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Why Even Minor Water Leaks are an Immediate Problem

Thursday, December 27th, 2018

water leakMinor leaks in household plumbing often don’t stay minor. Pipe ruptures which seem to come as a surprise frequently exhibit advance warnings such as dripping and seepage at joints. These red flags can be easy to miss—or simply dismiss as “normal.” However, once a leak becomes a pipe rupture, water damage resulting from a household supply line under typical pressure of 40 to 60 pounds per square inch rapidly becomes both extensive and expensive.

Plumbers agree: no leakage from water supply lines is acceptable. Minor leaks are often indicators of more comprehensive issues that inevitably result in a serious pipe rupture that causes significant damage. All leaks must be evaluated to determine the extent of the issue, then properly repaired. Some of the causes of small leaks that may lead to big water damage include:

  • Internal pipe corrosion. All metal pipes are susceptible to corrosion over time. Corrosion occurs from the inside out, therefore, external pinhole leaks are often the visible evidence of significant deterioration occurring inside the pipe. Factors such as the type of metal and even the amount of naturally-occurring corrosives in the water supply contribute. Galvanized steel pipes once commonly installed in older homes, for example, are extremely prone to internal corrosion. Because eventual leakage and rupture are common, today, these pipes are recommended to be replaced in all cases.
  • Excessive water pressure. Municipal water pressure is often controlled by an adjustment valve at the house water meter. If water pressure has been adjusted too high, excess stress on internal plumbing will result in leakage, particularly at pipe joints or in spans of pipe weakened by internal corrosion. These initially small leaks are likely to progress into a major pipe rupture and significant water damage.

Minor plumbing leaks may also keep enclosed areas of the house such as the basement, crawl space and attic chronically moist. This provides a perfect environment for growth of toxic mold that eventually spreads throughout the house. Small ongoing leakage also rots wooden structural components as well as destroys insulation and promotes insect infestation.

How To Find The Source Of The Leak Under Your Sink

Tuesday, September 26th, 2017

leak under sinkIf water gets loose under your kitchen sink, a leaky disposal is just one possibility. Under-sink leaks can be a multiple choice mystery with more than one likely suspect. Whatever the cause, they can rot the wall structure behind the cabinet, trigger mold growth and attract insects. They may also be the first sign of a more major event, like an impending supply line rupture that could cause water damage to a large area. From a leaky disposal to a loose drain fitting, here are some steps to rule out sources of kitchen sink leaks.

Disposal Leaks

  • Water may seep through a leaky disposal sink flange. Fill the sink with water, then run a piece of tissue around the disposal flange underneath the sink to detect drips or seepage.
  • Another possibility are drain lines connected to the disposal. The smaller dishwasher drain line attaches with a clamp that may be loose and leaking. The larger pipe goes down the household drain. It connects to the disposal with two screws that could be loose from vibration or a rubber gasket inside the connection may be defective.
  • If leakage originates from the internal seal at the bottom of the disposal body, this is an indicator that the unit must be replaced.

Leaky Supply Connections

Compression fittings at shutoff valves under the sink connect supply lines to hot and cold faucets. Because supply lines and connections are under household water pressure, leakage at these points may unexpectedly worsen and flood the kitchen.Wipe each connection with dry tissue. If moisture is detected, try to very gently tighten the compression fitting with a wrench. If that doesn’t work, the supply line and fitting may need replacement.

Drain Leaks

Fill the sink with water, then watch underneath as it drains. Look for leakage around the slip joints in the drain pipe. Hand-tightening the large joint nuts slightly may stop leakage. If that fails, drain pipes may need to be disassembled and new joint seals installed.