10 Common Problems for Leaky Pipes
As a homeowner, you do your best to take care of your home. But most of a home’s infrastructure is hidden. And unless you were there when the house was built, it’s difficult to locate water lines, gas lines, and where drains go.
One of the most difficult issues to figure out are leaks. Water tends to flow downhill so you’ll most likely notice an issue below the most highly used place in your home – the bathroom. But gas lines and water supply lines and water heaters can all be tricky to figure out exactly what’s going on.
Understanding the types of plumbing connections in your home can help you determine where the problem is coming from or the root cause.
1. Broken Seals
Not all plumbing issues are related to the copper or plastic pipes in your home. Refrigerators, freezers, washing machines, and dishwashers come with rubber seals in strategic places. The more you use the appliance and as it ages, the seal will degrade, either deforming, coming unglued, or even breaking. If you notice water pooling or condensation on the outside of an appliance, it could be the air or watertight seal that has failed.
2. Clogged Drain Lines
Clogs are one of those annoying issues that can be recurring or can be disastrous resulting in a broken pipe. That’s because the clog creates pressure that needs to find an outlet – either a break or leak somewhere. Chemicals you can buy at hardware stores that remove clogs can sometimes sit in a pipe and speed up damage to the pipe. The best way to avoid clogs is to do your best to prevent them. Hair traps installed in bathroom sink or tub drains, making sure you flush drains regularly, and paying attention to how the water drains can help.
Copper can be decorative when it develops a nice patina on the outside, but if it pertains to your plumbing system – beware. As your plumbing system ages, all the things that flow inside those pipes can lead to corrosion, and eventually a hole for water to leak through. If your home is old, it may be time to replace the pipes with new ones and fix routing issues that may have been there from the start. Look for old lead, galvanized or copper piping and connections that just don’t look good. Don’t forget the quality of your water can also speed up corrosion as well. It’s best to fix everything at once.
4. Improper Pipe Routing
Plumbing systems, while seemingly simple are scientifically based – like baking a cake. Mix up just one of the ingredients and your hard work goes to pieces. The same is true for plumbing because water is made to flow against gravity. Either to your 2nd-floor bathroom or from your sump pump to ground level outside. If you suspect that your plumbing wasn’t professionally done or isn’t routed correctly, contact a licensed plumber right away.
5. Damaged Pipe Joints
Because water is redirected to flow up and around corners and under joists the joints or corners can experience lots of pressure. Over time, pressure and temperature fluctuations are hard on pipe joints – causing them to deteriorate. PRO TIP: If your pipes are making a ticking or banging noise (especially when running hot water), chances are you’ve got joint issues.
6. Underground Movements
Some of your home’s most important systems, the drain system, and water supply are underground. While safe from the lawnmower, the earth can be harsh on underground pipes. The growth of tree roots, flooding, sink holes and even vibrations can shift the placement of your pipes. As the ground moves, your pipes can twist, bend, crack or separate altogether – causing underground leaks. If you notice slow draining or problems with your water supply, underground movements could be the issue. PRO TIP: When buying a home, have a plumber come and do a camera inspection. And if you’ve been living there awhile, a camera inspection can tell the store before any digging has to be done.
7. High Water Pressure
A strong blast of hot water feels great in the shower, but at what cost to your pipes? Remember that water is made to flow against gravity, imagine living in a high-rise condo or apartment building. Some commercial buildings and homes have installed a pressure booster pump. Some older homes have hot water boiler systems that are under pressure as well. If you are noticing leaks and suspect a pressure issue, call a plumber.
8. Tree Root Infiltration
While pretty and useful for shade in the summer, many older homes with mature trees have planted them improperly or too close to the house or didn’t accommodate for water lines. Because trees are living and need water, they will grow and stretch to find the most water they can. And, they’re not picky whether it’s supply water or sewer water. If you notice any wet patches of yard, sinkholes, a sudden drop in water pressure, or have trees growing very close to your home, it’s wise to have a plumber check do a camera inspection for root infiltration.
9. Loose Water Connections
Sometimes, stuff just comes loose. One of the most common areas is your washing machine or dishwasher. During the spin or fill cycles or drain cycles water can drop, drop, drop or even spray out if the connection is loose enough. A pair of channel-lock pliers can tighten those connections. Just be careful not to over-tighten as the seals inside may get pinched and will leak no matter how tight you have them.
10. Fixture Cracks
The longer people live in their homes the more likely they’ll upgrade their existing fixtures to new ones but don’t always replace the stop valves or plumbing pipes. Over time, tightening or untightening these connections or even just the vibrations from the kids running up the stairs umpteen times a day can cause connections to loosen. Sometimes a repair can crimp a seal or cause a slight crack that is unseen. If you notice leaking from a faucet, fixing it is probably the best option.
What to take away from all these common household leaks.
It’s important to pay attention to the way your plumbing performs. The presence of any of the circumstances above can indicate a leak, which can lead to more serious water damage down the road. If you’ve noticed your water bill increasing, a musty or egg smell around a drain, a decrease in water flow, or other warning signs, our experienced field technicians at Rocket Plumbing are available to get you flowing smoothly again.