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What Causes Pipes to Leak and How to Deal with the Damage?

It may be the least of your worries but pipe leaks are actually a serious problem that you need to attend to ASAP. Many families have suffered a great deal of financial losses, not to mention extreme discomfort, from a neglected pipe leak that has caused irreversible damage to their home. If you don’t want to be in their situation, you have to start paying attention to your plumbing system, particularly to your pipes.

What causes pipe leaks?

Identifying what causes pipes to leak is the first step you need to take if you want to stop the water damage from spreading. That said, the search for the source doesn’t come easy, but there are some common sources that you might want to take note of.

  • Deterioration – Pipes can last between 20 and 100 years depending on the material they are made of. Cast iron and PVC pipes last the longest but they are usually used for drainage systems. Brass, copper and galvanized steel pipes are often the ones intended for supply purposes. These functional lifespans, however, are just rough estimates. There are loads of factors that can affect them, so you need to be vigilant. If you are planning to buy a house, make sure to ask the age of each building you visit. You have to know for how long the plumbing system can last, especially if you want to avoid the massive cost of total plumbing renovation.
  • Natural Shifting – Did you know that although your house seems solid and steady, it’s actually shifting position over time due to natural movement of soil? One possible piece of evidence of this shift is the pipe leak that has been giving you a headache for some time now. The shift might have caused one of the pipe joints to break or loosen up.
  • Rapid Change in Temperature – Hot and cold water runs through your house at any given time. The pipes spanning between the heat source and your tap, tub, or shower are constantly experiencing contraction and expansion when hot and cold water rapidly passes through them. As a result, sections of the pipes that sustain the most damage may crack and cause a leak.
  • Blockage – Pressure builds along a clogged section of a pipe. If water pressure rises fast, it might cause some connectors to break, or worse – the pipe to burst. It is important to keep your entire plumbing system clog-free to maintain a tolerable pressure level along the pipes.
  • Poor Installation – If the pipe leak occurs only a few years after your plumbing was installed, then you can suspect that your plumbing wasn’t installed properly. In fact, the majority of cases of pipe leak occur as a result of poor workmanship.

What happens if you neglect a pipe leak?

Homeowners tend to overlook their pipe leak problems for a variety of reasons. Some fail to take notice because leaks usually occur in hidden places, such as underneath the sink, inside the walls, or even underground. Others do nothing even if they already noticed the leak because they are unaware of the damage it can do to their property. Here are some of the major consequences of not dealing with pipe leaks right away.

  • Health Problems – The water escaping from your plumbing system is the least of your worries when you are experiencing pipe leaks. It’s the damage that escaping water can do that you should really be worried about. No matter how small a leak may seem, it can be detrimental if left unattended for a long period.One of its biggest dangers is creating damp spots that turn into a home for all sorts of bugs and pests. These damp sports may also serve as a breeding ground for mould, mildew, and all sorts of fungi. Some types of mould, such as the black mould, produces spores that can be lethal when inhaled.
  • Structural Damage – Some of the most essential components of your building are made of materials that are not very good with water, such as wood and fibreboard. When sodden from the leak, they will slowly weaken and disintegrate until they lose their structural integrity. Even structural components that are made of concrete, such as the footing, may also sustain damage, especially when the leak weakens the soil surrounding them, causing them to either sink or tilt.
  • Financial Problems – Of course, with all this damage on your property comes a huge repair cost. This cost continues to grow the longer you wait, as does the cost of the water escaping from the pipes. One of the tell-tale signs that there’s a leak in your plumbing is when your bill suddenly shoots up even if there’s no significant changes in your consumption. You can verify this by watching if the water meter keeps running even if all water outlets are shut.

Calling a Plumber

Unless you know how to do complicated plumbing repair, your best course of action if you are dealing with a pipe leak is to hire a plumber. They can easily and accurately locate the source of leaks with their sophisticated equipment. They can also determine whether or not the damaged pipe can still be fixed. Even though you may consider yourself a handyman, there are a lot of plumbing fixes that are better carried out by an actual plumber.

To avoid the leak recurring anytime soon, though, they might recommend replacement. In cases where more than one segment of the pipe system is damaged, a complete overhaul may be your best option. Regardless, you should not handle this task yourself to avoid doing more harm than good to your home plumbing. Sometimes, knowing what can cause a water leak and other plumbing issues and leaving the rest to a professional plumbing company like FIXME Plumbing is enough to keep your home leak free.

Author: FIXME Plumbing