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A Harris employee carries a pipe in front of a company building and truck.

To many homeowners, a leak is just an irritating noise that might keep people up at night. But beyond the “drip, drip, drip” sound, a leak can represent a larger—and expensive—threat to a home.

We’re here to explain why this is the case, and what you should do to take care of it before you have to invest in costly repairs.

Locate Your Leak

The first step to dealing with any problem is knowing where it is and understanding the extent.

In this case, tracking down a leak may be as simple as looking to a faucet where some water is dripping and using a wrench to tighten the fixture.

Other cases, unfortunately, may not be so simple.

A leak may need to be tracked down to a toilet, a water heater, the pipes that deliver water to faucets and tubs, or the drain and sewage pipes that carry wastewater away.

In some cases, leaks may be large enough that you can see just how much water is still being “used” by your home after you shut off the water in your home, and check your water meter.

Your Early Warning

Small leaks seem to be just a minor inconvenience, and for some homeowners, that may be all there is to it. For others, however, the leak is a symptom of a problem that is going to grow larger with neglect.

Ignoring your first warning of a leak is like admitting you’d rather spend more money later than save some now.

The leak itself, for example, may already be costing you money. In the USA, leaks may cause anywhere from 2,000 to 20,000 gallons of water to be lost in a home in a single year.

That means that even though you didn’t get that water, or even use it, you still paid for it with your water bills.

Leaks can also damage the home itself if they come from pipes that are in the ceiling or wall. And if the leak leads to a break in the pipe, things get very expensive very fast at that point.

Take Preventative Steps

Avoiding a very intrusive and expensive repair may sometimes be as simple as catching these problems before they grow. Regular inspection of your pipes is one way you can do this.

Occasionally take some time to look at your faucets, water pipes, and sewage pipes to see if you can find leaks anywhere in your pipe network.

You can also help to prevent your pipes from an early break by being kinder to them.

Some people enjoy high-pressure water coming from taps and showers, but high pressure can shorten the lifespan of pipes over a long enough period of time.

The type of water you get from your water supply also has an effect.

“Hard” water, with more minerals in it, can weaken pipes faster than “soft” water with fewer minerals.