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If you have a leak and it’s causing damage to your home, the first step is to stop the flow of water. If you have no idea where it’s coming from, you’ll need to shut the water to the house off.

Shutting the main water off may not immediately stop the leak. Especially if the leak is behind a wall or above a ceiling, there could be a considerable amount of water that has collected. The one thing that you can be sure of is that if you stop the flow of water to the building, you will eventually have stopped the leak. In some cases, this is about the only choice you have. Unless the leak is from rain.

Hopefully, you will be able to find a bit more information about the leak. For example, if you know that it’s a drain issue, or its hot water, you could shut off the hot water source.

Finding a leak takes a keen eye, and very often it is mis-diagnosed at first glance. Dripping or even running water can take odd paths when leaking.
Once you have stopped the flow of water, it’s important to find out whether it is coming from the drain or from the water system. Sometimes you may already know this based on what happened, but if you don’t, here are some tips:

  1. Listen carefully, near the leak. You may be able to hear a spray hitting something somewhere. Or even just hearing a drip can help.
  2. Make sure all other dripping is stopped or at least slowed substantially. Basically, try to isolate where it is coming from and what’s happening.
  3. Once the leak is stopped, turn the water back on, don’t use any water or put any water down a drain. Just wait to see if the leak comes back. If it does, then it is most likely coming from a water pipe.
  4. If the leak doesn’t come back, then it could be coming from a drain. Carefully run water in one fixture at a time, checking each time to see if the leak comes back.
  5. Check the tub or shower. Water often gets splashed around in a bathtub in ways that you might not notice. It is a common occurrence to have water leak from a tub only when someone is taking a shower, sometimes it can also be just the way one person in particular takes a shower.
  6. Try to recreate what happened just before the leak was noticed.
  7. Always check above where you think the leak is coming from. It’s common for water to drip down from a higher fitting. Keep working your way up the pipe until it’s dry, then slowly come back down to see where the drip begins.

If the leak cannot be found, then a professional may need to be called. Some basic information about the leak can be very helpful if you found anything out. Unfortunately, leaks can cause damage to your home and in order to fix the leak, more damage may be required.

Minimizing the damage is key, but eliminating it may not be possible.