Not-So-Obvious Plumbing Leaks

For the love of the job. How can you tell if you have a plumbing leak if the floor isn’t soaked and water isn’t pooling? Most of the time you’ll probably be aware that you have a plumbing leak. You might hear a commode noisily filling on its own or see a faucet dripping. Perhaps, you’ve experienced a flood. But, many times more serious problems can go unnoticed. This article will address a couple of different not-so-obvious plumbing leaks – water leaks underground and drainage and sewer leaks.

Water leaks underground can be illusive even if you know that you have one. Unless you know what to look for you might not be aware of an underground water leak until it has caused a serious problem. (ie. foundation problems).

Squishy spots in your yard that don’t dry out are an indicator that you have a yard leak or leak between the meter and shutoff valve in the front of your house.  If your water bill is consistently higher from month to month you should call a plumber. A hydrostatic pressure test will be performed and within minutes it will be evident if you are dealing with a water leak.

Shower pans and commodes in pier and beam foundation homes can leak for quite some time and cause substantial damage, invisibly at first. This type of leak can rot the wood beneath homes and create unsanitary moist conditions that attract rodents, termites, and other pests. If you live in a pier and beam home have a plumber come out and visually inspect the underside of your home, at least once a year.

Leaks on the main sewer line can also be difficult to find as the bottom half of the pipe is often underground even in pier and beam homes. Drainage and sewer leaks are so difficult for a homeowner to diagnose is because it’s not under any pressure. The only time it has a chance to leak is if you’ve used water in the home. A qualified plumber can test the system by either capping the system off at all of the fixtures and filling it with smoke or water. Smoke will escape through openings in the pipe pinpointing the leak. Or, the water level will drop over time if it is full of water.

In conclusion, water and sewer leaks when left undetected can cause substantial damage to the structure of your home. Not to mention, the expense of running water into the ground. Whether or not water is going to your sewer, you’re still charged a sewer bill based on your water consumption.

Once leaks are repaired it’s possible to recover some of the sewage bill  if you can demonstrate that you had a water leak. In most cases refunds will not be issued on your water bill. It’s a good idea to have your plumbing systems periodically tested by a licensed plumber. Knowing that you don’t have a water leak can really bring you peace of mind.


  1. I like how you give away DIY information, i’m sure it doesn’t hurt the business since visitors will be coming back to read your stuff and eventually become customers. Good article, thanks for sharing.

  2. I’ve got a mysterious leak that is forcing water up through the air vent tube under my kitchen island. Once the water reaches floor level, it spills out. Problem is, water pressure tests are showing no drop in pressure. The water is crystal clear so we think it’s a house line that is causing this. We put epoxy through all the cold water lines in the house – it appeared to work for a month or so but now the leak is back but slower. The epoxy company wants to put a liner on my vent line but I’m afraid that is just going to push the water somewhere else and damage my foundation.

    What can be done if the source of a leak is so small it’s not detectable?

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