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Home Water Leaks

Understanding Home Water Leaks

 Where To Look and How To Find Them

 

Home water leaks can cause water damage almost anywhere in your home.  Leaks are also a significant source of water waste for many households.  Some leaks are obvious, such as dripping faucets, dishwasher leaks, and leaking water heaters. Unfortunately, many leaks go undetected for years because the source of the leak is not visible.

When leaks are hidden, the water escapes undetected, such as through faulty toilet flapper valves and cracked water supply lines. Individually or collectively, the leaks in a single home can easily waste thousands of gallons of water each year; costing money to BOTH you, and the utility.

Home Water Leaks - Common Types of Leaks

Faucet, Shower, and Tub Leaks

When inspecting your home for faucet leaks, it is important to inspect all water valves around the home, including:  showers, bathtubs, water heaters, hose bibs, laundry basins, utility sinks, etc. A faulty seal is the most common reason your tub will leak.  Obviously, the bathroom floor is bound to get wet. However, in a worst case scenario, a leaking tub can necessitate a full bathroom remodel.

 

Leaking Toilets

Your toilet can leak in two ways: around the seal or internally.  An internal toilet leak causes water from the toilet tank to drain right into the sewer.  Since this water leak doesn’t make a mess, you’ll likely only notice a toilet leak when you see the spike in your water bill.

 

Leaking Sink Pipes

During this common home water leak, the pipes under your sink leak a steady stream of water all over your cabinets. Since your sink pipes are out of sight, they tend to be out of mind. This type of home water leak often catches homeowners unaware, and ma be ffound quite b accident.

 

Leaking Garbage Disposal

This hardworking appliance makes meal-time cleanup a breeze. Yet year after year of doing a tough job can often cause this piece of kitchen hardware to leak.

 

Leaking Hot Water Heater

When your traditional hot water heater goes belly-up, sometimes it leaks massive gallons of water. This leak occurs as the metal tank rusts out.  Avoid this nightmare by thoroughly checking your water heater for signs of external moisture on a regular basis.

Washing Machine Hoses

If your washing machine hoses leak or burst, you won’t see it until it’s way too late.  Your washing machine hoses are always running, so if they burst, it’s a maximum disaster.  When a washing machine hoses bursts it’s the equivalent of stopping up your tub and letting it run for hours. Essentially, it’s an indoor flood.

Leaking Water Pipes

Leaking water pipes are one of the most destructive plumbing disasters possible. The good news, though: they are rare.  Since these pipes are embedded in your walls, you can’t simply check to see if your pipes are leaking. If your walls are damp, it’s a good clue.

 

Water Supply Line Leaks

There are sometimes leaks between the meter and the home, in the water supply line.  These leaks are often difficult to detect because the supply pipe is usually buried below the ground surface. 

 

The water utility should be contacted before any attempt to repair the water supply pipe. If the utility deems the leak to be the responsibility of the homeowner, a professional plumber should perform all repair work.  

 

Whole House Humidifier Leaks

Some homes have whole house humidifiers, most common in homes with forced-air central heating systems.  It is important to check the operation of this equipment regularly during the heating season, and turn off the water supply to the equipment during seasons of non-use.

Evaporative Cooler Leaks

In arid climates, some homes are cooled by evaporative coolers.  The device uses the evaporation of water to cool air sent into the home.  The evaporative coolers are most often connected to the home water supply to maintain water in the cooler's reservoir.  

 

The refill valve for the reservoir occasionally fails to close, causing a constant stream of water to enter the reservoir and drain out the overflow line.  The overflow line is often connected to wastewater drain, allowing the leak to persist for months or years before the water waste is detected.  

 

Pool and Fountain Leaks

Even a minor swimming pool leak can cause substantial damage and result in huge water bills and it is estimated that one pool in every 20 has a leak. 

 

Unfortunately, a water leak can play havoc with your health and with your home just as surely as a full-scale flood would. In order to help you understand the dangers of even a small amount of water damage and the risks it poses to your health and home, here are just a few of the consequences of even a simple water leak.

 

Home Water Leaks - Hazards and Risks

Mold and Fungal Growth

A leaking bathtub produces a lot more water than wet feet that are fresh out of a shower. The water from a leaking tub or shower can cause mold growth either on your floor—or, even worse and less noticeable, in your subfloor. 

