Supply Piping Leaks
How to Find a Water Leak: An In-Depth Guide
No matter where you live, at some point you’ll probably have to deal with a water leak in your home, although some places have it worse than others. Especially those in Michigan or Kansas who have to deal with seasonal tornados and melting snow; or those in Florida, North Carolina, and other places along the Atlantic Coast who deal with hurricanes and regular flooding.
Did you know that a typical calendar year has about 12 named storms, six hurricanes, and three major hurricanes; plus, the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is projected to be above normal? What this means is that your home is likely to have a water leak and suffer water damage. There are several things you can learn to help you out with this situation. Keep reading to find out more about how to find a water leak.
How to Find a Water Leak and Different Signs
Finding a water leak can be a bit complicated. There are several things that can cause it and many different places the water leak can be found. The first thing you need to do is figure out where the leak is coming from. But, you might be saying, “I don’t know how to detect water leaks.”
Don’t worry we’re going to go over everything right here and right now. Cracks, wet spots, mold, and mildew are all signs of a water leak. Also, you can look for worn-out pipes, corrosion, moisture on drywall, raised flooring, and discolored walls or ceilings.
What Usually Causes Piping Leaks in General and the Different Factors
The best way to detect water leaks in your house is to figure out the cause or source of the leak. This will save you a great deal of time and money in the long run. Plus, if you’re going to hire a plumber or basement waterproofing company you’ll save on time and labor costs by pinpointing the problem or at least pointing them in the right direction during the consultation.
Piping leaks can be caused by the chemistry of the water flowing through them. They can also be caused by corrosion due to time and of course normal wear and tear. Pitting corrosion happens in copper pipes. There are three different causes or types.
- Type I Pitting
If you have hard water and the pH level of your water is between 7 and 7.8. Type I pitting will be the cause of your cold water piping leaks.
- Type II Pitting
If the water in your system is soft with temperatures above 140 degrees Fahrenheit and there’s a pH level under 7.2, you’ll probably experience Type II pitting.
- Type III Pitting
If your water is soft, cold, and has a pH above 8.0 TYpe III pitting will occur.
- The Velocity of Your Water
Water velocity can be a problem if the piping is too small in diameter to handle the water flow and pressure. The simplest way to describe it is there isn’t any room for the water to move and it expands the pipes or gets backed up. Then, cracks or pinholes start to form. If the pipes aren’t repaired they can leak and eventually burst.
The Different Types of Leaks With Regard to Your Water Supply
There are a few different places water supply leaks can surface. You should be vigilant in checking these as they can sneak up on you at times.
Your Dishwasher and Refrigerator
If your dishwasher supply lines are leaking that could go noticed for a significant amount of time because the lines are behind the machine and not easy to access. If that happens, you could have damage to your floor. Do you have a refrigerator with an automatic ice maker or water dispenser? Then, you should also be checking for leaks underneath regularly if you want to save your floors from damage.
The maximum water pressure for a typical home should be around 60 psi. If it stays within 40-60 psi, you should have sufficient water supply running throughout your home. However, if it goes above 60 psi., then you’re probably going to have a problem. When the water pressure gets too high it puts a great deal of stress on your pipes, fixtures, and other appliances.
First, your pipes will get tiny little holes in them. But, if left unchecked or you don’t tend to them, soon they’ll become bigger holes and become a major water leak, which will ultimately lead to a flooded home.
HVAC and Air-Conditioner
HVAC equipment can be tricky to detect water leaks as well because there’s typically some moisture around your central air-conditioning unit. However, if there’s a clog in your drain line then the pans will overflow which will cause excess moisture and subsequently water damage.
You can detect a leak by looking for excessive dripping or moisture on the drywall. If you see those symptoms then look at the drain line, pump, and refrigerant to search for leaks. One thing you should consider is a safety overflow switch for your HVAC unit.
The Different Types of Leaks in Building Drain Piping
Building drain piping is an important element to prevent leaks and water damage in your home. Below are some of the places you’ll find leaks in your building drain piping.
Sump Pump or Sewer
If you have a sump pump and you’re experiencing heavy water backup or blockage you may need to replace it. Oftentimes sump pumps need to be replaced every five years. They can last up to 10-15 years but those are rare cases. If your home was built after the 1970s you probably have a sump pump. A sump pump works in tandem with your “city storm” which is the public drainage or sewer system.
The sewer takes care of raw sewage and waste while the “city storm” deals with rainwater. These both may become backed up after a big storm. If you’ve got a sump pump that’s working properly you can greatly reduce the risk of this happening. Installing or updating a sump pump is one of the best things you can do to waterproof your basement. If you don’t already have one or yours is faulty, then it’s probably a good idea to install one if you detect a water leak in your basement.
