Ten thousand gallons. That’s a lot of water — about three months’ worth for the average American, including all drinking, showering, laundry, dishes and outdoor watering needs. Yet that’s how much water the average household could be wasting in a year due to leaks in the home, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
In a world where water is an increasingly precious resource, no one likes to think about wasting that much. What’s worse is that the impact doesn’t stop at wasted resources. Water leaks also can cause a lot of damage to the home and end up costing you a bundle. If you have water leaks in your home — and almost every home develops leaks at some point — you’ll want to put a stop to them as soon as possible to protect your home, your budget and the environment.
Some home water leaks are obvious, such as running toilets or leaking faucets. But very often, leaks happen where you can’t see them. So how do you know when you have a leak? Look for these common signs.
6 Signs Your Home’s Water System Is Leaking
- Wet spots. Damp or discolored areas, peeling paint, buckling drywall, drips and similar indications of moisture where it doesn’t belong are telltale signs that you may have a water leak. These often show up near sinks and other water fixtures. However, since water can flow a significant distance from the source of the leak before it shows up in visible ways, be alert to any signs of water damage anywhere in the house.
- Mold or mildew. Even if you don’t see direct evidence of moisture, the presence of mold or mildew can point the way to a hidden leak. Use both your eyes and your nose; a dank, moldy smell is often the first indication that there is a water leak somewhere in the home.
- Funny sounds. When leaks develop in pressurized pipes, the resulting movement of water and air through the leak aperture can get noisy. Unusual hissing, gurgling, dripping, clinking or splashing noises are a major clue to start looking for a leak.
- Rising water bills. Even if you have your water bill on auto pay, it’s always a good idea to review your usage each month. Be on alert for unexplained jumps in the billing amount, which may indicate a leak. Sometimes, leaks start out small and get bigger over time, so every few months you may also want to review your usage history. If you notice that your usage is increasing for no apparent reason, that’s an indication of a possible water system leak.
- Constantly running water meter. Normal home water use happens in bursts as faucet valves are turned on and off again. If your meter runs continually, you probably have a leak somewhere in your system.
- Cracking foundation. Water follows the pull of gravity, so an undetected leak anywhere in your system is likely to eventually end up hitting the foundation of your home. Over time, it can seep into the pores of the concrete and weaken it. If you suddenly notice that your foundation is cracking, look for leaks.
Home water leaks are a fact of life. Sooner or later, almost every home water system develops them. Left unchecked, they can cause untold damage and unhealthful conditions in the home, in addition to wasting water and money.
Staying alert to potential leaks — along with taking preventive measures such as installing DROP Leak Detectors in your home for monitoring and automatic shut-off in the event of a leak — will help you keep leaks to a minimum as well as minimize damage if and when they do occur.