All Five Senses — Locating Plumbing Issues With Sound, Taste, and Smell

If you’re a homeowner, you will inevitably run into a plumbing problem of some kind. And don’t be lulled into thinking you’ll be problem-free if you bought a new house; even new constructions have been known to spring a surprise leak now and again (just to keep you on your toes!). However, plumbing snafus don’t need to be disasters or costly affairs. Before they become big problems, they usually start off as small issues that can be sniffed out in time to get the necessary repairs done.

The best way to detect a small plumbing problem is by using your five senses. You may be nervous at the combination of “taste” and “plumbing” but we promise, it all checks out. Sight, smell, touch, sound and taste can all help pinpoint that something is off in your plumbing, so you can call in a licensed professional to take a look and make swift repairs. 

Here are ways that your five senses can tip you off about potential plumbing issues.


If your basement smells damp, that’s a clue that there is excess humidity in the air and a likely leak. Gone unchecked, this leak can potentially cause mold or water damage in your wall or ceiling structures. A putrid smell is an indication that the leak has been going on for a long time and there is damage and rotting wood or insulation somewhere. If your nose is tipping you off that a plumbing problem is afoot, call a licensed plumber to take care of the problem ASAP.



Look for water stains on walls, ceilings, or flooring. Any water spots are a sure-fire sign that there is a leak in your roof or a pipe has sprung a leak. Often the result of a storm, ice buildup or melting snow, leaks in outer walls or the roof can drip over a long time and cause the unsightly water stains that make homeowners run to the phone to call a plumber. The size of the water stain is an indication of how long the problem has been going on or how big the leak is. Stains can be light-colored with a dark border or, if mold and mildew have developed, the stain may have a multi-colored hue.

If you spot a water stain, don’t delay. Neglecting leaks can lead to serious structural damage and a big repair bill.



Damp indicates damage. If a section of your wall or ceiling feels damp to the touch, it’s an obvious sign of a leak. A dry water stain may be from a previous problem; a damp patch means the problem is ongoing. Moisture beads or “sweating” can betray internal dampness, but it can also be a sign of condensation–or heat that is not properly escaping the space. Get a plumber in to evaluate the condition of your walls or ceiling and make a game plan for repairs–before it gets out of hand.



If you can hear a dripping sound, that spells trouble! Something is leaking and it’s likely causing water damage. A trickling or dripping water faucet that you can’t seem to shut off completely is wasting water and can contribute to unwanted moisture in your space. Depending on the source of the sound and location (a drip in the shower and one in the ceiling are not indicative of the same kind of issue), you likely need to seek an estimate from a licensed professional.  



Still nervous? If your tap water tastes (or smells) funny or different–like copper, or rotten eggs, or chlorine–it’s a sign that there is something going on in your water pipe system. Your water line may be contaminated, or there may be a buildup of minerals in your pipes that are not being adequately filtered out. It is crucial to consult a plumber and have your water line inspected. 

Using your five senses to clue in to a plumbing problem is a nifty trick that will save you money and headaches. You’re more likely to identify and deal with a plumbing problem while it is still minor before it grows and becomes a serious problem with extensive damage. 

If you’re worried about the state of your home and water line or have identified issues that require a professional, Johnson Plumbing can help. From residential plumbing to commercial systems, we do it all! Give us a shout and we’ll figure out how we can put our expertise and experience to work for you.

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