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How to Find a Water Leak - Simple Ways to Detect a Leak

How to Find a Water Leak - Simple Ways to Detect a Leak

Whether you rent or own your own home, there’s a good chance that, at some point, you’ve found yourself lying awake at night listening to the drip of water and wondered:

a) where it was coming from and

b) just how bad it might be when you eventually work it out.

Maybe you’ve woken to a flooded kitchen because your dishwasher or washing machine has leaked or to a puddle of water and a hole in the ceiling because of a burst pipe.

None of these situations is that surprising, or that uncommon, unfortunately. According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), at least one in four building and contents insurance claims are down to leaky or burst pipes (or what insurance companies call an ‘escape of water’).

Water damage in the home is incredibly costly for insurance companies (they pay out around £1.8 million a day), and it could be costly for you if you’re on a water meter or need to pay a water leak detection company to fix the problem.

While you can’t avoid all leaks, you can take steps to reduce the risk of significant damage to your home or your bank balance.

Sometimes water leaks aren’t as apparent as a constant drip, drip, drip that keeps you up at night.  In fact, they’re generally much more subtle until the drip becomes a flood, which is why detecting them early is key.

Common Places for Water Leaks

If you think you have a leak and don’t have a leak detector that tells you where it might be, there are some common culprits around the home it’s worth checking first:

Water tank/boiler

Check the valves that take water into/out of your boiler or water tank. You should quickly be able to see a leak.  If there isn’t any water escaping, look for signs of a slow leak including marks on the floor below the valve or a hissing sound. If you have a central heating boiler, this isn’t something you can fix yourself, and a leak may be a sign of something seriously wrong, so contact a specialist.


Because of how much we use them, it isn’t unusual for a toilet to start leaking. This isn’t usually something to worry about, but it can be costly if it’s continuously running. You might be able to fix it yourself; changing a washer out is relatively straightforward, for example, and saves you money rather than calling a plumber.

Lifehack: If you aren’t sure your toilet is leaking, a trick is to put food colouring in the tank and leave it for ten minutes. If you go back and the water in the bowl is the same colour as the water in the tank, you’ve got a leak.


Much like toilets, we use showers on a regular, if not daily, basis. This means the parts start to wear down and you are likely to find leaks.  We’ve already talked about how low pressure could be the sign of a leak (as well as a clogged showerhead), so it makes sense this would be one of the first places to look if you think you have a problem.


Through everyday use, appliances can shift slightly from their original position, which can loosen valves and pipes and lead to leaks. Check them regularly to make sure all the attachments are secure.

Water leaks can happen inside or outside the home.  We’ve already looked at where to look for leaks inside, but what about outside – where do you start?

6 Ways To Find Hidden Water Leaks in Your House

Early detection of a water leak can save you money and avert potential disasters. Here are some signs that you may have a leak and should consider contacting a plumber for water leak repair services.

Check your water meter

One of the best ways to tell if you have a leak in some part of your plumbing is to check the water meter. To do this, you’ll first have to turn off all the water in your home. Shut off all faucets, and make sure the dishwasher and washing machine are not running. Next, watch the meter and see if it begins to change.

If it does, you likely have a fast-moving leak. If the meter doesn’t change immediately, wait a few hours and check it again. If it has changed despite all the water being off, you may be dealing with a slower leak. The leak could be anywhere after the meter, or even underground. Remember that all piping after the meter is a homeowner’s responsibility.

Look at your usage

It is recommended to check your winter water usage to find out if a leak is occurring somewhere in your home. If the monthly water usage is increased, there’s probably have a serious leak problem somewhere in your plumbing system.

Monitor your bill

If your bill is rising consistently but your water use habits haven’t changed, a leak may be to blame. Gather some bills from the past few months and compare them to see if there’s a steady increase. Your water bill should remain within the same range month to month.

Remember that some of your pipes may be underground. You may never detect leaks in this part of your system, but you will always pay for them. It’s best to have a professional plumber make a thorough check of all the pipes. A warm spot on the floor or the sound of water running needs prompt, professional attention.

Grab some food colouring

Toilets can account for up to 30 per cent of your water use, so you should check to ensure they’re running properly. To test for leaks, add a few drops of food colouring to your toilet tank and wait 10 minutes. If the colour shows up in your bowl, then you have a leak allowing water to flow from the tank to your drain without ever flushing the bowl.

