Leaks can be expensive to repair, especially if they go unnoticed for a while. Unfortunately, many leaks can prove challenging to detect. The longer you let a leak stay unattended, the more you’ll have to pay in water and repair costs. When you detect a water leak in your home, it’s best to act upon the problem immediately and call a plumber to make any repairs.

Destruction caused by water is one of the most common factors involved in insurance claims in North America. Use the following seven methods to help you detect water leaks before they get out of control:

1. Inspect Your Water Meter

One of the easiest ways to learn how to detect a water leak is to inspect your water meter. Your water meter makes it easy to tell if you have a leak in some part of your plumbing. The first step you’ll need to do is shut off all the water in your home.

After noting the current reading on your tank, turn off the water supply to all your faucets, showers, the washing machine, and the dishwasher. Once the water has been off for a few hours, check to see if your water meter is showing any changes. If your meter shows usage, there’s a chance you a have a slow leak.

2. Use Food Coloring To Check For Toilet Leaks

Believe it or not, food coloring is an easy and quick way to detect if you have a leak. Using food color in your toilet tank can help you ensure your toilets are running properly. All you need to do is add the food color to the top tank and wait 10-15 minutes.

If the food coloring escapes into the toilet bowl, then you have a leak. Usually, this type of leak is allowing water to flow from the tank to the drain, which should only happen when you flush the bowl.

3. Replace Washers In Older Homes

Worn washers are one of the most common and easily fixed reasons for leaks. Different types of faucets will use a unique kind of washer. You’ll need to find out whether you have compression, ball type, ceramic disk or cartridge faucet and then buy the appropriate washer.

Washers are incredibly cheap at any hardware store and should take someone with no experience about 30 minutes to replace. When replacing your washers, make sure you clear any hard water deposits that have accumulated in your faucet.

4. Invest In An Electronic Leak Detector

Electronic leak detectors will make your life a lot easier. Even with these techniques, detecting a leak can be difficult as the signs are sometimes subtle. The alternative is to hire a plumber, which can cost you hundreds of dollars for a few hours of work. Electronic leak detectors work in attics, basements, and on the sinks you use on a daily basis. These devices are especially good for detecting slow leaks, which can be hard to diagnose on your own.

Electronic leak detectors come in handy during heavy rainfalls or in the event of faulty appliances or burst pipes. The sooner you’re able to detect a leak, the less expensive it will be to fix. Most leak detectors can be programmed to send notifications to your smartphone or make calls to preprogrammed phone numbers. This is a low effort tool you can use to learn how to detect a water leak.

5. Prevent Water From Collecting Around Your Foundation

Water collecting around the foundation of your home is often the start of a hard to detect leak. The earth that is around your foundation is much more absorbant than normal due to the lack of sunlight. This makes it easy for a ton of water to start pooling around your home. Water pooling around your foundation adds extra pressure to your foundation walls, which can create cracks in your basement.

6. Look For Physical Signs Of A Leak

If you’re lucky, sometimes you’ll be able to find physical signs that you have a leak. If you see warped walls or discolorations stains, there’s a good chance there’s a leak nearby. Look for warping and discoloration on your ceilings, floors, and any items made out of wood. Items made from wood tend to swell and warp severely, which can make leaks a bit easier to detect.

Excessive condensation is also a sign there’s possibly a leak nearby. Wastewater leaks can be tough to detect since the water isn’t under pressure. If you suspect a wastewater leak consider contacting a professional.

7. Check The Pressure Release Valve On Your Hot Water Tank

If you notice puddles around your hot water tank, you may need to replace your pressure release valve. If either the relief valve or the drain valve is dripping, you’ll have a problem on your hand. In the event that the hot water tank itself is leaking, you’ll be forced to replace the entire tank, which is more of a comprehensive job.

Tank leaks often start slow and suddenly become severe, which makes regular maintenance checks important. It’s also worth checking for puddles or condensation around your washing machine supply hoses.