You have plumbing pipes running all throughout your home — in your walls, under your floors and even deep under your lawn. A leak can happen just about anywhere, and depending on the location and water flow, it could be extremely difficult to detect.
But that doesn’t mean you can just disregard a potential leak. Water damage can be extremely destructive, and that’s not to mention the waste and the additional dollars on your monthly water bill. It’s important for your home, your wallet and your planet to be vigilant against plumbing leaks — but it can involve a lot of work.
The Easy Part
Gathering evidence that you might have a leak is relatively easy. Many homeowners get the idea something could be wrong when they get a higher-than-average water bill. If your water habits haven’t changed but your water bill spikes, it’s time for some sleuthing.
Walk around your home and property looking for visible signs of dampness or water damage. Your nose can aid you here, since leaks will often result in smelly mold or mildew.
If you don’t find the leak right away, there’s a simple test. Shut off all the water-using appliances in your home, including things like automatic ice makers. Check your water meter and write down the current reading. For the next few hours, don’t use any water in your home. Check the meter again — if it has changed, you likely have a leak.
Find It, Fix It
If you’re confident you have a plumbing leak but you still can’t find the source, it’s usually time to call a plumber. A plumbing expert can help you identify parts of your household plumbing system that you might not even know are there. And with the use of cameras on the end of long, flexible plumbing snakes, a plumber can help you see just about every inch of pipe in your system.
But if you want to get proactive about plumbing leaks, you might look into water sensors. These devices can be installed in areas where hidden leaks may occur, and the most sophisticated versions can even automatically shut off the water supply when excess moisture is detected.
Water sensors can be expensive, so they’re not practical for all applications. If you don’t think it’s worth the expense, you can just make a practice of keeping a keen eye (and nose) for signs of water damage as you move and work throughout your home.