A friend of mine was complaining about huge water bills for many months. At first, he thought the water meter was faulty, so he requested the Johannesburg Municipality to get it checked. However, that request was taking edges to be attended to. Since it is illegal to replace Municipal meters, he was stuck for many months. He was paying up to 5 times the normal bill. I advised him to run a simple test from the water mains to check if there is a leak which he did and confirmed a leak. He later hired leak detectors to locate the source, which they found under concrete paving. No wonder why it was not visible to the eye, no wet patches could be seen on surface. He managed to replace the leaking pipes portion at about 30% of what he already paid for in excess amounts of monthly water bills. Imagine how much he would have spent over a year!
Leakages of water can be very costly in terms of monthly bills and property damage. In addition, the structure as a whole can lose its strength over time. Ceilings and masonry can be damaged especially if the leak is emanating from a hidden point and goes unnoticed for a long time.
Thankfully, if you notice high water bills you can do this simple test to determine if indeed there is a leak arising from plumbing.
Simple test to determine presence of water leaks on plumbing systems.
To determine if leaks are present, take 3 easy steps
- Shut off all faucets in the building
- Check for movement on the water meter reading
- If the water meter keeps moving after shutting off the faucets, it is a sign that water is leaking somewhere.
Some leaks however, may not arise from plumbing systems. Such leakages may arise from faulty gutters and roof tiles for example. Especially if you notice wet ceilings and masonry after or during rain. In the case of roof tiles, if you access the ceiling during the day, you will be able to identify areas where light is getting in and can easily have that repaired.
Regular cleaning of gutters will save you from blockages, that may also result in water seeping through and running into unwanted spaces.
Factors affecting performance of plumbing systems
Factors that may cause plumbing systems to give in include rapid temperature changes, worn out gaskets and rubber seals. Additionally, poor plumbing may result in leaks
Further, the problem area may be far from the visible mark seen on wall or ceiling. This is so because water tends to trickle to the weaker point.
For galvanized pipes, hard water may corrode pipes leading to blocks and pipe damage.
What are the areas to look out for Water Leaks?
Water leakages in Ceilings
Looking at the sources of water leaks, one can see that both plumbing problems and roof problems can result in damage of ceiling. The common noticeable signals for leaks above ceiling are sagging, discolouration and paint peeling off the ceiling. Further, water droplets can also be visible, posing a hazard of slipping as water forms on the floor. If the ceiling is a concrete slab, where plumbing amenities are present on the building above, leaks from bathroom can find their way downward as well. Sometimes, a wall can be the path of least resistance for water, such that water may seep through from above ceiling into the walls.
If clear water is leaking from ceiling, it is usually a sign of a plumbing problem from the water supply lines. Particularly if the leak is constant through out the day. Leaks caused by roof
Plumbing leakages from drain lines
If you notice that the leak only occurs after using plumbing amenities, such as flushing toilet, washing hands on a basin or after showering, it means the issue is on drainage systems. You only have to assess the plumbing of the facility in question, and f
Leaks on Walls and Underground Pipes
Poor plumbing workmanship may cause leaks walls.
The signs to look out for include peeling paint, discolouration, patches or smell from within doors.
You may notice that floors always wet at a certain area or carpet. Most common areas to check are near amenities like washing machine, toilet, sink etc.
Prolonged leaks may result in mould formation on walls.
Underground water leaks
Water leaks are usually easy to fix if the leak is on surface, because it is much easier to locate and to trace the source of the problem.
Water leaking from buried pipes or embedded pipes can go unnoticed for days or months depending of the source of leakage. This is particularly true for underground leaks, as elements above pipes may hinder one to identify wet spots.
The situation can get to a point where one sees moulds on the walls or paint peeling off.