Those are two words no homeowner ever wants to hear. But leaks happen and they must be dealt with quickly. Otherwise, you could end up in a world of hurt.
The question is, how do you know you have a water leak?
The Dangers of Water Leaks
Water leaks are scary on multiple fronts, the dangers and consequences include:
- Mold and mildew. Mold and mildew thrive in wet places with minimal air flow. (This includes in walls, crawl spaces, attics, and other areas where water sits for long periods of time.) If you notice excessive mold and mildew, this could be a sign that you have a leak.
- Structural damage. When there’s a serious leak that goes undetected for months or years, it can slowly rot away at structural elements like framing and the foundation.
- Fire hazard. In serious cases where a leak occurs near electrical wiring, there’s a risk of short circuits, which can result in electrical fires.
Any one of these dangers is enough to make your heart race. But when you consider that an undetected leak can lead to compounding consequences, it’s enough to make you weak in the knees.
6 Signs You Have a Water Leak
The good news is that you don’t have to let a water leak go undetected. By proactively identifying the signs of a water leak, you can prevent a small issue from becoming a much larger problem. Here’s what you should look for:
- Increased Water Bill
Over time, a leak can lead to increased utility bills. If you notice a sudden spike in your water bill without any noticeable increase in use, this may be a sign of a leak.
You’re unlikely to detect a small water leak via your utility bill, but a major leak – such as a leak in the water main pipe coming into your house – would definitely show signs.
- Visible Signs
If you suspect a water leak, there are some visible signs and symptoms you can look for. A wet floor is one obvious sign, but you can also keep an eye out for water stains, bulging wallpaper or drywall, or growth of mildew and mold.
If a water leak occurs outside, you may notice water in the yard, water in the street, and/or sinkholes in the yard. Lush patches of grass in an otherwise barren yard may also indicate a leak. (The water from the leak nourishes that isolated spot and causes it to flourish more than the rest of the yard.)
- Foul Smells
Strange smells can be caused by any number of issues in the home, but the presence of moisture is certainly one of them.
While your tendency may be to light a candle or spray some air freshener around the problem areas, it’s imperative that you do some research first. Try to identify the source of the smell to find out if a leak is the culprit.
- Sound of Running Water
Do you constantly hear the sound of running water – even when you aren’t actively using water? This is a symptom of a leak. Moving fast is critically important.
- Low Water Pressure
If your water is turned on and you’re getting low pressure, this could be a sign of a leak. (It could also be a lot of other things, so you’ll need to check pressure in different areas of the house to make sure it isn’t the faucet.) Low water pressure combined with one of these other issues increases the likelihood that you have a leak.
- Leak Detection Service
Still not sure whether or not you have a water leak? You can always hire a leak detection company or plumbing service to come in and evaluate your property. They’re specially trained to identify leaks and can usually find ones that the untrained eye misses.
What to Do About a Water Leak
If you suspect you have a leak, start by hitting the breaker and turning off electricity to your house. Next, find the main water supply valve and turn it off. These two actions will prevent any further damage from occurring.
Finally, call a local plumbing service and tell them that you have an active water leak and need immediate attention. This should put you at or near the top of their list.