Leak Detection Services & Equipment to Consider
Learn more about the different types and categories of leaks. Discover how to spot and temporarily treat leaks and average leak repair costs.
While there are many benefits to owning your own home, you also have a new host of responsibilities. As a property owner, you cannot rely on a landlord to solve problems around your house. A common issue homeowners have to deal with is leaks. Leaks do not cause as much damage as other housing issues, but if left untreated, the damage can accumulate. Leaks are most devastating when they occur behind drywall, as this may lead to mold growth.
How you treat leaks varies, based on where the leak is located. Before you can treat a leak, you must be able to identify it. There are several methods, as well as different equipment you can use to search for leaks around your house. While detecting leaks is something you can do on your own, there may be circumstances where it is better to hire a professional plumber to help detect and solve your leaks.
Signs of a Leak
It is important to treat leaks as soon as possible, before they cause more serious issues. There are several different signs one of your pipes developed a leak. One of the side effects of a leak is the sound of dripping water when no plumbing appliances are being used. With more severe leaks, you may even hear the sound of running water. It is most common to hear these leaks near a sink or shower. Before deciding it is a leak, ensure the devices are fully turned off, as a faucet may be turned just slightly enough to cause a small drip.
Another telltale sign of a leak is if your appliances experience a significant loss of water pressure. A lack of water pressure means something is keeping the waterflow from achieving full power. If water is still coming out, the rest of the water is likely lost from a leak. However, there are other potential issues outside of leaks, and it may even be an issue with wherever you get your water from. If you do not hear the sounding of leaking water, you either need to hire a plumber or get special equipment to try and identify these leaks.
Not all leaks relate to your appliances. If a pipe behind your wall or above your ceiling leaks, the wall or ceiling develops a soft spot. Over time, this will also cause a slight discoloration where the water is gathering. It takes several days for these signs to be visible, so if you spot one of these leaks you must treat it as soon as possible before it does more severe damage.
Categories of Leaks
There are four different categories of leaks, each referred to as a class. Class one is the least damaging, while class four is the worst. Class one means the leak has just begun, but hasn’t had a chance to do any lasting damage. Class two is the most common type of leak. The leak has caused minor damage, typically in the form of lingering moisture, but no permanent damage is done.
Class three leaks are more severe. Class three leaks most commonly occur when the water leaks through the wall or ceiling, getting into the rest of your house. Class three leaks commonly include mold growths. Class four are the most devastating, but the rarest forms of leaks. These leaks only occur if the leak is left untreated for a long period of time, causing structural damage to the house.
Equipment for Detecting Water Leaks
There are many tools to help detect leaks in your home. One popular device is the Flume Water Monitoring System. The monitoring system connects directly to your water meter. Using the Flume app, you can track details of your water usage, including spotting changes in pressure which signify a leak.
Another way to detect leaks, especially around walls or ceilings, is to monitor the moisture. An excellent way to detect moisture buildups before they do any permanent damage is by using a water sensor. Vivint offers a top-of-the-line sensor, which not only detects moisture, but also monitors for changes in temperature, which may be caused by part of your wall or ceiling being exposed to leaking water.
If you want to set up multiple water sensors throughout your house, SimpliSafe uses a base system, which wirelessly connects to multiple sensors. The base system does not have an app, but can be programmed to send you texts or phones if a leak is detected.
Plumbers use advanced methods and equipment for leak detection. One option is hydrostatic water testing, where the pipe is filled with water, then monitored using an advanced sensor to detect subtle water pressure changes. Some variants use artificial smoke, which becomes visible if it leaks from the pipe.
Repairs and Costs
There are many ways to fix a leaky pipe, depending on the severity of the leak. Small leaks can be temporarily blocked using epoxy putty to seal the leaked area. There are also special tapes you can wrap around pipes to seal off leaks. Another option is to use repair clamps to treat larger pipe leaks. All of these solutions are relatively inexpensive, often costing under $20. This will stop leaks from getting worse, but are not permanent solutions.
To permanently fix a leak, you must repair the damage to your pipes. This is significantly harder to do on your own, and often requires a plumber. With smaller leaks, it is possible to repair the damage. In more severe cases, you must replace the piping system entirely.
Hiring a plumber to detect a leak is fairly inexpensive. If you are positive there is a leak, some plumbers may even include detection for free and only charge you for repairs. Many plumbers charge an hourly rate, often around $50 an hour, with a minimum service charge of $100. Smaller repairs typically cost between $125 to $300. Larger repairs are $500 to $800. With category three or four leaks, repairs are much more expensive, sometimes causing several thousand dollars to replace the pipes and remove all the moisture from the afflicted areas.