Understanding leak detection

Thankfully, Atlanta doesn't receive cold enough weather to cause plumbing to burst. However, that doesn't...

Thankfully, Atlanta doesn't receive cold enough weather to cause plumbing to burst. However, that doesn't mean you shouldn't understand plumbing leak detection and how to detect a leak. A plumbing system is complex and fragile. One defective part can damage the entire system. You may notice a large water leak because you can hear or see the water dripping. However, the most dangerous leak is a small one.

Yes, it's annoying and problematic. Over time it can drastically increase your water bill. If that's not bad enough, a small leak can turn into an expensive repair job. The leak can cause a sewer backup, causing sewage to spill into the basement. Unrepaired leaks can also damage walls and cause toxic black mold. Depending on where the leak is, you can repair it on your own. For example, if you find the leak in a pipe in the basement, you may fix it yourself.

Check water-consuming areas

Water leaks typically occur in the plumbing fixtures and water-consuming appliances. So, your list of places to detect a plumbing leak must include the following:

  • Bathroom
  • Kitchen
  • Laundry room
  • Basement and/or garage
  • Lawn
  • Patio
  • Spa and/or pool
  • Water meter
  • Outside

This plumbing task requires some tools to help you do the job properly. For example, you want to have a flashlight and food coloring dye.

Start outside

You want to check your lawn. For example, look on the grass, irrigation system or low water use garden. Check for any moisture spots. If you have a pool, spa or patio, check for any leaks or moisture spots.

Move indoors to the bathroom

In the bathroom, you want to check the usual places such as the showerheads and faucets. Look around and on the showerhead for any leaks. Do the same with the bathroom faucet. You may want to feel around the faucet and showerhead to make sure there are no leaks. Water should not drip from the faucet or shower head.

Move to the toilet. When your toilet leaks, water is moving from the tank to the bowl when no one flushes it. Therefore, you may walk into the bathroom or past it and hear water running into the bowl even when it's not in use. Although running water into the bowl is a sign of a water leak, perform a silent toilet leak test with food coloring dye.

Add the food coloring dye into the water tank. Wait about 30 minutes and then look in the toilet bowl. You should see clear water. If the clear water changed to the color of the food coloring dye, you have a leak. You can only use the silent toilet leak test when you have clear water in the bowl. Thus, if you use any colored toilet cleaner in your bowl, you'd need to remove it to properly do the test.

While you wait for the silent toilet leak test, check the bathroom pipes for leaks. You should not see or feel any water coming from the pipes. Also, check the walls, ceiling and floor for any wet spots, mildew, discoloration or mold. You should make sure all the showerheads and faucets are off.

Move to the kitchen

Perform the same check in the bathroom minus the silent toilet leak test. Look for water leaks in and around the faucet. Make sure to turn the kitchen faucet off. Also, check the appliances such as the dishwasher. If you have a laundry room, check the faucet. Regardless of if you have a laundry room or not, check the washing machine for leaks.

Check the walls of the kitchen and laundry room for any discoloration, moisture, mold or mildew.

Go to the basement and/or garage

In the basement you may need to use a flashlight to see in some spaces. Look for any leaks in your water heating system and water pump. If the water pump constantly runs when not in use, then you may have a leak.

Check the pipes in the basement. If you have copper piping, you'll have an easier time detecting leaks. As you look at the copper pipes, look for a white circle. Typically the circle forms around the area where the pipes leak. For PVC pipes, concentrate on looking and feeling for any leaks.

While you're in the basement, study the foundation for any leaks. Also, look for any moisture spots on the floor.

Go to your water meter. With all the faucets in the bathroom and kitchen turned off, you should not see the meter moving. However, if you do notice movement, you may have a water leak you haven't detected yet.

You should not become discouraged if you do not find a leak, but your water meter continues to run after you've shut off all the faucets. You could have a small leak somewhere between the walls since the plumbing is typically installed there. If you do find a leak, call a professional plumber, if it's in an area you can't fix. Regardless of if you find a leak or not, conduct a leak detection check periodically.

Popular on Kudzu

  1. How much could I pay for carpet cleaning?
  2. Video: How do I choose a garage door?
  3. How much does it cost to install new gutters?
  4. Incredible Lighting in 4 Steps
  5. Kitchen Remodeling: 13 Common Mistakes

ENJOY THIS ARTICLE? Sign up for more articles, tips and savings

Kudzu Category Sponsors