Most houses have multiple plumbing pipes fitted in the walls, including water, vent, and sewer pipes. Water leaks, weather small or large, can be dangerous: wet surfaces are conducive for mold growth, which can affect your family’s health, while damage to sewer pipes can release noxious fumes into your home, another health hazard.
Broken pipes can be hard to locate, but following these tips can make them easier to find, after which you should call in a plumber to fix them.
1. Establish that you have a leak
Before you start searching for the leak, you should first establish that there is, indeed, a leak. Start by checking the reading on your water meter, and then shutting off all water-using fixtures and appliances (showers, faucets, washing machines). After several hours, check the water meter again. If you have a leak, the reading should have changed without your intervention.
2. Look for signs of a leak
When you’re certain that there is a leakage, you can start looking for the broken pipe both inside and outside your house. Some of the signs to look for include:
- Small puddles of water or moist areas around appliances that use water – like washing machines or dishwashers
- Small pools of water where plumbing pipes run through in the basement
- Stains, cracks, mold, or bubbled paint on your walls
- Moisture or corrosion around exposed pipes like in the basement or crawl space
- Peeling paint indicates too much moisture
- Patches of extra-green grass – If you have pipes running through the yard, a leaking pipe may cause some sections of the grass to be more lush than others
3. Listen for the sound of running water
Turn off every electronic gadget and appliance in your home and listen. If you notice the sound of running water when no water is turned on, like a running toilet or dripping tap or shower, you may have a leak.
4. Check the usual suspects
There are a few areas in your home that are more prone to leakages than others, such as:
- Toilets – This is the most common water waster in the home, but it is less noticeable than a dripping faucet. Put a few drops of ink or food coloring in the toilet tank, but do not flush. Wait about 10 minutes, and if you notice some color in the toilet bowl, you know you have a leak.
- Hot water heater – check for water running down the heater, or small puddles beneath it.
Once you spot the leak, fixing a broken pipe will be easy. Simply call a plumber you trust. Broken sewer pipes are more serious because they emit toxic gas that contains methane which is explosive. Don’t hesitate to call a professional plumber!