When it comes to water leaks, what you don’t understand (or see) can hurt you. Even a small leak can become a large problem and cause major damage to your home and cost you a substantial amount of money. That’s why finding the source of the leak early is of the most effective ways to avoid a disaster.

If you are doubtful that you may have a hidden water leak in your plumbing, here are a few ways that you can check.

Search for signs of water damage. Take some time to really go around your home and inspect for any evidence of leaks. Some places to check are inside a vanity beneath a sink, with a hot water heater, near a sump pump, an outside hose bib, or at the basement where pipes may be visible. Pay close attention for mould, odd smells, or the sounds of water flowing where it shouldn’t be.

Take a look at your water bill. Most households use roughly the same amount of water each month or pay period. So if you look back through a few water bills and detect a sudden or unexplained increase (and your habits haven’t changed), then that may be a indication that you have a leak hidden somewhere on your property.

Check your bathrooms. If you have noticed that your bathroom starts running randomly to refill when not in use, that often means the flapper from the tank is worn out and water is slowly leaking to the bowl. A fast way you can verify this is by adding a few drops of food coloring to the tank. Wait 15 minutes (don’t flush the toilet during this period ), and if the water in the bowl is now colored, then the internal assembly needs to be repaired or replaced.

Test your water meter. Your home’s water meter can give you an idea if water is flowing through your plumbing without you noticing. First, switch off any faucets or appliances that use water. Then, take a look at your water meter and note the reading. Maintain all the water off, wait two weeks , and recheck the tube. If the reading is significantly different, that means that you may have a leak somewhere after the meter.

Don’t forget outdoors usage. Based on the season, you may be using (or losing) a lot of water out your home. Check to make certain all outside faucets and irrigation systems are functioning properly.