Slow and hidden water leaks can spell disaster for your San Jose, CA home. Whether hidden in crawlspaces or concealed by drywall, these plumbing issues set the stage for widespread mold and mildew formation. They can also leave you with warped baseboards, sub-floors, and flooring, wall damage, foundation damage, and significant losses in property value. By catching and resolving them early on, you can protect the marketability of your investment and maintain a clean and healthy living environment. Following are eight leak detection strategies that can help.

1. Check Your Water Meter

Among the easiest and quickest ways to identify a hidden leak is by watching your water meter. Turn off all of the taps throughout your home and then check your water meter’s reading. If the meter is still moving and logging water use, there’s a good chance that you have a sizable leak somewhere in the building. If you don’t notice any movement right away, try keeping your water off a bit longer. Then, check your meter again in one to two hours. It often takes time for small-sized leaks to have a noticeable impact on meter outputs.

2. Assess Your Home’s Water Pressure

Do you find that you’re enjoying your showers less and less? Does it take a lot longer than it once did to draw a hot bath? Sudden and dramatic changes in water pressure mean that the water coming into your home is being lost to a leak at some point in your plumbing system and before it reaches the fixture that you’re using. If you choose to perform a formal water pressure test with a water pressure gauge, look for readings between 30 and 80 pounds per square inch (psi). Anything lower than this is a likely indication of a slow and hidden leak.

3. Color the Water in Your Toilet Tank

To verify whether your toilet is leaking, drop a small amount of food coloring into its tank. Just four to five drops should be enough to do the trick. Choose a bright, conspicuous color like red, blue, purple, or vibrant orange. If your chosen color appears in the toilet bowl after 15 to 20 minutes even though the commode was never flushed, this fixture probably has a leaky flapper valve. If you find this same colored water pooling at the base of your commode after you’ve flushed, your toilet also has a broken seal.

4. Listen for the Sound of Running or Trickling Water

You should never hear the sound of running water when none of your appliances, faucets, or drains are being used. If there are faint running or trickling sounds behind your walls, they could be an indication of a cracked pipe or a pipe that has a leaky seal.

If you hear running water at night after everyone has stopped using your plumbing system, it may be the sound of wastewater finally clearing a blockage in your pipes. This is all the more likely if you also hear bubbling or gurgling sounds coming from your drains and toilets.

5. Compare Your Current and Past Water Bills

Your old water bills might provide solid evidence of a hidden plumbing leak. Compare your latest water bill with a water bill from the same time last year. If you haven’t added new water-reliant appliances to your home or expanded your household, a leak might be the only justification for a substantial increase in water use. If you don’t have old water bills readily at-hand, contact your water company and ask for digital copies.

6. Pay Careful Attention to Your Landscape

Not all water leaks are the result of aging fixtures and damaged water supply pipes. Among the most common and costly plumbing leaks to resolve are leaky sewer lines. The sewer line that carries solid waste and wastewater away from your home travels underground toward the municipal sewer main. If the soil that sits atop this pipe is perpetually wet and muddy, a broken sewer line is the most likely culprit. Other signs of sewer line problems include strong sewer gas smells and sudden increases in nearby grass and foliage. If your grass looks far greener and healthier than it’s ever looked before, it’s probably due to the moisture and nutrients that are leaking out of your plumbing system.

Sewer leaks aren’t just an issue for your lawn. These leaks can set the stage for whole-house backups. As wastewater seeps out of small or fast-widening cracks and gaps in pipe materials, nearby tree roots and weeds could find their way in. These aggressive intruders can clog your sewer pipe by growing all throughout its interior. When they do, your wastewater will have nowhere to go and will back up into your home.

7. Look for Wet Building Materials and Monitor Increases in Indoor Humidity

It’s easy to assume that someone spilled water if you notice a small puddle by your refrigerator door. However, this same puddle could also be a sign that the appliance’s ice maker or water filter is failing. It’s important to regularly inspect the areas around water-reliant appliances like refrigerators, dishwashers, and washing machines. You should also pull these units out and look behind them. Many slow and hidden leaks are found at the backs of these units due to loose connections and damaged water supply hoses.

All throughout the building, be on the lookout for damp drywall, build-ups of condensation on windows, and other tell-tale signs of increased humidity and trapped moisture If you have areas of drywall that have started to look or feel soft, you can safely assume that there’s a leak behind it.

Bulging wallpaper and blistered or bubbled paint can also indicate in-wall plumbing problems. Although these issues are frequently the result of roof leaks, they can certainly develop in areas where cracked pipes are constantly dripping water.

In your garage or basement, pay careful attention to the condition of your concrete flooring. If you have unsealed concrete in these areas, sudden changes in its shape, the development of cracks or other openings, and the formation of a powdery, white coating on its surface might signify leak-related slab trouble.

8. Schedule a Whole-House Plumbing Inspection

The surest way to identify all slow and hidden leaks throughout your home is by scheduling a whole-house plumbing inspection. To remain compliant with the terms of many home insurance plans, home service agreements, and product warranties, it’s best to schedule these services at least once each year. They give plumbers the chance to verify the safety and efficiency of water heaters, check for problems like hidden leaks, and replace worn components. With annual plumbing inspections and maintenance service, you can make sure that minor and still-developing plumbing issues never have the chance to spiral out of control.

We’ve been proudly serving San Jose, CA and the surrounding cities since 2005. As a NASSCO-certified contractor, we offer consistently superior workmanship and total transparency in our pricing. We provide sewer repairs and general plumbing services. To find out about our preventative maintenance plans or to schedule leak detection service, get in touch with Ribbs Plumbing Services today.

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