The dreaded slow leak water damage loss

Posted by Matt Buchanan

We’ve talked before about gradual water damage and the reasons it can be so bad, but for new readers we’ll cut right to the chase: if oyu have a slow leak that ends up causing a lot of water damage to your home, it’s highly unlikely your insurance policy will cover the cost of repairing all of the damages the leak caused. We hate to be the ones to give you that bad news, especially if you’ve just discovered water damage from a leak and are trying to figure out your next move. But insurers have decided that these lose types should have been prevented by homeowner maintenance/diligence. So with that in mind, let’s talk about ways you can prevent slow leaks from turning into huge headaches.


Leak Detection


We’ve talked before about installing leak detection systems to stop both sudden and gradual water damage, but in this post we’re going to focus on good old-fashioned sleuthing to get to the bottom of any potential leak problems you might be experiencing.


Initial signs…

high-water-bill-toilet-leakUsually people suspect a problem due to a couple of things. If you find yourself dealing with one or both of these, please read on to learn some steps you can take to detect where the leak is coming from:

() they’re laying in bed at night and can hear water moving through a pipe in the wall but none of their plumbing systems are running and all of their sinks are turned off.

() they get a huge surprise from the water utility company. Even if it’s just a small leak, you can see a big spike in your water bill. Assuming you haven’t been using an unusually high volume of water, that’s a tell-tale sign you’ve got a leak somewhere.

But where is it? Let’s talk about ways you can find it and hopefully save yourself a lot of money from hiring a water damage restoration company


How to isolate the problem…


leak-detectionIt may be the case you have a relatively easy fix on your hands, depending on where the leak is located. But how do you know where the leak is located? Depending on your skill level, it may be the case you hire a plumbing company that focuses on leak detection. But these services can be quite expensive simply due to the fact it may take them quite a while to actually find the leak. So you could save yourself quite a bit of money by locating the leak for them so that when they show up they can get busy fixing the problem instead of first trying to figure out where the problem is!


Is it outside or inside your house?

water-meterThe first thing is first, let’s figure out if the problem is in the metered line running from the city’s line to your house or if it’s inside your home. This is easy: do you know where your water meter is located? Do you know where the main shutoff is outside of your home? Good! Now turn off the main supply to your house and check and see if the meter is still running. If it stopped, the leak is in the metered line. If not, it’s in your house. Chances are it’s inside your house, so let’s move on…


Common sources of leaks inside the home


Pressure relief valve on your water heater

In most cases these valves are plumbed such that they release directly into a drain so you may not notice any leak. Check the drainage pipe to see if it’s releasing water or if you can’t see that area listen for a hissing sound.


Slow leak in your toilet tank

Usually you can hear these as there is a constant hissing sound, but if not you may want to put some food coloring in the tank of your toilet. Wait a few minutes and then check the toilet bowl. Is there food coloring that has transferred to the toilet bowl? If so, your flapper is loose and will probably need to be replaced.


Check shut-off valves for as many plumbing systems as you can

If it’s not coming from your water heater or your toilet, you next need to try each plumbing system in your home. Most should have a shut-off valve. You’ll use the same method as with the metered main line. See if it stops running…if so, you’ve found the source of the leak!


Still struggling? That’s ok!


Finding leaks can be difficult, and plumbers often times require sophisticated equipment to find them. If you can’t figure out what’s going, don’t stress out. At least you know you’ve got a problem and you’re on your way to fixing it. Call in the pros and get it detected and fixed before you end up with severe water damage that may not be covered by your insurance company!

About Matt Buchanan

I grew up in Irving, TX and left for Nashville, TN for college. After college I lived in Washington, DC and then in Cairo, Egypt. After coming back to the states, I spent a couple of years back in Dallas before moving with my wife to Denver!
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