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How to Detect a Water Leak

Diagnosing a plumbing water leak can be an anxious experience. Depending on the severity of the leak, every minute that goes by is costing you money. It could also cause extensive damage to your drywall, carpet, subfloor, and more. So how do you detect a water leak whether it’s inside, outside or under the home?

Emergency water leaks can be costly. It’s important to know how to detect a water leak whether it’s in the crawlspace, underground, or around the exterior of the home.

Monitor Your Water Bill

Water bills typically have a minimal variance from month to month. Many utility companies will proactively contact customers when your home’s water usage spikes. However, if you receive a water bill that’s unusually high, chances are you have a water leak. According to water industry standards, the average person uses 3,000 gallons of water every month, which means a family of 4 can expect to use around 12,000 gallons of water even with efficient appliances. If you suspect you have a water leak, act immediately to prevent continued high water bills and/or property damage.

Utilize the Food Coloring Test

Some leaks are small such as a running toilet. The problem is even small leaks can noticeably raise your water bill. Over time, toilet flappers can lose their seals and cause water to continuously run. The easiest way to pinpoint a running toilet is to utilize the food coloring test. Simply add three drops of dark food coloring to the toilet tank and wait ten to fifteen minutes. If the food coloring appears in the toilet bowl, then the flapper needs to be reset or replaced. Additionally, if you hear your toilet constantly recycling even when it’s not used, that could also indicate a potential problem that’s increasing your home’s water usage.

Underground Leak Detection

Water leaks beneath a slab or in the crawlspace can be difficult to locate. If your water utility company has determined there’s a leak on the property, but you can’t locate the problem area, contact a licensed and insured plumber right away. Plumbers are often equipped with specialized leak detection tools or are affiliated with third-party companies that can detect precisely where the breach has occurred. Depending on the size of the breach, you might even notice a drop in the home’s water pressure.

Check for Standing Water

Standing water in your yard or around the exterior of your home is a tell-tale sign of an underground water leak. Often a plumbing excavation company can perform a spot dig and replace the broken water line without causing excessive damage to the yard. It’s also recommended that you routinely inspect the hose bibbs and yard hydrants on the property for active drips. These can easily be fixed by simply tightening the packing nut or by replacing the washer inside the handle assembly.


If your water bill spiked and you suspect a potential leak, contact a local plumber immediately. We offer free estimates on underground water leak detection and repairs in Martinsville, Mooresville, Bloomington, and the surrounding areas. Schedule your free estimate by dialing (765) 349-0900.