So you think you have a leak. Maybe it’s obvious, maybe it isn’t. Are you just being paranoid? Let’s try to find out.

If you’ve noticed disturbed dust patterns that look suspiciously like a dirty car after the rain has dried, we would agree that there’s been water disturbing that dust at some point. Whether the water was from an open window during the rain, a leaky supply line, or a kid with a spray bottle… well, that’s harder to tell.

3016623514_4767b8c91b_bNaturally if you see water, just follow the drips, turn off the nearest shutoff valve, and either fix it or call your plumber. But if there’s no water now – just dusty evidence – you still might be able to find the leak.

Water follows the path of least resistance. There’s a pretty good chance if you found evidence of a leak (and it hasn’t been fixed), that water will travel that way again. One trick to help find where the drips are dropping from calls for a paper towel or paper bag. This is a useful trick in rental homes, especially when you’ve just moved in (since a leak may have been fixed, but the cleanup job may not have been too great). Grab a paper towel, a paper bag, or even a newspaper and put it under where you suspect dripping. If a drip falls, it will leave a spot, which should help you find where the drip originated. You can also try making an ink grid on the paper using some sort of non-permanent marker to make any drips more obvious.

If there are supply lines or appliances around the suspect area, check them carefully for rips or splits, unattached hoses, or anything else that looks like it could cause a leak. If all looks right, turn on the water (or water-using appliance), making sure you can turn if off again quickly just in case. Check for leaks (you may need to wait a few minutes), and turn everything back off. If you see drips on your paper, put a bowl or bucket to catch the water, then trace that drip back to where it came from. Once you know what’s leaking, you can fix it yourself or call your landlord and/or plumber and let them know what you found (and how you found it).

If you see nothing at the time, it might just be a really slow leak. Check on it daily or more often to see if drips fall when you’re not looking. If you have no drips after a week or so, the leak might have been taken care of, or it might have been that kid after all. Or maybe it only appears when it rains. We offer a terrific assortment of water alarms if you want to be notified exactly when the leak reappears. Either way, still check every so often, and mention it to the professionals the next time you see them.

Please keep in mind that just because you cannot identify a leak yourself, doesn’t 16210157_eafc4ed950_zalways mean you don’t have one. Listen to your gut and look at the evidence. If you feel something isn’t right, your water bill suddenly shoots up, your water meter seems to be running a marathon, or you hear running water when nothing is on and can’t find the reason, don’t wait, call your trusted local plumber right away! Not all leaks are easily visible, or leave obvious clues. Some leaks, like ones under a home, may manifest as a warm spot under your feet that hasn’t been there before, or a yard that suddenly has squishy places (possibly broken sprinkler pipe, but also a potential septic issue). These sort of leaks require a licensed plumber quickly.

Your turn: what’s the best/worst false alarm or weirdest leak you’ve seen?

A more in-depth guide to tracking down leaks can be found at PlumbingSupply.com

21 Comments

  1. Jose C

    This is a very informative article. Leaks are common in homes and it is important to find them before they cause damage. As a plumber in Las Vegas, I help homeowners find leaks all the time. Another sure sign that a leak in the home is occurring is a high water bill. Great signs to look out for.

    Reply
  2. Leo

    Great tips, you can find more detailed solutions about leaks on this page http://www.rootersontime.com/how-to-fix-leaky-plumbing-for-the-non-plumber/

    Reply
  3. Cara

    Interesting post! Leaks or from taps, are so common that everyone’s experienced, can be very annoying but in fact is always down to the same old problem of a worn washer. Actually, a relatively simple task that can be replaced by dismantling the tap and replacing the washer than can be found from any hardware of DIY shop. It’s a good idea to take, the old washer with you, as nowadays taps come in some many different shapes and sizes. However, if you don’t feel confident, always give us a call, as its a better for professional to carry the job out for you, no matter how big or small, rather than increasing any damage.

    Reply
  4. Jilli

    Some time you can’t recognize a leak because it is not possible to find some invisible leaks, You should not let it go because, this leak can encourage high water bill of your home. So it’s better to call your local experienced plumber and solve the problem as soon as possible. http://www.servicetoday.com.au/plumbers/adelaide/

    Reply
  5. John Williams

    Great article. Thanks for sharing. Sometimes just because you can’t find a leak, doesn’t mean that there is not one. Best bet is to call a plumber. You might pay a small fee for their visit but that will be cheaper than an ongoing issue and repair.

