6 Genius Tips to Help You Find Out Where That Leak Is Coming From

Lydia Schapiro
Written by Lydia Schapiro
Updated December 13, 2021
woman washing hands in kitchen sink
Photo: Olga Gimaeva / Adobe Stock

We’re leaking some handy tips

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While you certainly want to have a full-functioning water system in your home, too much water may be trouble. Water leaks are common and can be easily fixable issues—although you’ll want to get on top of the problem before it gets worse. In some cases, it may be difficult to know where the leak is coming from, but the tips below can help you get to the source quickly. 

1. Check for Wall and Floor Abnormalities 

Luckily certain clues may indicate the probable source of your leak. For instance, if you notice wall discoloration (yellowish or brown) or if you see water stains, these may be a red flag for a water leak coming from behind drywall. 

Another indication that your leak may be coming from the walls is if your wallpaper is buckling or if the paint is bubbling or flaking.

2. Monitor Your Water Meter

You can use your water meter to see if the leak is coming from your irrigation system. To check, turn off the water source for your sprinklers. If the water meter stops recording water usage, your leak is probably from that system. 

You can also use the water meter to determine whether the leak is indoors or outdoors:

  • Turn off the shut-off valve on the main water supply pipe.

  • Check the water meter and write down the numbers. Then wait an hour.

  • Check the meter again. If the numbers haven’t changed, the water leak is likely inside your home. If they have, the leak is likely in the buried water line that runs to the house.

3. Inspect the Yard

Not all leaks are coming from inside—in fact, it’s rather common to experience outdoor water leaks. By evaluating your yard’s condition, you may be able to determine the source of your leak. For example, a grass patch or plants that are greener and growing significantly faster than in other areas may indicate that a buried water line is leaking.

While a nice lush, green lawn is the dream, a patch significantly greener than the rest of the yard may mean trouble. If the leak is large, you may even notice water puddles accumulating. 

4. Check Faucets

plumber fixing kitchen faucet sink
Photo: Photographee.eu / Adobe Stock

A common source of water leaks is your faucets—particularly, the rubber washer often causes leaks. The rubber washer is located under the faucet cover, packing nut, and valve stem.

Replacing rubber washers is a doable DIY job if you have the proper tools and knowledge. You’ll need to turn off the water under the sink or at the main cutoff valve. Then, remove the faucet handles to get to the gasket. Inside the faucet handle will be the screw, packing nut, stem, and O-ring. You’ll need to remove all of these components before getting to the washer. 

You can use a wrench to remove the nut and a screwdriver to pull out the stem.

5. Try the Food Coloring Trick

Another common source for leaks: the toilet. Specifically, the toilet’s flapper (the stopper which prevents water from going into the bowl until you’ve flushed) is often the source. Over time, the flapper can become worn and rigid and then allow water to trickle from the tank into the bowl. 

A leaking toilet can result in wasted water and a higher bill. Luckily there’s a handy toilet leak trick you can execute. All you’ll need to employ this trick is food coloring. 

First, remove the toilet tank lid. Next, pour a few drops of food coloring into the tank. Wait for around half an hour before checking the water. If you’re noticing color coming through the tank into the toilet bowl, you likely have a leak coming from the toilet. Next, you can call a local plumber or replace the flapper yourself. 

6. Check the Toilet Handle

someone flushing bathroom toilet
Photo: Jo Panuwat D / Adobe Stock

Another place to check is the toilet handle. First, take the lid off the tank and flush the toilet. Ensure that the handle is functioning smoothly. In addition, check the chain that is connected to the handle. A potential issue is if the chain is caught under the flapper, resulting in a leak. 

What to Do When You Find a Leak 

While many of these may have easy fixes, once you identify the source of the leak, it’s usually best to contact a professional plumber, especially if you’re not familiar with plumbing work yourself. They’ll make sure to not only fix it, but ensure it didn’t cause any damage and prevent it from happening again. 

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