Have you ever had this experience: You wake up in the middle of the night, and you hear a persistent dripping sound? You do not want to get up, but you get up anyway, only to find out that your sink is leaking. It does not look disastrous, but you’re not sure what to do. How do you know whether your leak is an emergency or not? We have some suggestions for what to do when you discover a leak, and when you need to call a water damage professional.

How Do Leaks Happen?

You may have a leak in your plumbing for many different reasons. You may have a leak in your plumbing because of extreme temperatures. When it has been freezing outside, and it warms up, your pipes contract, then expand. Over time, this could cause a leak. You could also have a leak in your pipes because of animal activity, or tree roots puncturing your plumbing. Sometimes, a pipe ruptures due to age, and there are times a pipe springs a leak for no apparent reason.

When Is A Leak A Problem?

No matter where your leak is, you will need to get it fixed as soon as possible. That’s because if it isn’t treated, a leak can do real damage to your house. However, some factors help you figure out if you have a leak that can wait until morning or a leak that you need to call about in the middle of the night.

First, you need to figure out how much water might be leaking. If you have water rushing from a burst pipe, you can’t wait to call a plumber. In fact, you will need to shut off your water. Homes have an emergency shutoff valve for water. It is usually located near the driveway. Turning off the water when you have a large leak will save you a lot of water damage going forward. You need to remember that even if it doesn’t appear that a lot of water is leaking out, you may have damage that you can’t see.

Some people don’t like to call a plumber after hours, because they charge additional money for after-hours calls. However, it is better to pay a little extra for an after-hours emergency than to have severe damage to your home because of a water leak.

Second, you need to think about the time of year and the temperature outside. If it is very cold, water that is leaking from a pipe could freeze, which could cause even more leaks in your system.

Third, you also need to think about whether you have to use the plumbing right now. If you do, you need to call a plumber right away. But if you suspect your toilet is leaking, you can wait to call until regular business hours, which will be cheaper for you.

Signals that A Leak Could Become a Big Problem

It is hard sometimes to know whether a leak that looks small could be a big problem. There are signs you need to look for when faced with a leak, besides checking to see how much water is leaking.

Take a look around the area of the leak. Are the walls or floor discolored? Have you noticed a spot on your wall, ceiling, or floor that is not the same color as it used to be? Even if you don’t see a leak, if you see discoloration, that means there is water leaking. Your leak could be evaporating, but it is still causing trouble in your house, even if there’s no dripping water.

If you don’t see discoloration, is the area by the leak wet? If it is, you’ll need to get the leak fixed as soon as possible, because leaking water can encourage mold growth. Mold growth in a house is dangerous because it can lead to additional damage. Mold growth can even be toxic to your family, depending on the type of mold that is growing. Black mold can cause headaches, breathing problems, and even memory loss.

Accumulating water also signals a big problem. The last thing you want as a homeowner is to have water standing around your house in puddles. Accumulating water can damage your flooring, the joists underneath, even your foundation, and the problem will only get worse over time.

What Should I Do?

If you suspect you have a leak, even though you can’t see it, there are other signs you can look for. One of the biggest signs you may have a leak is a lowering of the water pressure. Usually, low water pressure signals a leak somewhere in your plumbing, because the water pressure usually stays the same when you are on a city or a county water system.

You should also check your water bills. If your water bills are usually around the same amount, and all of a sudden, they double or triple — you have a water leak somewhere. Most water bills have an average monthly usage on them. When you look at your average monthly total on your water bill, and you notice that your usage has multiplied, this should tell you that there is a problem.

You can also check your water meter. Water meters are located outside your house. Make sure you are not using any water in the house and go out and check your meter. If your meter is running, but you are not currently using any water, this is a signal something is wrong.

While water leaks and water damage are not to be taken lightly, you need to stop worrying and call a plumber. The sooner you have someone come out and check for leaks in your plumbing, the sooner you can get the problem fixed. In many cases, fixing a plumbing leak is inexpensive and straightforward. Letting the problem go to avoid it will only make it worse. Call in an expert and put your leak problems to rest for good before they become something you need to worry about.