Understanding Major Water Leaks: What Amount of Water Loss is Considered Significant?

If you are reading this, chances are you’re dealing with a water leak in your home or business and are wondering – what to do if water is leaking. Is this a major leak I need to fix immediately? I’ve been there, and leaks can be stressful!

However, don’t worry because I, the famous Sherleak Holmes, will explain what is considered a major water leak so you can determine if it is a simple DIY repair or if it’s time to call a leak detection service and a plumber.

To begin, any type of water leak in your home is bad be it a leaky faucet or toilet that is leaking water and driving up your water bill (and wasting water) to a water leak that is making parts of your home wet and causing physical damage to your home.

Water where it doesn’t belong causes damage over time. But not all leaks are emergencies that require calling in pros right away. Here’s how to tell if your leak qualifies as “major” and requires immediate attention:

The Location of the Water Leak Matters

If you have standing water or leaks in certain areas, it’s a major cause for concern. Leaks near electrical panels/outlets, gas lines/appliances, insulation, load-bearing walls, or foundations require quick action to avoid structural damage or electrical/fire hazards. Leaks coming from ceilings or high up on walls indicate plumbing issues that likely won’t self-resolve, nor will slab leaks.

Don’t mess around with leaks in these critical areas – call a professional right away if your leak falls into this category. Safety first!

Sinkholes, Cracks, and Bulges Oh My!

water leak sinkhole meme

Leaks that undermine the physical integrity of your home or damage the foundation are major, for obvious reasons. If you see any sudden cracks in walls/ceilings/foundations, new sinkholes (see our article on how to find a water leak in your yard) or warping in floors, watch out! Your plumbing leak might be eroding soil and destabilizing the physical structure.

Don’t take chances – get a professional assessment if you notice new structural cracks or failures that may be leak-related. This level of damage will only get worse over time without proper repairs.

Flooding and Standing Water

If your leak is severe enough that it’s created a pool or flood of standing water rather than an annoying drip, it’s likely reached major status. Once carpets, flooring, or drywall get saturated, you’re looking at mold/mildew risks, electrical issues, and expensive repairs.

Never ignore standing water from plumbing leaks! Even if it seems like the flow has stopped, the water penetration can do real damage to your walls or subfloor. Call for emergency service to extract the water right away.

High Volume Water Dripping

Maybe you have a leak but no major flooding (yet!). Look at your drip volume – if it’s a rapid drip or you need multiple buckets to collect the output over hours or days, it likely indicates a major issue. Even slow drips add up over time.

Don’t downplay a chronic, high-volume drip. The $500 repair to fix the leak now is smarter than the $5,000 bill to replace water-damaged materials later! Get that puppy checked pronto.

Persistence Is Key

persistence meme

If your leak keeps reappearing despite repairs, it’s time to get serious about addressing the underlying cause. Intermittent or moving leaks that follow you from room to room point to major plumbing problems.

Persistent leaks that defy quick fixes have major potential for damage over time. Get camera inspections, hydrostatic testing, whatever you need to diagnose and permanently solve the root issue.

Access Problems

Leaks in hard-to-reach spots or underground may be tough to view, but could have major consequences if left unaddressed. Elevated drips from pipes in crawlspaces or attics can saturate insulation. Underground pipe leaks undermine soil and drain your wallet.

If you can’t physically see the exact source and location of the leak, get help ASAP. Professionals have the tools and know-how to access hidden problem areas and identify major issues. Don’t let an out-of-sight leak turn into a massive headache down the road!


I hope this article provided you with a solid overview of what is considered a major water leak and what to do about it. Here are some important takeaways:

  • Leaks near electrical, gas lines, foundations or load-bearing walls – major issue, call a pro ASAP
  • Any signs of new cracks, sinkholes, or structure warping – could indicate destabilization from a leak
  • Standing water or flooding – a major cause for concern due to mold risk
  • Rapid drips or high volume over time – major loss of water equals major repairs
  • Persistent leaks that keep reappearing – major underlying problems need diagnosis
  • Hidden access leaks – major risk of saturation and erosion if not addressed

The sooner you can diagnose if your leak falls into one of these “major” categories, the better! This will help prevent water damage from compounding and save you big bucks down the road. Stay vigilant, trust your instincts, and don’t downplay a potentially major leak – get pro help right away if needed. Here’s to drying out and staying leak-free! Let me know if you have any other water leak detection questions!