Water leaks can be extremely stressful, especially the ones hiding behind your walls. These types of water leaks often cause serious issues—like structural damage and mold growth—before they are even discovered.
They cause problems whether your wall is made of wood, concrete, or tiles. Here are a few steps you can follow to find out if you have a leak behind your walls.
Let’s check them out.
1. Look for wet patches
If you have a leak hiding behind your walls, there’s sure to be evidence that water is issuing from the broken pipe.
Wet patches are easier to spot on wooden and concrete walls as the watermarks can easily be identified on these surfaces. Walls that are painted or have wallpapers will also show signs of wet patches as the moisture can cause the paint and the wallpaper to peel over time.
However, a tiled wall—like that of your bathroom or kitchen—can make the wet patches harder to spot because tiles will typically block moisture.
If you feel that the leak is hiding behind a tiled wall, it’s best to contact a leak detector or a professional that specialises in leak detection. Some plumbers use moisture meters to detect the presence of moisture when finding a leak behind walls. Moisture meters allow them to narrow down the possible areas where the hidden leak is.
2. Mold on the surface
Another visible effect of constant moisture on your walls is the growth of mold and mildew. These microorganisms can be considered as a visual leak detector as they thrive on damp areas and can proliferate quickly under the right circumstances.
Molds can damage wooden walls as well as any wooden furniture where the wind can blow the spores. If left untreated, mold can spread from a small area and occupy the entire wall.
The area where the mold grows is usually where the leak is. It can either be the exact spot or near it as the moisture coming from the damaged pipe behind the wall creates the ideal condition for mold to grow.
3. Musty odour
Musty odour typically accompanies molds and mildew. Because the walls are often damp from the leak, they develop an odour that smells pretty much like wet cardboard. While it may be challenging to trace where the smell is coming from, it usually is an indicator that there is a leak somewhere behind the wall.
If you suspect that the musty smell is due to a leak in the pipe, you can contact a plumber who can use a thermal imaging detector. The tool can be used to detect moisture levels behind walls which makes checking for leaks behind walls easier than following a musty scent.
4. Dripping sound
The sound of dripping water is a sure sight that there is a leak behind your walls. The sound it makes can also help you determine the position and the extent of the damage in your plumbing.
Dripping sounds with long intervals could mean that the pipe and the leak is located high above the ground and that there’s only a small break in the pipes. Otherwise, dripping sounds that come quickly can mean that the broken pipe is located lower or near the ground and that the damage could be severe.
The audible clues can help you with leak detection as the sound the water makes is never far from the damaged plumbing.
Professionals sometimes use acoustic methods to find where the leak is. They typically use a device that records noise events and can differentiate the sound of normal and unusual water flow in the pipeline.
5. Visible water leak
In some cases, the leak may be from the crevices between the panels of your walls. Water can also gush from the ceiling or the floor. If you are experiencing a spurting leak behind walls, contact a leak detector as soon as possible.
Chances are, you could have a burst pipe and it could fill your home with water immediately.
Visible water leaks mean that the damage in your plumbing is large enough that an awful lot of water is lost.
These are some of the usual suspects that indicate there’s a leak hiding behind your walls. You can use these tips to help pinpoint where the damage is. Otherwise, you may contact a water leak detector to help you put a finger where the leak is.
Just remember to leave fixing the pipes in the hands of professionals, unless you know what you’re doing.