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The Art Of Leak Detection: How To Spot & Fix Water Leaks Early

By 17 January 2024January 18th, 2024Resources

 

How To Tell if You Have a Water Leak

Without using sophisticated leak detection tools, there are a few methods of spotting a water leak early:

Discoloured and Oddly Textured Walls

Water damage will cause wet spots to appear on your walls, which cause discolouration. It can also cause paint to lift, creating cracks, bubbles, and peeling. When you see any or all of the above on your walls, it’s an almost sure sign of water damage.

Strange Smells

When there’s water damage in your home, it can create a whole host of different smells. Wet wood, wet drywall, and other wet substrates will cause humid or musty odours to waft through your house. This can help you detect leaks that don’t show any visible signs.

Dripping Sounds

Dripping sounds are another great way of detecting a leak before there are any visible signs. It’s always a good idea to listen for dripping sounds after you’ve shut off a faucet. 

Mould and Mildew

Mould and mildew may be the two most obvious signs that you have a water leak—and if you see them on your walls, floor, or ceiling, it’s likely the leak has been there for a long time. Generally, mould and mildew look like clusters of brown or black spots; they could be signs of poor air circulation in high-humidity rooms like bathrooms, so keep that in mind before assuming it’s a leak. 

A Ticking Water Meter

When your water meter is ticking, but you’re not actually using any water, it’s an almost sure sign that you have a water leak. 

Higher Water Bills

Water bills vary from month to month, but if your water bill is suddenly much higher than it should be, it’s very likely that you have a leak. 

Water Leak Detection: Pinpointing the Location of the Water Leak

When you suspect you have a water leak, the next step is finding exactly where it is. Use the above-mentioned techniques to zero in on the area where you think it might be. From there, you can do a few things:

Physical Inspections

Use your nose, ears, and eyes in the ways we described above. From there, you can start feeling around your walls and floors for any signs of moisture. If you suspect a toilet leak, you can also use the toilet dye test: Put some coloured dye in your toilet tank. If that dye ends up in your bowl after about 20 minutes, it’s very likely your toilet is leaking. 

Moisture Meters

Moisture meters are small, handheld devices that can be used to detect the moisture content in drywall and other substrates. You can use them to find unexpected moisture, and that makes them perfect for leak detection.

Infrared Cameras

Leaks cause a difference in temperature between dry and wet surfaces. An infrared camera can help you (or, more probably, your plumber) find leaks by detecting those differences in temperature—even hidden leaks can be found using infrared devices. 

Cutting Into Drywall

Cutting into drywall can help you detect water leaks—but we only recommend doing it if:

 

  1. You know what you’re doing
  2. You’re very certain there’s a leak somewhere behind the drywall

 

This is the most intensive of the leak detection methods we’ve mentioned, though it may give you access to the leaking pipe. When you’re confident of the leak’s location, but not sure exactly where it is, this method can help. 

Preventing Damage From Water Leaks

Turning Off Your Water Main

The first thing to do if you suspect a leak is turn off your water main. This will give you the opportunity to detect the leak without it causing much further damage.

Sealing Leaks With Tape

You can use plumber’s tape and other tools if you’ve found a leaky pipe. Remember that these are temporary solutions, and you’ll want to call a professional to deal with plumbing leaks.

Fixing Water Leaks in Your Home

While a visual inspection can assist in detecting mildew growth and other signs of a water leak, and high-tech tools can help you pinpoint a leak’s location, you’ll almost always need to call a plumber to actually repair the leak. Some leaks are severe and could be considered a plumbing emergency; if you need emergency plumbing in Winnipeg, give us a call.