Water leaks lead to wastage and unnecessarily high water bills. Although it can be difficult to detect leaks at home, luckily there are several tell-tale signs to look out for.
Ok let’s start with the obvious one. If you’re kept awake at night by a dripping tap/faucet it’s clear you have a leak. Dripping taps are usually the result of a worn washer so replacing this with a new one should solve the problem.
Water Tank Constantly Refilling
If you hear the water tank in your attic or loft refilling constantly this can be an indication of a leak. You may also notice water leaking from the overflow pipes leading from the water storage tank. There are several possible reasons for this including a problem with the tank itself, faulty toilet cisterns, washing machines or dishwashers.
If you constantly hear running water coming from your toilet cistern this is another sign of a leak. You may notice water running inside the toilet bowl or if not, try placing a piece of toilet tissue against the back of the toilet bowl to see if it absorbs water.
The most common culprit in this case is the ballcock within the toilet cistern. Replace the faulty ballcock and you should solve this problem.
Look at your washing machine and dishwasher to see if you can see leaking supply hoses or dripping joints.
Drop in Heating System Pressure Gauge
You may notice that the heating system pressure gauge keeps dropping to zero and you must repressurise it after having the heating on. This is probably a sign you have a leak in your heating system somewhere.
Discoloration or Damage to Floors and Skirting
If you have an underfloor leak you may notice discoloration or damage to your floors or skirting boards including:
- Discoloration on wooden floors
- Floor tiles becoming loose
- Skirting boards coming away from the walls
- Timber floors cupping or crowning
- Kitchen or utility sideboards/end panels or toe boards become darker and split
- A dampness tide mark just above the skirting can also be a sign
Some plumbers specialise in detecting underfloor leaks using infra-red cameras or running gas through the pipes to see where it surfaces.
Water Meter Check
You can use your water meter to check for larger leaks by taking the following steps:
- Turn off all water at the mains by using the inside stope valve (usually under the kitchen sink)
- Take note of the water meter reading and wait for 1 hour
- After an hour, check the reading again
- If there is a difference in the reading, it might be due to a leak
What to do if you Detect a Leak
If you detect a link you may feel confident enough to fix it yourself, particularly if it’s something simple like a dripping tap or faulty ballcock. For underfloor leaks or heating issues it’s better to get professional advice by calling your local plumber.
Peter Mulvaney is the owner of Property Claims Loss Assessors Ltd, a loss assessing company based in Dublin, Ireland. Peter has worked in loss assessing for over ten years and holds an honours degree in building surveying.