A water leak can be a homeowner's worst nightmare.
If you’re lucky and the leak happens near a water basin or drain, you may just be looking at a higher water bill. But if the leak is coming from somewhere undetected in your home – like under a washing machine – you could end up with some very expensive water damage.
Below we look at 4 of the most common causes of household water leaks:
The problem with hidden leaks
Before we jump into our list, it’s important to understand that some leaks are easy to spot, while others can go undiscovered for months or even years. And what this often comes down to is where the leak is coming from.
Most homes have water pipes running through walls, floors, ceilings, and everywhere in between.
In many cases, if a pipe is leaking behind a wall or in another obvious place, you should find evidence fairly soon – discoloration, bubbling paint, and bulging wallpaper are all clear signs of a water leak.
But how do you determine when a leak is completely hidden?
One of the easiest ways to discover a household water leak is to check your water meter. To do this, simply turn off all water inside and outside your home. If the meter continues to detect water use during the test, there’s a possibility you have a leak.
Another option is to review your water bill. If your bill has suddenly spiked but you haven’t been using more water than usual, it could be that you have a leak in your home.
Ok, now for some of the biggest water leak culprits in your home.
#1: Toilet leaks
The EPA estimates that residential toilets account for nearly 30% of your daily water consumption – and that’s when they’re working properly! A leaking toilet can lead to thousands of gallons in lost water every month.
Some obvious signs of a leaky toilet include water running longer than usual after flushing and phantom flushes.
If the leak is more serious, you may notice a damp area on the floor around the bottom of the toilet, a spongy feeling in the floor at the bottom of the toilet seat, or even signs of dampness on the ceiling in the room underneath your toilet.
So what causes a leaking toilet? Some of the most common issues are bolts becoming loose, misalignment of pipes and valves, and the wax ring not sealing properly.
It’s also worth looking for any cracks in the tank or toilet bowl where water may be seeping out.
#2: Faucet, shower, and tub leaks
Leaky faucets, shower heads, and tubs are generally quite harmless and won’t cause any major damage to your home. But like toilet leaks, if they’re left unattended, they can waste gallons of water and add up to higher water bills.
Luckily, repairing a leaky faucet is usually an easy fix. Start by shutting off the water supply to the bathroom, and then dismantle the faucet next to get access to the faucet hardware.
At this point, it’s just a matter of examining all the parts – the stem, cartridge, washer, and the inside of the handles. If you notice any corrosion or broken parts, you’ll need to replace them with new ones.
#3: Leaky pipes
Like we described above, water-filled pipes run all throughout your home. When these pipes freeze, corrode, become clogged, or get damaged in some other way, they can crack, rupture, and leak.
A leak can be as small as a drip, but it can also be much more serious and lead to very expensive water damage.
Here are a few tips to keep your pipes safe:
- Insulate your water pipes in unheated areas of your home
- Install a water softener if your water has a high mineral content
- Keep drains clear of anything that could clog your pipes
#4: Foundation leaks
Did you know that rainwater, melting snow, and groundwater can saturate the soil around your foundation and leak in?
Generally, this happens for one of two reasons.
The first is that you haven’t sloped soil away from your home’s foundation. It may come as a surprise but your foundation isn’t waterproof. If water sits there long enough, eventually it’s going to get in.
Luckily, there’s an easy solution. All you have to do is buy some soil and slope it away from your foundation. Ideally, the ground should drop by 0.6 or more inches for every foot that you move away from the foundation according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
A second common cause of a leaky foundation is small cracks and holes, or improperly sealing windows and stairwell doors.
Take advantage of the next rainstorm to inspect your windows and stairwells for leaks, then caulk and repair any flaws you find, sealing them properly and ensuring that outside drainage is effectively channeling water away from your property.
Want to catch leaks early? Consider adding sensors from Notion to areas prone to leak (toilets, basements, tubs, under sinks, and more!). If a leak is detected, the sensor will send you an immediate notification. If you want another layer of security, upgrading your system to Notion PRO gives you additional notifications: push notifications, group texts, and phone calls so you don’t have to miss a notification while you're traveling, sleeping or just busy.
And that’s it! Water leaks can be a big headache for homeowners – especially if they're hidden behind a wall or ceiling. Hopefully this list gives you everything you need to find and put an end to any water leaks in your own home.