Don’t Flush Your Money Down the Drain

February 7, 2018

If there’s a water leak in your home, it’s costing you.

Whether it’s causing damage to your home or just your water bill, a leak in the house is best identified and fixed quickly. The most common types of leaks can be repaired by the homeowner at minimal cost, but only if they’re found before too much damage is done.

Here are the most common types of residential water leaks and the routine checks you can do to find them:

  1. Toilets. It’s estimated that 20-35% of all residential toilets lose water, but many have “silent” leaks that might not be so obvious. If you don’t hear your toilet constantly running but suspect it may have a leak elsewhere, put a few drops of food coloring into the tank and don’t flush. After 20 or 30 minutes, check to see if any of the dye has made it to the toilet bowl – this indicates a flapper valve leak.
  2. Faucets, spigots and showerheads. Your typical dripping faucet isn’t just annoying; it can cause a household to lose 2,000-20,000 gallons of water annually. Many times, the fix is a simple replacement “O” ring! We like this simple guide from Plumbing Supply:
  3. Hot water tanks. There’s an obvious problem if you find a puddle at the base of your water heater, but other leaks might not be quite so simple to find. Check the temperature and pressure relief valve (T&P valve) – it’s a common place for a leak to start and also an inexpensive fix. We do highly recommend having water heater repairs done by a professional, as they can be dangerous.
  4. Tub or shower drain. A slight disconnection between the drain body and the shower floor can cause an insidious leak that leads to expensive subflooring damage. This is more common with plastic and fiberglass tubs, as these materials flex. To test for a leak, plug the drain and fill the tub with enough water to form a puddle around the drain. Watch to see if any water escapes around the drain hole.
  5. Attic and roof. A leak up top can trickle down through the house and cause all sorts of problems if not caught. Check attic surfaces for mold and other signs of moisture, as well as for cracks that could be entry points. A well-insulated attic should be totally dry, even after heavy rain.
  6. Invisible leaks. Your house is full of pipes, any of which could have a small leak you can’t see. Sometimes, a damp or moldy wall will tip you off, but it’s not always that easy. If you suspect an invisible leak, use your water meter to confirm it: shut off every water-using appliance in your home and do not run faucets, toilets, etc. Track your water meter reading over the next 1-2 hours. If it changes, you have a leak.