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When many homeowners find they have a small leak in a pipe or their toilet, they think that it’s just a little water and not a reason for concern. However, while a small leak may not be a catastrophic emergency like water gushing from a major pipe, little leaks are a big deal.

Here’s a closer look at the dangers of ignoring a small leak and some advice for detecting any small leaks in your home’s plumbing.

Dangers of Ignoring a Small Leak

If you catch a small leak early on, your plumber should be able to repair it quickly and easily by either patching or replacing the pipe. However, if you ignore it for even a few weeks, then you’ll also have to deal with some of these larger problems.

Mold Growth

Whenever drywall, wood or other building materials absorb water and remain wet for a long period of time, mold starts to grow. Mold is tough to clean up, and doing so usually involves replacing the moldy building materials. Having mold in your home can cause respiratory irritation, nausea, headaches, wheezing and skin rashes. Pets may also become sick when exposed to mold.

Termites and Carpenter Ants

Damp-wood termites and carpenter ants are also attracted to moist wood. If the leak is not repaired quickly, these insects may move into your home. Both pests can cause substantial structural damage in a short period of time, and getting rid of them is often a long, drawn-out process.

High Water Bills

You might not think a few drops of water per minute could really increase your water bills. However, water use adds up over time, and 10 percent of homes in the U.S. have leaks that waste at least 90 gallons of water per day. Having little leaks repaired could save you as much as 10 percent on your water bills.

How to Detect Little Leaks

One reason little leaks often go unnoticed is that they don’t leave a big puddle on the floor or noticeable streams of water down the walls. However, they do cause some telltale signs — you just have to know what to look for.

Stained Walls or Ceilings

If there’s a dark, discolored spot forming on a wall or ceiling, this could be caused by a slow leak in a pipe behind that wall or above the ceiling.

Unexplained Musty Smell

Before you actually see mold or mildew, you may notice a musty smell in certain rooms or in the basement. This may mean there’s a leak behind your walls, which causes mold to grow unnoticed behind those walls.

Running Toilets

​Does your toilet sometimes run and fill up when you have not recently flushed it? This means there is a leak in the toilet itself. Thankfully, toilet leaks are usually easy to fix. Your plumber may just need to replace a plastic or rubber part.

Dripping Noises

Venture into your basement and listen closely. If you hear a dripping noise, then it’s probably due to a hidden water leak.

Constantly Running Meter

This is a sign that takes a bit more effort to spot. Turn off all of the taps and water-using appliances in your home, and then take a look at your water meter. If the needle is still moving or the reading continues to go up, then water is still leaving your pipes — probably through a leak.

Even a small plumbing leak can be a big deal if you don’t take care of it promptly. If you do notice signs of a small leak, then contact the plumbers at Billy Bell Plumbing Inc. We’ll locate the leak and make the necessary repairs to protect you against problems like mold growth and termite infestations.