Detecting Leaks

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Each one of us should make our best efforts in the conservation of one of the most precious commodities Water leakon our planet which is water.  One such effort is to watch out  for and repair water leaks in our homes, no matter how small those leaks might be.

Although some water leaks are so slow that they are not detectable, some known leaks are being ignored by some homeowners.  This is due to ignorance to the fact that a small leak that keeps on leaking could add up to thousands of gallons in a year.

Moreover, water leaks not only contribute to worldwide water shortage, but also cause damage to some parts of the house's structure.  Damages to the house structural elements could cause the house to deteriorate faster, collapse, and injuries to its occupants.

Water leak detection can either be done by periodically checking the areas and components of the house's plumbing system or by installing a commercially available water leak detection device.

There are mainly two types of water leak detection systems:

1. Passive Leak Detection Systems are usually stand-alone battery-operated devices that produce an alarm sound when its moisture sensor becomes wet.  These alarms enable the homeowner to locate exactly where the water leaks are and do the necessary repairs.  Since these are battery-dependent devices, its battery should be checked regularly.

2. Active Leak Detection Systems also sound an alarm when it detect water leaks, and will automatically stop the water flow.  It may use a moisture sensor or a flow sensor in monitoring any water leaks.  There are two types of active leak detection system: 
        a. Individual appliance systems monitor leaks from a single appliance and automatically shut off water supply to such appliance should leaks be detected. 
        b. Whole house systems monitor leaks in the whole house and shut off the main water supply to the house should leaks be detected. A whole house system is composed of several moisture sensors which send a signal to a control valve via radio signal or by means of wiring connections.

Every house is unique and has a special situation to determine what type of water leak system is applicable.  Some simple systems may be installed by the homeowner, but complex systems should be done by a qualified plumber.

If you don't have a water leak detection system device installed in your house, you can always check your house periodically for any water leaks, unless of course if you already hear those water dripping sounds.  Water leaks usually happen in areas where water-consuming appliances and plumbing fixtures are located.  Among the most obvious areas to look for water leaks are:

• Bathroom & toilet area (check for leaks on toilet, showerhead, faucet, and water heating system)
• Kitchen (check for leaks on faucet, dishwasher, water heating system)
• Laundry room (check for leaks on faucet, clothes washer)
• Garage and basement area (check on evaporator cooler, hot water system)
• Lawn (check on turf, low water use garden, irrigation system)
• Pool and spa
• Patio
• Water meter

Detecting water leaks through sight and sound may seem like an easy task, and this may be true in fast and big leaks, but with slow and small leaks, it could be impossible to detect without the aid of a water leak detection device.  Here are some tips in monitoring the house for possible water leaks. 

        1. Water is leaking in your toilet when water is moving from the tank to the bowl when nobody is flushing it. 
        2. When your toilet is flushing itself when nobody is near the toilet. 
        3. Another method of detecting a water leak in the toilet is to place food color in the tank.  Should you see the color in the bowl after a few minutes then you can conclude that there is a leak. 
        4. Since most water pipes are embedded in the walls and floors, we can only know if there are leaks when you see discolorations on the walls, ceilings, or carpets. 
        5. Detecting water leaks in a sprinkling system is the same with spotting leaks on concealed piping systems. 
        6. One practical way to know whether you have water leaks in your house is to monitor your water meter.  Make sure everything is turned off before you leave your home when you are going to be gone for a few hours.  Read your water meter.  When you get home read your meter again before using any water.  If there is any usage, you may have a leak in your home.  If the leak is not easily detected, a plumber may be your best option.  They have equipment to find leaks.

Water leaks only worsen through time; it would be wise for you to deal with it as early as possible. Early detection and repair will save you money and prevent damage to your house.  If you ignore it, you may have to pay more to repair more extensive damages later.