In homes across the United States, a threat slowly and sneakily damages possessions, furnishings, surfaces, and structural elements. This hidden danger is a water leak. Depending on the source, water leaks may be unnoticeable for weeks or months. Meanwhile, they cause irreversible damage, promote mold growth, cause unpleasant odors, present electrical and fire hazards, and contribute to health problems.
Naturally, you want to catch water leaks as soon as possible or prevent them from happening altogether. If you know the common causes of household water leaks, you can closely monitor these items. In this way, you can decrease the risk of home water damage. Take a look at the top 8 sources:
Toilets use a significant amount of water for every flush, averaging 1.6 gallons for a modern toilet and 5-7 gallons for an older toilet. Even if your toilet only springs a small leak, the water seeping into your floors can be monumental. It can damage the floors, subfloors, and structure of your home.
As one of the typical household water leaks, toilets develop cracks in similar places: the toilet tank or the base. When you are cleaning around your toilet, be sure to give it a flush and check for any pooling water. Additionally, verifying the water level in the back water tank is worthwhile. If the water never reaches the optimal water line or continues to pour into the overflow pipe, this can indicate that water diverts to an unwanted place.
2. Water Faucets
Loose or worn-out faucet parts are among the most common causes of household water leaks. Some leaks do not pose a water damage threat, as the water drips down tiles and makes its way into the drain. However, others ruin the surrounding area due to their location. For instance, a kitchen sink faucet may damage the cabinets, walls, and floors.
If you are wondering how to check for water leaks on the faucet, it is relatively easy. Keep an eye out for water in the sink basin, and check beneath sinks often for signs of moisture or pooling. You may also see water stains on the wall or cabinet, a sign it has been leaking for a while.
3. Dishwashers and Washing Machines
Dishwashers and washing machines are common appliances that cause water leaks in houses. Common problems include loose connections or valves and cracks in the water supply or removal hoses. Many homeowners never inspect these fixtures once installed, as it can be challenging to reach them. A small leak may go unnoticed for weeks or months, damaging floors and walls. In some cases, the leak becomes more prominent. Since the machines can hold up to 19 gallons of water, a burst pipe can mean a flood and a water damage emergency.
Any appliance holding water can be a source of home water damage, so installing and maintaining these machines properly is essential. You should routinely check to ensure connections are secure. If you notice any water pooling, you should immediately address the concern.
4. Water Heaters
Another common household water leak is a water heater leak. Since it is typically in a basement or garage, the homeowner may neglect to keep regular tabs on the machine. However, water heater leaks can often lead to the most devastating consequences. They can burst, leading to a catastrophic flood, the scalding water can lead to burns, and the electricity can present fire and electrocution risks.
There are a few common culprits for these water leaks, including sediment buildup in the tank, loose pipe connections, or a damaged temperature and pressure relief valve. Obvious signs of a water heater leak are:
- Strange rumbling sounds.
- Rushing water sounds.
- Fluctuating water temperatures.
- Water droplets or condensation on the tank walls.
5. Air Conditioners
Summers can be uncomfortably hot, but air conditioners can offer much-needed relief in the form of cool air. Unfortunately, they can also be the source of home water damage. HVAC and window-mounted units present the most concern, as their leaks can quickly destroy the machines and your property. Additionally, refrigerant leaks can pose serious safety and health risks for homeowners and their families.
Your type of air conditioner will determine how to check for water leaks. Window-mounted and portable air conditioners have apparent signs, such as dropping or pooling water. HVAC systems may present more symptoms that can tip you off to a leak, including high electric bills, inefficient or fluctuating temperatures, long cooling cycles, the formation of ice on the evaporator coils, or hissing noises.
6. Refrigerators and Freezers
Common household water leaks include those coming from refrigerators and freezers. In some luckier cases, homeowners notice large pools of water in and outside of their appliances. While this could create water damage, most catch it fast enough to clean it up easily.
In unfortunate situations, there could be a crack in the water line behind the fridge or freezer. The leak is slow and difficult to detect. Behind the scenes, the floor and wall experience steady home water damage. Furthermore, the moist environment, with the heat generated from the back of the unit, is ideal for mold.
Detecting leaks from fridges and freezers may be more challenging than other appliances. Watch for subtle changes in functioning, such as fridge contents being warmer than average, constant motor running, frequent drainage sounds, or condensation inside the fridge.
Windows are a common cause of household water leaks from outdoor rain, snow, and ice or indoor condensation. Leaks can lead to wood warping and rotting, mold growth, structural damage, and permanent water stains. While a small leak may not pose a threat immediately, curtains or blinds may impede detection leading to late discoveries.
If you wish to know how to detect water leaks on the window, look for excessive condensation along the edges, pools of water during a storm, or mold growing on the sides of the window. In small areas, you may also identify a musty or earthy scent.
8. Damaged Pipes and Drain Lines
Damaged pipes are one of the most dangerous water leaks in houses. Since lines deliver and remove water from various rooms in the home, they are behind many walls, ceilings, and floors. If a pipe leaks or bursts, it can damage the interior and exterior of the wall. Additionally, a pipe carrying unsanitary water from appliances, baths or showers, or toilets can present health concerns and hazards.
As a homeowner, you should know where the pipes and drain lines are in your home. Watch for any signs of home water damage, such as staining on walls or ceilings. You may also notice blistering paint or wallpaper, moist surfaces, or mold growth. Lower water pressure or slow drainage may also be signs of a damaged pipe.
What Do You Do When You Find a Water Leak?
If you find a new, small water leak with little water accumulation, it is safe to call a plumber for repairs. However, if you do not know how long the water has been leaking, the cause of the water leak, or how extensive the home water damage is, it is best to contact a reputable water damage mitigation and restoration team. They can locate and repair the problem at the source and handle the clean-up and restoration work necessary to bring your home back to pre-loss conditions.