances in your home. Make note of the number your water meter displays. Once everything is off and no water should be flowing, wait about an hour. After this time, check back with your water meter and see how much, or if, the number has increased. If it has gone up, you’ve got a leak on your hands.

checking your water meter can indicate a leak exists

This experiment also works to test your outside water line. To determine if the leak is outside or inside, do the same experiment but turn off the water valves running into your home. Make note of the number your water meter displays, wait an hour, and check back. If the number is the same, you have an inside leak. If it’s increased, the leak is in your water line leading to the house. 

Dye Test Your Toilets

A few drops of food coloring can alert you to leaks in your toilet. Toilets make up about a third of household water use, making leaks in these areas especially detrimental. By coloring the water in the tank in the back of the toilet, you can see if water is leaking into the bowl within five minutes.

putting dye in the toilet is a method of leak detection

Toilet flappers prevent tank water from reaching the bowl between flushes. If the flapper is damaged, tank water will leak into the bowl. You may be able to repair this yourself, otherwise, you’ll want to enlist the help of a plumber. 

Check Your Ceilings And Walls

We often imagine water leaks presenting themselves in dramatic plumes of water or as small ponds in our basements. The more likely scenario is discovering a light trickle, one that’s been going on just long enough to cause damage. You may notice unsightly brown patches on your ceiling, bubbles behind paint or wallpaper, or even a strange smell.

detect a leak in a basement wall
image source: TheSpruce.com

All of those small, seemingly inconsequential oddities often signal a water leak. Because of how slight these symptoms may seem, it’s easy to let them carry on. In the long run, though, this could cost you more money and time than you ever imagined. So–keep an eye out for the small stuff and take action when you see it. 

Check Your Grass

Green grass is usually a good thing, but if it’s growing in bright patches around your yard, you may have a water leak. Sporadic lush patches may indicate a leak in a buried water line. If the leak is severe, you may also notice puddling in your yard, though you haven’t had any rain. 

Take Proactive Detection Measures 

We don’t often think about the condition of our plumbing. That’s how it’s meant to be. But, incorporating occasional check-ups in certain areas of your house can do your home and wallet a lot of good.

Peek at the pipes under sinks, listening for drips and checking for visual signs of wetness. Use your nose to check if any area of your home is gaining a musty smell, which could indicate mold. Listen for drips and the sound of trickling water around the house, especially when you know you don’t have an appliance running that requires water.

If you do find a leak and you need a fast reliable plumber, call Danika Plumbing. We’re more than happy to come and help you out with drain cleaning, sewer line repair, or any situation that calls for a professional.

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