A small plumbing leak can cause untold damage to building structures, especially if it goes unnoticed for a long time. Early detection and prevention are the keys to avoiding costly repairs and water bills. Here are a few tips on where and how to find them.

Checking the Meter

The first thing to do is ensure that all the water outlets are shut, and then make a note of the position of the water meter dial. After an hour or two, take another look. If it has moved, you have a leak somewhere.

Underground Pipes

A patch of ground that is constantly damp in all weather conditions is an indication of a leaking pipe. If you can isolate the line, you can use the “water meter test.”

Water heaters

The relief valve on water heaters often discharges directly into a drain. These valves can leak for a long time undetected. If there is constant water in the pipe, it probably need replacing. If you find a leak in your heater that is not coming from a valve, you may need to replace the whole unit.

Toilet Cisterns

If it is constantly making a noise, it’s losing water. If you watch the water in the bowl, you may notice the water rippling slightly; that’s a sign of a leak. While it won’t cause damage to your property, it is costing you money.

Faucets

Like toilet cisterns, these leaks won’t cause damage if they are just running down the drain, but the cost of the water eventually adds up. Many leaking faucets are easily fixed, and kits are available at any hardware store.

Spots on the Ceiling

These can be a sign of water leaking from the floor above, or a leaky roof. Try to determine exactly what is above the spot, you may need to take some measurements. These are better handled sooner than later because the strength of the ceiling sheet is being compromised. If it is the upstairs toilet leaking from the base, check out our posts Removing and Replacing a Toilet.”

Sinks, Showers and Hand Basins

Leaking sinks and hand basins can often be detected by taking a look underneath, you may need to splash some water around first. Check around the pipes as well, wipe with a dry cloth and inspect the cloth. Shower recesses can be checked visually, and also by plugging the drain and filling with a little water. If it goes down, you have a leak. These leaks can be the worst kind because the water can enter the floor and walls and cause rot and mold.

If You Find A Leak

If water has entered the walls or floor, once you have fixed the leak, you will need to dry and possibly treat the wet area. You may even need to do repairs. Prevention is certainly the least expensive option, a quick inspection could save you a lot of money.

Your turn, what other leaks plague home owners?

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