Water leaks in your plumbing can seem like a small concern, but they could quickly turn into a bigger problem. Small leaks can contribute to slow, consistent water damage over time, weakening your home’s structure and adding to your water costs.
Plumbing leaks commonly occur in and around fixtures and appliances, such as sinks, showers and washing machines, and can lead to blockages in your homes plumbing. Serious leaks due to burst pipes can be especially costly and may be more difficult to detect.
Most households average a total daily use of 350 litres of water per person. If you notice high water use detailed in your bills, you may have a water leak. While visible leaks can be easier to fix, plumbing leak detection can help in situations where a pipe has burst and you need repairs.
Where Leaks Commonly Occur
Pipes under the sink can often have leaks and may cause damage over time. Toilets, showers and other bathroom fixtures are also common areas for concern. Water leaks in these areas are often due to loose seals which require re-caulking or replacing.
Washing machine and dishwasher connections are other potential leak sites, often determined by damp patches on connecting walls.
The outside of your home can also have many potential leaks, including:
- Outdoor taps and hoses
- Isolation valves and water pumps
- Exposed pipes
- Garden reticulation
If you notice an outdoor area near your home that is frequently damp or greener than expected, this can be an indication of an outdoor leak.
Routinely checking visible pipes for rust, buckling or drops of water can help you to find minor issues before they become bigger.
How to Find a Leak
While finding the direct source of a leak can be difficult, checking your water meter can be an easy way to confirm that your house is losing water.
First turn off all your water-using appliances and fixtures. Then go to the water meter located on your property and take a reading of the numbers. After 15 minutes without using any water, take another reading of the water meter. If the numbers have moved, you most likely have a water leak.
If you think you may have a leak, there are a few simple checks you can do for common problem areas.
An easy method to check if your toilet cistern is leaking is to put a few drops of food colouring into its water tank. Without flushing, leave the toilet for a few moments to see if the dye leaks through. If you noticed colour draining into the toilet bowl, then you have a leak.
Other leaks around sinks, showers, and drains can be tested by checking for cracks and water drops or checking if the water level drops when drains are plugged.
Minor leaks can usually be easily handled, however, a leak due to a burst pipe within your plumbing can be much harder to detect and repair.
Finding a leak in your walls, floor or ceiling may require excavation or wall damage, and if performed by an inexperienced plumber can result in extensive property damage.
A plumbing leak detection method used by professionals is acoustic leak detection. This method uses advanced sound technology to detect vibrations caused by a leak, quickly pinpointing its source and avoiding wasted time and unnecessary property damage.
How to Fix a Leak
In most serious cases, leaks due to burst pipes and those that have caused structural damage over time will need to be fixed by a licensed and accredited plumber.
A minor leak such as a dripping tap may be fixed simply by replacing the tap washer. Whether your leak is a large job or a small one, it’s important that it’s repaired quickly to avoid further water damage to your property.
It’s best to conduct a follow-up leak detection test a week or so after your leak has been repaired to confirm that the repairs have been successful and that your house does not have any remaining leaks.