Angie's List: Finding a Leak

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Updated: 8/22/2013 10:39 pm

Have you ever received a water bill that seemed unusually high? The reason for such a drastic increase is usually a leak somewhere. In this Angie’s List report, find out how to spot a leak.

Homeowners often don’t think about the plumbing in our homes, until something goes wrong. A leak, if left untreated or undetected, can lead to serious damage and costly repairs.

“Water can be your home’s worst enemy. Leaving leaks unattended can lead to serious damage to your home. For example, a leak behind a wall could require drywall repair. A small drywall repair job can cost as much as $400, not to mention if you end up with mold. For example, a mold remediation job can be anywhere from hundreds of dollars to thousands of dollars,” said Angie's List founder Angie Hicks.

“One of the things we find is a lot of homeowners do not go into their crawl space or their attic and we’ve actually had homeowners that have owned homes for generations and never been in the crawl space but sometimes just a routine inspection of someone going into the crawl space and following the plumbing pipe and checking those pipes often is one good way to do that – to find a leak,” said plumber Justin Dorsey/Plumbing Contractor.

It’s always best to tackle plumbing leaks – even small ones – immediately.

“Easy signs of leaks in your house could be the fact that you have stains on your walls, if you have wallpaper that’s buckling, or even a wooden floor that’s buckling, or if you just smell a musty smell you need to have that investigated,” Hicks added.

There are a couple of simple ways to check if your toilet is leaking. Place a few drops of food coloring in the toilet tank and wait 15 minutes. If the food coloring has entered the toilet bowl without the toilet being flushed you know you have a leak.

Another thing you can do – lay toilet paper along the base of the toilet and flush the toilet.

“If it’s leaking you’ll begin to see the water wicking into the tissue paper. Or if it’s dripping from the tank it will drip down and hit the toilet paper and you’ll see it. That’s one way to tell if there’s even the slightest leak,” Dorsey added.

It’s important to know where your water shut off valve is located in your home if you do have a leak. If you can’t locate it, a reputable plumber can help.

“When hiring a plumber, a plumber typically needs to have a trade license – a plumbing license. You need to be sure that you are not confusing that with a business license. All companies typically need a business license to operate, but plumbing needs a plumbing specific license,” Hicks said.

Some additional sources for water loss include dripping faucets within the house and a garden hose mistakenly being left open for days.

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