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Having leaky plumbing problems? It’s bad enough that there’s water all over the floor or around the sink, but now there’s also water-damaged areas.

Water damage typically originates from plumbing leaks. In fact, plumbing problems like leaks and bursts are the leading causes of water damage!

Now, you can’t blame yourself for the plumbing problem. For all you know, this is something that may have been taking place for quite a while now and if you only recently moved into the home, it’s likely that the previous owners didn’t take care of inspecting the plumbing before selling the house. 

We’ll cover everything in this guide to help you discover these hidden leaks and how to prevent leaks from forming. Finding the source of the problem is just the beginning of the job.


What Are the Side Effects of Water Leaks?

Slow leaks or even pipe bursts have various “side effects” that afflict the areas where the water runs. The issues that arise from water leaking out or infiltrating areas where it doesn’t belong are numerous. Some of these problems include:

  • Standing water
  • Bubbling paint
  • Rotting materials such as drywall
  • Mold growth
  • Higher water bills
  • Sinking ceilings
  • Flooding
  • Damaged electronics

The faster a leak is found, the less resulting damage to your property.


How to Prevent Plumbing Leaks

Leaks may seem inevitable, but they’re not. Sure, your faucet may leak at some point or maybe your bathtub will, but even these things can be avoided if you know how to properly prevent them.

Here are a few ways you can prevent leaks in your plumbing.


Don’t Clog The Drains

Drains can become clogged very easily. All you need is too much of any material (like toilet paper) being flushed through the pipes to clog it. However, sometimes we throw things down the drain that just don’t belong. For instance, flushing your hair down the drain can easily lead to clogging. If the pipes to the drain are smaller or your drain catcher/strainer doesn’t catch all of the hair or dirt, this can pack together to cause a large blockage in your pipes leading to minimal water flow, improper flushing, sewage backup, and even pipe bursts.

How do you know if your drains are clogged? Typically you’ll see bubbling coming from the drains or you’ll notice that water isn’t draining quickly.  

How do you stop your drains from clogging? Don’t throw items down the drain that don’t belong.


Invest in an Annual Maintenance Plan

Annual maintenance plans are a great investment to save you from enormous damage costs and repairs. An annual maintenance program is offered by most local plumbers. It’s a routine inspection for your plumbing system to ensure things are running smoothly and no leaks are present.

Annual maintenance plans aren’t very costly in the long run. Think about how much money you could spend on a water heater replacement versus paying out a couple hundred dollars per year to verify no problems exist with your entire plumbing system and water-using appliances.


Replace Hoses

Hoses (or tubes) connect pipes to fixtures that run water. Your faucets will most likely have hoses connected to pass water through the faucet head unless they are rigid tubes, meaning that they aren’t flexible. These hoses are made up of several components, and any could be faulty, leading to a leak. Typically, you won’t know if a hose will cause a leak until you see one. Every few years or so, you should be replacing these hoses or at least cleaning them out since grime can formulate over time.

If there is a leak, it can be challenging to pinpoint the exact piece that’s causing the problem, so it’s best to just replace the hose entirely. These hoses are fairly cheap and many can be found online.


Prepare for Winter by Winterizing Plumbing

Plumbing during the winter can be a nightmare for homeowners, especially in Colorado. With temperatures that fluctuate all the time, you never really know when the snowstorm will actually hit. Winterizing your pipes is the method of priming your plumbing for freezing temperatures (anything at or below 32 degrees Fahrenheit).

For irrigation systems, this would mean draining your sprinklers so the water doesn’t freeze within the tubing and pipes. Frozen pipes that run water can lead to pipe bursts.

Your regular plumbing can also freeze and burst if not properly winterized. Sometimes, getting better insulation for things such as the basement or attic can lead to keeping the area above freezing temperatures. This can be something as simple as taping insulation around the pipes themselves.


Take Precautionary Measures for Pipe Joints

A pipe joint is where two ends meet. If not properly sealed or tightened, the joints could be too loose or have gaps, allowing water to funnel through. Tips for properly sealing your pipe joints include:

  • Wrap Teflon tape around the threaded joint.
  • Tighten the joint.
  • Properly align the pipes at the joint.
  • Seal components with Teflon joint compound.

Here are a few other tips from Family Handyman when it comes to stopping leaks from pipe joints.


Control Your Home’s Water Pressure

Is your water pressure too high? When the water pressure in your home is in excessive supply, it can lead to pipe damage and other plumbing issues such as worn seals and damaged appliances. High water pressure leads to leaks since too much water is passing through at such a vast volume.

