Water is the number one enemy of every homeowner. A leak could spell disaster and cause expensive damages in any area of the house. Water damage can cause stains on the walls and ceiling, wood rot, mold, and flooding.
Safeguard your home as much as possible by understanding what leads to pipe leaks, signs that you have a leaky pipe, and how to temporarily repair a leak. In case of a hidden or suspected leak, we also detail how professional plumbers can help detect the problem.
Common Causes of Leaky Pipes
Water can seep out of pipes in any home. It’s a more common problem than you might think. Here are some of the main issues that can result in leaks.
If your water lines are relatively new, but you suspect a leak, it may be caused by improper installation. It may also be caused by a poorly installed water heater, sump pump or plumbing fixture.
When there is a cold snap, like one that has hit a large chunk of the U.S. this week, it causes the metal of the pipes to contract quickly. Similarly, extremely hot temperatures lead to the metal expanding. Both of these changes can lead to cracks, leaks, and burst pipes.
Pipes age, along with your home, it is normal that some corrosion occurs over time. Aggressive rust can actually consume the metal that the water lines are made of and create holes. Corrosion is a typical problem for pipes that are at least 30 years old. It can also be a bi-product of corrosive liquids and caustic drain cleaners that are introduced in the lines.
The foundation of your house may shift if soil wasn’t compacted sufficiently during construction, due to seismic activity, or as the moisture level of the soil changes. This shifting puts stress on the pipe and can cause them to disconnect or break.
Leaky Seals & Joints
Rubber or plastic gaskets are used to create a watertight seal around fixtures and at joint connections. These materials tend to break down over time, allowing water to drip out.
Buildup & Blockages
Pressure inside the pipe increases when there is buildup, like that caused by hard water, blockages in the line, and clogged drains. Once the pressure gets too strong, it can damage the pipes and cause them to burst.
Signs that You Have a Leaky Pipe
It is not always clear that a problem is caused by an infiltration or leakage. These are the symptoms to look out for.
- Low water pressure – A leak in the lines can reduce the water pressure at faucets and appliances.
- Mold and mildew – Extra moisture, like that from a leak, is often the source of mold growth and mildew.
- Paint damage – stained, bubbling, peeling or flaking paint on the walls or ceiling of the house are signs of excess moisture.
- Musty smells –If water seeps out, leading to mold growth, you may notice it because of its distinctive odor.
Temporary DIY Solutions
If you have spotted a pipe problem, you will want to stop water from leaking out as fast as possible. Some leaks can be fixed easily by a handy homeowner, other repairs will require a plumber. But, these solutions should help you stop the flow and decrease the potential damage in the meantime.
- Tighten the joint – If the leak is located at a threaded connection in the pipe, a few turns with a wrench may do the trick.
- Replace the seal – If the problem is a damaged seal, and it’s possible to stop the flow of water, you should be able to repair the leak by switching out the old gasket.
- DIY pipe repair kit – Pipe repair kits, found at your hardware store, provide a quick solution to small leaks. Simply follow the directions and position the wrap or sleeve around the opening as a temporary fix.
- Pipe clamp – For pinholes, punctures, and pipe splits, a pipe clamp positioned tightly can contain the problem at least until the plumber comes.
- Patch the leak – If you are able to locate a hole or crack in an iron pipe, you may be able to patch it with an epoxy putty available at the hardware store. This type of compound will seal the opening until a more permanent repair can be made.
How Plumbers Locate Leaks
These days, plumbers have some handy tools of the trade that help them quickly and effectively locate leaks. So, if you suspect there is a leaky pipe in your home, but are unsure of where it might me, have no fear!
Leakages can be pinpointed by detecting differences in temperature. Fluid that escapes a pipe is usually either hotter or colder than the temperature in the house. Because of this, thermal imaging can detect the differences in temperature in the walls, floor, ceiling or wherever the leak is located. The scanner device makes infiltrations visible by showing the temperature of the surface in colors on the screen.
Video Pipe Inspection
Another tool which makes hidden leaks visible is video pipe inspection. Plumbers can insert a video camera into and along the length of tubing with a long fiber optic cable. Then, they can check the inside surface of the pipe in real-time to find the leak.
Acoustic Leak Locator
This type of sensor detects noises made by leaks and can help locate their position. Small leaks produce high frequency sounds, while large leaks produce lower sounds. Acoustic leak detectors are often used in more commercial settings because they are powerful enough to detect these sounds even through concrete.
Call AQM for Prompt Plumbing Services
Find out more about our professional plumbing services and call AQM today for reliable leak detection and repair.