There’s probably not much more terrifying to a homeowner than water leaks. When water leaks occur in the open, they are easy to detect and fix, however, sometimes they occur in the walls and the effects aren’t noticed for weeks, months, or even years. When this is the case you could be facing a long and costly restoration period.
Here’s what to do if you suspect a water leak in your walls.
Different Types of Pipes
The first thing to understand when inspecting leaky pipes is that all pipes are not the same. Do you know if you have plastic or cast iron pipes? Plastic pipes tend to accentuate sound more than cast iron pipes. For this reason, cast iron pipes are used more in commercial buildings as well as expensive custom homes.
If your pipes are plastic then they will tend to expand when hot water flows through them. This causes them to rub against wood thus creating the annoying and unnerving drip sound.
What To Listen For
What type of sound does the water make? If it’s a tick-tick-tick rather than a drip-drip-drip then you are probably o.k. The tick-tick-tick sound is usually due to expanding plastic pipes.
The sound of water moving through expanding pipes is predictable and only occurs when the water is running.
Does the dripping water sound occur well after you turn off the water? If so, then you should investigate further.
What To Look For
Visual inspection is the best way to determine if you have a true water leak. While there are more invasive ways to visually inspect, here are visual clues to look for first.
Look at your drywall. Is it discolored near where the sound is coming from? If so, you could have a problem.
Look for rotting wood or puddles near the leaky sound. If it’s on the first floor look under the crawlspace or if on the second floor then look at your ceiling on the first floor. If these clues are not present then you are probably o.k. The only other possibility of the leak occurring without these signs would be the insulation soaking up the water.
The only fool proof way to rule out a leak is to visually inspect the pipes. And well you guessed it, you’ll need to drill into the wall. A less intrusive way to do this is to get a camera snake. These cameras are no bigger than a quarter in diameter and can run up in the walls to give you a full visual verdict.
If you don’t feel comfortable with any of the above, hire a professional to come out and inspect it for you. Many national plumbing companies can handle this type of task.