What Causes Plumbing Leaks?
Constantly dripping sinks and damp floors can be a sign of a plumbing leak. Cleaning up and repairing these leaky pipes can be quite tedious to deal with. Most homeowners believe a little leak now and then is not anything serious.
Unfortunately, this is not the case. Constant plumbing leaks often indicate a more serious problem lurking just underneath. What damage can a leaky plumbing system create? What can cause plumbing leaks in the first place?
Problem Signs to Watch out For
Plumbing leaks are often misconstrued as easy fixes. However, if you continue to encounter problems after the initial fix, the true issue may lie elsewhere. Looking out for certain problem signs can help you determine where the leak is stemming from and how to go about fixing it.
Leaks themselves are considered a problem sign of a larger issue. Your plumbing system is designed to carry clean water to your home and waste away from it without trickling that water anywhere else.
If you find leaks pooling along the floor of your basement or in your bathroom, it is not something you should ignore. Placing a bucket underneath and hoping for the best is not going to solve anything either. As soon as a leak springs in your plumbing system, it is best to uncover the root cause before it backs up with waste and floods your home.
- Musty Smell
If you notice a rank stench every time you go down to your basement or wafting about your first floor, you have likely standing water or sewage inside your crawl space or basement. This water might have trickled out of a misaligned pipe down to your crawl space, within your foundation, or even in your basement.
Standing water can produce all kinds of damage to these areas. Outside of the unpleasant odor, you may also have to deal with:
- Mold or mildew growth
- Unwanted pests attracted to the moisture
- Rotting support beams and floor joists that threaten the structural integrity of your house
Unfortunately, the crawl space and foundation are not areas most homeowners can access. The crawl space in particular is very cramped, so you cannot simply drain it out with buckets like you would a flooded basement.
The longer you leave the water to stand in this space, however, the worse that unpleasant stench will grow. It is certainly a problem sign you cannot ignore even if you wanted to. This is why you need to hire a professional as soon as you notice an issue.
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Causes of Plumbing Leaks
Being able to identify signs that there is a problem with your plumbing system can help homeowners realize the severity of these issues. They may then take steps to repair their systems and find ways to prevent these issues from ever occurring again.
Knowing what can cause your plumbing to leak is a very beneficial first step to that. So what causes your plumbing to leak?
- Consider Your Climate
Homeowners that live in damper climates tend to deal with a slew of moisture-related problems every year. Humid climates are especially at-risk for flooded basements, leaking, and other costly issues. Some areas also see plenty of snowfall, storms, and humidity year-round. This can lead to the soil around your home’s foundation soaking in too much water. This water may then seep through to your concrete foundation or find a way to settle inside your crawl space.
This can prove to be especially dangerous in the winter when that moisture freezes up again. Ice can clog or fully freeze your pipes, causing any water trying to flow through to either freeze as well or leak out someplace else.
Your plumbing could also be leaking due to a very simple reason: a clogged pipe. If the water has nowhere else to go, it will start to back up or leak out someplace to ease the building pressure.
Debris like soil, leaves, or waste slipping into the pipes could be obstructing your plumbing system from flowing properly. A crack in one of your pipes may also entice tree roots to push through as well and wreak havoc in your plumbing system.
You might try to unplug clogs with a combination of chemical agents that you dump down a drain. Even if this does appear to work for the time being, doing so is a temporary fix at best. Misaligned, cracked, or even burst pipes will only clog up again sooner or later.
- Hydrostatic Pressure
Your home’s foundation lies within the crawl space or basement, where many other important systems in your house are installed. This includes your HVAC system, electrical wiring, insulation, and perhaps most importantly, your home’s intricate plumbing system.
The loose soil that surrounds your foundation may absorb way too much moisture. The pressure created by this sudden increase in weight can then crack your foundation and allow water to flood your basement or crawl space. The pressure may also cause your plumbing to burst or crack along with the foundation, which in turn, may be the cause of leaks around your home.
Moisture may also seep into your concrete foundation and freeze within its tiny pores. The expansion of the ice will then cause it to crack under the strain. A sudden shift in your foundation may also affect your plumbing as well.
How to Patch up Plumbing Leaks
You could try to realign your pipes yourself, but it is not recommended unless you are a certified professional. Many homeowners have never even ventured inside their crawl spaces before. You run the risk of accidentally messing up the other systems embedded within this narrow space.
