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How to Best Find a Leak Under Floorboards

how to find a leak under floorboards

Have a leak under your floor?

Because it is often common for plumbing pipework to be under floors, it is also common for leaks to be found under floors, where they cannot be seen with the naked eye easily. Hence, working out how to find a leak under floorboards is challenging too!

That can include cold water pipe leaks, hot water pipe leaks, central heating pipe leaks and waste water pipe leaks. Commonly these are copper pipes, but other materials (especially plastic) exist too. We are very experienced in how to find a leak under floorboards in properties.

Clearly floorboards can be on the ground floor of properties or upper floors of properties too, so when thinking about how to find a leak under floorboards, this needs considering too as they are different.

We also do work on finding underground water leaks too, which has some similarities to how to find a leak under floorboards, both can use specialist moisture meters and other tools.

Find a Leak Under Floorboards
Find a Leak Under Floorboards

Accessing a leak under floorboards

Floorboard flooring in properties are a very common flooring structure in UK homes and businesses, especially those built before the 1990s. They have been in existence for many decades before that too. Plus, there are still houses which have floorboards that are more modern than that, it’s just that other methods have become more common.

Typically they are fixed to the joists (nailed or screwed most often) running at 90 degrees to the joists and may have tongue and groove joints. Underneath the floorboards and joists there is usually a void (known in the trade as a solum). Assuming we are talking about ground level, how to find a leak under floorboards will vary on a number of factors.

Water Leak Under Floorboards
Water Leak Under Floorboards

Taking the example in the image above, that has a significantly large crawl space and the pipes are attached to the underside of the joists. Those pipes are relatively accessible. In some instances, say for example in a basement with a water leak, you may be able to stand up to inspect leaks.

In other instances there may only be a few inches of space not big enough to get into, this naturally makes it more difficult, with other techniques coming into place when considering how to find a leak under floorboards and fix the leak. All this impacts how to find a leak under floorboards.

The other thing to bear in mind is what flooring is on top of the floorboards (they could be bare floorboards of course). This could be carpet & underlay, laminate flooring, engineered flooring, solid wood flooring, tiles or vinyl or other types. Each has its own challenges – for example, lifting carpet is much easier than tiles or solid wood flooring. Naturally, we do everything we can to ensure we do non-destructive leak detection using pinless moisture meters and only lift certain flooring if it is deemed necessary, either to access a leak or to carry out water damage restoration work.

How do you find a leak under floorboards?

Clearly, this will depend on what we just mentioned regarding the layout of a particular house. However, we will use our bespoke leak detection processes along with our professional leak detection equipment to locate the leak. This may include:

Other equipment such as borescope cameras and water flow meters can have a role too. As we’ve said previously, we use all these devices (alongside the skills of our trained technicians) to compliment each other, collecting evidence to increase chances of finding a leak.

So, as you can see, there is a lot involved when looking at how to find a leak under floorboards.

Leak Under Floorboards House
Leak Under Floorboards in House

Will wet floorboards dry out?

Clearly if there has been a leak, there is a risk of both damp, mould and damage to your property. This is especially a risk with wooden floorboards because wood can rot or be structurally damaged by prolonged exposure to damp, so drying them out safely is important.

Clearly, how difficult it is to dry the damage from a water leak will depend on…

  • How long the leak has been going
  • How fast the flow of the leak is
  • Whether the water is hot or cold – hot water can be more problematic
  • The material that the leak has impacted on – even different woods react in different ways
  • The conditions under the floor – for example air flow from air bricks, vents etc.
  • Various other factors which we will assess and make recommendations about

On many occasions, water damage repairs are required, and we can help with that too – utilising our specialist drying equipment, including refrigerant or desiccant dehumidifiers. Making sure the damage is repaired effectively is important both to restore the property and to reduce risks of a water leak.

Under floorboard leak risks

When looking at how to find a leak under floorboards there are a number of specific risks we will be evaluating when doing our leak detection work, including:

  • Working in confined spaces, including the solum
  • Structural integrity of the floor, especially for walking on
  • Risk of mould formation and possible mould removal
  • Slips trips and falls from wet surfaces or debris
  • Possible contact with electrical wiring under the floor
  • Respiratory risks from dust, debris and mould spores
  • Possible asbestos containing materials (ACMs)
  • Manual handling elements of how to find a leak under floorboards

As you can see, there are a lot of things to consider when considering how to find a leak under floorboards. So if you need help with that, use our leak detection specialists.

We can also help with dealing with your insurance company, especially if you have trace and access cover on your insurance policy and also with the water damage, which is covered on most buildings and contents insurance polices – it’s always worth checking what cover you have as your insurer may pay for the work to be done for you.

In some instances, when looking at how to find a leak under floorboards, it is a job where the person below has seen a leak from an upstairs flat and brought us in. On both of these, you might find our Boiler Pressure Low? – Leak Calculator informative.

We also have a related guide to dealing with a leak between water meter and house. And, you may like our guide to How To Locate A Water Pipe beneficial.

Water Leak Detection Service
Water Leak Detection Service

Can water seep through wood floors?

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Absolutely, it is possible for water to seep through wood floors. Firstly, many wooden floors have gaps, cracks and joints which can allow water to seep through. These can widen or change as they come into contact with water from a leak. Plus, water can actually make its way through wood via a combination of gravity an capillary action, slowing letting water through to lower levels.

Who is responsible for water leak under house?

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On most occasions, if you have a water leak under your house, it is likely something which is your responsibility (or that of the owner / landlord if you are renting). Water companies in the UK are generally responsible for leaks outside of your boundary, up to and including the external water meter boundary box.