Water leaking into your home or business can cause all sorts of damage. One pipe that bursts or leaks can cause you to have to replace drywall, paint, carpet, furniture, electrical wiring, and more. Since these repairs can be expensive, not to mention a hassle, it’s important to detect and diagnose leaks as soon as possible.
Water Leak Detection
The moment you notice a wet spot on your walls or ceiling, a squishy spot in your carpet, or an unusual puddle on the floor, it’s time to start diagnosing the problem.
Note that, while these are the most obvious signs of leaks in your house, there are other, more subtle ones. Sometimes, a pipe only has a very slow leak or it only leaks under very particular circumstances. These leaks can go unnoticed for a long time before they make themselves known. Be on the lookout for inexplicably low water pressure, mold or mildew growth that doesn’t have another cause, the sound of running or trickling water, and unusually high water bills. All of these can be signs that you need to make sure your plumbing is working properly.
Before you panic about your pipes, though, make sure the cause isn’t more mundane. Ask around to see if anyone spilled anything, or maybe a pet had an accident. Check to make sure that things like shower curtains and bath mats are in their proper places, blocking or soaking up the water as they were intended to do. Sometimes, what looks like a leak actually has a very different cause.
Note, too, that a leaky roof can cause symptoms similar to those caused by leaky pipes. If your house has leak-related problems every time it rains, you may need to call a roofer instead of a plumber!
If you’re not sure or there’s no other explanation for the water in your home, start by cleaning up the water as best you can. This will be easier if it is a puddle than if your wall is soaking wet. Soaking up at least some of the water, though, will help you figure out what is leaking and where it’s leaking from.
Once the area is as dry as you can get it, run the nearby water sources. If you can’t see them, it can be hard to tell which pipes go where, so you may need to turn on all of the water sources in your bathroom to check for leaks.
Showers are common sources of bathroom leaks. If your puddle or wet area grows when you run the shower, try fixing your shower arm. This threads into an elbow fitting inside your wall. Plumbers can usually repair this easily, with an easy-out tool that they carry on their trucks. You can also buy this tool at your local hardware store. Simply trim the end of the tool until it is shallow enough to fit into the elbow fitting. Then, unscrew the broken thread and replace it with a new shower arm. When you’re done, be sure to test the shower again. If the leak is gone, you fixed your problem.
If your shower is still leaking, though, the shower pan is another likely culprit. The shower pan is a sort of safety liner, something like a water bed. In older homes, these can deteriorate because of age. They can still break in newer ones, though, often sustaining damage during construction. Tile can keep the shower from leaking for a time, but eventually you will see the results of the damage and need a replacement pan.
In order to check the shower pan for leaks, cover the drain in your shower and fill the whole thing with 2-3 inches of water. Let it sit for a while. If you see evidence of water returning to where you had previously cleaned, then your pan has a leak. This isn’t something that most homeowners should replace by themselves. Instead, call Daniel’s Plumbing and Air Conditioning to schedule your appointment today.
Leaks Behind Walls
Leaks behind walls can cause some of the most damage and be the most difficult to diagnose. These leaks tend to stay hidden until the wall becomes wet enough to turn dark or feel squishy. You may also experience one of the symptoms of hidden leaks mentioned above.
It’s easy to panic when you realize something is leaking behind your walls. Unless you are comfortable cutting into your walls and diagnosing the problem yourself, you will want to call a plumber to do this work for you. This is the best way to minimize the damage done to your home, since plumbers are trained to fix your leaks with a minimum of hassle.
Sometimes, repiping part of your system is the best way to fix a leak, especially a hidden one. After all, if one part of the system goes bad, it can indicate that other parts of the system are on their way to failure, too. Also, water can carry corrosive minerals. If you have had a small leak for a long time, there’s a good chance that the leaked water has damaged or is damaging the other parts of your system that it leaked onto. The easiest and quickest way to figure out what is best for your home is to call a local plumber.
Leaks in the Sewer Line
Every drain in your house eventually flows into the main sewer line, which flows from your house into a much larger sewer line in the street. In most locales, the homeowner is responsible for maintenance and repairs of the line that leads from their home to the street. Unfortunately, leaks in this line can go unnoticed for a long time.
Keep an eye out for anything unusual about the way your plumbing is working. Unexplained sounds of running water, for instance, can indicate a sewer line problem. Also, notice any unpleasant smells that don’t have another explanation. Leaky sewer lines can cause an overgrowth of bacteria, mold, or fungus, and none of these smell very good.
Keep an eye out for things changing in your yard, too. Leaky pipes can cause extra water to pool underground, so you may find that your grass or shrubs are growing quickly or extensively in one particular area of your yard. While this can be nice for a while, the bacteria released by a sewer leak usually kill your plants eventually. Look, too, for rats or other undesirable animals who may be attracted to a particular part of your yard. If they suddenly appear and you can’t get rid of them, it’s probably time to check your pipes.
Some of the most difficult leaks that can occur in a home are when sewer pipes leak underneath the concrete foundation of your home. These are called slab leaks, and even plumbers can have a hard time detecting them and pinpointing the problem area. Look for new cracks in your foundation, as well as buckling in other concrete, like in your patio, walkways, or driveway.
If you suspect any sort of sewer leak, but especially one under the foundation, contact Daniel’s Plumbing and Air Conditioning right away. We will do what it takes to figure out what is going wrong at your house, and we will give you a free estimate on the repair. Call us today to schedule your appointment..
Your Main Shut-Off Valve
When water starts leaking in your home, the main shut-off valve is your best friend. This turns off the water to the entire home, giving you time to figure out what is going wrong and to get it fixed without sustaining massive amounts of water damage.
If you suspect any leak, you should turn off the water at this valve. If you’re wrong, there’s no harm done. And, if you’re right, you can save yourself a lot of time and hassle by cutting off the flow of water before it saturates any part of your home.
The main shut-off valve is almost always above the ground, against the wall of your home. If you have a basement, it may be down there. A lot of homes have special panels built into the wall especially to make easy access to this valve. If you have an older home, though, keep in mind that your valve may be underground. If you’re buying a home, be sure to get this information from the previous homeowner or your inspector, so you can be prepared in case of a plumbing emergency.
You should also test your main shut-off valve. Make sure that the handle turns easily, and that it effectively stops the flow of water into your home. You can test it as often as you need to, in order to make sure that it works well and that everyone in the house can use it. Even children should be able to turn the valve with ease, which can come in handy if there’s ever a water crisis in your home.
If you don’t know where your main shut-off valve is or if it doesn’t seem to be working well, it is worthwhile to call a plumber before an emergency occurs. They can help you locate the valve, even if it is well-hidden, and they can tell you what needs to be done to repair a valve that doesn’t work well.
For instance, many homes do not have a high-quality brass valve for their main shut-off. Since brass does not react with water the way many other metals do, it is the first choice for this important part of your plumbing system. Investing in a good valve now means you won’t have to worry about it not working when you need it.
If you need help finding or fixing a leak in your home, call us at Daniel’s Plumbing and Air Conditioning today.