Top 10 Causes for a Household Water Leak

Published 04.06.2018

Water leaks can cause substantial damage to your home in Miami if the underlying cause isn’t spotted and handled quickly. Surprisingly, leaks often come from inside, and not the roof like most homeowners assume. Before you call your roofing contractor to fix a ceiling leak, be sure to perform a leak detection to confirm the source.

How to Identify If the Leak Is Not from Your Roof
Top 10 Causes for a Household Water Leak
Confirm that the source of water coming in is a result of a damaged roof and not caused by a problem associated with other components of the home. If the water is leaking in your bathroom or kitchen, it is a good idea to test faucets, toilets, and other fixtures for leaks. However, if you find damp patches on the floor or walls near the radiator, it may be the central heating system that is causing the leak.

If your ceiling is leaking, you can find its source by determining the severity of the leaks discoloration. Is there a coffee-colored stain present, or is it gradually becoming darker? This means the water is dirty and is likely coming from an outside source, i.e., a roof leak.  Alternatively, leaking water that runs clear is an indicator that the leak source is coming from inside your home – it may be a plumbing issue.

Be sure to inspect your windows, as they are often the culprit for water leaks in a home. Typically, window leaks are due to poor installation or worn parts—causing a breakdown of sealing components. If you are seeing water inside your window between the panes of glass, chances are you have a bad glass seal. Whereas, if you notice stains on the top part of the window frame, the water may be traveling down the walls.

10 common areas a household leak can come from and how to spot the signs:

1. Washing Machine
In Miami, and most of the Country, your laundry room has the second highest usage of water, beaten out by the bathroom. Most washing machine leaks originate with a ruptured cold or hot water supply hose. Typically made of black rubber or polymer, these hoses become failure-prone over time.

Leak Detection:
Access the tub inlet by lifting the main top or removing the cabinet. Inspect the hoses for signs of abrasion or cracking. You can also check behind your washer periodically for wet spots in the walls, or mold and mildew build-up around this area.

2. Water Heaters
Most water heater failures occur when the water heater has reached its life expectancy and the tank begins to rust and corrode. This is because a deteriorated tank usually leads to a slow leak or a sudden burst.

Leak Detection:
Monthly maintenance, including an inspection of the water heater’s anode rod and flushing sediment from the tank, can delay the need to replace a water heater. To check if this is the source of a water leak, remove the drain pipe and listen for a hissing sound. You can also look for a puddle underneath the tank.

3. Toilets
Toilet leaks can come from the water supply or tank, but the most damaging leaks occur at the flange and wax ring. When pipes running behind walls burst or begin to leak, they moisten the drywall. This moisture makes its way through the walls and produces wet spots.

Leak Detection: Routinely check behind the toilet for any leaks and inspect the pipes that lead from the wall to your toilet. Check if there are puddles or signs of mold and mildew. If you find a small puddle around the toilet, turn the water off and inspect the tank.

4. Sewer/Sump Pump
Sewer blockages typically occur after a big storm and reflux raw sewage into your house or basement. Be sure to schedule annual maintenance and inspect its condition to prevent future issues.

Leak Detection: Inspect the center connection of the check valve for a water leak. Examine the spots where the pipes connect to the valve and feel around for moisture or dripping water.

5. Refrigerators and Dishwashers
If your refrigerator has an automatic water dispenser or ice maker, there is always a chance for a leak or rupture. Dishwasher supply lines may also leak unnoticed behind the unit for a long time, damaging flooring.

Leak Detection: To inspect the leak, unplug the appliance and examine behind the freezer to find any signs of water damage on the wall or mold.

6. Sinks and Showers
It is challenging to detect leaks in these areas because they are often buried in a wall surrounded by tiles. Any holes in the water supply lines or worn-out caulking can cause serious water damage.

Leak Detection: Search for puddles of water or low water pressure in these areas; they could be a sign of a water leak. Sometime the tiles will begin to lift, signaling damage.

7. HVAC Equipment
The central air conditioner condensate pans overflow if the drain line clogs. While moisture around this appliance is common, it’s important to note that moisture on the drywall and excessive dripping can lead to water damage.

Leak Detection: Check the condensate pump, refrigerant, and drain line for any water leaks. A safety overflow switch can be installed for added protection.

8. Gutters
Not all water damage sources are located inside your home in Miami. Any gutters containing significant amounts of leaves, dirt, and other debris can cause water to flow over the side and seep into the foundation.
Leak Detection:
Inspect for choked downspouts and check for leaks in the basement. Trim your trees or regularly clean your gutters to prevent this.

9. Downspouts
Downspouts may be split and damaged from leaves, resulting in leaks against the building wall and foundation.
Leak Detection:
Make sure all downspout segments are securely connected and drain water safely away from the foundation to prevent seepage.

10. High Water Pressure
For water to be supplied efficiently there is pressure needed to pump it. The issue occurs when the pressure exceeds its maximum water pressure of 40 to 60 p.s.i. If your water pressure is too high, it will stress your pipes, appliances, and fixtures. This can cause minor pinhole ruptures that lead to major ruptures, flooding your home.
Leak Detection:
Be sure to inspect each pipe thoroughly for any drips or small holes. After turning the water on, examine if water is blasting out of the faucets or if the pipes make a loud banging sound.

It is important to ensure you routinely monitor any minor water leaks at home. This helps in preventing damage that will be expensive to repair as well as lower your water bill; leaks amount to 17 gallons of water per household per day lost to leaky toilets, appliances and faucets. If you still cannot find the source of your water leak, it may be possible that the source is coming from your roof. Don’t risk serious injury trying to inspect or repair it. Unless you are experienced, hire a professional roofer for this work. Our trained staff at T&S Roofing Systems is especially equipped to evaluate any potential issues you may be having with your roof in Miami.