The Morning Call (Sunday)

Damage can spring from leaks in home

Follow these tips to identify, fix most common problems

- By Timothy Dale

Running water and sanitary sewer systems are key household advancemen­ts that have improved quality of life.

However, if a problem occurs with pipes, drain lines, plumbing fixtures, or any water-using appliance, leaks can develop, leading to significan­t household damage, including rot, mold growth, wall and ceiling discolorat­ion, sagging floors and ceilings, peeling paint, increased water bills, and a decrease in the water pressure.

Use this guide to learn more about common causes of household leaks and how to prevent them.

Signs of a household leak

Once a leak starts, it may create a range of problems throughout the home, leading to costly repairs. There are a wide variety of signs that can point to a household leak.

„ Inexplicab­le water bill increase.

„ Sudden decrease in water pressure when no other fixtures are being used.

„ The sound of running water, rattling, or hissing when the plumbing fixtures are turned off.

„ Mold and mildew accumulati­on.

„ Peeling or blistering paint or wallpaper.

„ Warped, stained, or sagging floors and ceilings.

Faulty faucets and toilets

If they don’t create rot or water damage, leaks can go completely unnoticed if you aren’t paying attention to your water bills. Instead, the water runs directly into the drain, such as when a toilet continues to run or when leaking faucets constantly drip.

Fixing a running toilet can be as simple as shortening the flapper chain or replacing the flapper. Replacing the washer in the faucet may prevent it from dripping, but if the water keeps leaking into the sink, it’s a good idea to invest in a new faucet.

Loose or broken hose connection­s

Leaks can occur outside the home as well, so if you notice any wet spots or areas in the yard that appear to be sunken down, it can indicate an undergroun­d leak. Loose or broken hose and irrigation system connection­s can cause puddles, soil erosion around the foundation of the home, and sink holes if left unresolved.

Fix this problem by locating the leak, then tightening the connection to stop the leak. If the issue is due to a cracked, split, or otherwise damaged connection, the connector and any other damaged parts of the system will need to be replaced.

Cracked sink or tub

Tubs, sinks, and basins are used to catch and redirect the flow of water into an open drain, but if the body is cracked, water can leak out, causing mold, mildew and rot. Cracks can occur as a result of frequent use, general wear and tear, impact damage, or corrosion.

If you see a crack forming in the bathtub or notice a small crack spreading across the sink, it’s necessary to stop using the damaged item.

Worn out seals

Sinks, toilets, and tubs aren’t the only items that can lead to a leak. Dishwasher­s, refrigerat­ors, and washing machines frequently use water during regular operation. If the seals or washers on these appliances become old, worn, or misshapen, it can cause the appliance to leak. Fixing this problem isn’t necessaril­y difficult, as long as you can find a replacemen­t seal.

Clogged drain lines

When a drain line clogs, the water that would usually drain into the sewer or septic system has nowhere to go. Instead, the drain line fills up as more and more water is poured into the drain, until it completely backs up into the sink, tub, appliance, or laundry basin. In some cases, a clog can even lead to a burst pipe.

You may be able to clear a clogged drain with a mixture of baking soda and vinegar, but if this chemical reaction is not enough to break up the clog, a plumber’s snake or a drain auger may be required.

Corroded pipes

While most homes now

have copper or plastic pipes, this wasn’t always the case. For many years, galvanized iron and even lead pipes were the primary options used for pumping water into the home. Not only can these substances contaminat­e water, they can also degrade pipes over time, leaving the exterior of the pipe as thin as paper.

It’s recommende­d to repair leaking or damaged copper pipes and replace old galvanized or lead pipes and fittings with new copper or plastic plumbing lines.

Ruptured water heater

A standard water heater typically lasts about eight to 12 years before it needs to be replaced. However, if there is a significan­t amount of sediment in the water, it could cause the tank to corrode at a faster pace. Even a small leak will cause water to constantly flow out of the tank and into the home.

Make sure to have the water heater regularly inspected and maintained to avoid any surprises. If you spot a leak in the tank, turn off the flow of water to the water heater, and contact a profession­al plumber.

Invasive tree roots

Trees tend to seek out high-moisture areas, growing roots toward these locations to draw in water from deep undergroun­d. A leaking water line can create a high-moisture area in the yard that attracts any nearby tree roots.

Over an extended period, the tree roots can wrap around or even pierce through the water line, causing a leak in the yard. If you see new wet patches or sinkholes in the yard or experience a sudden drop in water pressure, it’s recommende­d to have a plumber check for tree root intrusion.

 ?? GETTY ?? Even minor leaks can lead to significan­t water damage.
GETTY Even minor leaks can lead to significan­t water damage.

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