How To Find A Plumbing Leak & Prevent Water Damage
Plumbing Leak, Water Damage

Find A Plumbing Leak To Protect Your House From Water Damage

Water damage can cause extensive damage to your home. Slow plumbing leaks are a torturous death to your health, your house, and your bank account. A leak in your home plumbing system will cause mold, and mold causes illness. Have you been coughing a lot? Hidden mold could be the explanation. If you don’t find a plumbing leak in time, the constant water stream can crumble down your home’s foundation, interior walls and floors. One day you could be walking into a room and have your leg unexpectedly fall through the floor. What’s below your floors?

Unless your home is industrial chic, the majority of your plumbing pipes are hidden behind closed doors, in basements, and in crawl spaces. If you don’t want to venture into the basement, crawl spaces, cupboards, or deep dark places to look for a plumbing leak, you can always have an expert at a water damage restoration company do the dirty work for you. Homeowners insurance will typically reimburse you for a sudden pipe burst. Also, if you just purchased your home and have a home warranty, you might be in luck. Check your home warranty policy for details.

You may be able to find the leak yourself and possibly stop it before more water damage occurs.

Water Damage? Call 1-888-443-3110 for a 24/7 FREE Estimate.

Seven Signs Telling You to Find Your Plumbing Leak

  1. You receive an astronomically high water bill and you don’t have a pool.
  2. The water flow indicator on your water meter is moving, all the faucets are shut off, and the kids aren’t home.
  3. Your walls, ceiling or floors suddenly start to grow spots, and the kids didn’t have a food fight.
  4. You hear water running even when all water is turned off, and you don’t live near a running creek.
  5. A damp musty smell permeates through the house, and you don’t live near a swamp.
  6. You’re awake, and your plumbing pipes are as noisy as Jacob Marley’s chains in A Christmas Carol.
  7. Creepy centipedes are frequently found socializing in your basement, bathroom, closets or crawl spaces and you didn’t invite them in.

The Trickling Toilet

If you’re reading this article because you need to find a leak, you’re probably not one of the one million Americans that don’t have plumbing, and you have a toilet that uses running water. The EPA reports that almost 30% of the water used in American households is used on the toilet. (17% of water used is from plumbing-related leaks.) Your toilet probably gets flushed a few times a day, and it gets a workout with every flush. The EPA also estimates that a toilet leak can waste around 200 gallons a day. If you use 100 gallons a day and have a leaky toilet, you’ll notice the difference in your water bill! If you take the lid off the tank and put your ear to it, you might hear water running. If it’s been a while since you flushed and you hear water running from the tank, you probably have a leak.

To further check for leaks, dry the entire exterior of the toilet, then watch it or check later around the floor rim, under the tank, and around connections to see if there is increased water collection. If there is, you may need some toilet repair work done. If you see leaks at the bolts, try tightening the bolts. If it’s at the floor, you may need a new seal, and that involves lifting the toilet. Not prepared to do that? A professional at a water damage restoration company can help.

A commonly suggested trick to check for trickling toilets is to put food dye in the tank, then wait to see if it drizzles down to the toilet bowl without flushing the toilet. Make sure you flush the toilet after the test to avoid any staining. Don’t have food dye? Sprinkle baby powder or cornstarch into the toilet bowl. Is water flowing in disrupting the powder? You have a leak.

Four Things to Check on a Trickling Toilet

  1. Flapper and seal
  2. Bolts holding toilet to the floor
  3. Rim around the toilet base
  4. Intersection of the toilet tank and toilet bowl

The toilet flapper, seat or seal is usually the cause. It’s a cheap and easy fix. If the toilet flapper is peeling, crumbling, or isn’t adjusted correctly, that is also a sign that it needs to be replaced. (When you’re out buying replacement parts, keep in mind some people refer to the toilet flapper as the “flush valve seal.”) Take the old flapper with you to the hardware store so you don’t waste time at the return desk later. If you’re not a DIY person, an expert can quickly and easily make the repair for you. It will be worth it to save on your water bill!

Fix Faulty Flowing Faucets and Fixtures

Go from room to room and check every faucet, handle, valve, supply line and drain pipe for leaks. Leaky plumbing parts are crying or attention. Take a box of tissues or a roll of toilet paper with you and use the “weeping water” method. To find the leak, you’ll wipe away its tears. Attentively pat the area with a dry tissue. If the tissue is wet, that part is crying for attention. Pay particular attention to joints where connections are made. You may just need a new washer in a spigot, handle or compression joint connection. If it remains dry, turn the water slowly on, and look for leaks dripping at supply line plumbing joints and drain pipes. Make sure you check your shower, and by the washing machine, dishwasher, compressor, hot water tank, sprinkler systems, and outdoor hose connections.

As you inspect each area, check shut-off valves for moisture. Make a trip to the basement or crawl space and look for shut-off valves. A “gate valve” is your traditional round water shut off handle for hoses and water shut-offs. That round handle requires a packing nut and packing washer to not leak. If those items are old and worn, they’ll need to be replaced.

A “ball valve” has a lever that turns water on and off, and a ball inside that stops the flow. The lever only moves a quarter-turn to turn the flow on or off. Similarly, it has nuts and seals that could be worn or loose to cause a faulty flow.

If you have water damage, let a professional from a water damage restoration company check for leaks, make the necessary repairs, and professionally inspect and dry any floors, walls or carpet that may have been ruined from the leak.

Follow the Flow

At each fixture and faucet you stop at, follow the pipes along and check the joints with the weeping water method. If the plumbing tape or gaskets are worn, they will leak. If the plumbing joints weren’t aligned correctly, they will leak.


As you’re walking (or crawling) along, turn your head (carefully) and inspect the walls, floors, cupboards and ceilings for spotting and discoloring. It’s possible there are pipes behind the walls you can’t see. Check what you can see first, and make a note of water damage locations.

The water damage you see will help determine where the water is coming from, and indicate the extent of the water damage. If the plumbing leak has been unattended to for quite a while, it can start rotting floors, ruining gypsum drywall, and create an inviting environment for mildew, mold and unwanted creatures.

If you have water damage, don’t delay. Waiting will only cause more damage to your home! We are here to help 24/7.

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