If it turns out that the main issue lies within your crawl space or foundation, it will make repairs that much more difficult for you. The average homeowner will not have the proper tools or the know-how to fix those issues themselves.
Hiring an expert to inspect your property is your best bet. Not only will they be able to figure out what is causing your plumbing issues, but they can also recommend permanent solutions to them, too. You can rest easy knowing they can implement long-lasting repairs that will keep your plumbing working smoothly for years to come.
Plumbing Leaks FAQs
Most homeowners use their plumbing every day without thinking once about where the pipes lead. If you don’t know much about your home’s plumbing, you probably don’t know where it goes. Here’s what you should know about where your home’s plumbing is located.
- Under the Home
If you were to ask most homeowners where their plumbing system goes, chances are they’re going to reply that it’s largely underneath their home. However, this isn’t usually the case, which surprises many homeowners.
The majority of your home’s plumbing system typically isn’t located under your house. Rather, your home’s plumbing system will almost always stay inside your home for a while before it moves underground and goes toward the sewage or water system.
- In the Crawl Space or Basement
For the most part, your pipes are installed along your crawl space, a hollow area between the ground and the first floor. This allows for someone to go in and check on the pipes without having to excavate them.
If you have a basement rather than a crawl space, the pipes may be in the area between the basement and the first floor. Finished basements often cover this area with drywall, but unfinished basements may show the pipes.
- Other Elements of the Crawl Space or Basement
If a leak persists after you try to fix it, the issue may lie within the pipes inside your crawl space or basement. This can indicate that the problem runs deeper than you thought, which means you need to talk to an expert.
The crawl space or basement houses many vital systems and components of your home, such as your HVAC system, electrical wiring, insulation, and even your foundation. A leak in either area can be devastating to the home as a whole.
Leaks can sprout from sources outside of faulty plumbing. Although faulty plumbing is a big problem that you should tackle, there are other sources for leakage issues. Think about these possibilities next time you’re wondering about your home’s leaks.
- Flooding and Rainfall
One big possibility for leaks comes from rain and flooding. If there are significant amounts of rain and flooding problems in your area, it can press up against the crawl space and come inside, especially if you have open crawl space vents.
In this situation, your best bet is to invest in crawl space encapsulation to fix the issues that you might be having currently. This way, you’re less likely to have problems with flooding as it’s happening.
- Hydrostatic Pressure Around the Foundation
Rainwater doesn’t necessarily have to cause leaks the moment it happens. The weight of rainwater or melted snow mixed with the loose soil surrounding your house can press up against your foundation, especially if you have expansive soil around the home.
Though the weight of the water may not be quite enough to crack the concrete, the excess water may still seep in through the foundation’s pores. Enough water gathered within may then flow out and create a sizable leak into your basement or crawl space.
If you discover the issue lies with a misaligned pipe or similar issue, you may try to straighten out your pipes yourself. Especially if you already appreciate DIY in other areas of your home, it’s probably not a good idea to try DIY for your plumbing. Here’s what you should know about the downfalls of DIY.
- Issues with DIY Fixes
DIY fixes may work as a temporary measure. However, if your foundation is uneven or shifting, it’s only a matter of time before the pipes become misaligned again. This means that your DIY fix isn’t a fix.
Overall, DIY fixes for extremely crucial elements of the home, which can include plumbing, foundation failure, and other parts of your home, tend not to work out how you were hoping. It’s always better to trust an expert for these things.
- Reasons to Hire an Expert
Instead of trying your best in a DIY project, it’s best to hire a crawl space inspector to take a look at this system instead. They’ll know exactly what to look for and how to best protect your home from a leak so damage won’t occur in the future.
A Groundworks expert is one of the best people to help you with your problems. If you’re having issues with damage caused by a plumbing leakage, request an inspection today to figure out a path forward.
The Plumbing Leak Experts
Leaks in your plumbing system can be unpleasant at best and disastrous at worst. On top of sopping up or draining away all the wastewater, you will also have to deal with a variety of issues water damage can cause. Most homeowners are not well equipped to handle these costly issues nor will they be able to access the problem area easily.
This is why it is best to leave damage from plumbing leaks to the experts. They can inspect your property to uncover the initial cause of your leaks as well as any other issues that may arise.