We all know leaky pipes can run up water costs and damage your home. Long-term damage can also contribute to a decreased value on your property. But how common are leaky pipes? And what are the biggest trouble spots you need to keep an eye on?
It turns out, some leaks are more common than others — and all of them can be stopped before they cause significant damage if you catch them early enough. Here are the five most common leaks and water-wasters we find in people’s homes.
#1 Leaks Around Drains
We tend to think of bathtubs as being water-tight — it’s the pipes that are the problem, right? Well, not exactly.
The drain leading out of a tub or shower is a weak spot, and while it may start water-tight, it can leak over time. Likewise, the first pipe section below the drain is a common source of leakage. As these leaks progress, they can cause significant damage.
Luckily, they’re usually easy to spot. One sure sign is any discoloration or water damage on the ceiling below the tub. Other times, the signs are more subtle: take a look at flooring around the edge of the tub or shower for any signs of tiles or sheet flooring coming up. If you see indications of a leak, call a plumber fast.
#2 Water Heater
If you have a traditional water heater that uses a tank, you might want to inspect it occasionally for signs of a leak. These systems not only contain large amounts of water 24/7, they also go through regular temperature shifts — a perfect recipe for a decaying seal.
The most likely trouble spot is the pressure relief valve on the tank itself. You can listen for hissing, and you can also rub a small amount of flour on the tank below and around the valve — check back the next day for any signs of water running through the flour. Be vigilant of signs that you might need a new water heater.
#3 Dripping Faucets
We seldom think of a dripping faucet as a “leak,” but that’s what it is — water escaping and being wasted when it shouldn’t. While dripping faucets are unlikely to cause major damage, they are a sizable source of water waste in most homes.
Usually, they can be fixed by changing the washer underneath the handle, although sometimes there are other causes. If you’re handy, you may be able to do this on your own; otherwise, it’s a quick and inexpensive fix as part of a maintenance call by a plumber.
Dishwashers are complex. In fact, they may be the most complex plumbing device in your home. And you should never see water puddling under or around your dishwasher.
The source of the problem could be a leaky hose, bad seal, or a drain issue. A burst pipe in dishwashers is among the most common plumbing emergencies. Whatever it is, it needs to be repaired fast. Dishwasher leaks tend to get worse quickly, and they put out a lot more water in one cycle than you might expect.
#5 The Toilet
Toilets present a double threat: a running toilet wastes water even faster than a dripping faucet. If the toilet itself is leaking, it can destroy woodwork, flooring, or the ceiling below in a hurry. That’s why it’s crucial to respond immediately to any toilet issue that comes up — including frequent clogging.
If your toilet runs, it could be the flapper valve, the fill tube, or the float inside the tank. This can be DIY, or you can have a professional fix it. If you see puddles spreading from the toilet itself, however — or even a tiny amount of drippage — you need to act fast. It could also be evidence of a clogged main line. For this, you’ll want to get a plumber on the job and protect your home.
How Much Damage Can a Water Leak Cause?
Many homeowners ignore the early signs of a water leak because they don’t think it’s severe enough to bother with. In other cases, they may be afraid of what they’ll find if they start investigating — and how much it will cost to fix it.
Looking the other way when you have a plumbing leak is never a good idea. That’s because small leaks are always cheaper and easier to fix than if they are allowed to develop into larger issues.
Plus, the longer a leak is allowed to go uncorrected, the more damage the water can do to the floors, walls, and personal belongings that it reaches. You may find yourself having to replace warped wood or ruined drywall in addition to the plumbing components.
When Should You Call a Plumber?
Minor issues like clogs or loose pipe fittings may be manageable for a do-it-yourselfer, but others are deceptively challenging. These leaks could be more costly and even dangerous in the long run if performed incorrectly.
Call an experienced plumber right away if you are uncertain about your DIY capabilities or if you already see signs of water damage or mold. These may be indications that the problem has grown too extensive to tackle on your own.
We Make Leaks Go Away for Good
The plumbing leaks listed above are hardly the only sources of leaks or water waste in the home, but they are among the most common. No matter what kind of leak you have, remember: they start small, but they only get more serious. Generally, the earlier you address a leak, the less expensive it is to fix it and the less damage it will cause.
Need help? The pros at Plumbing by Jake can inspect your pipes and fixtures, isolate the cause of a leak, and fix it for good. We back every job with a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee. Call us or fill out the online contact form to get your leaks stopped today or to set up an annual plumbing maintenance plan.