Water leaks are no laughing matter. They can wreak havoc in your home, workplace, or on your construction site, cause significant damage, and lead to expensive repairs — not to mention be a major detriment to the planet and our freshwater ecosystems.

The key to minimising the impact of water leaks is early detection and prevention. But with resources often escaping virtually undetected, how can homeowners, landlords, facilities and site managers get to the crux of the problem before it’s too late? Claire Mason, Waterguard’s general manager, shares insight into the most common signs to look out for, and offers some practical tips to remedy any concerns…

How to spot a water leak

Because of the variation in resource usage and system and site architecture, the signs of a water leak will naturally differ between single residencies, multi-dwelling units, commercial office spaces, and construction sites. However, here are some of the general changes to be mindful of:

  1. Unexpected increases in water bills

Keep a close eye on your water bills by reviewing them regularly. If you notice a sudden and unexplained increase in your water usage or a higher-than-usual bill, it could be a sign of a hidden water leak. Compare your current bill with previous ones to identify any significant discrepancies. If the increase is substantial and unexplained, it’s important to investigate further. Start by checking other potential signs of leaks in your home.

  1. Damp or discoloured walls and ceilings

Inspect the walls and ceilings of your home for any signs of dampness, discoloration, or the presence of mould and mildew. These issues are often indicative of water leaks. Look for water stains, peeling paint, or wallpaper, and any visible signs of moisture damage. Discoloration may appear as dark spots or patches on the walls or ceilings.

Additionally, a soft or spongy feeling when touching the affected area can also indicate water damage. It’s crucial to address these signs promptly to prevent further damage to the structure and potential health risks associated with mould growth.

  1. Musty or unpleasant odours

Persistent musty or mouldy odours in specific areas of your home, such as bathrooms, kitchens, or basements, can be a strong indication of a hidden water leak. These odours often arise due to moisture buildup and subsequent mould and fungal growth. Pay attention to any lingering smells, especially if they intensify after rainfall or near plumbing fixtures. Investigate the source of the odour thoroughly, as it may lead you to the location of the leak.

  1. Water stains or puddles

Visible water stains or the presence of puddles near fixtures, appliances, or pipes should never be ignored. These signs are clear indications of a water leak. Inspect areas around sinks, toilets, showers, and water-using appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines.

Water stains may appear as discoloured patches or rings on walls, floors, or ceilings. Puddles may accumulate near the source of the leak or on the floor below. Promptly address these issues to prevent further water damage and potential structural issues.

  1. Low water pressure

If you experience a sudden and consistent drop in water pressure throughout your home, it may be a result of a water leak. While low water pressure can have various causes, such as a clogged pipe or municipal supply issues, it’s crucial to consider a leak as a potential culprit.

If the drop in water pressure is significant and persists over time, it’s advisable to consult a professional plumber to diagnose and address the underlying issue. They can assess the plumbing system, identify any leaks, and recommend appropriate repairs or replacements.

How to prevent water leaks

Prevention is always better than the cure. So, how can you mitigate the risks of a water leak occuring in the first place?

  • Regularly inspect plumbing fixtures: Check your faucets, showerheads, and toilets for any signs of leakage. Replace worn-out washers, seals, or faulty parts as soon as you notice them. A proactive approach to maintenance can prevent small leaks from turning into major problems.
  • Monitor water usage: Keep an eye on your water metre regularly. Note the readings when no water is being used and compare them to ensure there are no hidden leaks. If the metre indicates usage even when all taps are turned off, you may have a leak that needs attention. For ultimate monitoring, invest in intuitive water leak detection technology that assesses the flow level of your resource, and automatically isolates valves if any suspicious activity occurs. 
  • Maintain proper drainage: Ensure that gutters and downspouts are clear of debris and functioning correctly. Proper drainage prevents water from pooling near the building’s foundation, which can lead to leaks and structural damage.
  • Insulate pipes: Frozen pipes can burst and cause significant damage, which is why insulation is so important — helping to maintain a consistent temperature and reduce the risk of leaks due to extreme weather conditions.
  • Schedule professional inspections: Regularly engage a professional plumber to conduct comprehensive inspections of your building or site’s plumbing system. They can identify potential issues before they become major problems, saving you from costly repairs and damage.

Water leaks are not to be taken lightly. By being vigilant and proactive, you can detect any causes for concern early on and take the necessary preventive measures to safeguard your home. Stay alert to the signs of water leaks, and if you spot any red flags, don’t hesitate to seek professional assistance. Remember, prevention is key when it comes to protecting your home from the damaging effects of water leaks.

Want to know more about our specialist, BREEAM and CIREG-approved range of water leak detection technology? Get in touch, today.