A Guide to Water Leaks in Your Home

Water is the one thing that you do not want to find in the wrong place in your home. If you have a leak, it is important to discover the source quickly and deal with it by making the necessary repairs quickly before the real damage starts to occur. Some leaks are easy to trace while others take a bit more investigation.  Here are some places to look for those elusive leaks:

Basement

The lower level of many homes is built with a concrete foundation. Concrete is porous and most soil surrounding your home contains moisture. Water will travel through the air pockets it finds in the soil which can lead right into the basement of your home through any small cracks or areas where the moisture barrier might have an opening. You want to look around your basement carefully on the walls for any stains that are wet, indicating that water is getting into your home. Look for any water that collects on the floor and trace it to see where the water is coming in.  To find where the water is coming in, inspect the area around the outside of your home. If you have recently completed work on your driveway, patio, or garden then you could have caused an issue with the drainage. All you need to do is pile up some dirt close to your house to cause some issues with the drainage. Large tree roots can penetrate drains and cause issues.

Foundation

If you notice that water is leaking into the foundation the answer can be as simple as a plugged eavestrough. Leaves and debris collect in eavestroughs causing drainage issues with water spilling over the top of the gutter instead of being drained away from the base of your home. If your gutters are full, clean them out and, where possible, place a screen over the gutter to prevent debris from taking over the interior, allowing the water to flow through and away from your home. If your downspouts are too close to the home this can also be a problem.  Downspouts should drain at least six feet away from your home’s foundation.

Roofs

As your home ages, it starts to how more signs of wear, and the roof is one of the things that ages quickly in relation to your home. Most roofs need to be replaced at least once every 15 – 20 years, depending on the materials used. Water leaks begin near the top and work their way down so if you think that your roof is leaking, contact a roofer to come an inspect it.  A professional should be able to let you know right away if you have a problem involving your roof. It is crucial that you repair the roof before any further damage occurs.

Windows

Windows will start to wear over time and with the changing seasons and temperature changes the frames and seals in your windows can fail. Once the seal in a window fails water will start to ingress. You may be able to spot these leaks as soon as they start and take care of them right away with some caulking or new weatherstripping. If you have not noticed that your windows are leaking, and the damage is beyond repair it might be time to call in a window professional to take a look. You may need to upgrade and replace your old windows, particularly if your home is older.

Water Supply

Homeowners need to know where the main water supply line to their home is located, specifically the shut-off valve. If your water supply ever starts to leak or one of your home’s water pipes burst, shutting off this water supply can save you a lot of money. Most water supply lines have some type of pipe protruding from them with an attached meter.  Pipes usually burst in cold weather when temperature changes are extreme and in cases where freezing occurs the pipe will expand and add pressure, causing any weak pipes to burst. Clogs may also cause pipes to burst, so being able to shut off the water at the main source will save many serious problems from occurring. If you cannot deal with the water issue alone, it is important to call a plumber who can come and help you immediately.

Plumbing

Plumbing can leak and this can end up costing a lot of money. You may have a leaky tap or toilet or even a dishwasher. If you suspect that your dishwasher is leaking, carefully inspect the bottom of the inside of the dishwasher for water under the unit. This water can lead to moldy areas that may warp flooring.  Use a  torch and inspect the area below the sink and the hoses that connect to the drain for any areas where water may be dripping or there is discolouration.

Taps tend to wear out over time and so do faucets. If your faucet is constantly dripping or leaky, inspect the area below the sink to see if you can see any water that is leaking down the pipes.  Are the fixtures discoloured? If a shower or bathtub is leaking this may be a sign that you have an issue that is occurring inside the walls of your home.  Leaky toilets can damage floors and eventually that water will move towards the walls and get into them. You can easily discover if your toilet is leaking by adding food colouring to the tank water.  If the water in the toilet bowl changes colour over the course of an hour (and you have not flushed the toilet during that time) then it is likely that you have a leak.

If you suspect that you have a plumbing leak, you should contact a plumber quickly and let them take care of the problem before it is out of control. If you do not know where the leak is coming from, a home inspector may also be able to assist. A thermographic camera can discover areas where there is excessive moisture and then the water can be traced to find the cause of the leak. This means that you will not be left wondering where the leak is occurring and what the source could possibly be.  If you discover any kind of water leak, it is important to deal with it quickly before things get out of control and cause expensive damage.

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