Home Improvements

How to Tell if You’ve Got a Leak

A leak isn’t always gushing water flooding your home. In fact, most of the time it’s something small and unnoticeable. But it adds up over time. 

If you don’t notice the leak soon enough, it can damage your home and your health. So, keep reading to learn more about figuring out if you’ve got a leak in your home. 

leaking outdoor tap

Check the Water Meter

The water meter is one of the quickest ways to look for a leak, but it doesn’t help you locate it. The water meter simply measures how much water your property is using.

Turn off all the taps and make sure no one uses any of the plumbing or appliances for at least an hour. Take note of the number on the water meter when you first turn everything off. Come back an hour or so later, and note the number again. 

The number should remain the same. If the number has gone up, it means something is leaking. Do this test every few months to look for leaks so you can spot them before they become big problems. 

If you suspect a leak, it’s time to call a professional for help

check the water meter if you suspect you've got a leak

Monitor Your Water Bill

Keep track of how many kilolitres your household is using every month. 

Much like the water meter, your water bill should give you a good sense of your water usage. If you notice that your water bill is going up, even though your family’s water habits are staying the same, then it means you might have a leak. 

sheet of paper with a bar graph of varying heights

Signs of Mold

Mold and mildew grow best in places that are dark, warm, and have lots of moisture. This means that if you’re spotting mold, it means there’s a consistent water source nearby. This is probably due to a leak. 

Some signs of mold include dark spots, strange smells, and fuzzy textures. 

Too much exposure to mold can be dangerous for your health, so it’s important to keep an eye out for it and get rid of it as soon as you notice it. 

old bathroom with lots of mold in the corners of the room

Water Stains

Sometimes water isn’t the most obvious sign of the leak. Water stains are usually found in the floorboards or on the ceilings. 

These dark or faded marks are a result of water pooling over surfaces where it can’t drain. It soaks into the material and once that material dries, it’s much weaker for it. This damages the structural integrity of the material. 

If you notice water stains around your home, it’s a good idea to check out the area to see where water might be coming from. 

water stains are brown marks that indicate you've got a leak

Food Colouring Test

Toilets are one of the biggest sources of leaks. The water from the cistern leaks into the toilet bowl and you don’t even notice it because it immediately drains away again. 

An easy test to find a leak in a toilet is with food colouring. Place a few drops of a dark food colouring (red or blue are best) into the cistern. If after a few minutes you see traces of the colour dripping into the toilet bowl, even though you didn’t flush, it means you’ve got a leak. 

wine glass with clear water in it, with some blue food colouring dripping into it

Outdoor Irrigation System

Outdoor leaks are often harder to identify than indoor ones. Your hoses or sprinklers outside might be leaking and it will be days before you notice. Outdoor taps might also be a problem. 

It’s important to look after your outdoor irrigation system and do regular maintenance. This reduces the chance of leaks or damage to the system. 

If you’ve got underground pipes, those are harder to inspect for leaks. Look for wet spots in the soil that never seem to dry, or areas of the garden that are more lush even though you don’t water them extra. This could be that water is pooling underneath the soil due to a leak. 

outdoor tap dripping a steady stream of water indicates you've got a leak

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some common causes of leaks?

Maintenance is important to avoid leaks in your plumbing system. Over time it’s normal for plumbing systems to loosen up or break if they haven’t been looked after. 

Do leaks only come from plumbing problems?

Damage to your roof, walls, or windows can cause leaks. External damage can disrupt the waterproofing, letting water flow into the home. 

How can I identify a leak in my home?

Plumbing leaks are easy enough to identify. You can track changes in your water meter or water bill for unusual activity. You can also keep an eye out for signs of mold or water stains. It’s also a good idea to do a food colouring test in your toilets. 

If you still haven’t found the leak, then it’s good to check your outdoor irrigation system. 

tap in bathroom basin dripping water even though handle is closed

Finding Out if You’ve Got a Leak

Finding a leak sooner rather than later is always helpful. It’ll save you thousands on your water bill, as well as the cost of emergency repairs if it starts flooding. 

Do regular checks to find out if you’ve got a leak. This way you’ll notice it before too much damage has been caused. It’s also wise to get regular maintenance to keep it in as good a condition as possible. 

Contact us to get in touch with a professional plumber to check out your home water system!

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