As was amply demonstrated by record breaking drought in Texas last year including the greater Houston area, low level rainfall in our area can result in a record number of water leaks for the city and for private businesses and homes. As Houston continues to expand the replenishment of water supply is critical and we will likely see more hard measures as last year during the drought where under the city’s water conservation plan residents were ordered to find and fix all detectable leaks within 72 hours of discovering them, or face a $150 fine.
Nick’s Plumbing is a featured expert on local Fox News Feature during Houston’s severe 2011 drought — Tips for Maintaining Your Foundation Under Water Restrictions
Therefore, we should make our best efforts to watch out for water leaks in our homes, no matter how small those leaks might be to prevent from needing to take emergency measures if it should become worse the ground shifting during drought or to be caught and fined by the city.
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 small leaks around Houston that keep on leaking would add up into thousands of gallons a year. Imagine if all homeowners had that same attitude?
Moreover, water leaks not only contribute to an potential water shortages during droughts, 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 cause 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 system:
1. Passive Leak Detection Systems – are usually stand-alone battery-operated devices that produce alarm sounds 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 sounds 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 – monitors leaks from a single appliance and automatically shuts off water supply to such appliance should leaks be detected.
b. Whole house systems – monitors leaks in the whole house and shuts off the main water supply to the house should leaks be detected. A whole house system is composed of several moisture sensors which sends signal to control the valve via a 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 sound. Water leaks usually happen in areas where the water-consuming appliance and plumbing fixtures are located. Among the most obvious areas to look for water leaks are:
1. Bathroom & toilet area (check for leaks on showerhead, faucet, and water heating system)
2. Kitchen (check for leaks on faucet, dishwasher, water heating system)
3. Laundry room (check for leaks on faucet, clothes washer)
4. Garage and basement area (check on evaporator cooler, hot water system)
5. Lawn (check on turf, low water use garden, irrigation system)
6. Pool and spa
8. Water meter
Detecting water leaks through the sight and sound may seem an easy task. This may be true in fast and big leaks, but 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 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 discoloration on a wall, ceiling, and carpet.
5. Detecting water leaks in sprinkling system is the same with spotting leaks on concealed piping systems.
6. One such practical way to know whether you have water leaks in your house is to monitor your water bill. Should you have higher water bill with the same usual consumption, you could seek a professional plumber or check it out with your local utility company.
Water leaks only worsen through time; it would be wise for you to deal with it as early as possible. Early detection and repair shall save you money and prevent damage to your house. If you ignore it, you are only postponing something you should do anyway.