Why Even Minor Water Leaks are an Immediate Problem

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.

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