Damp patches, growing mould, musty smells, low water pressure or a sudden increase in your water bill are all indications you might have a problem with your plumbing – specifically, you may have a leaky pipe.
As a homeowner or property manager, it’s important to take swift action if you notice any of these issues emerging to avoid costly repair bills and water damage to your property.
The problem with pipework, however, is that it can be hard to locate. Pipes can be located within walls, in ceilings or under floorboards. A qualified plumber will be able to advise you on how to resolve the problem with minimal disruption to your premises.
If you spy damp patches in your kitchen or bathroom, you’re likely to have a leaky pipe. Internal and external walls can be affected by such leaks. The damp patches may look and feel wet when touched but never dry up, even if it the temperatures are hot.
If you notice that damp is coming up from the floor this is a serious issue, especially if prolonged, because the saturation can weaken the foundations of your home.
A leak coming from the roof could indicate that you have corroded flashing on your chimney stack or a damaged roof vent. If you have an older house and your water tank is in the loft, a leaking pipe from it could cause a damp patch. An easy way to tell if the leak is from your roof or from your plumbing is to monitor the leak through wet and dry weather, as a roof will obviously only leak when it’s raining whereas a plumbing issue will leak constantly.
Patches of black mould or a musky smell can also indicate a leak in your home – and this can appear and spread in as little as 24 hours in warm temperatures.
It’s important to have any visible spores examined by a professional damp proofing company as left untreated can have a detrimental effect on your health. If caused by a leaking pipe, plumbers can resolve the issue and prevent any further water damage however the mould may not automatically go away as a result of this.
If the wall isn’t overly saturated, you could attempt to clean the area yourself with a mildew spray, however be mindful that water could be leaking inside the wall, which will cause musty smells and mould until the leak is resolved.
Low Water Pressure
Just because you can’t smell anything musty or see a damp patch, doesn’t mean there’s no leak. You may have a larger leak on an external pipe connecting your home or business to the mains supply.
If there is no or little water coming from the taps, this indicates the water pressure is very low and it’s best to check with neighbours to see if they have the same problem. If they do then it’s likely that your water mains has a leak and you should contact your local water authority.
If you’re the only person experiencing the issue, check around your property, in your garden for example, for damp patches or overgrown grass covering drains – anything that could suggest an external pipe problem.
A Higher Water Bill
If you can’t see an obvious sign of a leaky pipe but you’ve received a higher than normal, you could check your water meter. Take a reading and if it’s ticking over when no water is running, you will need to contact a plumber.
Attempting to Fix a Leaky Pipe Yourself
One temporary method to repair a leaky pipe is using plumber’s tape (also known as PTFE tape) to make a quick watertight seal in the joins in plastic piping. Once you’ve turned off your water supply, carefully unscrew the joins and wrap the tape around the pipe a few times. When you re-screw the piping and turn your water supply back on there should be a watertight seal on the pipe, stopping your leak.
But we would also highly recommend you contact a professional plumber to assist, as the issue may be more complicated or widespread than you expected. Or you may end up causing more water damage than intended when attempting to repair the pipe yourself.