Fixing the Leaks in Your Home

Leaking is one of those annoying problems that always starts slowly and often goes unnoticed until it too late and has already caused massive problems. Perhaps the only leaks that are easy to notice are the leaky faucet and I have covered it in this article. This time I will go over some common areas where leaks occur- basement, roof, and toilets.

Leaky Basement Remedy

Leaky basement promotes mold growth and generally create an uncomfortable living environment for homeowners.

Basement water problems are not a new subject, but it is a subject that plagues many homeowners all over the country. Older homes have foundations that are made of stone that have been mortared and stacked together. While these types of foundations are prone to leaks, poured concrete and block foundations can leak just as badly. Following these simple rules will take care of 90% of any water problems you have.


Installing gutters around the perimeter of a house is the best way to control the water coming off the roof. The roof surface of a typical 1500 square foot house is around 1750 square feet because of the pitch and the overhang on the roof. This is a large area that water is directed off of and needs to be controlled so it does not end up dropping like a waterfall next to the foundation.

Gutters need to be mounted so that there is approximately ¼ inch of pitch for every 4 feet of gutter run toward a drain source called a downspout. The downspout directs the water to a leader that carries the water to a single outlet that allows the water to travel away from the foundation.


Leaders from the downspout should be a minimum of 4 feet and but it is recommended that they be as long as they need to drain to an area where water will drain away from the house. This may require several feet of solid drain tile or pipe in order to fully evacuate the water to a drainable area. This pipe can be buried underground if necessary.


Making sure that the ground surface has proper positive slope away from the house is also very important. This controls not only the roof water, but the ground water as well. The ground should slope about 1/4 inch per 4 feet away from the house. This ensures that that water will move away from the house before being absorbed by the soil next to the foundation.

Creating a swale in the yard if one section pitches toward your house, will divert water into it and carry it to an area where the water can drain. This is a little bit more ambitous, but can typically be performed with a wheel barrow, a shovel, and a rake.

This is a very simple method that it very inexpensive and simple to perform. Homes without gutters or improper gutters can significantly decrease the chances of water infiltration simply by installing gutters or fixing gutters and downspouts. Gutter maintenance requires basic cleaning of debris and sometimes the straps that secure the downspouts to the house. Creating proper ground drainage is equally as important. The combination of these tips will take care of 90% of your basement water issues.

How to Easily Repair the Most Common Roof Leaks

Roof leaks cannot be ignored for very long without some significant consequences because the roof protects every other component of a home or building.

Many people try to ignore the leaks that only happen during heavy rains or combined wind and rain. This is a serious error because it can only lead to damage. Although the damage may be unseen initially, the effects will eventually manifest. If the leak is corrected quickly when it is discovered it can easily and usually for very minimal cost, be alleviated and prevent long-term damage. Knowing the areas that are the most common problem areas can help you to quickly locate and correct your roof leaks before they grow into big problems.

Most Common Problem Areas for Roof Leaks

When it comes to a shingle roof, there are just a handful of areas that generally develop leaks.

  • Chimneys are by far the most common place to have a leak. Either inadequate flashing or insufficient caulk is the usual culprit.
  • Skylight leaks are less common than chimney leaks; that is only because fewer houses have skylights. They are notoriously responsible for allowing water to seep in where it does not belong.
  • Vent pipes or any other object that penetrates the roof surface is an obvious suspect when it comes to roof leaks.
  • Valleys can cause problems as well. While they are less common areas for leaks, they often still cause problems.
  • Improperly installed drip-edge, or damaged drip-edge, can cause seepage. This is usually less likely to be easily detected as drip edge is installed on the perimeter of the roof and leaks often are hidden behind siding or wall covering.

Easy Repair

While these areas are common problem areas, they are also generally easy to fix. Many times simply removing the old caulk and applying a fresh coat will take care of the problem for little more than pocket-change. Other times, bending a piece of aluminum and strategically positioning it to divert rain away from the area of vulnerability and sealing it with some caulk will do the job. While this requires a little more skill, often small pieces of pre-bent metal can be purchased at the local do-it-yourself store suited for your need.

Fixing a Leaky Toilet

Toilets that let the water run continuously can have enormous impacts on a monthly water bill. Here are some tips for diagnosing and fixing the problem.

Everyone has experienced that that shock when a bill was higher than expected. Unlike other bills, where the trouble is easy to track down, waters bills are tricky. If you can’t see the leak or hear the water running it is difficult to tell if water is moving.

Find the Leak

When you want to find a leak in a household toilet there are several steps to go through for a thorough examination. The first step is the easiest, look all around the outside of the toilet for any leaks or cracks. Pay special attention to the bottom of the tank in the back of the toilet. As you look over the toilet, don’t confuse condensation with a leak. Since toilets are generally cold to the touch water will condense on them on hot or humid days. This is normal and is not indicative of a leak.

If you don’t find any cracks or leaks then it’s time to check the inside of the toilet. Before you can check for leaks you will need to remove any persistent toilet cleaners that color the water. After you remove them flush the toilet a few times until the water in the tank and the bowl are completely clear. Put some food coloring in the tank of the toilet until the water is a noticeably different color. If the tank is leaking water into the bowl then the coloring will slowly move from the tank and color the water in the bowl. Unless the leak is really bad, this process will take a while generally one to two hours. During this time it is important that nobody flushes the toilet, otherwise, you need to start over.

Fixing the Toilet Leak

If you found a leak then the next step is to fix it. There are many things that cause toilets to leak and most of them are easy and inexpensive to fix. These all take place in the back of the toilet; remember that the water back there is as clean as the water from your household facet.

  • The Float – The float needs to sit properly or the refill valve will never turn off. Check the float for holes and its connecting arm for bends. If the float seems damaged in any way or is taking on water then replace it.
  • Refill Valve – Look all around the refill valve for any cracks or mineral buildup. If necessary, clean or replace the valve.
  • The Chain – The chain connects the handle to the flapper on the bottom of the toilet. If the chain is twisted or damaged then the seal at the bottom of the tank is left open and water will run through.
  • Flush Valve – The flush valve is the opening at the bottom of the toilet tank. Check the rubber gasket around the opening for wear or cracks. If the rubber begins to break down it won’t seal with the flapper properly.

If none of these seem to be the problem but you still suspect your toilet or you found a crack or hole during the toilet’s inspection then it’s time to call a professional. The money saved through the lower water bill will likely pay for the visit in a few months.

Most household toilets will operate for years without incident but when they go, they make it known through sky-high water bills. With occasional examination, a little know-how and some attention the life of a home toilet can go on and on.

Tend to your small leaks today before they become costly repair jobs. Even if you are not handy enough to handle the repair yourself, a professional plumber or roofer will generally take care of your problem for a very small fee. When compared to the price of repairing long-term damage from that little leak, the small repair fee will seem very insignificant. Whether you are able to handle it yourself or have a reasonably priced professional tend to your leak, you will be glad you did it early.