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Common Causes Of Leaky Pipes

Turn on the tap, and water flows. But what if the water flow becomes compromised or there is a water leak? It can be disruptive and annoying and would definitely make you want to know what caused your pipe to leak. The other thing you may want to know is how to resolve the problem of leaky pipes.

Read on for some interesting answers to these questions. This article will discuss how to detect signs of leaky pipes. It will also list steps to check for water leaks regarding kitchen plumbing, bathroom plumbing, and toilet plumbing. Lastly, we will discuss how to manage burst water pipes and what should influence your final decision to fix leaks.

What Causes Pipes To Leak?

This is an excellent question, particularly for someone who is proactive in maintaining their plumbing systems. Knowing the common reasons for leaky pipes can help you avoid costly line repairs later on. Here are some common causes of leaky pipes:

Old plumbing systems

Older homes are likely to have metallic pipes. Such pipes make the plumbing systems prone to corrosion and rust. Over time, the walls weaken, and the pressure leads to broken pipes. Moreover, they quickly develop pinholes. Subsequently, water can leak out of them easily.

Keenly inspect your plumbing system to uncover what is causing leaks in your pipes. Newer homes are likely to use copper pipes or a combination of copper and plastic as plumbing materials.

Your plumbing may deteriorate over time as you consistently use your pipes. Your home's foundation may also shift over time, impacting the alignment of your plumbing. As such, it may be a good choice to arrange for regular inspections. A good plumbing and gas company can help with leak detection and fix water leaks. They can even replace your old plumbing.

Hard water

Excessive minerals such as calcium and magnesium may build up along pipe walls. Such hard water slows water flow and accelerates corrosion effects.

Blocked drains

When foreign objects make their way into pipes and water lines, they block or clog drains. These foreign objects can include dirt, hair, and cooking oil. Also, these blockages tend to cause water pressure to build up in pipes. As a result, the water pressure may cause the pipe to leak.

Try using natural drain cleaners like baking soda and vinegar in a DIY plumbing repair. Alternatively, invite a licensed plumber to do some drain cleaning.

Tree roots

Having shady trees on your premises can be splendid. However, some tree roots grow deep and compromise underground drain pipes. For instance, they may wrap around the pipes, strangle them, or press against weak pipe joints. When pipes start leaking, they cause a lot of plumbing headaches.

Broken seals

Broken seals are another reason pipes might leak in your home. Seals are used to keep loose water connectors watertight. However, such seals wear out or break with time, causing water leaks.

Rapid temperature changes

Plumbing pipes can undergo quick expansions and contractions. This could be the case if their temperatures changed too rapidly. Ultimately, this can lead to cracks in your pipes.

What could cause these rapid temperature changes, you ask? A sudden rush of hot water and then cold water is one typical example. Your hot water system or water heater may be partly responsible for this issue.

Poor workmanship

Poor quality plumbing work can be another cause of household water leaks. Some local plumbers do a rush job or use cheap materials. Similarly, the amount of sealant used might be inadequate, or the soldering not be as polished as it should be. These issues could cause your pipes to become leaky when they experience stress.

Signs Of Leaky Pipes

Now you are aware of the typical reasons the pipes in your home may have leaks. Next, you may want to know some common signs to help you locate leaks. Here are some of those signs.

  • Growth of fungus or mould. This can affect indoor air quality.
  • You may feel or smell dampness.
  • Loose or falling tiles.
  • Puddles around your yard.
  • There are visible water stains on walls, ceilings, beneath sinks, or near the toilet base.

Checking For Water Leaks

Use your water meter

Do not wait until you receive a seemingly exorbitant water bill to check for leaks. Use your water meter to examine your plumbing systems for leaks. Begin by turning off all faucets and water appliances. Ensure that no dishwasher or evaporative air conditioner is being used to run this test.

Next, make a note of your current water meter reading. Give it some hours while all outlets remain closed. Also, do not use any water appliances. Then, check and make a note of the second water meter reading before you compare the two readings. If they do not match, there is possibly a water leak in your plumbing system.

Kitchen plumbing leaks

Check areas around the sinks and the supply pipes at the base of the sinks. Likewise, check for leaking taps. The faucet base could be loose due to continuous splashes of water. Over time, this can loosen the faucet countertop joint. Thus, water can seep into the area below.

Check for dampness or rotting floorboards in the area below the cabinet. These are likely signs of leaks from the supply pipes within the cabinet. Examine the ceiling below the kitchen if you live in a two-story apartment. See if there are wet or dried stains. Water could have seeped through the floor joists over time.