    Reply
  6. Adams Smith

    disturbing moments when you don’t know exact about leak, very helpful article to how figure out leak 🙂

    Reply
  7. Mathias Roth

    You should take care of this as quickly as possible. Because if the water is too long on the laminat it can cause a water damage. In best scenario just some mildew. But if you dont take care of it too quickly it will become mold. You can get more information from us here: http://www.waterdamagerestorationdallastexas.com

    Reply
  8. dave

    love this article very great and hope people pay attention to this so they can take care of this issue.

    Reply
  9. David Millar

    Nice article. Thanks for sharing this information. Some time you can’t recognize a leak because it is not possible to find some invisible leaks. Only a professional and experienced plumber can find and solve this problem. So we need to contact professional plumbers. https://www.carrolltonplumbingservice.com/

    Reply
  10. Pitman Plumber

    This article goes to demonstrate that leaks can cause serious damage if not attended to in a timely fashion. As a master plumber in nyc , we tell our homeowners to contact us if they suspect unusual dry-water patterns on surfaces. Invisible leaks are a frustrating problem but completely manageable.

    Reply
  11. Adam Smith

    Very informative . thanks

    Reply
  12. DrainMech007

    Great article. Our business is located on the east coast of Florida where the salt air corrodes just about everything. Hot water heaters are routinely placed in garages here (not in the interior of the house). Leaks are common for them as are exterior plumbing appliances in just a short period of time. Josh at https://drainmechanics.com/

    Reply
  13. Robert

    We do a lot of plumbing leak repair in Fremont CA, especially with toilets. Many times it is just an inexpensive part, or a very simple adjustment with the float, or the flapper valve. We like to encourage an annual inspection to look for signs of any plumbing leaks. This includes a check of the hot water heater T&P valve to ensure it operates and drains properly, and shuts off without leaks. This saves our customers money, water and minimizes possible water damage. Great article thank you.

    Reply
  14. Janet

    We carry out many leak repairs at http://www.bolton-handyman.co.uk
    To follow on from Robert’s comments, it’s nice to help customers and save them lots more money in the long run.

    Reply
  15. Burt Silver

    I’ve found some water and noticed that my walls are getting wet and I don’t really know where the leak is exactly and I’m worried that it could be within the wall. I like what you said about turning off the shutoff valve and I luckily found that and did that. The next step for me would probably be to contact a plumber as soon as possible and figure out how I can dry my wall.

    Reply
  16. Hilton Plumbing 24/7

    This article goes to demonstrate that leaks can cause serious damage if not attended to in a timely fashion. As a professional Hilton Plumbers in Perth , we tell our homeowners to contact us if they suspect unusual dry-water patterns on surfaces. Invisible leaks are a frustrating problem but completely manageable.

    Reply
  17. Ken Hwan

    I was very impressed with the recommendation that you put paper over wherever you think there is a leak, then turn on the water and see if the paper gets wet. My wife and I recently moved into a new house, and we are both concerned that we might have a leak in our bathroom shower! I will be sure to wrap paper around the shower nozzle piping, and check for any water that’s coming out where it shouldn’t be!

    Reply
  18. John

    That’s good to know that if you see nothing at the time, it might just be a really slow leak. Any leak represents a loss of water pressure and an expense. Make sure to keep a short list of plumbers to call if you notice something like that. https://www.lewisplumbingsantabarbara.com/

    Reply
  19. Olivia Jones

    I appreciate your tips on checking for water leaks because people are not aware that their might be leaking pipes in her homes. It’s good to be able to find if there are leaks so we can them fixed before it gets worse. I just moved into an apartment closer to work yesterday. It’s in an old neighborhood and the rooms are a bit worn down. I’ll be sure to get the pipes to check to avoid unnecessary leaks in the apartment.

    Reply
  20. Gerty Gift

    Thank you for mentioning a slow leak. I have been noticing that we have signs of a leak in one of our rooms, but I just can’t seem to see it happen or catch overt signs of it happening. I will be sure to check it daily so that we can get a better idea of where it might be coming from before hiring a plumber to come help us. https://www.ezflowplumber.com/leak-prevention-n-slab-leaks

    Reply
  21. Kit Hannigan

    Thanks for explaining how skyrocketing water bills can be a great sign that something is not right with your plumbing. My son called me yesterday saying how outrageous was his current water bill. He’s not seeing any apparent leaks or problems with his pipes, so I’ll be sure to advise him to go look for reputable plumbing services to help him identify the leak and fix it right up for him. http://www.mainzplumbingandpumps.com/plumbing-services.html

    Reply

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