The Major Types of Water Leaks
According to an infographic from Delta, more than 1 trillion gallons of water are wasted due to leaks each year in American households. While some are big and others are small, a leak of even a single drip per second can waste as much as 3,000 gallons per year – the equivalent of 180 showers. Serious leaks – which involve a steady stream of water – cause an average of $8,000 worth of damage to the average home. In extreme cases, they can lead to as much as $100,000 in damage.
Before delving into some of the best ways to prevent leaks from impacting your home and wallet, let’s get familiar with some of the major types of water leaks.
- Burst pipes. Perhaps the most catastrophic type of leak on the list, a burst pipe typically occurs when water freezes and expands inside of a pipe (causing a blockage that ultimately puts added pressure on water downstream).
- Appliance failures. Many leaks are the result of appliance failures, such as dishwashers, washing machines, and even refrigerators. Washing machines are especially common, as the rubber supply lines are notorious for wearing out over time.
- Toilet supply line failure. When a toilet supply line leaks, it can have a catastrophic impact on your home – especially if the toilet is located in an upstairs bathroom.
- Leaky toilets. While far less serious, a leaky toilet can cause your toilet to run continuously, which increases your water consumption and drives up your bill.
- Hot water tank failure. Hot water heaters are notorious for leaking, which is why they’re often placed in a garage or basement with concrete floor. Minor issues include a slow drip, while major issues can involve a heavy spray from the pipes.
- Irrigation system leaks. If you have an old irrigation system in your lawn, it’s possible that the pipes have leaks in them. Since there’s often no way to know (without meticulously tracking your monthly water bill), this can go on for a while.
4 Ways to Prevent Leaks From Happening
Not all water leaks are created equal. Some simply drive up monthly water bill costs by a few dollars, while others can ruin the integrity of your home. But regardless of the situation, you need to take action. Here are some ways you can prevent leaks from happening in the first place:
1. Listen for Running Water
The first way to detect a water leak is to listen for running water. A toilet that’s constantly refilling indicates that you need a new flapper. An abnormal sound of running water in your walls could indicate a more serious problem with a pipe.
2. Be Aware of Symptoms
Are you familiar with the signs and symptoms of a serious water leak? They include outrageously high water bills, mold or mildew on walls, ceilings, or floors, stained or damaged ceilings/floors, and an overall “musty” smell to your house.
3. Inspect Problem Areas Every Few Months
Problem areas in the home should be manually inspected every few months to make sure you don’t have any serious problems.
- Open up cabinets under sinks and look for signs of water damage, drips, or leaks. You can also look behind and around dishwashers, refrigerators, and washing machines.
- Check for condensation and/or corrosion around exposed pipes.
- Give your water heater a regular inspection. In addition to looking for signs of dripping or standing water around the tank, you should look for corrosion or the appearance of bulging.
- Go into your attic and look for any presence of water in your air handler drain pain.
Small, proactive steps like this can prevent a minor repair from becoming a major issue that costs you thousands of dollars.
4. Turn Off Water Supply When Traveling
Whenever you know you’re going to be out of the house for more than 24 or 48 hours, it’s wise to turn off the main water supply to your home. This will prevent excessive flooding or water damage in the instance that there is a serious leak, burst pipe, or other issue. Upon returning home, you can simply turn the supply back on and wait to see if there are any problems.
The Best Solution: Smart Water Sensors
While there’s something to be said for regularly inspecting your home’s various appliances and systems for the signs of water leaks, the reality is that you’ll rarely catch a serious leak this way before it causes thousands of dollars in damage. The better solution is to install a smart water sensor in your home.
A smart water sensor attaches to your home’s water supply line and monitors changes in pressure – recognizing the difference between running a faucet and a burst pipe. When it detects a major or unfamiliar change in pressure, it can be set up to turn off the water supply by itself and/or send a notification to the homeowner’s device. In doing so, it has the potential to prevent expensive catastrophes (whether you’re home or away).
There are a variety of smart water sensors on the market, but Phyn and Flo are two of the top ones that come to mind. Do some research and see if there’s one on the market that makes sense for your home.