If your home has a musty odor that never clears up completely, there's probably a water leak somewhere. Unfortunately, if you can't see water dripping, you might not find the source of the leak easily. The leak could stem from an appliance leak, water pipe leak, or a drain leak.
Here are some tips for tracking down the leak so you can make repairs before water damage occurs to your home.
Check All Appliances That Use Water
Look around your dishwasher, water heater, refrigerator, washing machine, and your HVAC unit for signs of a water leak. You might see water behind the appliance, a saggy floor due to rotting, or mold on the walls.
Condensation drainage problems might cause water to leak on the floor from a refrigerator or HVAC. Other appliances might have loose plumbing connections or worn internal parts that need repairs. If a water heater is leaking through the tank due to rust, your plumber will probably need to replace the heater.
Do a Water Meter Test
A simple test will determine if the leak is in the water lines. Turn off all the water in your house and don't use any water until the test is complete. Read your water meter, write down the number, and then read the number again in an hour.
The number on your meter shows how much water you're using, so if the number increases, it means water is running even though all the faucets are turned off. That's a sure sign of a leak. By getting the actual numbers, you can determine how many gallons are leaking per hour to understand the size of the leak.
Check Your Toilet for Leaks
A leaky toilet is a common cause of a water leak that runs up your water bill. Put a few drops of food coloring in the tank and wait to see if the water in the bowl changes color, too. If it does, you know water is leaking from the tank to the bowl, which will cause the tank to fill back up continually and waste water.
Also, check around the bottom of the toilet. If the seal under the toilet is bad, water will leak on the floor and cause a musty odor and floor damage. A crack in the tank can also cause water to leak on the floor and contribute to mold growth in the bathroom.
Look for Problems With Drain Lines
Leaks in drain lines are more difficult to detect because they don't run up your water bill or show up on a water meter test. Instead, you must check under your sinks for signs of discolored flooring or walls that indicate hidden leaks.
Check outside, too, since a drain might leak in your yard, and when that happens, the extra water might make the grass greener above the area of the leak.
Hire a Plumber to Use Leak Detecting Equipment
Plumbers have different ways of detecting hidden water leaks. A thermal camera is helpful for finding areas where water is leaking behind walls and under floors. The temperature of the water shows up on the camera so the plumber can tell where the water is flowing and which areas of your home are affected.
An ultrasound device is a precise leak detector, which is helpful because the plumber needs to know exactly where the leak is in order to fix it. When the ultrasound runs over the spot of the leak, the sound of the water changes and that makes it possible to find the source of the problem.
The plumber may also thread a pipe camera into pipes to look for signs of damage and leaking. A camera shows if there is extensive damage that requires new pipes or just spot damage that can be repaired.
A water leak in your home is frustrating, especially if you've verified the leak through a meter test but you can't figure out where it's coming from. Call Mike's Plumbing to find the leak and make repairs, because the longer you wait, the greater the risk of water damage to your home.