A leak doesn’t always look or sound like a leak. It might not be as obvious as a persistent hissing behind the walls or a burst pipe spraying water from the ceiling. More often than not, it’s small amounts of waste water that slowly accumulate around fixtures (and turn to mold!) without your knowledge. Here are a few ways to protect your home by finding and stopping small leaks before they turn into serious water damage.
Check the water meter
Turn off all faucets and everything that runs water in your home. Then check your water meter. Is there any movement of the needle or the small triangle on the face? If so, you have a water leak on your hands.
If you can’t tell whether the dials are moving veerrryyy slowly or not at all, write down the number on your water meter, wait a few hours (do not use ANY water during this time!) and check back in a few hours. If the number has changed, you have a leak.
Replace your rubber
It’s not always bad plumbing or damaged pipes that are at fault. Old and worn-out rubber stoppers, washers, and flapper valves are often responsible for leaks around your fixtures or inside the toilet. If you’re noticing water pooling around your faucet heads, it’s time to pull out the wrench and replace those rubber washers! They’re extremely cheap to replace, but make sure to bring the old one to the hardware store to find the right fit.
Test your toilet
Does your toilet make a hissing sound when it’s not being used? That’s one clue it might be leaking. Another handy way to test it out is to place a food coloring tablet in the tank and wait 30 minutes. If the water in your toilet bowl turns a funky new color, that means your tank is leaking. According to the EPA, a single home can save up to 13,000 gallons of water by replacing their old toilet with a WaterSense model. Time to replace!
Look out for water stains and warping
The telltale signs of chronic leaks are discoloration, warping, and moisture on ceilings, floors and walls. If there are water stains and splotches around your home — or your flooring has a little more give than usual — it’s time to get more aggressive in your search for leaks and mold. Also keep in mind that water travels! Just because you’re noticing damage in the living doesn’t mean it isn’t being routed from the bathroom or kitchen.