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How Can You Find Water Leaks?

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You probably know how serious a water leak can be if you own investment properties. When a water leak isn’t caught quickly, you can have thousands of repairs. And you might have a tenant who gets sick from mold on top of it.

And that means it’s important to find water leaks as soon as possible. Keep reading to learn how to find water leaks in your properties before they become expensive problems.

Signs Of Water Leaks

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Some water leaks may be easy to spot, but not all of them. For example, you probably won’t miss a burst pipe in the bathroom with water leaking on the floor. But a slab leak may be invisible; you will only notice it when you see a sky-high water bill.

Some possible signs of a water leak in your investment property are:

  • Water stains on the walls, ceilings, and floors
  • Wet areas under leaks coming from the ceiling
  • Moist drywall
  • Mildew and mold outside the tub or shower
  • Cracks in the foundation

If you suspect a water leak, ask your renter to look for musty odors and increases in the water bill. Another subtle sign is a slight sound of running water when everything is turned off.

Watch Your Water Meter

Your San Antonio property manager from greenresidential.com probably stops by your investment properties every few weeks. Tell them to check the water meter of each property when they visit. This is one of the best ways to find a water leak quickly.

To do this, you need to shut off every water source in the home, including faucets. And make sure the washing machine and washer aren’t running. Then, watch the water meter and see if it’s still showing water usage. If so, you probably have a severe leak.

If the meter doesn’t move after a few minutes, check again in two or three hours. You could have a slower leak, too.

Keep in mind that the water leak is inside the home, so it’s your responsibility to fix it, not the water company.

Use Food Coloring

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Did you know that toilets can be about 30% of your home’s monthly water usage? So you should check them often to see if they’re leaking. You can check for leaks by adding three or four drops of food coloring to the tank and waiting for 15 minutes.

If you see any color in the toilet bowl, there is a leak. You may need to fix the seals or replace the rubber stopper in the tank.

Do Regular Inspections

You may catch some water leaks by doing regular home inspections. For example, check around toilets and under faucets for signs of water damage. Also, look at the back of cabinets to see any sign of leaking water.

Another common sign of water leaks is bubbling paint on the walls or ceiling. These are easy to see.

Your property manager should look for water leaks monthly, and it may be worth the expense to have a plumber check the home for leaks annually.

Look for Outdoor Leaks

We usually don’t think about water pipes in the yard, but they’re there. Many homeowners have irrigation and drip lines feeding gardens and sprinklers. And all homes have a sewer or septic line that can have leaks.

Outdoor water leaks can be tougher to pinpoint at first, but you can find them. Just look for wet areas in the grass, especially if there hasn’t been any rain in a week. Also, check where the sewer line runs. If the soil above the sewer line is wet and smells bad, there’s probably a leak.

To find a leak in the yard, ask a plumber to check it out. Once they find where the leak is, they can dig and repair the leak.

Check The Water Heater

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Water heaters may work for years without trouble. We get so used to them working that we may not bother to check them. But that’s a mistake.

After ten years or so, a water heater may start to leak, so you should have your property manager check the water heater every month. Replacing the water heater costs $300 or $400, but the damage from a leaking water heater can be much more.

Feel The Walls

Many walls in the home have water pipes behind them. If you have leaks in the hot water lines, you may feel heat spots on the walls or floor. A sensation of heat in a wall should never be ignored.

Check The Water Bill

Many water leaks can be caught simply by monitoring the water bill every month. Talk to the tenant right away if you see a sudden spike in the rental property water bill. Ask if they did anything to cause the water bill to increase.

If not, you should conduct a home inspection immediately. You could have a water leak inside or outside of the home.

Eliminate A Possible Roof Leak

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Many water leaks are from a leaking roof, but not all of them. Some ways to rule out leaks from the roof are:

  • Did it rain recently? If it hasn’t rained for several days, it probably isn’t the roof. The more likely culprit is a leaking pipe.
  • What’s the reading on the water meter? Shut off every faucet in the house and see if the water meter is still moving. A roof leak won’t make the water meter turn.
  • Talk to a roofer. If it rained the other day and your roof is old, it’s probably wise to talk to an experienced roofer. Ask if there are any leaks in the roof that may cause water in the home. If it’s leaking, get it repaired immediately.

Owning investment properties is a great way to earn cash flow. But a water leak can turn your money making machine into a liability. So remember these tips to ensure that any water leak is caught before it becomes a big headache.


Ricardo is a freelance writer specialized in politics. He is with foreignpolicyi.org from the beginning and helps it grow. Email: richardorland4[at]gmai.com