How to Find a Water Leak: A Step-by-Step Guide


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A water leak can be a small thing, at least at first. However, a leak left unattended can lead to water damage.

Water damage is a serious issue for any homeowner and can lead to costly repairs if not addressed quickly. Finding the source of the leak is essential to take corrective measures and minimize further damage. Homeowners must know how to find a water leak, assess the damage, identify its source, and repair it correctly.

This blog post will provide helpful information on finding a water leak in your home so you can avoid any potential issues before they become too severe.

How To Identify a Water Leak

Signs of a Water Leak

The most common sign of a water leak is visible moisture on walls, floors, or ceilings. Other signs include discoloration and staining in the affected area, musty odors, and increased humidity levels. In some cases, you may also hear running water even when none is being used.

These are the obvious signs of water damage. But you can have obvious water damage in common areas that are prone to water damage but are not commonly seen with the human eye.

Let's investigate further.

Common Causes of Water Leaks

Common causes of water leaks include faulty plumbing fixtures and pipes, damaged appliances such as dishwashers or washing machines, HVAC systems with leaking condensation lines, and roofing materials that have become worn over time. Plumbing leaks and breaks are the number one cause of water damage in the United States of America.

Plumbing fixtures such as sinks and toilets should be checked regularly for any signs of wear or damage. Appliances should also be inspected periodically for any loose connections or hoses that may be leaking.

Additionally, check around windowsills and door frames for any evidence of moisture seeping through from outside the home. Finally, inspect your roofing material at least once per year to ensure it is still in good condition and not allowing rainwater to enter your home's interior spaces.



Assessing the Damage

Homeowners should regularly inspect their homes for signs of water damage. This includes looking for discoloration on walls and ceilings, peeling paint or wallpaper, wet carpets or floorboards, and any other visible signs of moisture.

It is important to check all areas of the home that may have been affected by a water leak, such as bathrooms, kitchens, basements, attics, and crawl spaces. If you have a face mask or respirator, you may want to utilize this.

Where there is an accumulation of moisture, you could find mold, and the last thing you want to do is inhale any mold spores and compromise your respiratory system.

Determining the Extent of the Damage

Once homeowners have identified any potential water damage in their homes, they need to determine how extensive it is. This can be done by checking behind walls and under floors to see if any hidden pockets of moisture could cause further problems down the line.

Additionally, homeowners should look out for mold growth which can indicate a larger problem with water infiltration into their home’s structure. If mold growth exceeds ten square feet, you need to call in a water damage expert as per EPA guidelines.

Water damage can lead to health risks due to mold growth or contamination from a clog, backup, or other sources. A water damage removal expert will have the proper tools and experience to deal with the problem properly.

How To Find the Source of the Leak

Checking Plumbing Fixtures and Pipes

The first step when locating a water leak is to check all plumbing fixtures, such as toilets, sinks, showers, bathtubs, etc., for any signs of leakage or dripping. It’s also important to inspect all exposed pipes for any visible signs of corrosion or leaks.

If there are no obvious signs of leaking from these sources, then you should move on to other potential causes. If, after inspecting these locations and you still have lingering odors that reek of mold or mildew, it's time to break out the trusty moisture meter.

A moisture meter can find hidden leaks in masonry, such as tiles in showers, baseboards, floors, walls, under the sink, around the water heater, and any other place where you know plumbing and its fittings are located in hard-to-access areas.

If the moisture content is above 15%, call a plumber immediately. If the damage is extensive, the plumber will likely request the help of a water restoration and mold abatement contractor.

Notice the dark colors on the material. This mold growth was hidden inside a wall from a leaking water heater.

moisture meter being used to detect moisture in construction materials.
A moisture meter checks moisture levels on a water damage restoration job in the Orlando, Florida, area.

Faulty Appliances

Another possible cause of water damage could be faulty appliances or HVAC systems malfunctioning over time. To determine if this is the case, you should inspect your washing machine hoses for cracks or bulges and check your dishwasher connections for loose fittings.

Now it's time to examine your refrigerator condensation line for blockages, inspect your air conditioner drain lines for clogs, and look at the seals around windows, doors, skylights, and fireplaces that may allow moisture into your home.

Lastly, ensure that sump pumps function properly so they don’t overflow during heavy rains.

Checking the Roof

Lastly, it is important to investigate roofing materials for missing shingles, and flashing. Leaks can occur through damaged roofing materials due to high winds, hail storms, and general wear and tear due to the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

At the same time, foundation wall cracks may form due to settling soil beneath them, allowing water seepage into basements or crawl spaces below if not addressed before major flooding occurs.

Repairing the Leak

Know Your Limits

You may be tempted to take on major leaks by yourself to save yourself some money. However, you do not want to take on a problem you are not equipped to deal with properly. It is important to know when you should call in an expert who can put their expertise to good use.

It is always the safest route to call in an expert than to tackle it alone, especially if you feel uncomfortable taking on such repairs. This applies to leaks, where plumbing, the roof, mold, and water damage itself.

The DIY Approach

Many people are handy with repairs, but may be uncomfortable on a roof or doing plumbing-related tasks; make sure you're competent before taking on large-scale projects.

Once repairs have been made and any new fixtures installed correctly, it is time to test for proper functionality by running water through each fixture individually and checking for leaks at each connection point along the way. If everything appears sound, then congratulations; your repair was successful.

However, do not forget preventative maintenance – regularly inspecting plumbing fixtures and pipes and maintaining appliances and HVAC systems will help ensure that future leaks do not occur in your home.

How To Prevent Future Water Leaks

Regularly Inspecting Plumbing Fixtures and Pipes

It is important to regularly inspect plumbing fixtures and pipes to prevent future water leaks. Homeowners should check for any signs of corrosion, rust, or other damage that could lead to a leak. They should also ensure all connections are secure and there are no gaps between the pipe joints. If any issues are found, they should be addressed immediately by a professional plumber before they become larger problems.

You should also use pans or trays to catch water leaks under the sinks to prevent an accidental mold problem. You should also have a catch pan under your water heater.

You can have a catch pan built for your washer and dryer to help prevent leaks within the washing machine. Just give your local sheet metal shop and call and order a pan that your washer and dryer will sit in to prevent water damage in the laundry room.

Maintaining Appliances and HVAC Systems

Regular maintenance of appliances such as dishwashers, washing machines, refrigerators, etc., can help prevent water damage from occurring due to leaking hoses or malfunctioning parts.

Additionally, homeowners should have their HVAC systems inspected annually by a qualified technician who can identify potential problems before they cause serious damage. Correcting a potential problem is always cheaper before it becomes an actual one.

Maintaining the Roof

The roof is one of the most vulnerable areas when it comes to preventing water leaks in the home. Homeowners should routinely inspect their roofs for missing shingles or tiles and damaged flashing around vents and chimneys, which can allow moisture into the home if not properly sealed off.

Any repairs needed should be done promptly to avoid further damage caused by water infiltration through these weak points on the roof structure.

Call a professional roofer if you don't understand roofing materials and flashing well. The home you save will be your own.




Water leaks, big or small, can be a real headache! The sooner you find them, the better. That's why our step-by-step guide is here to help you. But sometimes, you need an expert's touch.

Enter certified mold cleanup in Orlando and our friendly Orlando water damage restoration company, Damage Control of Orlando. They're the heroes you need in times of trouble!

These pros have the know-how and cool tools to find, fix, and stop leaks from happening again. So, if you think there's a water leak at your place, don't stress!

Give the experts at Damage Control of Orlando a call. They'll swoop in and save the day before any more damage happens. It's better to be safe than sorry!

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