Check exterior usage

Leaks don’t just happen inside the home – they occur outside as well. Check your outside spigots by attaching a garden hose; if water seeps through the connection while the hose is running, replace the rubber hose gasket and check to see all connections are tight.

Consider calling a professional once a year to check your irrigation system if you have one. A system with even a small leak could be wasting hundreds of litres of water per month.

Use common sense

Make a practice of regularly checking in the back of cabinets and under basins for any signs of mould or foul smells that might indicate a leak: prompt attention could save you thousands in repairs. Consider having a professional plumber make an annual inspection of your home to check for leaks or potential problems.

Be especially vigilant if your home is over 25 years old; your plumbing system may be on the declining side of its life expectancy.  Inspect all accessible connections at the water heater, pumps, washing machine hoses and valves for oxidation or discolouration – clear signs of a slow leak.

If you suspect a leak anywhere in your plumbing system, call in a professional to make a repair as soon as possible. Don’t wait until it gets worse and you end up with a real mess on your hands!

How to Find a Water Leak Underground?

Underground water leaks are notorious for going undetected for a very long time, and it is only when the condition worsens; we see the extent of the damage on the surface.

Whether you have a commercial property or a homeowner, underground pipe bursts can create huge water problems in the future if left untreated.

With commercial properties, it can be difficult to detect underground issues as concrete and buildings directly above pipework can obstruct leak detection.

One of the most effective methods of discovering water leaks is by using a specialist electronic device that can narrow down the location of the leak plus save on unnecessary digging and costs.

Water leaks can happen at any time for a number of reasons such as:

Underground chemicals: Chemicals found in water or soil can cause the underground pipes to erode, which then results in cracks or holes that allow water to leak through.

Natural disasters: Earthquakes or tremors can put a lot of pressure onto pipework underground, causing them to move and possibly crack.

Wear and tear: Over time, pipework can rust and give way which causes cracks and leaks.

Poor installation: This is one of the reasons that can be avoided, but unfortunately, the poor or incorrect installation has been a cause for pipe leakage.

Over time, the condition of the damaged pipework will worsen, and you will start to notice various different indicators that could suggest there is an underlying issue with the pipework underground.

Here are some signs to look out for underground water leaks

  • A decrease in water pressure
  • Cracked pavement area
  • A sudden increase in water usage and costs
  • Visible potholes
  • Unpleasant smells: Underground leaks take longer to detect which often leads to mould that releases an unpleased odour
  • Pressure in the water supply or dirt within the water flow

What to do if you notice any of these signs:

Once you suspect something not being quite right with the waterworks, it is highly recommended that you call a specialist engineer or plumber to take a look. You will save a lot of money and time if the leak is detected earlier!

At WaterLeakFiner.co.uk we specialise in detecting water leaks underground quickly and efficiently, to minimise the disruption to your home or business.

Using a special electronic device, we can narrow down the location of the leaks, which can save a lot of time and unnecessary digging costs. Our team have an abundance of experience with underground water leaks, so we know exactly where to look and how to solve the problem, quickly and efficiently.

How to Find a Water Leak in the Garden

If you can’t find any visible signs of a water leak inside your home, you can determine if it’s inside but hidden (underground, for example) or outside by checking your water meter. First, turn off the stop tap so that no water is going into your house; you can check it’s off by running a tap till no water comes out.

Once you’ve done this check the meter to see if the dial is still moving, if it is, then the leak is on the supply line outside your home.  If it isn’t, then the leak will be inside, either on an internal pipe or through your appliances.

When you’ve determined that the leak is outside, start looking for signs.  If your meter is installed in your garden, this might include seeing if there are muddy patches around the pipe or if the grass seems to be growing better than in other parts of your lawn.

Finding out how bad the leak is may – unfortunately – involve digging your lawn up. This is something you might want to do before calling a plumber to see if it’s something you can fix yourself.  If the leak is under concrete, keep reading.

How to Find a Water Leak Under Concrete?

While looking for a water leak under concrete is more complicated than trying to find a leaky tap in your bathroom, it isn’t impossible.

We’ve already mentioned looking out for damp patches on the floor (with no visible sign of a leak in the ceiling) and the smell of mould or mildew when you’re looking for underground leaks, and both of these apply for leaks under concrete.

You also want to look out for cracks in the concrete itself, a result of water escaping, or uneven surfaces, meaning the concrete is being pushed up by the leaking water below.

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