Tips for Leak Detection

This happens to thousands of people every month. You open up your water bill, and surprise - it has skyrocketed. Or maybe you hear water running, even when everything in your home has been turned off. These could be signs of a water leak somewhere on your property. If you suspect leakage, the first order of business is making certain all faucets are closed tight. Next, check out your water meter. If you discover the dial is moving, water definitely is escaping from somewhere in your system. Congratulations! Your leak detection efforts paid off. Now you've got to pinpoint the exact location of the bothersome leak. Fortunately, there are several easy steps you can take to maximize your success.

  • Listen for running water. Once you hear the sound, follow it to the point of origin. If your ears need help when probing the low decibel range, you can purchase a special device that amplifies sounds when positioned near a pipe.
  • Check out your ceiling for water stains and drips. If you discover any of these tell-tale signs, there's a good chance the leak is somewhere above.
  • Be aware that water sometimes travels along a joist. In that case, a water stain or drip actually can be a certain distance from the source.
  • Water stains on a wall indicate leakage in a specific section of pipe. Bear in mind that wall stains typically are below the origin of the leak. So in order to locate the leak, you'll likely need to remove part of the wall.
  • If there are no drips, stains, or sounds of running water to go by, leak detection can be a major challenge. You'll need to check every inch of pipe in and on your property, including those in the basement and crawl space. So have a flashlight handy.

Successful Pipe Leak Repair

OK, you have a leaky pipe. You've even completed the leak detection phase and know exactly where the water is escaping. Now it's time to get down to business and fix that annoying and costly problem.

If you have a major leak on your hands, don't delay - turn off the water, either at the fixture shutoff valve or the main shutoff valve. There's an excellent chance you'll have to replace the section of pipe that's leaking. Now, unless you've taken a quickie course in advanced pipe leak repair, you probably don't consider this your area of expertise. Suggestion -- get a professional plumber to deal with the issue.

If you're dealing with a small leak, odds are you'll still require a pipe replacement. The good news is, you can try some of these temporary fixes in the meantime. Remember, these approaches work only on small leaks.

  • Clamps - Use these with a solid rubber blanket, and they'll likely stop the vast majority of leaks for several months.
  • A sleeve clamp fitting the pipe diameter is the optimum choice. Your first step is to wrap a rubber blanket over the leak. Afterward, tighten the clamp over the blanket.
  • To plug a pinhole-sized leak, use an adjustable hose clamp in tandem with a rubber blanket.
  • When no other solutions are available, repair the leak with a C-clamp, a small block of wood, and a rubber blanket.
  • If clamps don't work, apply epoxy putty around the joint nearest the leak. Remember, putty won't stick unless the pipe is dry. Also, be sure to turn off the water supply causing the leak. Wait until the putty hardens completely before turning the water back on.
  • When both a clamp and putty aren't available, there is one other temporary solution plug the leak with a pencil point.

Other Leak Repair Tips, How To & General Advice