Plumbing leaks are something that most homeowners will eventually have to deal with. Knowing how to spot the signs of a plumbing leak is important since even minor pinhole leaks can eventually do serious damage or lead to mold issues. In this article, we’ll discuss the most common types of plumbing leaks and the signs you should look for so that you know when it’s time to call in the help of a professional plumbing service.
Drain Pipe Leaks
Sinks, showers and bathtubs are obviously designed to be watertight, and they always at least start out that way when installed correctly. The only issue is that the point where the drain connects to the drain pipe is a weak spot. This connection tends to slowly degrade over time, which can eventually lead to some water leaking out whenever you wash dishes or take a shower or bath.
This type of leak is especially common if you frequently use drain cleaning products to eliminate clogs. Drain cleaners are extremely effective at eliminating clogs because they contain caustic chemicals that will quickly eat through food particles, hair, etc. The problem is that the chemicals are often so harsh that they can also weaken and damage your pipes and fittings. Some of them work by producing a chemical reaction when they mix with the water in the pipe, and this reaction releases large amounts of heat. Either way, the chemicals involved can severely weaken your pipes. These issues are why plumbers always recommend trying to clear the clog with a plunger and then calling in professional help if it doesn’t work.
A leaky drain pipe underneath a sink is usually quite easy to spot, as you’ll start to see standing water, water damage or discoloration inside the cabinet underneath the sink. A leak in the shower or bathtub drain will often remain unnoticed for longer because most of the water will usually soak into the subfloor underneath the fixture. If the fixture is on an upper level or on the ground floor in a home with a basement, you may eventually see staining or water spots on the ceiling just below the shower or tub. You may also notice that the floor next to the shower or tub starts to feel soft or spongy or that the flooring begins warping or lifting up.
If you do notice any of the signs, you should call a plumber immediately and avoid bathing until you can get the leak fixed. This type of leak can easily lead to mold issues and also do serious structural damage to the subfloor and floor joists so it is important that you get it taken care of as soon as possible.
Leaky Faucets and Showerheads
A leaky or dripping faucet or showerhead isn’t as serious as other types of leaks, but it can still waste quite a bit of water over time. This type of leak is often caused by a worn-out cartridge valve, which is what controls the flow of hot and cold water and enables you to adjust the water temperature. One fairly obvious sign that the cartridge valve in a shower is worn out is if water starts leaking out of the handle when the shower is off.
A faucet can also start to leak because the washer underneath it or one of the other internal components is worn out. Most faucet and showerhead leaks are fairly simple to fix, but it’s still always best to hire a plumber for this task. If the faucet is old and lots of the internal components are rusty, you’re usually best off just having a plumber replace the whole thing.
Toilet leaks are a more serious problem since they can also do quite a lot of damage to the flooring and the subfloor. If you notice the floor around the toilet is wet or spongy or the flooring shows signs of damage, it indicates that water is leaking out of either the tank or from underneath the bowl. This can happen because the porcelain is cracked. However, it more commonly occurs because the rubber gaskets around the bolts that connect the tank to the bowl are worn out or because the wax ring or flange underneath the bowl where it connects to the drain is broken or worn out. Replacing the bolts in the tank is a simple task you can probably do yourself, but you’ll need to hire a plumber to replace the toilet flange or wax ring, as this requires completely removing the toilet.
A toilet that frequently runs and refills when not in use is also considered a leak even though you won’t see any water. This issue indicates that water is slowly leaking into the bowl from the tank. While this type of leak won’t cause water damage, it is still something you’ll want to fix quickly, as it can waste more than 200 gallons of water per day, leading to your water bill greatly increasing. A toilet can start running for a variety of reasons, including a broken fill valve, misaligned float or chain, worn-out flange or cracked fill tube. Most of these components are easy to fix or replace, but it’s still best to hire a plumber if you’re not entirely sure what to do or which component is causing the issue.
Dishwashers are more complicated than most other plumbing fixtures, and they can start leaking due to a damaged hose, drain issues or a worn-out seal. Dishwasher leaks can do major damage since the unit uses lots of water in each cycle. If you ever notice water puddling up on the floor in front of your dishwasher, you should immediately shut it off and have it inspected. A plumber may be able to fix the leak depending on the specific cause, but there are many times when your best or only option will be to have your dishwasher replaced.
Water Heater Leaks
Traditional tank water heaters are quite prone to leaks since they constantly store lots of water at a high temperature. The combination of water and heat often leads to the seal around the drain valve near the bottom of the tank or the pressure relief valve near the top of the tank decaying or degrading. This type of leak is easy to fix by having a plumber replace the seal, and you can also help prevent valve leaks with regular maintenance.
A much more serious issue is if the tank itself starts leaking. This usually indicates that the tank is starting to rust through, and this is not something that can be fixed. If you notice this issue, you should call an emergency plumbing service immediately and have your water heater replaced. If you wait, there is a chance the tank could fully rupture, leading to a major flood and extensive water damage.
Atticman Heating and Air Conditioning, Insulation is the best choice if you need any heating, cooling, ductwork or insulation service in the Sacramento area. Our certified technicians repair and service all makes and models of furnaces, heat pumps and air conditioners, and we also offer expert HVAC installation services. If you need to schedule a service call or have any questions, contact our expert team today and we’ll be glad to help however we can.