How to Make a Water Leak Checklist
There are numerous sources of water in and around the home. Lots of faucets offer instant access and convenience. We would be lost without clean water. Unfortunately, water has a mind of its own—it’s a regular Houdini in that it can’t sit still and needs to escape from any containment. Water does two things very well: it flows to gravity’s low point and it just loves to leak. Water leakage can cause some pretty hefty damage if it’s not caught in time. In addition, slow or hidden leaks can drive the monthly water bill up. Multiple leaks from different locations can really make an impact on your pocketbook. So where do we find these sneaky little water leaks? Let’s make a check list together.
Indoor Water Sources
Examine the base of all your toilets; there is a pan type gasket under the base that must be tight. If the toilet is loose or wobbly, it can leak there. Also check the feed line and shutoff valve for the toilet and the plastic or metal screw caps for the hose or line. There is a grommet on the underside of the tank that should always be dry.
Check all of the faucets in the bathrooms and kitchen. These faucets either have rubber gaskets or turn-screw type shutoff mechanisms. The sink and the bathroom also have shutoff valves usually located under a cabinet—check these hot and cold feed valves and their connections and hoses. While you are under the kitchen sink, examine the drain hose on the garbage disposal, if applicable. The garbage disposal will also have a base gasket that mates the disposal to the sink which will have a gasket and possibly caulking material. Age and vibration are the enemies of a garbage disposal.
Your large appliances have water feed lines/hoses and some have additional drain lines. A refrigerator that has an icemaker will have a tiny copper or plastic line that connects to the back of the panel. Check the floor for any small pools, and if found, access the back of the refrigerator and examine the connections. The dishwasher and washing machine have hot and cold hoses or lines that connect in the backs of the appliances. Water on the floor is a dead give-away for a leak. The washing machine drain line frequently clogs and overflows because of cloth materials wedged in the hose. Examine the base of the water heater; water heater leaks will originate from either the feed line intake or the hot discharge side. Water heater tank reservoirs may also spring a leak from rusted cores which mean a new one is inevitable.
Outdoor Water Sources
If you have an automatic or manual sprinkler or irrigation system, the first indication of a leak will appear as soggy or soaked turf. Any wet spot around a sprinkler or irrigation valve head points to a leaking joint, grommet or gasket. These must be replaced. All garden hoses and their faucets are potential leak sources. Close off all garden hose ends and turn the water on—the internal pressure will show leaks in the faucet valve connections (rubber grommets) or somewhere along the length of the hose. If you own a septic tank system, look for soggy ground around the tank location and smell for foul odors. Leaks from septic systems will originate from over-filled tanks or clogged leach lines. Swimming pools and outdoor Jacuzzis are a real pain because they contain numerous hoses, connection joints, filter canisters, pump housings, traps and hot water tanks and coils. Inspect all of the water supply and discharge lines and look for gasket leaks around all the mechanical housings. Take your time inspecting your pool or Jacuzzi!
Why the Bother?
Arresting water leaks inside the home will curtail any water damage to structures, floors and furnishings. Water that accumulates in hidden areas in the home may cause mold and fungus (bacteria) problems, leading to dry rot and permanent damage. Outdoor leaks can alter or destroy the landscape by over-saturating the ground; this will cause drainage problems and soil erosion. Outside water that has pooled may attract mosquitoes; a stagnant outdoor water pool is the perfect breeding ground for these insects. Remember than any indoor or outdoor leak will cost you extra money on your water bill, so monitor the cost each month and compare it with the average. A higher than average water bill during normal use usually points to a pesky leak somewhere—so go on the hunt and make your own checklist!