Imagine it like this. A strong gust of wind can push over trash cans, tear off roof shingles, and uproot trees. If that gust is in continuous flow, it causes more damage, right? Well, the water flowing through your pipes at high speed and volume can damage anything that’s attached to it. Joints connecting pipes and fixtures will start to loosen, allowing leaks to break through.

Check your water pressure to ensure it’s not at high capacity. Your home’s water pressure should be between 40-60 PSI.


Routinely Check for Old, Rusted Pipes

Pipes that look like they’re corroding or changing color mean that they are starting to age. Rust is an oxide, a chemical effect that changes metals, altering their color and damaging the material. Pipes could be made of steel, copper, cast iron, or a number of other metals. Recognizing the difference between pipe metals and the damage they yield to will help you find the desired treatment for fixing the pipes.

Regularly check your pipes for aging and rust. If you know the age of your house and when the last time was that your pipes were replaced, you can guess which pipes are old and which ones will need replacement. Check those pipes that are coming up on old age or are exposed to heavy amounts of moisture and oxygen.


How to Find Hidden Leaks

Water damaged basement with water extraction equipment

Now that we’re done with covering the preventative side of things, let’s discuss what it looks like to find hidden leaks. These leaks will be ones that take a keen eye to notice and discern what the situation is. Hidden leaks tend to formulate over time and aren’t noticeable until much later after the damage has already taken effect. For instance, you may have a hidden leak if you see a spike in your water bill.


Surface Areas Surrounding the Plumbing Are Wet

When a surface area near plumbing is moist, this can be a sign of a leak. The pipes are meant to hold water inside, so if you’re seeing water, it isn’t just due to regular pipe usage. Plumbing fixtures such as kitchen faucets tend to leak water after a period of time and use.

If you notice water around the base of the fixture on the countertop, it’s likely that a part of the fixture isn’t doing its job by keeping the water in. It’s entirely possible that a seal has been broken.


Plumbing Appliances Are Wobbly

If your toilet can jostle about, you most likely have a leak. Every plumbing appliance is supposed to be stationary, fixed to a position, immovable unless brute force is controlling its placement. Water breaks seals and loosens even heavy objects.

So, when something like a toilet or the base of a faucet is moving, it’s incredibly likely that there is a leak somewhere that’s causing the appliance to easily shift position.


Flooring is Moist, Rotted, or Pliable

Does your floor look wet regularly? Perhaps the grout between the tile is discolored or mold is setting in? If you have wood floors, are the planks pliable? Do you have a sinking floor?

All of these questions point to a leak that is making its way into the floor materials. Standing water isn’t just a plumbing problem, it’s a hazard problem. Standing water collects mold and bacteria; it also damages the materials underneath, creating a larger issue that requires a water extraction crew to come in and completely dry out the water.

If you notice your flooring is bending or rotten, maybe it even smells, these could be indicators that a leak is present. How do you find this leak? Typically, a moisture meter can be beneficial for finding leaks, but a more affordable way to discover a leak’s origin is by doing the following:

  1. Dry out the entire area.
  2. Put towels or paper towels around the room at sealed or caulked areas.
  3. Check-in every now and again to see which towels are wet.
  4. Repeat this process until you are certain of the water leak’s region.
  5. Finally, review the area, checking for bubbling paint or lifted materials. From here, you can trace the source.


Flooded Yard

If your yard is flooded, it most likely wasn’t the last rain you got. Flooded yards tend to indicate a leak in the water main line or other pipes. How does this occur if your pipes are safely underground?


Trees…

Tree roots and other plant roots spread beneath the dirt and if they’re too close to your house’s pipes, they could cause enough damage to form a leak. This is something that doesn’t occur overnight but takes years to grow and causes enough damage to be a problem. Get a blueprint of your home’s pipe system so you know just how close the trees and plants are to your pipes.

Or it could be your irrigation system leaking.


What to Do When There’s Water Damage

Leaks almost always lead to water damage if they aren’t leading into a drain. Within 24 hours, your house could already be damaged. Prevention is key to ensuring you don’t end up with a water-damaged house, but restoration is necessary after the damage has been done.

When water has damaged your property, you call upon a water damage restoration professional to extract the water, find the true source, and help with the restoration of your home.

Trying to clean up the water yourself isn’t the solution. You may think that you dried up all of the water, but there is most likely moisture still sitting in the materials of your home. At Rocky Mountain Restoration, we have the water extraction equipment and expertise you need to dry out all of the water and prevent mold growth.


Contact us if your leak has gotten out of hand and you need an expert to solve your water damage problems.