How to Find Plumbing Leaks at Home



A plumbing leak can be a homeowner’s worst nightmare. Major leaks cost hundreds to thousands of dollars to fix and leave you with a huge mess and an astronomical water bill to deal with. Small leaks may not be as headache-inducing, but they aren’t any better. 

Even the tiniest of leaks can lead to irreparable water damage when left unaddressed for a long time. It’s also very likely to get worse and lead to a severe plumbing problem. It’s safe to say that no leak should be left unchecked, no matter how minor.

If you suspect there’s a leak in your house, here’s what you can do to confirm your guess and locate where the seepage is coming from. 

Check Your Water Meter

Your water meter should be the first thing you check to determine if you have a plumbing leak at home. Before checking the water meter, shut off all the water-using fixtures and appliances in your home, including the following:

  • Faucets
  • Showers
  • Toilets
  • Humidifier
  • Dishwasher
  • Washing machine
  • Sprinkler system

Next is to locate the water meter. Indoors, water meters can be found in basements or utility rooms. Outdoors, you’ll find your water meter housed in a concrete box labeled water on the lid or a meter pit with an iron lid that looks like a manhole cover. 

A water meter typically has a flow indicator, leak indicator, and register. The flow indicator, or sweep hand, is a long red pointer while the leak indicator is a flower-shaped dial. The meter register looks like a timer.

Here’s a visual guide of the parts of a water meter provided by the government of Oklahoma City on their official website:

If you’ve turned off all the indoor and outdoor water-using fixtures and appliances, your meter shouldn’t be reading anything. However, if the sweep hand is moving, expect a fast leak somewhere in your home

Slow leaks won’t move the sweep hand, but they will register in the flower-shaped leak indicator. In other water meters, the leak indicator will look like a small triangle. If the dial or triangle rotates, there’s a leak in your house.

Sometimes, it will take some time to register a particularly sluggish leak. Take a reading, and wait for one to two hours before rechecking the meter. If the meter registers water use, your guess is confirmed.

Inspect Your Water Fixtures

Sometimes, you don’t need to take the long way to find a leak in your house. Most leaks can be traced to a water fixture in your kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, or yard.

Check for faulty faucets, showerheads, sprinklers, toilets, and pipes at least once a month. Look under sinks and cabinets where water pipes are located. Inspect your walls for signs of excessive moisture, like water damage, blistering paint, mold, and mildew. Get help from plumber Long Beach.

If you’re using old fixtures, there’s a high chance that some of them may be leaking some water. Even if they’re not, old fixtures still use significantly more water than new, efficient models do. 

Swap out your outdated faucets and showerheads with low-flow models that save gallons of water. Consider replacing your antique commode with an efficient upflush toilet for more water savings and a hassle-free installation.

Keep Track of Your Monthly Bill

Your water bill should be within the same range every month if there are no changes in your household’s water-use habits. Gather your bill statements from the past few months, and see whether there has been a consistent increase over the past months.

An increase in your water bill can happen for different reasons. For example, if you’ve had guests over that month, some increase should be expected. The same goes if you’ve recently bought new water-using equipment. 

If your bill is unusually high this month, without any apparent reason, chances are, there’s a leak in your house. Check your water meter and fixtures to know for sure.

Keep in mind that not all leaks can be detected easily. Some leaks happen in pipes that are hidden underground. In those cases, call a professional plumber to diagnose and fix the problem immediately. Leaving a leak unaddressed will only cause a more serious problem and irreparable damage to your home.