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Dealing With Plumbing Leaks

Every home has a potential threat that can cause significant damage and stress — a plumbing leak. Trickling water not only damages a home’s structure but also affects its comfort and cleanliness. We aim to better prepare homeowners with this guide, offering the practical information needed to respond effectively and correctly when a plumbing leak hits. We will take you through all the necessary steps, from detecting the leak to when a professional plumber comes.

1. Detecting the Leak

One of the first steps in addressing a plumbing leak is proper detection. A leak is not always apparent, especially if hidden behind walls or under floors. To investigate, check under sinks, behind toilets, and around appliances like washing machines and dishwashers. Don’t overlook outdoor faucets and sprinkler systems. Water meters can also provide clues. If the meter continues to run when all water sources are off, there’s likely a leak somewhere.

Detecting a leak is like playing detective. It requires careful observation, deductive reasoning, and sometimes patience. Some leaks are obvious, but others may be enclosed within walls or underneath the floor. If you think there is a leak but can’t find the source of it yourself, then it really would be best to seek professional help. A professional plumber will have proper equipment and training to locate leaks so they don’t lie undiscovered until the problem becomes far more serious.

2. Stopping the Leak

Once the leak has been detected, the most important step is to block off water flow. This can also spare you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in repair expenses and keep the water from destroying your property.

The first step is to find the water shut-off valve closest to the leak. This could be directly on the leaking fixture beneath a sink or behind a toilet. If the leak is severe or you can’t locate the localized shut-off valve, you should shut off the main water supply. There is a main valve near the water meter in most homes.

Though turning off the water supply doesn’t fix the leak, it gives a little extra time to take this next step without worsening things. Turn the valve right (clockwise) to turn off the water. If the valve is hard to turn or appears stuck, don’t force it, as it may break. Instead, call a professional plumber immediately.

While waiting for the plumber, it can be helpful to minimize damage by removing excess water with towels, buckets, or a wet/dry vacuum if available. Remember that water can cause significant property damage, promote mold growth, and even create potential electrical hazards, so it’s important to act quickly.

3. Common Causes of Water Leaks

Home water leaks can occur for various reasons, each with unique causes and solutions. Pipe corrosion is the first culprit to consider. Pipes can rust and corrode, particularly if made of an older material such as galvanized steel or iron. Small holes or cracks in the pipes due to corrosion also cause leaks.

Another common cause can be high water pressure. While a strong shower stream can be enjoyable, excessive water pressure can put undue stress on your plumbing system, leading to leaks or burst pipes. Ideally, residential water pressure should be around 60 pounds per square inch. If you’re getting frequent leaks, don’t forget to check your water pressure and adjust it when necessary.

Next, there is the problem of sudden temperature fluctuations. Freezing conditions can cause water in pipes to expand, while sudden warm spells can make pipes contract. This constant expansion and contraction can take a toll on your plumbing system, leading to leaks or bursts.

Tree roots can also be surprisingly destructive to your home’s plumbing system. Thirsty tree roots can worm into even the smallest cracks in your plumbing lines, causing them to break or leak. People should also remember the location of their plumbing lines when planting new trees and regularly check for signs of root intrusion.

Leaks can also result from appliance problems with washers, dishwashers, or refrigerators. Worn-out or defective hoses, loose connections, or aging equipment could cause this. Regular maintenance and inspection of these appliances can help prevent leaks and extend the equipment’s life span.

Lastly, poor construction and DIY projects can also cause water leaks. Shoddy installation or repairs by unqualified individuals can lead to faulty plumbing systems, resulting in leakage. It’s always best to hire a licensed professional for plumbing work to avoid costly mistakes and ensure your home’s safety. For residents of Weatherford, TX, Our team of experienced plumbers at Lightfoot Mechanical is available to address any plumbing emergencies.

4. How to Know You Have a Leak

Sometimes, leaks may not be overtly visible, leaving homeowners oblivious until significant damage occurs. However, several signs can suggest the presence of a leak. Attention to these early warning signals can help you detect and rectify a leak before it escalates into a major issue.

First, an unexplained increase in your water bill is a common sign of a hidden leak. When water usage suddenly increases without any obvious cause, it’s best to look carefully for leaks. Remember, as reflected in your bill, even a small, dripping leak can waste thousands of gallons of water over time.

Second, observe your water meter. To do this, you must first close off the water outlets at your house and check the meter. If it continues to run when no one is using water, it might indicate a leak somewhere.

The next symptom is hearing the sound of running water when it is quiet at home. Unusual sounds of water running or a constant dripping when no water outlets are open can indicate a leak.

Check your walls, ceilings, and floors for signs of water damage. Damp spots, peeling paint, sagging ceilings, or warped flooring are all symptoms of water leakage. Also, look for signs of mold or mildew, as these can grow in damp environments provided by leaky pipes.

Sometimes, a leak can be detected by the resulting drop in pressure. But if you suddenly or gradually lose water pressure without apparent cause, there’s something wrong with your plumbing system. You should also look outside your home. Puddles or areas of greener grass may indicate a leak in your sprinkler system or main water line.

Lastly, pay attention to any unusual smells. Persistent musty odors can indicate water damage and the presence of mold, often due to a hidden leak.

If you can’t find a leak, be sure to call in the help of an expert plumber. They possess the instruments and experience to precisely locate and repair any leaks that may damage your home.

When you’re faced with a plumbing issue or you need professional help with your heating, cooling, or electrical systems, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Lightfoot Mechanical. For residents of Weatherford, TX, we’re the trusted provider of top-notch service and solutions. Our team of certified experts is on standby, equipped with the skills and tools to tackle any problem, big or small. Whether it’s a minor faucet leak or a major pipe rupture, you’re in safe hands with Lightfoot Mechanical. Don’t let these issues disrupt your peace of mind or comfort for longer than necessary. Call us today for prompt, reliable, and expert service.

Meet the Author
Gary Lightfoot

With over 30 years of experience in the industry, Gary Lightfoot took over his family business and continues to run it with the values and standards set 35 years ago

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