Plumbing: Hidden Leaks

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Why are hidden leaks in your home the most dangerous of all?

Leaks can cost you hundreds or even thousands of pounds in repair bills.

Recognising the warning signs of a hidden leak could stop the leak from causing expensive structural damage to your home.

Leaks increase your water bills over time as they worsen and cause damage to your property. They are also the cause of mould and mildew that may affect your family’s health.

Could you have a Hidden Leak?

How can you find out and determine if and when professional help id needed?

Here are plumber’s tips and professional guidelines on what to look for and how to keep your plumbing leak issues to a minimum with regular checks.

How to find Hidden Leaks and tell tale signs

Most plumbing issues and causes of water waste in the home are from silent slow leaks i pipes, appliances and fixtures.

We’ve outlined some guidelines to help you check for leaks and highlighted the most common places where these plumbing leaks might occur.

Compare your water utility bills regularly

Each time a water bill lands on your doormat be sure to check it against the previous bill. An increase in your bill without any rational cause or change of household routine can be a sign that you may have a leak.

Check your Water Metre

One of the most direct ways to uncover a plumbing leak is to keep an eye on your metre as unexplained or unusually high jumps in your bill could point to you having a hidden leak.

The best time to carry out a Water Metre test is when there is no one at home.

  • Stop using all water resources in your home for a minimum of three hours. This includes both indoor and outside appliances and fixtures such as showers, toilets, washing machines, dishwashers and garden sprinkler systems.
  • Write down the number on your water metre or take a snap shot of the number using your mobile phone.
  • Wait at least three hours.
  • Now check your water metre again. If the metre has been ticking away it’s very likely that you have a leak on your hands.

So now you know you have a Hidden Leak, how do you hunt it down?

Here is what to check for:

When you want to identify a plumbing leak the first obvious places to check should be your visible pipes, sinks, showers, toilets, washing machine, dishwashers, sprinkler and irrigation systems. Puddles, drips or soft spots on or around these fixtures may be an indication of a leak and you will need to repair them or call a plumber to do the work.

More serious problems like pinhole leaks behind walls that slowly cause damage to your infrastructure should be dealt with as soon as possible.

Sagging floors or walls or stained mouldy wall paper or ceilings or even musty earthy smells may also be signs of a leak.


Toilets can account to up to 30% of your families water usage. If you have a leak in your toilet this can increase even more, Test for this by adding food colouring to your toilet and wait 10 minutes. If that colour appears in the bowl within 10 minutes then you probably have a leak from the tank to your toilet drain.

This type of leak is usually caused by the rubber seals in your toilet becoming worn. They will need to be replaced and we can certainly help you with fixing that.

Sinks, Baths, Showers Heads and Taps

Check under basins and around sinks for mould or any earthy musty smells. These may be signs of a leak. If your home is over 25 years old you should be more vigilant in your check as older plumbing systems decline over time.

Make sure that the taps for your shower or bath shut off the water completely. A slow drip can waste a large volume of water over time so you should consider replacing any old taps in your home.

Water Heaters

Check around your water heater for water puddles, these are obvious signs of a possible water leak. Check the water heaters connections for oxidation or corrosion. If you see  any of these issues then contact a professional plumber in order to get it inspected properly.

Washing Machines and Dishwashers

Check the pumps, hoses and valves on your appliances for oxidation or discolouration as these issues are signs of leaks.

A leak in your washing machine or dishwasher hose can quickly become a major problem when it breaks. Replace the hoses as soon as possible so that the problem does not become a much more expensive one.

Damaged, Stained, Sagging Ceilings, Walls or Flooring

Searching for any rippling, warping, sagging or staining on all home ceilings walls and floors. This can be caused by hidden leaks from surrounding pipes near those areas. If you cannot get into or behind those areas to get to the leak and see what is causing it you will probably need to to call a plumber. Repairing a leak early will significantly reduce the risk of additional costly damage.

Wallpaper and Paint that are stained, Blistered, Chipping, Crackling or Bubbling up

The steam from your bath and shower area shouldn’t usually cause paint or wallpaper to discolour, crackle or bubble etc. If you do notice any of these it may be caused due to water seeping in from behind the surface. In such circumstances it is best to call a professional for help in order to minimise any additional damage.

Plaster, Drywall, Wood Panels or Baseboard that is warping

All these structural materials, when wet or dampened over a prolonged period of time, can become soft and warped just like wood. Irregularities in the flatness and the texture of a wall and it’s structural materials could be a sign of hidden water damage and leaks.

Mould, Mildew and funny smells

Look for mould and mildew on non-shower walls or in unusual areas.

Mould and mildew are pretty common in shower corners but look in areas where it doesn’t typically collect as this could be a sign that you could have a pipe leak. A hidden leak in your wall is a potential breeding area for mould and mildew because they love dark, moist places.

Old water that accumulates smells musty and earthy. So if you have cleaned your bath and shower ares but they still smell musty then you may have a hidden leak.

Wet floors and Carpets

If your bathroom or utility area floor becomes springy or any tiles have become loose or stained then you may have hidden water leak seeping into the floor from nearby piping.

Water can cause floorboards to rot and once this starts to happen they become weak and begin to bend under weight.

If you start to experience damp carpets then it could be water seeping into the floor and being absorbed by your carpets. This can also be caused by nearby pipes causing leaks.

A room that remains cooler than the others

Water removes heat from the atmosphere faster than air. If a room stays cooler than the rest of your home it could be due to an area of damp that is pulling the warmth down.

Sparks coming out of your light switches

Water inside any electrical system ban be highly dangerous and could even be lethal. If you see any sparks or heat crackles when you switch on or off your lights you should cut off the electricity supply to this area and call for professional assistance as soon as possible.

That dripping sound

Listen for any faint dripping sounds when everything in your house is quiet. If you hear anything that you think sounds like a drip, seek it out as soon as possible and don’t let a small leak become a big issue.

You still cannot find the leak?

If you have checked all your fixtures and fittings and checked for sagging floors and walls or stained mouldy wallpaper or ceilings or even musty earthy smells that had led you no close to finding your hidden leak, then it’s time to bring in the professionals.

Call Baker Smith Ltd on 01727 730590 for help with any leaks, drips or other plumbing problems.









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