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Five ways to spot a plumbing problem at your home or business

It can often be pretty obvious when something goes wrong with the plumbing. Whether the toilet is blocked or the shower refuses to drain properly, most people will be on the phone to the plumber right away so that their daily routine isn’t disrupted any longer than it has to be.

That said, there are a number of simple ways in which you can keep an eye on your property and spot issues before it’s too late.

Keep an eye out for spikes in your water bill

If you peel open the utility bill and your usage is much higher than normal, this could be a sign that you have a water leak on your hands. While not definitive, comparing your new bill with older records highlights unusual increases and can help you identify potential problems. Be sure to compare the bill with others from the past around the same time of year to see whether the fluctuations are seasonal.

Take measurements from your water meter

If you know where your shut-off valve and water meter is located, have a look at the dial when no water is being used whatsoever. Come back in two hours to see if the dial has moved — if so, you are probably losing water through a damaged pipe or valve. Keep an ear out and you may even be able to hear dripping or spraying in hidden areas of the building.

Inspect your walls, floors and ceilings

Some of the most common signs of a leaky pipe appear in the very structure itself. Excess moisture is known to cause mould, peeling wallpaper, bubbling paintwork, staining and sagging around the floors, walls or ceilings of the building. You can also keep an eye out for general dampness around your sinks, showers, toilets and other areas where pipes are located, as this can indicate a leak or burst.

Note the colour and taste of water coming from your taps

While you might not be able to detect the exact problem based on the colour and taste of water, it can at least demonstrate the need for a plumber to take a look. For example, rusty pipes in need of replacement can often change the water to a yellowy-brown colour and significantly affect the taste. That said, colour of any kind in running water is generally cause for a visit from the plumber.

Be aware of an unexpected adjustment in water pressure

Just like your water bill, abrupt changes are worth noting when it comes to water pressure. While pressure varies based on a number of factors, a sudden but persisting difference could mean you need a plumber to inspect the piping and all other relevant areas.

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