How to Detect Leaks in Central Heating Systems

Updated April 17, 2017

Central heating systems have been in use now for decades. For the most part, such systems work flawlessly for many years, both commercial and residential versions. However, when heating deficiencies are observed, a loss in water pressure could be caused by a leak in or around the boiler of the water heater or heat exchanger. The problem becomes compounded from the fact that finding the source of the leak can be difficult.

Locate and check your hot water heater's exterior and relief valve for any moisture or water from as many angles as you can.

Inspect all fittings and connections of pipes to the water heater for signs of moisture or water drops. Use a flashlight as needed. Water leaks from fittings and soldered joints should be noted and a drain of your water heater will be required for any joint replacement needed.

Run your hands along the hot water feeder pipe to verify all sections have similar temperature. Any section that is cool suggests a blockage that can be serviced by a technician.

If your water heater includes the use of a heat exchanger and heat connector, Inspect these systems for any water or moisture evidence or even the musty odour of water. If you suspect your heat exchanger might be the problem, only a residential plumbing company will be able to service this issue properly.

Place a piece of coloured paper under your water heater and let it stand for a couple of hours.

Return to the water heater to see if any water droplets have accumulated on the paper.

For water droplets discovered on the coloured paper, attempt to feel and follow the probably dripping location from the water heater. Contact a service technician to remedy the problem.

Fill your hot water heater with city water using a garden hose.

Note the time between the pressure flowing through the central heating system and the time at which the lower pressure is observed.

Pinpoint the leak to repair it.


Remove any insulation around the water heater when checking for leaks. If not familiar with how to tighten fittings and connectors, do not attempt to do so.


Do not continue to operate a central heating system that is not in a known state. Seek the services of the qualified service technician. Verify no sharp edges exist for any equipment you are to come in contact with to avoid injury.

Things You'll Need

  • Coloured paper
  • Garden hose
  • Flashlight
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About the Author

Nida Rasheed has been writing for online businesses since 2008. She specializes in topics such as health, fitness, pet care, travel and home improvement. Rasheed studied social sciences at Lahore University of Management Sciences.