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Do Clogged Pipes Cause Water Leakage?

Tuesday, December 17th, 2019

Most people associate damaging water leakage with broken or leaky water supply lines. For good reason: water pressure in supply lines typically averages about 40 to 50 psi. Leaks from those pipes can flood a room or even the house if not properly dealt with immediately. But what about water leakage from clogged drain pipes? Can they be a source of indoor water damage, too?

The answer is yes. While the damage from a clogged drain pipe is usually more chronic and less acute than the critical event of a supply line rupture, drain pipes are a common origin for water that slowly damages the structure of the house, as well as supporting mold growth. Typical areas where clogs can trigger leakage include pipes connected to sinks, bathtubs, showers, and garbage disposals.

Here are some reasons why clogged drains may result in water damage:

  • Unlike water supply lines that are strong and tightly sealed to withstand continuous internal water pressure, drain pipes and joints are made to convey water flowing under much less pressure.
  • As clogs occur, water backs up inside the drain pipe. The continuous presence of standing water in the pipe may eventually cause leakage through the caulking and seals at threaded pipe joints.
  • Clogging means standing water may be contained within drain pipes for extended periods. This increases the likelihood of internal corrosion or other deterioration of the pipe material and joints. Moreover, when drain pipe clogs occur, homeowners often resort to caustic drain cleaners to clear the clog. These harsh corrosives degrade drain pipe material, often leading to leakage.  
  • Drain pipes are frequently routed through areas of the structure that aren’t typically visible to residents. Therefore, leakage from drain pipes may recur over a lengthy time span before it is discovered. In that time, considerable damage can occur to surrounding structure and mold growth may also be present.

The 6 Areas of Your Home Most Likely to Have a Water Leak

Tuesday, January 8th, 2019

water leakWater on the move inside a structure often seeps far from where the leak actually occurred. While no room is therefore totally immune to water damage, some spaces are definitely more leak-prone than others. Here are six locations most likely to be the point of origin for leakage.

Roof leakage into the attic often goes unnoticed. By the time it’s obvious, mold growth is established and wooden attic structure as well as insulation may be permanently damaged. Inspect the attic regularly and don’t ignore signs such as dark spots appearing on ceilings in rooms below.

All water supply lines eventually lead to bathrooms. Leakage may appear as dripping or seepage at under-sink or toilet valve connections. Leaky shower stalls gradually rot the subfloor beneath and penetrate ceilings below. A clogged, overflowing toilet is a costly damage clean-up—make sure flushing is complete before leaving the bathroom.

Chronic leaks under the sink and disposal cause ongoing damage and may precede a more major failure that includes severe water inundation. Remove the dishwasher kick plate, too, and look underneath for chronic leakage from the pump or connections that may rot the floor. Check the icemaker water line connection on the rear of the refrigerator.

Laundry Room
If the washer utilizes rubber hot/cold water supply hoses, be aware that these can rupture without warning and flood the house. Replace with braided stainless steel lines, ASAP. Always monitor the unit in operation—never leave the house or go to sleep while the washer is running.

Utility Room
Typical water heater lifespan is less than 10 years. Leakage is usually the first sign of a failing unit and, potentially, an impending tank rupture that could cause severe water damage. Call a plumber immediately if you note leakage or pooling around the unit.

Many water supply lines are routed through the basement. Dripping pinhole leaks and/or more subtle signs like mineral residue on pipes caused by seepage isn’t “normal.” Consult a plumber. In certain locales, rising groundwater infiltrates the basement through the foundation. Installation and maintenance of a sump pump is critical.

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.

What Is A Water Alarm System And How Can It Help Me?

Tuesday, April 24th, 2018

water leak alarmA serious water leak inside your home can be a crisis if it happens when you’re asleep or in another part of the house. If it happens while you’re away from home, it can be a catastrophe. Plumbing supply system failures are the number one cause of indoor water damage. Even a tiny 1/8-inch crack in a supply line can release 250 gallons per day. A basic water alarm system alerts you to leaks occurring inside the home by sounding an audio alarm. Higher-tech systems, however, now take leak detection to the next level. Here’s what’s available today from the simplest to the more sophisticated water alarm systems.

  • Wireless audio alerts. These basic, battery-powered units can be placed at strategic spots where water leakage may occur: behind the washing machine, under the water heater and beneath kitchen and bathroom sinks, for example. The basement floor is another common location. If water is detected, a piercing audio alarm similar to a smoke detector sounds. Occupants inside the home are alerted to take action to prevent further damage.
  • Wi-fi connected water alarms. Increasingly common, these detectors are placed in vulnerable locations for water leakage and wirelessly connect to your home network. If water is detected, the system emits an audio alarm plus sends a text alert. With a smartphone app, the homeowner is immediately informed that leakage has been detected and also the exact location inside the house where it occurred.
  • Auto-shutoff systems. If a serious leak happens while you’re not home, simply receiving an alert on your phone may not be enough to avoid expensive consequences. By the time you can get home (or have a third party go shut off the water) considerable damage is done. Water alarm systems with auto-shutoff function detect leakage, alert you via smartphone app, and then automatically shut off the main household water valve, too—all within seconds. This system combines both instant alert and proactive damage control, providing the most comprehensive protection.