 

A toilet that leaks around the seal can cause mold damage similar to a leaking tub. Your floor, subfloor, and anything in the surrounding area are in danger of unappealing and unhealthy mold growth. 

 

If you have leaking sink pipes, the pipes under your sink leak a steady stream of water all over your cabinets.  Even if the stream is very small, since sink cabinets are almost always made of wood, mold growth is a likely result of this leak. 

 

The leaks from a garbage disposal tend to smell particularly foul—and like almost all the other home water leaks, they can cause mold growth.

 

One of the biggest consequences of water leaks and the resulting water damage is the growth of molds and fungi within the home, which is a health danger. These organisms produce spores that pollute the air and if not detected, can prove hazardous to your long-term health. 

 

When left in dry areas, spores can lay dormant for decades, never causing a problem or harming anybody. When spores come into contact with water, however, that is when their growth is triggered.  In the presence of water, mold spores can proliferate, filling the affected area with unsightly and unhealthy mold growth and producing additional spores that begin to pollute the air.

 

For the average person, mold spores in the air can range from irritating to catastrophic, with most common symptoms of mold exposure including nasal congestion, difficulty breathing, coughing, and sneezing fits. 

 

These effects are bad enough, but if you have a pre-existing condition or a compromised immune system, the impact is even more severe with the possibility of mold growing within them – creating even greater health complications.

 

Drives Down Property Values

Water damage drives down the value of your home. This can compromise your bargaining position should you decide to sell your home in the future, and will drive down the final selling price. Taking care of water leaks right away will prevent that damage from occurring and help to maintain the value of your home.

Structural Damage

The most obvious and immediate effects of water damage are aesthetic – staining, discoloration, and streaks along the walls.  In fact, these obvious symptoms will be the first signal for most that they have a leak in the house. 

 

When drywall starts to absorb water from a leaky pipe or other forms of water damage, it begins to warp and swell. This can happen with other materials as well and, if left untreated for too long, can compromise the structural integrity of the home. This is most dangerous when dealing with support beams and other important structures of the home. 

 

However, even the simple warping can lead to an unsightly hole in the wall, which if combined with a mold outbreak can quickly turn things from simply ugly to unlivable.

Home Water Leaks

How to Tell If You Have A Leak

 

Use your water meter to check for leaks. Take a meter reading and wait 1 or 2 hours and take another meter reading (make sure no water is used during this time). If the reading has changed, you have a leak. After you have determined that you have a leak, the next step is to determine if the leak is inside or outside of your house.

 

Be aware that the exact location of a leak may not always be immediately obvious. Some leaks may start at one location, then flow along a ledge or other channel for a distance before they drain down and create some visible damage.

 

A warning sign of a water leak is discoloration in the walls.  An off-white or yellow stain suddenly appearing along a white wall can be a sign of a hidden water leak within. These should be considered major warning signs of something wrong.

 

Condensation can also be a form of water leak. While condensation is normal, excessive condensation can cause damage to your walls, ceilings, floors and woodworking.  If there is too much condensation, insulating your pipes may stop or reduce the condensation.

Pay attention to strange odors. A leaking pipe will often leave a musty smell in the air. This odor is very noticeable and may even be your first sign that something is wrong.  If you suddenly notice a strong, musty odor where there was none before, try to find the source of the smell. You just might find a water leak or other problem that would have otherwise gone unnoticed.

 

Recognize sagging walls or ceiling. It might not be immediately apparent, but eventually the added weight of water will have a negative effect on the structure of your home. This will result in those sagging walls. If you notice a sudden bulge or change in the ceiling or walls it could point to water accumulation, which means you have a leak somewhere.

Repairing Home Water Leaks

 

A water leak is often one of those matters that is best left to a professional.  Professional plumbers spend their lives finding, diagnosing, and repairing the problems that cause water leaks.  As such, they can help you find a long-term solution. It is recommended that you turn to a reliable plumbing contractor that can offer 24-hour service. 

 

The effects of even a small water leak on your home can be catastrophic, and having 24-hour, on-call emergency response if you cannot stop the leak immediately will be less costly in the long term.  Experts can help you to stop the leak and protect yourself from damage to your home and health.

 

If you have questions on leaks or another plumbing issues, So Cal Services is happy to chat.  

 

Tags: Home Water Leaks, roof leaks, pipe leaks, drain leaks, tub leaks, faucet leaks, toilet leaks,  top plumber