Drip. Drip. Drip. Slowly, one by one, each drop of water from that leaky faucet slowly drains your bank account by adding more to your water utility bill. No one likes to pay more money per month when they can avoid it. Worse yet, if the leak is coming from somewhere else, somewhere you cannot see or hear it easily, then not only are you facing an increased utility bill, you may be confronted with the very real possibility of severe water damage to your home.
With the risk of water damage and its attendant expenses in mind, here are a few tips to help you find that pesky water leak in your Sarasota home:
Check your water bill. This can often be your first warning that you have a serious leak in your home. If you see a sudden spike in the utility bill, despite not changing your water usage habits or even reducing your water use, then you might have a leak.
Determine if you have an exterior or interior leak. You can save yourself a lot of time and effort by finding out if the leak is in your home or in the line between your meter and your home. First, you will want to make sure none of your water fixtures are in operation. Turn off your fridge’s ice-maker, if it has one, and shut off all faucets. Find your home’s water meter, and see if it is turning (odds are that there will be at least a little motion). If there is significant turning, you probably have a severe leak somewhere in the home.
Next, locate the shut-off valve for your home and turn it to the off position. Wait a few minutes, and then check your water meter to see if it is still turning. If it is still turning, then there is a leak between your meter and your house. If it is not still turning, then the leak is in the house itself.
Check your faucets. This is really easy compared to finding most other leaks. Do a thorough check of the faucets and other water-dispensing fixtures in your home. Run each one for a few seconds, and then shut them off. Does the fixture have a persistent drip after being run? If so, the fixture may need tightening or replacement, depending on its condition.
Check under your sinks. As you test each faucet for leaks, inspect the area underneath the faucet for signs of a leak, such as dampness or discoloration in the cupboard or flooring. If you notice that the area under the sink is damp or is starting to become discolored and moldy, then you have a leak in the pipes under the sink. Thankfully, in many cases, these pipes will only need a simple tightening in order to fix the problem, but if the pipes are corroded or damaged, then they may require replacement.
Inspect your water heater. Here is another common trouble spot for in-house leaks. When checking the water heater, look at the pipes leading to or from the heater for signs of corrosion or leaks. Then, check the tank of the water heater. Is the tank clean, or are there heavy amounts of mineral deposits within? Can you hear a slight hissing sound coming from the unit? While mineral deposits can be flushed from the system, they limit the unit’s water capacity while present, reducing the amount of hot water available to the home.
If you can find it, check the unit’s serial number and information for its date of manufacture. If the unit is too old (15 years or more), then it is time to replace it before it becomes a hazard.
Check your toilets. Another common problem area for leaks within the home is the toilet. Usually, these leaks are very easy to detect. Most of the time, if the toilet is leaking, you can hear a loud, echoing hissing noise. This noise is often accompanied by a constant flow of water within the toilet.
If you cannot hear a hiss but suspect the presence of a leak, try putting a couple of drops of food coloring into the top of the tank (assuming the toilet has a tank). After a few minutes, check the toilet again. If the food coloring has shown up in the bowl without you having flushed the tank, then you have a leak. This kind of leak is usually caused by the flapper, a plug at the bottom of the toilet’s tank that is connected to the toilet’s handle by a chain, not sealing properly. This kind of toilet leak is a quick and easy fix, as most hardware and DIY stores will have a replacement flapper available for cheap.
If, however, water is leaking from under your toilet, you are going to need to shut off the supply of water to your toilet quickly before the leak gets worse, as you may have a faulty seal that is allowing water to leak out.
Check your sprinklers. If you have automated sprinklers for watering your yard, make sure that they are aimed at the yard, the timer is functioning correctly, and that the sprinkler heads are not broken. Also, when the system is off, check to see if the point of connection between your home and your sprinklers is leaking excess water (for most people, this will be your outdoor hose bib).
Inspect the pool, if you have one. During the hot Sarasota summer, a swimming pool can be a great way to cool off and relax while outside (provided you wear your sunscreen, of course). However, a pool is also a very large container of water that is in constant need of maintenance in order to fulfill its function.
If you have an above-ground pool, inspect the area around it for signs of leaks, such as large puddles of standing water. Usually, the presence of such puddles can tell you on what side of the pool the leak is, and thereby make it easier to find and fix.
If you have an in-ground pool, finding evidence of leaks can be a little more difficult, however. In most cases, if there is a leak in an in-ground pool, it is usually from a broken filter, skimmer, pump, or a crack in the pool’s lining.
If you suspect you have a crack in your pool, you can try this suggestion from wikihow.com; turn off your filter pump, wait for the pool to go still, and try dripping some pH indicator testing agent into the pool near the pump and see where the colored water flows. If there is a leak, the flow of the pH reagent can give you a good idea of where to search.
Another thing to keep in mind is that your pool will naturally lose some water to evaporation. If this is the source of your “leak,” then you will usually only lose approximately 1/4 inch of water per day. You can limit the effect of the sun on your pool’s water supply by using a pool cover to shade your pool from the sun when it is not in use Slab or foundation leaks. If you have a high utility bill but cannot seem to find a leak in your home, then a pipe underneath the home’s foundation may have a leak. If the hot water pipe has a leak, check for warm spots on the floor. Also, slab leaks can cause bulges in the floor. If a slab leak has progressed to this point, however, you may need professional help restoring your home’s foundation.
Other Kinds of Leaks
Of course, your home’s pipes and water fixtures are not the only things that can leak. After a major windstorm, your home’s roof can be damaged, giving rain a chance to leak into your home and create conditions that encourage the growth of mold. While these leaks might not add to your utility bill, they can still damage your home and increase your risk of contracting an infection.
While inspecting your home, check your roof for signs of discoloration, as this may indicate that water has leaked into your roof. If you have recently experienced a severe storm, such as a hurricane or tropical depression, you should examine your roof for signs of damage: missing or peeling roof tiles, bent rooftop fixtures, etc.