For more advice about water alarm systems from the industry leader in water damage recovery, contact the professionals at Rytech, Inc.



How To Spot Hidden Shower Leaks

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

leaky showerProfessional home inspectors know that shower leaks can be tricky to trace back to the source. Leaky showers often cause gradual, unseen water damage that progresses for some time before it becomes conspicuous. By then, structural damage may have occurred. Mold growth may be triggered in hidden areas and chronically wet wood attracts termites, as well. Be alert to these signs of shower leaks and take action ASAP to correct the problem and minimize water damage.

  • Water pooling on bathroom floor during a shower. This is often the easiest fix. If it’s a shower stall with a sliding or hinged door, a defective door seal may be allowing splashes to escape the stall. The seal is usually a replaceable item without installing a new door.
  • Dampness affecting wall adjacent to the shower stall, above floor level. Leaks in plumbing supply lines to the shower, the valve assembly or the shower arm supporting the shower head usually occur inside the wall. Wetness gradually spreads, saturating the wall and causing tile to fall off or paint to peel. This is frequently noticeable at a level higher than the floor, distinguishing it from water leakage through the bottom of the stall.
  • Stains on ceiling of room beneath bathroom. Usually, this indicates leakage through the floor of the stall. Shower stalls incorporate a drip pan or membrane underneath the unit to catch leakage through tile grout, the shower drain gasket or cracks in a fiberglass stall. Old-style drip pans may deteriorate with age and allow leakage to soak through the subfloor, rotting and deteriorating the plywood, then penetrate the ceiling below. If the shower is on the ground floor, water damage may be visible from the crawl space directly under the stall. Replacement of a defective shower pan usually entails substantial work to remove the stall. However, unlike original equipment pans installed in older homes, new flexible PVC or chlorinated polyethylene membranes have virtually unlimited service life and help prevent shower water damage for the long term.

Ask the experts at Rytech, Inc. about professional service to remediate water damage due to shower leaks.

3 Common Home Water Leaks And How To Prevent Them

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

leaking washing machineWhen it comes to home water leaks, there aren’t a whole lot of surprises. Generally, the same leaks occur from a few common sources inside a house and resultant water damage follows a fairly predictable pattern. Here are three of the usual suspects when home water leaks happen and how to prevent them:

Water supply lines. A 1/2-inch indoor supply line feeding individual bathroom or kitchen fixtures is under anywhere from 40 to 80 pounds of water pressure. Slow leakage can silently saturate the immediate area causing structural rot and triggering mold growth. Total pipe rupture can inflict widespread, expensive damage. Regularly inspect all visible supply lines under and behind fixtures. No amount of seepage or dripping, no matter how minor, is acceptable. Contact a plumber if you see any signs of leakage.

Washing machine hoses. Connecting fittings on the back of the washer to hot and cold water valves on the wall, many original-equipment washing machine hoses are cheap rubber. Over time, these hoses become brittle and may crack and leak or, worse, rupture without warning. Don’t wait for signs of deterioration. Replace rubber washing machine hoses now, before damage occurs, with flexible braided stainless steel lines that offer long expected service life and reduce the danger of water damage.

Air conditioner overflows. A central AC unit produces many gallons of condensation on a humid summer day. If everything works, the condensate drip pan under the indoor air handler drains condensation into the household sewer system. If the system becomes clogged, however (algae growth is a frequent cause) the pan quickly overflows and spills water every time the AC cycles on. This can cause substantial structural water damage before the problem is even noticed. Schedule annual AC preventive maintenance including drip pan cleaning. During cooling season, check the pan frequently for standing water—a warning sign of a developing clog. If water is accumulating, shut off the system and contact an HVAC contractor immediately.

For more about how to prevent home water leaks or deal with the aftermath if one occurs, contract the water damage professionals at Rytech, Inc.

Handle Leaks Fast! Damage Can Be Worse Than It Appears…

Thursday, April 6th, 2017

shower leaksAny water leaks inside your home can be damaging, but shower leaks are particularly insidious. A leak from a sink fixture, for example, will typically be conspicuous in the cabinet underneath the sink or as pooling on the adjacent floor. However, because of its configuration in the house structure, shower leaks often go unseen and may cause extensive damage before they’re pinpointed.

Water damage doesn’t take much time or necessarily involve a large volume of water. Toxic mold growth is triggered within 48 hours of exposure to moisture from even a small plumbing leak. Because many bathrooms are upstairs, minor shower leaks quickly migrate downward, soaking vulnerable wooden structure along the way and saturating the ceiling in rooms below.

