Return to the Blog Home Page

Plumbing Leaks: 10 Fast Facts

Thursday, February 4th, 2021
plumbing leaks

While a variety of malfunctions and mishaps may be a potential cause of home water damage, common plumbing leaks are number one. The network of supply plumbing that distributes water under pressure throughout the house, the drain pipes that carry away wastewater, and the various fixtures and appliances connected to this system present many potential scenarios for plumbing leaks. Here’s a miscellany of fast facts about the causes, effects, and prevention of home plumbing leaks.

  • The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that plumbing leaks from all homes in the U.S. total one trillion gallons annually.  
  • Leaks from household water supply lines account for most plumbing-related water damage.
  • Major plumbing leaks due to total pipe ruptures are most often the result of internal pipe corrosion or frozen pipes that burst during frigid winter weather.
  • Inspecting water supply lines regularly for leakage is a good preventive measure. Check supply lines under sinks in kitchens and bathrooms as well as those connected to toilets and to washing machines, dishwashers, and refrigerator ice makers.
  • Pinhole leaks in copper water supply lines often appear insignificant. However, a pinhole can be external evidence of extensive internal pipe corrosion. Pinholes should be considered an advance warning of a potential pipe rupture that could occur at any time.
  • Sink and bathtub drain pipes aren’t under pressure, but can still leak considerable water at joints and seals. Look for drips under sinks and check out any unexplained pooling on floors around bathtubs and showers.
  • A dripping faucet is a leaky faucet. A single faucet dripping once per second due to a leaking internal cartridge wastes over 3,000 gallons per year.  
  • Dark spots on a downstairs ceiling may indicate plumbing leaks in a bathroom upstairs. Typical sources are bathtub/shower supply pipes or drain pipes routed through the bathroom floor.
  • Moisture from hidden or ignored plumbing leaks is a major trigger for toxic mold growth that can infect the entire house.
  • Note any unexplained increases in your water bill. They may be evidence of undiscovered plumbing leaks from a water supply line in a crawl space or other hidden area.

Handling Plumbing Issues During a Pandemic

Tuesday, October 6th, 2020
plumbing issues

Handling plumbing issues during the present pandemic may require giving a little more thought to the household complex system of pipes, drains, heater, and fixtures. It’s an interesting fact that many historians credit modern indoor plumbing as a major factor in improved health and the longer average life expectancy we enjoy today. Fully functional plumbing, as well as handling plumbing issues effectively, supports personal hygiene which, in turn, may prevent the spread of a variety of communicable diseases, including COVID-19.

In these uncertain times we face, here are some hints for handling plumbing issues:

Use the Real Thing

Plumbers report that there’s really no 100% acceptable substitute for toilet paper if your local store runs out. Other possible alternatives—baby wipes, paper towels, paper dinner napkins, and other paper products—do not properly disintegrate in water and may cause a clogged toilet or sewer line. A toilet overflow is an unpleasant reminder not to use these unapproved alternatives. Since store supplies of this irreplaceable necessity still fluctuate during the pandemic, be sure to maintain an abundant stock of toilet paper at all times.

Reduce the Plumbing Load

With more occupants at home all day in this pandemic, showers, baths, toilet usage, and water consumption are unusually higher. This increases the importance of handling plumbing issues properly. For example, the home water heater incurs excess wear and tear when subjected to constant cycling on and off due to continuous hot water demand. This may lead to early water heater tank failure and potential water damage. Where possible, baths, showers, and other hot water use should be widely spaced over the day and night time period to reduce heat-related wear and tear on the water heater.

Check Out Your Plumber

If you need professional help handling plumbing issues, make sure the plumbing company is taking necessary, industry-standard precautions to protect the residents of the home as well as themselves. Specific precautions against the COVID-19 virus are recommended by the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials. In many cases, reputable plumbing contractors now feature this information prominently on their websites.

Four Worst In-Home Plumbing Disasters

Thursday, December 19th, 2019
Plumbing Disasters

A plumbing emergency is a special kind of crisis. If leakage is limited to a small pool on the hard surface floor of a single room, without migrating under baseboards or leaking to a lower level, you may be able to handle clean-up yourself. An amount exceeding that—or any amount of toxic sewage—requires the services of water damage recovery professionals.

Here are four plumbing emergency events you’d rather not experience:

Water Supply Line Rupture

Leakage from only a 1/8-inch crack in a typical indoor water supply line can exceed 250 gallons in a day.  Indoor damage may be widespread. Know in advance where and how to turn off the main water valve to the house if a pipe rupture occurs. Apparently “minor” pinhole pipe leaks can be a red flag warning of impending pipe failure. Call a plumber to diagnose and repair all supply line leaks promptly.

Broken Washing Machine Hose

Rubber washing machine supply hoses become brittle over time. Eventually, they are prone to rupture, releasing hundreds of gallons of water, often before you’re aware of it. It’s a good idea to reach behind the machine and turn off the water valves when the unit’s not in use. Even better is to replace rubber washing machine hoses with braided stainless steel lines that are more resilient and reliable.  

Sewage Backup

Sewage reflux into the house is a toxic contamination issue. Category 3 raw sewage, also known as black water, contains biological and chemical contaminants that present an immediate danger to residents. Clean-up and disinfection must be performed by professionals. Residents should avoid any direct contact with sewage and even breathing the air in contaminated rooms may be hazardous.  

