When a pipe violently bursts in the winter, you usually know about it. Sadly, not every plumbing even is so obviously disastrous. More minor leaks can occur behind walls, above ceilings, or under sinks, sometimes going unnoticed for weeks, months, or longer. However, these plumbing issues are no less severe than their less subtle counterparts.

A leak that goes unnoticed can cause a range of issues for your home. Understanding these three dangers will help you discover these difficult-to-detect problems, allowing you to repair them and avoid their many costly potential effects.

1. Higher Water Bills

Even a small water leak can increase your utility bills over time. For minor leaks, you might only notice a few dollars or less each month, but dripping faucets can be more costly. If your home uses well water, you'll also cause your pressure tank to empty more quickly. Not only does this mean higher electricity costs as your pump tries to refill it, but it also means more wear on the pump itself.

Since your utility bill is often the first casualty of a slow water leak, it's also an excellent diagnostic tool. If you notice a slight but consistent increase in your water usage, you should begin to investigate your home for other signs of a leak or dripping faucet.

2. Mold Growth

Mold spores are present in nearly every home, just waiting for sufficient moisture to take hold and begin to form colonies. Since mold loves damp and dark places, hidden water leaks create a nearly perfect environment. Even minuscule amounts of water leaking behind drywall can develop the potential for significant colonies, which may then produce spores and spread elsewhere in your home.

Detecting hidden mold can be challenging, but pay attention to unusual smells or musty odors. If you notice these in areas near concealed plumbing, then it's a reasonable indication that you may have a problem lurking behind your walls.

3. Water Damage

Even if mold doesn't take hold, water can do significant damage all by itself. The typical cost for repairing water damage is well over a thousand dollars, making this one of the most severe consequences of any leak that goes undetected for long. Exposure to water can destroy drywall, ruin subfloors, or even start fires if it impacts your home's electrical system.

Because hidden plumbing leaks present such significant dangers, remaining vigilant is an essential part of homeownership. If you notice any signs of an ongoing leak, contact a plumber as soon as possible to resolve the issue.

For more information, contact a local plumbing service, like Bud's Plumbing, Heating, Air Conditioning & Electric.