Common water leaks and how to fix them
Has your water bill suddenly increased but you haven't been using any more water? You may have a small water leak somewhere in your property.
Our advice is to take a metre reading to confirm it. Read your metre, wait 2 hours without using any water and re-check your metre. If it's increased, you've most likely got a water leak. Have a look in obvious places around your property, like your kitchen sink, bathroom and around your boiler. Also, look out for signs of damp and mould, which could mean a pipe leak. If you can't identify the source, you'll need to get in contact with a plumber to have a look for you.
Another way you can spot water leaks is by installing a smart water leak detector. This is a device that monitors your water usage. It'll also detect and alert you to leaks, so you can make repairs before the problem gets worse.
Wondering how to fix a water leak?
Small water leaks are often easy to fix, meaning you can do them yourself and save on the cost of calling out a plumber. Here we'll walk you through some of the most common water leaks and how to fix them.
How to fix a dripping tap
Dripping taps are one of the most common types of water leaks and usually a sign that the washer in the faucet is wearing out. Good news - replacing a tap washer is a DIY job!
Turn off the water supply
Unscrew the faucet handle and remove the stem
Remove the washer by unscrewing it and sliding it off
Slide on a new washer (make sure it's an exact fit)
For a complete step-by-step guide, read our post: 'How to fix a dripping tap'
How to fix a leaking kitchen sink
If your kitchen sink is leaking, it's likely to be the drain that's the problem. A drain leak could be caused by an old and worn out drain that needs replacing by a plumber. However, it may be just a case of tightening up the nuts yourself.
To identify a drain leak:
- Insert the plug into your kitchen sink and fill it up with water
Remove the plug
- Look underneath where the pipes are to identify the source of the leak
- If you can, tighten the nuts where the pipes meet
- Plumber's putty can also be used as a sealant around the drain
If your sink is still leaking, it's likely the drain needs replacing. Contact a qualified plumber for advice.
How to fix a leaking pipe
Noticed a leaking pipe in your bathroom or elsewhere in your home? Depending on its severity you may be able to fix it temporarily.
For a temporary pipe leak repair:
- Turn off the water supply
- Locate the source of the leak
- Apply plumber's tape
- Wrap it tightly around the pipe several times, until fully sealed
- Apply the epoxy paste to any spots in the pipe still leaking water
- Leave to dry for 20-25 minutes
This is just a temporary solution until you can either replace the leaking pipe yourself or hire a plumber to do it for you.
How to fix a leaking boiler
Is your boiler leaking water? Don't panic! It may not be as serious (or expensive) as you think.
First, identify the origin of the leak. If your boiler is leaking from the bottom (and has been installed recently), it's likely that some of the joints in the pipework may need checking. If your boiler is older, the leak could be down to corrosion in the pipework. Either way, you'll need to call out a Gas Safe registered heating engineer to take a look for you.
In the meantime, place a bucket under your boiler to contain the leak and if you can spot the source, tie an old rag around the leaking pipe.
Another reason why your boiler might be leaking is if the pressure is too high. This means there is too much water in the system. The good news is you can fix this yourself, saving a call-out charge.
- First, check the pressure gauge on your boiler
- If it's beyond the green bar, your boiler is over pressurised
- Make sure that the filling loop tap on your boiler is closed
- Bleed your radiators to release excess water from the system
Read our guide on 'How to Bleed Radiators' for a step-by-step breakdown.
How to fix a leaking hot water tank
Is your hot water tank leaking? First, turn off the supply. If it's electric, locate the circuit breaker box and switch off the breaker that says 'water heater.' If gas, use the on/off switch near the bottom of the tank. If the water leakage is significant, you will also need to turn off the water supply.
Next, try and identify whether the leak is located at the top or bottom of your water tank. Identifying the source can save time on diagnosis when you call out a professional.
Cold water inlet / hot water outlet - These are the pipes connected to the hot water tank at the top of the unit. If they're leaking, they may just need tightening up with a pipe wrench.
Temperature & pressure relief valve - This will be at the side or top of your tank and have a pipe that runs down to the floor. This valve is a safety device that kicks in if the water in the tank gets too hot or there's too much pressure inside the tank. Inspect it for signs of leakage. If it's in the closed position and leaking water, it has worn out and needs replacing. If it's open, it may be doing its job of relieving excessive pressure. In this case, a leak is usually fixable but will require expert help.
Drain valve - If your water tank is leaking from the bottom it could be the drain valve. Check that it is closed and watertight. If it's leaking water, it's not necessarily a serious problem but will require a professional repair.
Internal tank - A leaky internal tank is hard to spot, as it's under the outer cover of your hot water tank, however, if water is escaping from the bottom of the unit, it could be the source. It's quite common for internal tanks to leak when they're old and deteriorating. In this case, it's cheaper to install a new hot water tank than attempt a repair.
Got a major water leak?
Major leaks are easy to spot, for example, water leaking from ceiling. If this happens, check to see if the water is clean or dirty. Plumbing leaks usually produce clean water. If the water is dirty, it's likely a roof leak.
Unfortunately, if you've got a big leak from your ceiling, it's unlikely to be something you can fix without expert help. We'd recommend getting in touch with your home cover provider, who will send out a plumber to take a look for you.
Home care for water leaks
The best way to protect your home and bank balance against the damage and expense of a water leak is to take out home cover.
Our homeowner and landlord care packages include a boiler leaking water and wider central heating repairs, as well as protection for your plumbing and water supply pipes. Get a quote from our website or contact the team on 0330 912 4843.