Having your plumbing system spring a leak is never a good thing. The longer it is before a leak is discovered, the more damage it can do, and the greater the chances it will lead to a burst pipe or a huge, splashing leak. Early detection is the key to preventing such atrocities. Here are three ways to make sure that if plumbing leaks do appear in your home, you catch them quickly.
Keep track of your water consumption.
The leaks that go undetected the longest are usually those that occur in one of your major water pipes that are buried under ground. You may not notice the water leaking right away because it is not coming into your home, but such a leak can really drive up your water bills! To ensure you notice such a leak sooner rather than later, keep a careful eye on your water bills. Look at the bill each month, and make sure it does not go up drastically without explanation. Compare the bill to that from the same month from the year before.
Consider paying your water bill manually each month instead of setting it up to automatically deduct from your account. This way, any increase is less likely to get past you. If you notice a spike in your water bills, chances are there is a leak somewhere and you need to make a call to your plumber.
Take a look at your water meter.
Many water meters have a little wheel that spins when water is making its way into the home. Periodically, take a look at this wheel when you're sure nobody is using water anywhere in your home (turn off all faucets and appliances that use water to be sure). If the wheel is spinning, this means there is likely a leak somewhere in your system. It could also mean that a toilet is running constantly. In this case, replacing the toilet valve will generally solve the problem. Toilet valves cost a few dollars at home improvement stores and come with simple installation instructions.
Make note of any moldy smells.
Does your basement have a musty odor? Maybe there's a moldy smell in one of your rooms. This may be a sign that there's a small leak in one of the pipes that runs behind a wall. Feel the walls in any room that has a musty smell. Do they feel moist? Is the paint or wallpaper starting to peel? Unless you can find another concrete cause of the musty odor, contact a plumber to investigate. They may even be able to install a water leak detection system.