Get One of the Top 50 Plumbing Blogs Directly to Your Inbox!

Posted by on

signs of a water leak in house

While many homeowners know the tell-all signs of a water leak within their home’s plumbing, such as high water bills, lawn damage, and in-home leaking, often finding the leaks themselves can become a frustrating challenge. This is primarily due to the many areas, individual pipes, and systems in which a leak can occur, and for whatever number of reasons.

Fortunately, there are several, relatively simple diagnostic steps you can take to better identify, or at least estimate, where a water leak resides within your Sacramento home’s plumbing. These steps can inform you not only of the specific areas and likely causes of your home water leak but also of the best restorative actions for your unique plumbing pipes.

Why Water Leaks Can Be Costly

When a pipe in your home is leaking water, it isn’t just adding to your water use, it’s pouring extra moisture in areas where you can’t see.

Common side effects of leaky pipes include:

  • Damage to walls and flooring
  • Weakening of your house’s structure
  • Mold growth
  • Pest infestations

Each of these side effects of a leaky pipe can be quite expensive to remediate. And, the longer it takes to spot and fix the leak, the worse the damage will be.

Additionally, since California is no stranger to drought, you could end up getting hit with a water restriction violation that carries a hefty penalty.

Beyond the monetary costs, there are some health risks associated with a compromised water supply pipe. A leak in a pipe that lets water out may also allow contaminants in—which can make the water dangerous to consume.

7 Signs of a Water Leak in Your Home

water leak

Knowing how to detect a leak early on can save you some serious cash. Here are some tips that every homeowner should know.  

1. Unusually High Water Bill

Water bills normally remain consistent, with no more than a $10-$15 variance from month to month. So, unless you’re hosting house guests leading to increased water consumption, or maybe filling up a large pool in May, a spike in your water bill is a good indicator of a leak in your home.

 2. The Sound of Running Water

If you’re hearing water running, your first step should be to check your faucets, toilet valves, and outdoor spigots. If everything is status quo, take an exact reading of your water meter and don’t use the water for a few hours. Then, take another meter reading. If there has been no change, that means the water is not running (and maybe it’s time to have your hearing checked!). If the reading has changed, however, this indicates that water is indeed flowing and you most likely have a leak.

3.  Wet or Damp Floors

You’re walking across your carpet and suddenly squish—your sock is soaked! The dog doesn’t look guilty and your child swears they didn’t spill anything. That means you’re likely looking at sewer leakage. Now, it’s easy to just soak it up with a towel and call it a day; however, this won’t stop the leak. Ignoring the problem allows moisture to build up, ultimately causing mold or mildew. Not only is this smelly, but it can be very toxic and harmful to children, the elderly, pets, and those with weak immune systems. Don’t risk the health of your home and your family—call in a professional to take care of the problem.

4.  Foul Odors

If there’s an unpleasant smell in your home and you can’t locate the source, don’t just light a candle or spray some Febreze. Funky smells are often due to mold and mildew, which spread fast under ideal conditions (optimal temperature and level of humidity). Growth begins within about 24-48 hours, and spores start to colonize in 3-12 days, becoming visible to the eye within about 18 days. If you think the odor is leak-related, get a plumber out as soon as possible to mitigate damage from rapid fungi growth (and rid your home of the foul odor).

5.  Overgrowth in the Lawn

Unless you didn’t fertilize your lawn evenly, a lush patch of grass in a select area of your lawn, or concentrated wet spots, indicate pipe leakage which is acting as a fertilizer. Left untreated, hazardous bacteria in the underground waste will quickly turn into a messy situation, going from lush growth to lawn destruction.

6. Wall Cracks

Over time, even the littlest of leaks can cause cracks in the foundation of your home and compromise the entire structure. How does it happen? The leak continues hammering away at the same spot in the ground beneath your home, eventually causing it to shift slightly. Now, you’d never feel this shift, but your walls will. This can be a very dangerous situation, so if you’re seeing vertical or diagonal cracking in your walls it’s best to call a plumber right away. 

7. Sagging Ceiling

A sagging ceiling can be extremely concerning and alarming in your home. This can be caused due to a sudden increase in water like an overflowing bathtub. However, a sagging ceiling can also happen slowly over time from a subtle leak. So, it's important to keep an eye on your ceiling regularly if you suspect a leak in your house. 

Finding a Leak Outside Your Home

outdoor leak

If diagnosing leaks with your water meter suggests that a leak exists outside your home, there are also a number of signs you can look for when determining where a leak exists, or what caused a leak.

First and foremost, you’ll want to check your lawn’s irrigation system for serious leaks, noting any of the following if they are present:

  • Shifting lawn soil, indicative of ruptured irrigation
  • Dense grass growth concentrations, which occur when abnormal volumes of water are exposed beneath your lawn’s surface
  • Dampness or wet patches on your lawn
  • Clogging in your lateral pipe, which may indicate a material buildup between your home and municipal sewer systems

For irrigation pipe damage, inspections and complete repairs can be done relatively simply, so long as you find the right professional help in a quick manner. For lateral pipe damages, trenchless technology can be the perfect solution for you. These innovative pipe renovations make use of epoxy, liquid Perma-liners, and trenchless air pumps to mold a cover over any pipe damages, or even completely replace broken lining pipes.

Need Help Finding and Fixing a Leak?

Are you experiencing any of the seven signs of a water leak? Don’t wait until further damage is done. Remember, this isn’t just about your house, but your health! Get to the root of the problem right away by contacting a Sacramento professional as soon as possible.

Dealing With Common Plumbing Problems

Topics: Pipe Leaks and Repair