Test your drain pipes for leaks. Pass a dry cloth over the edges of the pipes as water drains from the sink bowl. Focus on the area around the shutoff valve and the slip joint. Leaky areas will leave minor marks on the cloth.

Bathroom plumbing leaks

Check to see if paint and wallpaper are peeling off from the inner and outer walls next to the bathroom. Also, wall tiles tend to loosen or fall off the wall next to a shower or bathroom. These are signs of water seepage and leaking bathroom plumbing.

Mould growth can also be a sign of bathroom plumbing leaks. Leaking pipes provide the needed moisture for moulds and mildew to thrive. Pay close attention if you notice ceiling stains directly below the bathroom. Water may be leaking through bathroom pipes.

Alternatively, water may be sliding onto the floor from the shower curtain and through floor tiles and joists. Check if there are spaces between the floor and tub. Leaking water could cause the caulk between the tub and the floor to erode, causing gaps to appear in the caulk.

Toilet plumbing leaks

Apply a couple of drops of food colouring into the toilet's water tank. Let it stand for some time without flushing. Check to see if there's any difference in the toilet water. If the food colouring makes its way into the toilet, that is a sign that water is leaking between the tank and the toilet.

Other signs of water leaks in toilet plumbing include puddles around the toilet's base where it meets the floor. Perhaps, the bottom of the toilet seat is loose.

Leaks in underground pipes

Identifying a leaky pipe can be difficult. It could be underground or inside a wall. This is the case if it is under concrete slabs or asphalt streets. Nevertheless, you could detect such leaky pipes using the following ways.

  • Perform a water meter test as earlier outlined.
  • Check for moulds, mildew, and rotting wood.
  • Heat may emanate from areas below the surface.

Dealing With Burst Water Pipes

You can prevent additional damage by turning off your water supply. Doing this will contain the water leak until you can apply a proper fix. Invite a licensed plumber for an emergency inspection, diagnosis, and repair.

Types Of Pipes And Replacement Signs

Different plumbing systems have different types of materials. In turn, this can determine the ease and extent of replacement.

Galvanised steel pipes

You might have galvanised steel pipes if your home was made in the 1950s to 80s. Commonly, they were used instead of lead pipes. The disadvantage of galvanised steel pipes is that they can corrode and rust on the insides over time. In turn, this causes the release of dangerous chemicals into water.

Furthermore, these pipes are likely to clog easily. Consequently, there will be drain blocks and water leaks. A good sign to watch out for is brown discolouration in the water. In other words, there is the presence of rust.

Copper plumbing

In turn, copper plumbing has been used to replace galvanised steel. Although copper is both very resistant and durable and can move both hot and cold water, it doesn't do well in colder temperatures. As such, the pipes may freeze and burst in cold weather.

Where you see green or blue-tinged water flowing from the outlet, the groundwater supply or the brass fittings may have issues.

PEX pipes

Currently, PEX pipes are used more often in newer and modern homes. After all, it is highly durable, flexible, and easy to install. More importantly, it is more resistant to common issues like leaks, corrosion, and rust. Furthermore, it can move both hot and cold water in all climates. No surprise then that PEX piping is a much-preferred piping material.

PVC piping

Alternatively, many plumbers use a form of plastic piping called PVC. It is more affordable as compared to some other piping materials like copper. Moreover, it has other attractive attributes. First, it is lightweight and flexible, and second, it is more durable as it does not rust or corrode easily. As such, it does not need much plumbing maintenance.

However, the plastic material makes it unable to handle extreme heat well or transport hot water. Another drawback is that the piping structure can break down and become brittle due to harmful UV rays from the sun. Furthermore, surge pressure can arise due to water hammering that occurs when water travels too fast through the pipes.

Seek The Services Of Plumbing Professionals

When a pipe starts leaking, you may start looking for things that can cause pipes to leak. Hopefully, you now have a sound idea of what causes a pipe to leak. In addition, you are familiar with signs of leaky pipes, how to check for leaks, and how to deal with leaking pipes. But, what should your final decision be on fixing leaky pipes?

There are many positives to inviting a licensed plumber as a final decision. Usually, they have good plumbing leak detection equipment. You may also consider the critical benefit of saving on water usage and water bills. Local plumbers can handle many pipe repairs, including leak repairs.

Indeed, it is advisable to perform regular plumbing maintenance as part of your home maintenance. A plumber can also help with that.


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