Your sprinkler or sprinkler system is another place you will find leaks in your building drain piping. Sprinkler leaks can be a pest as well as cost you a lot of money. Make sure your system is up to date and test it frequently to find any cracks or wear and tear. Check your irrigation controller and look for pooling or dry spots on your lawn. Don’t forget to check your sprinkler heads as well.
The Different Types of Plumbing Fixture Leaks
Plumbing issues can be a major hassle in your home. We’ve all had a toilet overflow and it’s not pleasant. They always seem to happen at the most inopportune times too. If your toilet is clogged it can ruin your day and bathrooms and sinks can harvest bacteria if they’re not taken care of or have leakage.
Toilet leaks might seem harmless but they can be pretty serious. Leaky toilets, appliances, and faucets are responsible for 18 gallons of water waste per day in the United States. Most of the time if a toilet is leaking it’s coming from the wax ring or the flange. When the water tank or supply has a problem, pipes behind the walls can start to leak or burst. In this case, your drywall will become moist and wet spots will appear after the water pushes through your walls.
The best way of how to find a leak from your toilet is to make routine checks to the pipes that run from your wall to your toilet. If you see any puddles, mildew, or mold then you have a leak there. Also, if there’s a small puddle around your toilet turn it off so you can have a look at the tank and see if that might be the problem.
Showers and Sinks
Worn out caulking can cause sinks and showers to have water leaks. Also, there may be holes in your supply lines. Leaks from your showers and sinks are extremely hard to detect. Make sure you’re looking for raised tiles, low water pressure, or small puddles.
The Water Heater
The water heater in your home may be the culprit of your water leak. The best way to find out if it is or not is to check what its life expectancy is? Once a water heater reaches a certain “age” they tend to corrode and rust.
When they corrode and rust they stop working properly. Two things will happen. You’ll either have a slow leak or a sudden burst. Either way, you’ll have a water leak and probable damage at some point. So, the best thing to do is keep an eye on how long your water heater is supposed to last. In the meantime, periodically look for slow leakage coming out from it.
The Washing Machine
Second only to your bathroom, the washing machine has the most usage of water in your home. So, that means it’s going to be an area that can cause problems and should be monitored on a regular basis. A leak from your washing machine will most likely be caused by a ruptured water supply hose. The problem is that most washing machine hoses are made of polymer or black rubber which end up failing as time goes on.
Detecting this type of leak can be tricky but with some knowledge and care you can do it; here’s how. Remove the cabinet or lift the main top door. Then, look for any cracking or abrasions with the hoses. If you don’t find anything there check behind the machine for mold and mildew, or wet spots on the wall.
The Structural Impacts of Water Damage
Some structural damage is easy to notice. But, some structural damage isn’t and often can be very harmful to your home and its foundation. A sagging roof, tilted windows, and door frames are something you can notice without much effort. However, things such as load-bearing walls and 2×4’s that hold it up are at risk of collapsing due to water damage. The metal structures that are a big part of your home’s foundation can be weakened and loosened by water damage too. Some ways to detect if water leaks have caused structural damage to your home are to check if windows and doors don’t open like they used to.
Check for cracks in any wood structures. Also, is there wet insulation or wet electrical circuits? Another thing to look for when detecting water leaks that may have caused structural damage are cracks in your foundation or rust coming out of any cracks.
Impacts on Your Health
There are several impacts a water leak can have on your health. Impacts such as, mold which causes allergic reactions and respiratory illness. In this time of COVID-19, it’s really important to take care of your respiratory health. So implementing a system to detect after leaks early on will help keep you and your family safe and comfortable inside your home. Remember, a dehumidifier will keep moisture and mildew at bay.
What You Can Do to Prevent Leaks
Preventing water leaks is much better than fixing them. Let’s summarize all of the things you can do to prevent water leaks and future damage to your home. A backup pump works great if your power goes out due to a storm. Or, if your main sump pump isn’t working properly.
Oftentimes, during and after a storm, water that’s in the ground has no place to go and can flow into you home. A yard drainage system will help water flow away from it. In that case, the water will naturally flow to an open or available area which can be inside your walls, under your floor, and in your home.
The Best Way to Detect Water Leaks in Your Home
Now you know how to find a water leak in your home. As mentioned, it takes diligence and a regular routine of checking on certain appliances, pumps, walls, floors, and other areas. You’ll also need to watch out for sagging windows or doorways and windows and doors that aren’t opening properly. Plus check if you have hard or soft water and find out the pH levels.
Being aware of any mold or mildew is a priority as well if you want to detect water leaks before they cause too much damage. Click here to contact us and get more help with water leaks.