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CAUTION: Is Your Plumbing Leaking? (Hidden Signs to Check)

January 27, 2021

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If you’re a homeowner asking, is my plumbing leaking, it’s vital that you get an answer to that question quickly! Plumbing leaks speed up corrosion around pipes, risk structural wood rot, mold growth, insect infestation, and unsightly water stains along ceilings and walls, and just get costlier to fix over time.

Unfortunately most plumbing leaks occur behind a home’s walls or above ceiling tiles, so they’re not always noticeable. Knowing a few hidden signs of needed plumbing repairs, as well as some handy tricks for figuring out if your home has leaks in the first place, can mean spotting damage and scheduling needed fixes quickly. Be sure to discuss this information with a plumber near you and leave all repairs outside your area of expertise to the pros, so you know your home’s plumbing is always in good repair.

“Is My Plumbing Leaking?” Hidden Signs and Handy Tips

Check out a few hidden signs of plumbing leaks and some handy tips for determining if your home needs plumbing repairs.

9 SOS Signs a Leak Has Sprung in Your Home!

  1. Inconsistencies in the water bill: Monitor your home’s water bill. Unless you use significantly more water from one month to the next, such as watering a garden in the summertime or when kids come home from college and use the washer more often, that bill should remain relatively equal.
  2. Uneven lawn patches! Noticeably lush, green patches of lawn often indicate a damaged underground pipe. As that pipe leaks, it waters the grass above which then tends to grow faster and look greener than the rest of the lawn. You might even notice damp, “squishy” patches of lawn over damaged pipes.
  3. Look out for water damage: Wall discoloration is an obvious sign of water leaks, but don’t overlook bubbling or peeling paint and wallpaper. Bulges along the wall or ceiling surface can also indicate soft, water-damaged drywall or ceiling tiles.
  4. Are you plugging your nose often? Musty smells indicate trapped water and excessive humidity! In the basement, musty smells might indicate a water leak or foundation damage, so have both pipes and the home’s foundation checked. If you notice these unpleasant odors elsewhere, your home probably has a water leak.
  5. Silent but leaky! Sometimes water leaks are silent, as water might run along a pipe until it then evaporates or is absorbed by drywall and other materials. However, if you hear a dripping sound or the sound of water running behind the walls or elsewhere, this often indicates a water leak.
  6. Low water pressure can indicate a water leak. As the water drips out a pipe or connector, this lowers the pressure water coming out of showerheads and taps.
  7. Persistent toilet clogs and slow-moving drains also indicate a leak. Water is needed to move solid waste through a home’s pipes; when there is a water leak in the home, solid waste might start to build up in the pipes, causing eventual clogs and slowing down drains.
  8. Meter check! Check for a potential leak by turning off all the water fixtures in the home and then checking the numbers on your water meter. Come back an hour or two later and note if those numbers have changed. If so, your home probably has a water leak.
  9. Try the magic food coloring test. Toilets are famous for leaking as their parts wear out over time! To test if there is a toilet leak, add a few drops of food coloring to the water in the toilet tank, and don’t use that toilet for at least half an hour. After those 30 minutes, check if you notice that coloring in the toilet bowl. If so, there is water leaking from the tank to the bowl.

How Can You Tell Where a Water Leak Is Coming From? 

water leaking from pipes

Never assume that water is leaking in the same spot as discolored walls or ceiling tiles, as water can travel down pipes and framing and then drip onto drywall or other surfaces far from that original leak! Drips can also echo behind walls and above ceilings, making it difficult to find their point of origin.

The best way to find water leaks inside the home is to look in your home’s crawlspace or attic, and note if you can spot water leaks and excess dampness in any of those areas. Start where you see signs of leaks such as damaged drywall and other materials and then work your way up, or follow lines of moisture along pipes. Check for water-damaged framing and insulation as you go, as this can help you spot the start of that water leak.

 Is There a Tool to Detect Water Leaks?

There are several tools on the market that help detect water leaks and pinpoint their origin. Some attach to the hot tap and monitor the water temperature when you turn on the faucet. If the water is not as hot as it should be, this can indicate a leak.

There are also thermal detectors you can buy and even rent from a home improvement store. These measure temperatures behind the walls; if there are areas with noticeably hotter or cooler temps, this can indicate a water leak.

Other tools work like remote cameras. These slide behind walls and allow a plumber to examine pipes and other fixtures, often using an app on their smartphone! If you can’t determine the water leak origin in your home, ask a plumber for assistance as they can usually make quick work of finding that leak and where it comes from.

Can You Have a Water Leak and Not Know It?

hidden water leak a homeowner didn't see

A home can certainly have a water leak and the homeowner may not realize it for months if not years! In some cases, a homeowner might notice mold growth, wood rot, foundation damage, and other costly damage without ever realizing that they were caused by a water leak.

To ensure your home is always in good repair, consider an annual plumbing inspection and ensure you monitor your water bills every month. Check for signs of water leaks around water heaters and toilets, as well as under all the sinks in the home. These simple steps are an excellent investment in your home and are often far less costly than water damage cleanup and repair!

Why Do I Hear Dripping In My Wall?

While some water leaks remain unnoticed, others might drip and fall onto plumbing pipes, air ducts, and other materials that transmit a dripping sound. In turn, you might notice the sound of water dripping or a suspicious “plink-plink” noise behind your home’s walls.

