Plumbing leaks are annoying under any circumstances, and they're at their worst when you don't even know they exist. Somewhere in your home, water could be dripping from your pipes, running up your water bill and propagating the growth of mold, mildew and rot in your woodwork. If you fail to find out where the leak is coming from, you could be in for some serious home repair and remediation bills. Follow these tips to discover hidden plumbing leaks before they cause damage to your home and your pocketbook.

The Ticking of the Meter

Before you can find a hidden plumbing leak, you need to know that it exists in the first place. The easiest way to uncover a leak is to keep an eye on your water meter. If it is running unusually high, or you see an unexplained jump in your bill, you could have a problem. Make sure you pay attention to these data points each month so you can get an early warning if your pipes or fixtures have failed you somewhere in your home.

When you do spot an unusually high consumption level, try this trick to verify that you have a leak somewhere: turn off all the appliances that use water, like the washing machine, dishwasher and sprinkler system. Make sure nobody takes a shower, uses the sink or flushes the toilet for a few hours. If the water meter keeps ticking anyway, you've got a leak on your hands.

Drip, Drip Dripping Away

Once you know that you are using more water than you should be, your next test is to discover where the plumbing leak is occurring. Rule out the obvious places first – do a spot check of all the visible pipes, valves, fixtures and handles for your sinks, showers, toilets and washing machine. If you find any drips or puddles in the area, or soft spots on the floor, then you've probably discovered the source of your problem and can proceed to repairing it or having a plumber do the work. Don't forget to check your irrigation system outside as well. Sprinklers and garden hoses are notorious for springing leaks.

If there aren't any leaks in the obvious places, you have a more insidious problem on your hands. You could have a pinhole leak in a pipe somewhere behind the walls, slowly and surely causing major damage to your home's infrastructure. Check carefully all over the home for any sagging in the floor or discolored spots on the ceiling. Follow your nose toward any nasty odors coming from the walls that could indicate mold growth.

If you still can't find anything, it's time to bring in the professionals. When you need help finding or repairing plumbing leaks in your home, don't waste any time before you call an expert plumber to lend a hand.

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