As a homeowner, you never want to discover a leak. Yet spotting a small puddle below the sink or dishwasher is preferred to a serious rot and mold issue! Unfortunately, hidden plumbing leaks can exist for months before being found.
It may be a pinhole leak from a copper pipe, which gradually allows water to leak out, or a frozen burst pipe behind a wall. In this case, the leak can go unnoticed until you see discoloration on the wall or floor, smell something, or spot rot or mold.
Before you find yourself in this situation, know some of the telltale signs your home could be experiencing a hidden plumbing leak.
1. Low Water Pressure and Higher Bills
If water is coming out of your faucet in a thin or sluggish stream but your monthly water bills are high, these factors generally go back to a leaking pipe hidden behind a wall, under a floor or inside the attic.
Have water consumption habits changed in your home? If you have not added a new appliance, are not showering more frequently or routinely watering the lawn in spring and summer, an increase in water consumption can likely be traced back to a leak you cannot see.
2. A Strange Odor
If you notice a stale smell, the scent could be a combination of mildew and mold growth, as stagnant water has started to accumulate in a less visible area.
3. From the Water Meter
If you’re questioning whether your home has a hidden leak, start with the water meter. To get a reading that indicates this issue:
- Avoid using any item that consumes water for 30 minutes
- Turn off all water sources in your home
- Check the reading after a period of waiting
When a home has a leak, the meter will show activity. However, the signs might not be apparent right away. A meter will detect activity from a slower leak within one to two hours of the water being shut off, so you may have to wait at least two hours to observe the results. On the other hand, a faster leak will be detected almost immediately.
4. How the Toilet Operates
You won’t always see a puddle forming around your toilet. Instead, its operation indicates if your home is experiencing a leak. As a trick, some suggest adding a couple drops of food coloring to the tank and waiting at least 30 minutes.
If you still see the color inside the bowl afterwards, something in your home is causing water to flow from the tank to the drain. This occurrence should only happen when you flush the toilet, but a leak somewhere in the plumbing can cause water to flow from the tank without any action.
5. Changes In Your Home
Especially if a leak persists for weeks or months, your home may experience water damage, which manifests through the following signs:
- Flooring that is warped, sagging or sinking, which can indicate a leak has formed below.
- Loose fittings and seals around the toilet and tub. Eventually, an ineffective seal can cause water to leak onto the flooring underneath, resulting in rot and warping.
- Damaged walls and ceilings, including cracked, bubbling or peeling paint, warping or sagging, discolored drywall and brown or dark-colored stains. In these cases, the pipe passes above the room and a leak causes water to pool or seep into the ceiling or wall materials.
- Dampness under the sink, resulting in a warped cabinet or wall or water stains.
- Moisture damage to plaster and sheet rock, often characterized by bubbling paint, soft-feeling material and water stains.
- Uneven lawn growth. As pipes pass underground, a leaking pipe below your lawn can result in patches of grass that are greener in appearance or have greater growth than other areas.
If you suspect your home has a hidden plumbing leak due to these signs, have M.J. Fahy & Sons assess your plumbing and recommend repairs to improve the issue. To make an appointment, contact us today.