Detecting and Fixing Leaks
Leaking pipes can cause kaos, whether a slow steady leak that rots a patch of carpet or floorboards before it's detected, or a sudden flow of water that requires emergency attention. There are key measures that you can take to detect and remedy a problem before it turns into a significant expense - or worse, causes damage to other parts of your home. Solving any leak issue in the first instance is the best practice.
Leaking pipes can be hard to spot, particularly slow, small leaks. Water may be oozing out of one place, running along a pipe for some distance and appearing somewhere entirely different. Check for mouldy areas, or areas that simply look or smell damp. It may be necessary to remove floor coverings or wall boards to reveal the source of a leak.
It's just as important to check the integrity of other structures that have been subjected to damp for a period of time (floorboards or walls, for example) as it is to repair actual leaks. Such items may have rotted and need replacing.
For the really elusive leaks you'll almost certainly need a professional plumber with specialized detection equipment; professional plumbing equipment can minimize damage to your home.
A simple way to check for a leak is to turn off all water in the house for an hour, noting the reading of the house's water meter at the beginning of the hour. If the meter shows any water usage at the end of the hour, you almost certainly have a leak somewhere. On the other hand, very tiny leaks may not be detected in this way, so, the longer you can leave your water disconnected, the more effective the test will be at identifying problems.
Checking the toilet is also a great place to start, as many leaks originate here. Check all of your toilet's internal seals, as well as the external plumbing fixtures.
Simple, easily accessed leaks can be repaired by the homeowner, however, if in doubt and for major leaks call a plumber.