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Water Leak in Wall - how to locate break accurately?

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  • Nov 10th, 2019 10:26 am
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Mar 28, 2005
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Ontario / Quebec

Water Leak in Wall - how to locate break accurately?

I ended up with a leaking water supply pipe in an outside wall.
In my opinion, water supply pipes should not be in outside walls to start with, especially in Canada, but that is now water under the bridge.
Do plumbers have some tools where they can pinpoint the leak reasonably accurately or do they end up ripping open the whole wall until they find the leak?
12 replies
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Jan 19, 2011
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Drywall saw or Olfa knife.
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Aug 12, 2007
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Waterloo
krs wrote: I ended up with a leaking water supply pipe in an outside wall.
In my opinion, water supply pipes should not be in outside walls to start with, especially in Canada, but that is now water under the bridge.
Do plumbers have some tools where they can pinpoint the leak reasonably accurately or do they end up ripping open the whole wall until they find the leak?
I dont think they are in outside walls.
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Deal Addict
Aug 29, 2011
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Supahhh wrote: I dont think they are in outside walls.
You haven’t seen how they build new houses around here...

Most commonly found are supply lines running through garage ceilings (because there’s living space above the garage) with inadequate/no insulation.
Sr. Member
Feb 11, 2018
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krs wrote: I ended up with a leaking water supply pipe in an outside wall.
In my opinion, water supply pipes should not be in outside walls to start with, especially in Canada, but that is now water under the bridge.
Do plumbers have some tools where they can pinpoint the leak reasonably accurately or do they end up ripping open the whole wall until they find the leak?
Don't expect plumbers to carry the proper tool for such task. Btw this would do it as long as there is enough of a temperature difference. AFAIC, every home owner should have a thermal imaging camera.

The money a thermal imaging camera can save you in heating/cooling cost will pay for the cam in less than 5 years. In particular for those who live in a single detached house.

EDIT: Fixed the link again. Don't know why it didn't work the fist time. Tested the link and it is working for me.
Last edited by TomLafinsky on Nov 9th, 2019 11:20 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Jan 5, 2003
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Toronto
If you have a rough idea but want to pinpoint it to minimize damage, then I would just rip out all the drywall in that wide area anyway. All that insulation and drywall is now wet and mouldy so needs to be removed and replaced. If you have NO idea where it is, then, yeah, that's much more difficult...

Let's start with: how do you know there's a leak? Water/mold at the bottom of the wall?
Deal Fanatic
Jun 11, 2005
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Mississauga
Water follows gravity and any cavity down. Look for the highest wet spot and open there. That should be the source of the leak.
Deal Expert
Aug 22, 2011
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Ottawa
mrweather wrote: You haven’t seen how they build new houses around here...

Most commonly found are supply lines running through garage ceilings (because there’s living space above the garage) with inadequate/no insulation.
Never seen that in the 3 new builds I've bought?
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Aug 12, 2007
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mrweather wrote: You haven’t seen how they build new houses around here...

Most commonly found are supply lines running through garage ceilings (because there’s living space above the garage) with inadequate/no insulation.
vkizzle wrote: Never seen that in the 3 new builds I've bought?
Garages Ive seen. and have seen when the Garage door is left open in -20 weather the pipes freeze. and yes they are not properly insulating those pipes and walls with pipes in them.
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Dec 25, 2007
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GTA
If water is flowing through the pipes, it shouldn't have frozen.l We haven't had sustained cold temperatures for long enough. There may be another reason for the leak.
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Aug 29, 2011
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Mississauga
vkizzle wrote: Never seen that in the 3 new builds I've bought?
If your location is correct, maybe builders in the NCR are more conscientious about this issue. But it has certainly happened in the GTA. One example was a bathroom located over a covered porch and the pipes froze because of poor insulation in the ceiling of the porch.
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Mar 13, 2004
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Either way if you have a leak and the pipes are on the outside wall you will need open up all the drywall so you can insulate it properly OR if possible move the pipe to the warmer side so this does not happen in a month or 2 when its -30c outside. Open it up properly insulate the wall behind the pipe and close it back up.
krs wrote: I ended up with a leaking water supply pipe in an outside wall.
In my opinion, water supply pipes should not be in outside walls to start with, especially in Canada, but that is now water under the bridge.
Do plumbers have some tools where they can pinpoint the leak reasonably accurately or do they end up ripping open the whole wall until they find the leak?
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