If you spot a water leak at home, do not panic as you can normally easily contain the water damage while you wait for an engineer to come and fix the leak cause. There are a number of reasons for water leaks in the home, from leaking pipes, to damp patches appearing in the ceiling (lose tiles on the roof being a key contributor to this type of issue) to a problem with the washing machine spilling water all over the floor. Home repair may be possible in some of these cases, but before you start taking the plumbing system in your home apart the first step is to find the actual cause of the leak.
Identifying where the leak occurs can be really difficult and identifying the exact location where there is a problem with either a pipe leak or poor seals between the pipe fittings. Even a small leak can produce a lot of excess water in a short period of time so quick leak detection in your water pipes is a must. Since water flows in accordance with both gravity, and by the water pressure applied to it, the cause of the leak may not be where the symptoms are appearing.
Detecting where the water leak comes from
You can tell if the water leak is from the hot or cold pipes if the water is coming from under the bath, by the toilet or under the sink. Before you try to fix the water leak in these cases the first thing you'll need to do is to locate the stop cock which is usually in the utility cupboard, under the sink or in the downstairs loo. This shutoff valve or stop tap as it is also known stops the water coming into the home via the water mains supply pipe. The water supply pipe is generally the main source of where water is fed into your home. If you have identified the water leak is from a hot or cold pipe turn this stopcock clockwise to shut off the water. You must then turn on the taps and allow all of the water that is in the system to drain before calling an engineer.
If you find that your water bill has increased a lot, or when you take a meter reading via your water meter and you have an unexpected increase in water usage, one thing to consider is whether there is a water leak outside or in an underground pipe. You may be able to get the water company to come out to investigate this, but they tend to charge you if the leak is detected within the property boundary unfortunately. The main shutoff valve may be outside your property too, and you may or may not have access to this.
A drop in water pressure may also be another tell-tale symptom of a water leak somewhere, although that can be further away from your property. Generally water leaks of this nature are serious so it is better to involve a professional plumber sooner rather than later.
Water leaks in the winter
In the winter it can be more common to experience water leaks, through burst pipes that have become frozen and breached or a broken outdoor faucet. These leaks can cause a lot of damage, but can be a DIY fix for those that are handy with a monkey wrench. Ultimately the same fix applies, turn off the stop-cock, drain the water and fix the issue. Lagging outdoor pipes and taps in the water can also prevent this from happening in the first place.
If the leak is coming from your heating system which you can tell if it is coming from a radiator, you will need to switch your boiler and mains water supply off. You will then need to drain the water from the system by bleeding the radiator. You can find out how to do that here in our how to bleed a radiator guide. Make sure you remember the bowl to catch the water. If you need to replace your radiators then look no further than Column Rads and choose from single, double, double deluxe or column radiators to suit each home.