Updated: Jul 17
You've noticed the signs of a serious water leak somewhere in your house. Maybe you have mold on the walls, or your baseboard trim has begun to rot. Maybe your water bill has shot up even though you haven't changed your water use. A leak can be expensive, not only because it increases your water bill, but also because it does structural damage to your home. If you have a leak, try to find it before you call the plumber. There's a chance that it's an easy fix that you can take care of yourself.
Check your Basement or Crawl Space
First of all, go into your basement or your crawl space (if you have one), and check the pipes there for apparent leaks. Remember to look for pools or water stains underneath the pipe, as it might not be actively leaking when you look at it. After this, look around the bases of all of the fixtures and appliances that use water. If you find a leaking pipe, get a repair kit from the hardware store.
Check any Exposed Pipes
If you find nothing down below, then turn off everything that uses water, including the ice maker. Go through every place in your house where there is an exposed pipe, and listen carefully to all of them. If you hear any noise in the pipe after the water flow is off, it may be the one with the leak. Also check all of the nearby pipes, fixtures, and appliances to find where it is loudest, as you might be able to fix these with a simple leak-repair kit.
Check Your Water Heater Valve
If you still have not found the leak, check your hot water tank's pressure relief valve. Old tanks often have leaks. If your tank's valve connects directly to a drain, then it could be leaking without your knowledge. Listen closely to it. If the valve is making a hissing sound, then it may be leaking. Replace the valve, if you can.
Listen for a Leaky Toilet
If you're still looking for the leak at this point, then take off the top of your toilet tank and listen. If you hear a hissing, then the tank is leaking. Put a little food coloring into the water in the tank and wait. If, after several minutes, you see the food coloring in the bowl, you have a leaking flapper, and you need to replace it. Fortunately, this is an easy DIY job.
If none of the above ideas work, then you might have a leak inside a wall or some other place that is hard to find. In this case, unfortunately, you will need to call in the professionals.
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