Toilet Overflow

It combines a feeling of panic and embarrassment with an often disagreeable clean-up experience. All residents should be familiar with the water shut-off valve usually located behind the tank, near the floor. If a toilet overflow occurs, turn off the valve as quickly as possible to limit spillage. Once or twice a year, test the valve to make sure it still operates easily.

How Basic Plumbing Maintenance Can Prevent Water Leaks

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2018

change washer supply hoseBasic plumbing maintenance saves both water and money. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, annual plumbing leakage averages out to 10,000 gallons per residence in the U.S. Most leakage is a result of accepting small drips and slow seepage as “normal” and neglecting basic plumbing maintenance.

In addition to higher water bills—and unnecessary waste—minor plumbing leaks can be red flags warning of a major calamity like a potential pipe rupture that can cause expensive water damage and property losses.

Cut your risk and lower your costs by following a few basic plumbing maintenance tips you can do yourself.

  • Replace your washing machine supply hoses now if they are more than five years old. Buy braided stainless steel replacement hoses which have greater reliability and longer service life than the original rubber hoses.
  • Flush your water heater at least once a year. Mineral sediment accumulating inside the tank accelerates corrosion that may trigger a tank rupture and indoor flooding. Flushing the tank is an easy DIY procedure (ample instructions are available online) that requires a garden hose and takes about 30 minutes. Alternatively, a plumber can do it for you.
  • Look for leaks. Go wherever plumbing goes. Look inside cabinets under kitchen and bathroom sinks and other fixtures for drips or wet spots. Remove the kick plate at the front of the dishwasher and look underneath with a flashlight for signs of leakage. Also, check behind the refrigerator for leaks at the ice maker water supply connection.
  • Get your water pressure checked. Residential pressure shouldn’t exceed 80 p.s.i. Higher pressure stresses plumbing and causes leaks and/or increased risk of pipe rupture. A plumber can check the pressure and adjust if needed at the regulator.
  • Insulate exposed pipes. If you live in a climate zone where pipes may freeze and rupture, check the crawl space and anywhere else water supply lines may be routed outside the heated envelope of the home. Use slip-on foam pipe insulation to cover all accessible spans of pipe.

Avoid water waste and water damage with more advice on basic plumbing maintenance from the professionals at Rytech, Inc.

5 Tips to Prevent Basement Water Problems

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

basement leaksPreventing basement floods ought to be a concern for everyone with a basement. Some sort of water intrusion, minor or major, affects 98% of basements during the life of the home. Besides ruining possessions stored there, electrical panels, HVAC equipment and other vital systems—as well as posing the potential for long-term contamination by toxic mold—basement floods can also be damaging to the foundation and structure of the house.

Since the flood that never happens is the easiest kind to deal with, here are five tips for preventing basement floods:

  1. Maintain gutters. A roof sheds hundreds of gallons of water per hour during a heavy rainstorm, more than enough to cause flooding if it makes its way down into your basement. Water cascading from clogged, overflowing gutters inundates the ground below and may penetrate the basement wall. Also, make sure gutter downspouts discharge water at least three to five feet from the house
  2. Grade away from the house. Prevent pooling of water around the foundation perimeter. Landscape next to the house should be graded so water flows away and doesn’t soak into the ground immediately next to basement walls.
  3. Install a sump pump. A high groundwater level may cause basement flooding, especially during extended rainy periods. Installed in a sump basin excavated in the basement floor, a sump pump activates automatically to remove groundwater rising up beneath the house. After water is pumped out of the basement and discharged outside, the pump turns off automatically.
  4. Consider a backflow valve. Raw sewage flowing backwards through the sewer line from various causes enters the house at the lowest point—usually basement drains or fixtures. A backflow valve installed in your sewer line diverts sewage reflux up through an outdoor clean-out port before it floods the basement.
  5. Don’t ignore plumbing leaks. Pinhole leaks or seeping joints in water supply lines routed through the basement aren’t “normal” and shouldn’t be ignored. They may be a warning sign of an imminent pipe rupture that can flood the basement with thousands of gallons of water.

Ask the experts at Rytech, Inc. for more information about preventing basement floods.

6 Signs You Have a Water Leak in the Bathroom That Needs Your Immediate Attention

Saturday, September 27th, 2014

bathroom leakSigns of a water leak in the bathroom may not go unnoticed, but they may not get proper attention, either. The bathroom’s a damp place. Wet feet track moisture from the shower or bath and with running water in sinks and other fixtures, minor spills and splashes happen. A leaky water supply line or a dripping drain pipe might be mistaken as a routine event that doesn’t require further investigation and repair. However, hidden leaks run 24/7 and can create severe damage unless they’re diagnosed and dealt with sooner, rather than later. (more…)

What to Think About in Order to Prevent Water Damage in Your Home

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

prevent water damageAny step you can take to prevent water damage is probably worth at least 10 steps to fix it once it happens. While some water damage falls into the category of an incident beyond your control–storm flooding or a local river overflowing, for example—others aren’t a matter of bad luck. In some homes, water damage is a calamity just waiting to happen. In others, it’s a slow-motion event that’s ongoing all the time. (more…)