Shower leaks can occur from several points of origin:

  • Leakage around the shower door frame, through the door channel or the gasket that seals the door may seep through the joint where floor tiles meet the shower stall. Water can then migrate through the subfloor, pool beneath the shower stall pan or penetrate adjacent rooms.
  • Shower plumbing such as soldered hot and cold water pipe joints, the mixing valve and other components are recessed into the wall cavity next to the stall. Leakage from these components drips downward into the wall cavity, where wetness rapidly accumulates and doesn’t evaporate. Mold growth and rotted building materials result.
  • The shower drain itself may leak at a joint in the drain pipe or around the gasket that seals the drain plate to the floor of the stall.
  • Sealed underneath the shower, a liner is installed to catch minor leakage and convey it into the drain line. Made of flexible waterproof material, the shower liner may eventually deteriorate with age and no longer hold water. Leakage directly beneath the shower penetrates the subfloor and structure underneath the shower, causing deterioration. Replacement of a leaky shower liner is usually major surgery that requires substantial dismantling of the shower to access the liner.

Ask the professionals at Rytech Inc. for more about potential water damage from shower leaks or other plumbing fixtures in the home.

Leaky And Wet Basements: A Disaster In The Making

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

leaky basementLeaky and wet basements pose a threat to home and health. A source of perpetual moisture just beneath your living spaces, a chronically wet basement creates issues that—unfortunately—don’t stay down in the basement. Deterioration from chronic basement moisture compromises the structural integrity of the house. Critical whole-house systems such as HVAC and electrical located in the basement are also vulnerable to water damage. Leaky and wet basements provide an ideal environment for toxic mold growth that spreads contamination throughout the entire home.

Moisture accumulation in a basement generally results from one or more of these sources:

  • Ground water rising or outdoor rainwater seeping downward into the basement.
  • High levels of indoor water vapor caused by an unvented clothes dryer, a bathroom and/or kitchen added to the basement and even residual moisture contained within the concrete foundation and walls that gradually weeps into the basement.
  • Dripping condensation as humid air condenses on cooler basement fixtures, particularly plumbing pipes typically routed there.

To mitigate basement moisture sources, several alternatives—often in combination—must be considered:

  • Where a high water table is pushing water up through the foundation, install a sump pump in the basement floor. If soaking outdoor rain is penetrating basement walls, verify that the landscape gradient diverts water away from the home. Make sure roof gutters aren’t clogged and downspouts discharge water at least four feet from the house. Installation of a french drain in the ground around the perimeter of the foundation also conveys soaking water away from the house.
  • Remove accumulating water vapor from the basement by installing exhaust fans that move moist air outdoors. Vent any appliances such as dryers or stoves.
  • Reduce basement condensation by installing slip-on foam pipe insulation on exposed water lines. Consider using a dehumidifier to continuously dry basement air.
  • Where toxic mold growth is suspected, get an inspection by a certified mold remediation professional to verify the presence of mold and specialized treatment to locate and neutralize active growing mold.

For more information about dealing with the causes and consequences of leaky and wet basements, contact Rytech, Inc.


How an Unexpected Kitchen Flood Can Impact Your Home

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

Because any number of water sources exist in your kitchen, the risks of a serious kitchen flood are considerable. From the hot and cold water supply lines to the dishwasher, to the icemaker and water filters, potential sources of water damage are everywhere.

dishwasher leakElectrical appliances, flooring, counters and cabinets, and even structural components are at risk from a kitchen flood. Water seeping behind cabinets and beneath molding into wall voids may spawn covert toxic mold growth that later becomes a household health issue.

Here are the usual suspects for a kitchen flood:

  • Water supply lines beneath the kitchen sink installed at original construction may not be high quality. These lines connecting the hot and cold water tap to shutoff valves may be plastic or some other material that degrades with age. A sudden supply line rupture can leak hundreds of gallons of water. Consider upgrading to higher quality stainless steel sink water supply lines.
  • Dishwasher water supply connections may work loose over the years from vibration. Because these lines and connections are out of sight, leakage that precedes a major failure may go unnoticed. The dishwasher itself can be an issue if a defective drain valve causes an overflow or corrosion spawns leaks in the dishwasher tub.
  • An icemaker leak will usually present as water flowing from a faulty fitting behind the refrigerator. Internal leaks can flood the interior of the refrigerator, seeping out through the door seal or inundate the kitchen when you open the door.
  • Water leakage at filtration canisters beneath the sink is most often the result of defective canister O-rings. While usually not a cause of acute water damage, chronic dripping from these sources can deteriorate cabinets and flooring and spawn mold growth.

For professional water damage recovery after a kitchen flood, contact Rytech, Inc. 

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5 Points to Keep in Mind to Protect Your Home From Flooding

Friday, March 14th, 2014

protect your home from floodingIt’s a no-brainer: Reasonable steps to protect your home from flooding before it happens make more sense than passively waiting for a disaster, then cleaning up the mess. Here are some proactive ideas to protect your home from flooding and save yourself the stress and expense of a major clean-up. (more…)