If you hear something that sounds like water dripping or running, ensure that sound isn’t coming from a faucet you’ve left on accidentally. If you’ve ruled out all the faucets, showerheads, toilets, and other plumbing fixtures in the home, it’s time to call a plumber to check for hidden water leaks behind the home’s walls.

How Do I Know If My Shower Is Leaking From the Wall?

shower head that has a leak

Water stains on a first-floor ceiling directly below a second-floor shower often indicate a leak. You might also notice water dripping along a basement ceiling under a first-floor shower, or water damage in a home’s crawl space under a shower area. These all indicate a shower leak which should be addressed as quickly as possible.

If you’re very handy with tools, you can remove the shower plate and inspect the valve behind it for a leak. You might also cut out a “window” in the wall to inspect the plumbing behind the valve, or check for leaks around connectors in the shower plumbing. It’s also helpful to run a bit of water into the tub and note if the drain is leaking.

If you’re not handy with tools and can’t patch drywall after creating a “window,” call a plumber to inspect for water leaks. He or she can use the right tools or otherwise ensure your home is repaired properly after that leak is patched and repaired.

Does Homeowner’s Insurance Cover a Plumbing Leak?

Whether or not homeowner’s insurance covers a plumbing leak depends on the reason for the leak. Note that insurance doesn’t cover damage related to poor maintenance or simple wear and tear. If your plumbing is leaking due to age and everyday corrosion, it’s unlikely that homeowner’s insurance will cover the cost of cleanup and repairs.

It’s also vital to note that homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover damage resulting from outright neglect or misuse of the home’s plumbing. If you’ve neglected to fix a leaking toilet, or it’s found that clogs and a leak resulted from putting household items in the toilet or sink, it’s unlikely that your homeowner’s insurance will pay for repairs.

However, if a leak is the result of a covered disaster in the home, your homeowner’s insurance company might reimburse your costs. For example, if a hose to the washing machine were to suddenly burst or plumbing pipes were to suffer damage during a house fire, those catastrophes might be covered by insurance. To find out what’s covered under your policy, check with your agent.

Plumbing Leaking? Let's Figure Out Why!

Knowing some common causes of plumbing leaks is an excellent way to avoid those leaks in the first place! Check out some common reasons for plumbing leaks, and discuss any of these risks or needed repairs with a plumber near you.

  • Corrosion in pipes often leads to leaks around connectors. Mixing metals, over-tightening connectors and stripping their threading, and other simple mistakes speed up this corrosion, which is why it’s best to leave needed plumbing repairs to a pro!
  • Overly high water pressure means added pressure on pipes and connectors! Ensure your home’s sinks and showers are adjusted to moderate pressure and avoid increasing this, even if you enjoy a strong shower or high water pressure from the sinks and other fixtures.
  • When a home settles and sinks, it pulls on all interior and exterior materials and surfaces, including plumbing pipes and connectors. If you notice foundation cracks and other needed repairs, address these quickly, to keep your home level and to protect against plumbing leaks and other costly damage.
  • Clogs also put pressure on connectors and areas of weak pipes, eventually causing cracks that lead to water leaks.

plumbing services west hartford

Here's the SECRET of How to Avoid Water Leaks AND Keep Plumbing in Good Repair

While it might seem as if water leaks are inevitable, keeping your home’s plumbing in good repair can avoid those leaks and resultant water damage, wood rot, mold, and other such needed fixes. Consider a few tips on how to reduce the risk of plumbing damage and water leaks in your home.

  • Never use the home’s toilets and drains for anything other than food scraps, human waste, and flushable items. Even small debris such as cigarette butts and hair can clump together, allowing clogs to form.
  • Avoid putting grease and oil down the kitchen sink, as these can also solidify and lead to persistent clogs and resultant water leaks.
  • Avoid DIY plumbing repairs, as even the simplest mistake can mean clogs, corrosion, and other such plumbing issues. Installing pipes at the wrong angle can allow water to drain too quickly so that solid waste remains in the pipes, while using plumbing snakes and other tools improperly also risks damage and resultant leaks.
  • Invest in regular plumbing cleaning. Annual cleaning removes sediment and debris that would otherwise build up and lead to clogs and pressure on the home’s plumbing pipes.
  • Never use corrosive drain cleaners in the home, as these products damage plumbing pipes and connectors, leading to leaks.
  • Ensure you maintain your property especially as it affects plumbing pipes. Schedule regular foundation inspections so you keep your home from settling and sinking. Trim back tree roots that might wrap around plumbing pipes, and insulate pipes at risk of bursting during cold winter months.

Your local plumbing repair contractor can also give you some tips on how to protect your home from damage and resultant water leaks. He or she might note if your home’s plumbing pipes are getting older and showing signs of corrosion and wear, or if there are any signs of a poor-quality installation job that needs addressing! A few simple fixes now can mean avoiding leaks and costly cleanup down the road.

A Word From Our Plumbers

West Hartford Plumbing is proud to offer this information to our readers and we hope it answered the question, is my plumbing leaking. If you need expert plumbing repair, give us a call! Our highly-trained professionals offer over 20  years of industry experience, and we stand behind all our plumbing repairs and installation with a full satisfaction guarantee you can trust.

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