What to do if water is leaking

In this article, Sherleak Holmes discusses what to do if water is leaking in your home. Note that the best option is to call a professional water leak detection service such as USA Leaks.

You see water on the floor

You wake up and go into your kitchen to make coffee and you step on something wet. You look down and there is a small pool of water on the floor. Nothing has been spilled so, where did this water come from?

You wipe up the water hoping this was some bizarre act of the universe and that the puddle won’t return. However, a few hours later the puddle has returned. It appears that you may have a water leak.

Water leaks can quickly create damage in your home that is expensive to repair, so this is a problem that needs to be taken care of quickly. In this article, we will discuss what to do now that you have a water leak.

Review the situation to find the source of the water leak

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The first thing you need to do is try to find where the water leak is coming from. Do you see water dripping from the ceiling? Is there water dripping from under your sink or from under your refrigerator? What about your dishwasher? Is the leak coming from a wall, or seeping up from the floor?

Small leaks from under a sink or appliance are fairly easy to fix yourself, while leaks inside walls or seeping up from the floor signal a bigger issue that likely requires professional help.

Turn off the water source

Once you’ve spotted the leak, turn off the water supply to that area. For leaks near sinks, toilets or appliances, look for the individual shut-off valves nearby and turn them clockwise to shut off the flow. If the leak is happening inside a wall or ceiling, you’ll need to locate and shut off the main water valve where the water pipe enters your home. This will stop the flooding while you address the leak.

Contain The Water

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Grab old towels, rags, or a wet vacuum to contain the water spillage and prevent any additional damage. Remove standing water, and place absorbent materials like towels or rags over wet spots in walls or floors to soak up the moisture. Place buckets or pans under active drips from ceilings or pipes. Containing the water right away keeps the damage localized.

Inspect For Damage

Once the water source is turned off and the spill is contained, inspect the area for any damage caused by the leaking water. Check under sinks, near appliances, and along walls or ceilings for swollen or warped wood, peeling paint or drywall, discolored spots, mold or mildew growth, etc. Water leaks can easily damage structures, finishes, and property if left for too long. Getting a handle on the severity of the damage will inform your next steps in repairing the leak.

Assess the Repairs that Need to be Made

Now that you’ve contained the leak and identified any damage, assess what’s needed for repairs. Small leaks from appliance hoses, toilet tanks, sinks, and tub faucets can often be fixed DIY with basic tools and a hardware store trip for replacement parts. Larger leaks related to burst pipes, malfunctioning appliances like water heaters, or issues with your home’s foundation require professional plumbers. Leaks left unattended can lead to mold issues and seriously damage your home’s structure.

Call A Plumber For Major Leaks or Pipe Bursts

While small leaks can be manageable DIY projects, it’s best to call a professional plumber right away if you have a major leak or pipe burst. Licensed plumbers have the expertise and equipment to safely shut off water valves, extract water from walls, repair burst pipes, replace damaged sections, and get your home dried out and leak-free. Tackling major leaks yourself can be dangerous and lead to bigger expenses down the road.

Turn The Water Back On And Check For More Leaks

Once repairs are complete, turn your water supply back on slowly. Move through the house checking sinks, showers and appliances to make sure no other leaks have cropped up when the pressure returns to your home’s plumbing system. Catching secondary leaks now prevents additional damage.

Remove Damaged Sections and Dry Affected Areas

If sections of walls or flooring have been damaged by the water leak, now is the time to remove and replace them. Tile, vinyl, hardwood, and laminate flooring as well as drywall and insulation that’s been soaked will need to be removed to prevent mold growth. Use fans, dehumidifiers, and open windows to fully dry out affected areas before replacing damaged floors, walls, and insulation.

Prevent Future Water Leaks

Once the current leak has been repaired, it’s a good idea to do preventative maintenance to avoid future leaks causing damage. For DIYers, this can include replacing worn washers and gaskets on appliances and fixtures, sealing cracks and gaps along sinks and tubs, checking that pipe fittings are secure, insulating pipes in cold spaces, cleaning out exterior drains and gutters, and inspecting your water heater and supply lines for signs they may need replacement soon.

Know When To Call A Professional

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While many minor leaks can be tackled by a knowledgeable DIYer, there are some water leak repairs that should be left only to skilled trade professionals:

  • Major appliance leaks (water heater, refrigerator, dishwasher, etc)
  • Significant leaks inside walls necessitating drywall/insulation removal
  • Pipe bursts or major flooding
  • Mold Remediation
  • Leaks caused by or indicating foundational issues

Attempting major plumbing repairs without proper training can result in bigger problems down the road. Know your limits in tackling water leak fixes.

Install A Leak Detector

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Finally, installing a home leak detection system provides peace of mind by alerting you as soon as a water leak starts, before major damage occurs. Several types of affordable systems now allow 24/7 home monitoring and even remote shut-off via smartphone. Investing in a leak detector provides round-the-clock protection.


Dealing with water leaks can seem daunting, but arming yourself with information helps you address the issue swiftly and efficiently. With some diligence and possibly help from a professional plumber on bigger repairs, you can get your home dried out and protected from future damage. Don’t ignore leaks! Follow these tips and you can tackle the problem with confidence.