Every day, water runs through your home's pipes and into fixtures and appliances. While this is an incredible convenience, it can cause property damage when an issue causes water to leak out of the pipes and into your abode. Even slow and nearly imperceptible leaks can lead to a high water bill and structural damage to your house. Additionally, any excess moisture in your walls can lead to mold, which can be a huge issue on a home inspection report. If you suspect that you may have a leak, it's important to locate the source quickly and ensure that no further water is lost. Here are some guidelines for finding a leak and stopping the flow:
Identify the source
Finding the location of a water leak can be more difficult than it initially appears. In many cases, the water will travel from the leak site, which makes source identification tricky. You'll know there is a leak somewhere in your home if you notice a ceiling that has begun to sag or become wavy. This will likely be accompanied by discoloration and dripping water. Sometimes, water will not come through the ceiling but will instead end up trapped in a wall. In these cases, the wall itself will become wet, and paint or wallpaper will bubble or otherwise react to the moisture.
Once you realize you have a leak, ascertain whether it's coming from your plumbing system or dripping in from outside the house. In most cases, it's easy to tell where water is entering because dirty water will have come in from the outdoors. If all the water dripping in your home is clean, you can be relatively sure it's originating in your plumbing. An unusually high water bill is also a dead giveaway that the leak is related to your home's water supply.
If you discover that the leak is related to plumbing, it's often smart to check your appliances, toilets and sinks for issues before turning your eye toward the pipes in your walls. Appliances and toilets pull water from your plumbing through flexible tubes that connect to the metal pipes in the walls. These tubes can become weak with age, which can cause tears and leaks. Luckily, this type of leak is easy to fix. Simply purchase new tubes and affix them to the back of your appliance or fixture.
Examine the roof
If you find dirty water in your home, it's likely that the leak resulted from water on your roof. You'll need to visually inspect the roof to see if there are any signs of damage. If the leak occurs during winter, the leak could be the result of ice damming, which occurs when snow builds up on a roof that has clogged gutters. The heat from the home causes snow in the middle of the roof to melt, but the water can't drain properly because of the clogged gutters. Water then sits against the roof and eventually seeps into the home.
Even if the weather is warm, clogged gutters are a common cause of roof leaks. Be sure to clear gutters regularly, particularly if you experience a leak.
Consider the water main
If there are no signs of a leak in your house, but you continue to experience a high water bill, the issue could be with your water main. The water main brings water to your building from the municipal plumbing system and runs under your yard. Sometimes, these pipes can become cracked, which will lead to a slow leak that can become very costly over time. If you suspect a hole in your water main, contact the city for repairs.