One of the most annoying kinds of leaks is the one you aren't sure where exactly it is. You may notice signs of a leak, like dampness, the smell of mold, or audible dripping, but finding some leaks is a little harder to pin down. Here are three ways you can try to find that troublesome leak.
Check for Moisture in Walls and Ceiling
Many pipes run through your walls, and a leak in one of these pipes can cause dampness in your drywall, insulation, and other materials. The good news is that you can use a special tool to locate dampness behind a wall even if you can't see any signs of water yourself, which can help you avoid having to take out parts of your wall just to search. The less good news is that the source of dampness may not also be the source of the leak.
Use a moisture detector to go over your walls and ceiling, which is often where water will gather. Once you find a spot where you detect water behind the walls, you can hire a plumber to come and take a look for you. This takes you right to the water, which is much better than a blind search.
If you're lucky, the source of water will also be the source of the leak. The reason this might not happen is that water always follows the path of least resistance, so the leak could actually be higher up in your walls, but the water is simply collecting near the floor or at a certain point in the wall. Still, finding where the water collects is a great place to start, as you can often follow the trail backward.
Narrow Down Source with Pressure Gauge
For the sake of simplicity, there are two kinds of pipes in your home: the ones that carry water in from outside sources, and the ones that drain water out. You can help narrow down in what pipes the leak might be by using a pressure gauge.
There are two ways to use a pressure gauge. First, you can use the water meter installed somewhere on your property; if you don't know where it is, you can contact your water company. Second, you can buy a pressure gauge to attach to any fixture in your house.
If you use the first method, turn off all sources of water inside your house, but don't shut off your water supply. Then watch the meter carefully; if it still shows water use despite no water being used, the leak is somewhere in the pipes bringing water in. If not, it's in your drain pipes. If you have trouble locating this meter or reading it, a plumber can assist you and help you verify the problem.
For the second method, attach the gauge to a faucet, turn the faucet on, then shut off the supply of water to your house. If there is a leak in these pipes, the pressure in the gauge will slowly decrease. Give it about fifteen minutes; if it falls at all, your leak is in the pipes bringing water in.
Check All Appliances and Outdoor Plumbing
Leaks are often found under sinks, in toilets, and in bathtubs, but other sources of water like appliances are often forgotten. If you live in a house that's a few decades old and haven't had appliances like your fridge, washing machine, or dishwasher replaced recently, the plumbing could be aging and leaking water. Your water heater is also a good place to check. In the event your leak originates from an appliance, ask a plumber to help you either fix the leak or install a replacement.
However, don't forget your outdoor plumbing either. Many houses have multiple spigots on the outer walls, and nearly every house has some kind of waste disposal pipes where all drains meet. You might have a leak in the piping to one of your outdoor spigots, for example, but the water may find itself inside your house, so remember to check everything.
These are some steps to take to find hidden leaks. If you're unable or unwilling to do this yourself, hire local plumbing services like R Acres Plumbing Company LLC to take care of the leaks.