Detecting Leaks Early: Why It’s So Important

It might seem like common sense to say that it is important that leaks in your plumbing are detected as early as possible.  Obviously, nobody wants to deal with the mess that comes when pipes break and the costly repairs of fixing things that have been damaged, but let’s look at the overall impact that it can have to detect leaks early.

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Signs of a plumbing leak:

There are a few key indicators that you might have a water leak in your home.  Some are quite common and others you may not know to look or look out for.

  • Often when you have a leak you might experience a subtle or even a drastic increase in your water bill.
  • You might smell or even be able to see signs of mold or mildew forming in areas that are hard to reach or that provide an optimal environment for these types of things to start growing.
  • Bubbles in paint or wallpaper are a good indicator that something wet is seeping through or trying to on the other side.
  • Ceilings may start to sag or warp when water has been pooling in a particular area for any length of time. This is especially common for homes that have a flat roof.
  • Flooring might start to sag or crack too, which is also a good indicator. Often, there is a musty or an earthy smell that might be hard to get rid of. You may even find that there are muddy or damp patches in the yard or around the home that appear to be wet.

Where to look: The most common areas that you’ll find leaky pipes

Leaks are going to be found most often in the areas that have the most frequent and largest amounts of water.  The likely suspects are going to be in the kitchen or the bathroom.  However, just as common are the leaks that happen beneath the surface under the foundation of a home, or even in basements and crawlspaces.

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Leaks Can Be Dangerous

Leaks can bring about a wide range of troubles that are problematic for homeowners, some that are seen, and some that are unseen.  Also, they affect more than just the home that is being damaged.

Health Risks:

Leaks pose a significant number of health risks that increase in both frequency and severity the longer the leak remains untreated and undetected.

Mold is one of the leading causes of allergies and can onset new allergic reactions as well as exacerbate existing allergies.

Inhaling certain kinds of mold can be dangerous, and even deadly. It can cause anything from common headaches and dizziness all the way to respiratory issues that can lead to death.

Bacteria is a huge factor to consider with leaks. Bacteria grow optimally in most places and thus having a leak will often provide the perfect host site for bacteria to grow and enter the home through your pipes and into the water supply, again leading to multiple health conditions and concerns.
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Damage to the Home:

Drywall can be severely damaged by leaks and mold.  Once the mold has begun growing on drywall, it almost always will need to be entirely replaced. Additionally, it can cause the need for major renovations to an affected area, which is often costly, especially when there is structural damage.
Flooding

It is safe to say that the larger the amount of water associated with a leak, the more important the necessary repair will need to be.  The unfortunate part about flooding is that sometimes, the mess is too big to clean up, and you simply have to start over.

Flooding can cause damage to both the home itself as well as to everything inside of it, structurally and personal possessions.  It can also cause such severe damage that the home can sometimes be deemed unsuitable for habitation, in which case it will need to be entirely rebuilt and or renovated.

So how do I prevent plumbing leaks from happening?

Leak detection can often be done with the naked eye, but there are several other ways that professionals use to determine the source of the leak when it can’t be easily identified.  Technology has advanced such so that certain techniques use technology that would have in the past required a plumber to make an educated guess and take the approach of trial and error.

Radar: Radar waves that penetrate through the ground can be used to identify the location of a leak. Gas is also used to detect leaks. By pumping hydrogen or another gas into a pipe, plumbers use a special device that tracks the movement and shows the location of the leak.

Cameras can also be used by inserting them into a pipe and identifying them with the naked eye.
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A geophone is a tool that amplifies sound and captures it which then allows someone to detect the water leak simply by the noise that it is producing.

There are many different reasons that one might consider routinely checking for water leaks, both for health reasons personally, and the health of the home.

The best thing is to stop it as soon as it starts.

The longer a leak goes undetected, the more potential therein lies for larger damages, which often will result in costly repairs.

It is equally as important to know what to look for as well as what to look out for and to perform routine checks on your home in the areas with the highest water traffic.

Another key to prevention is to make sure that systems bringing water in or removing water from your home are routinely serviced and that you are keeping an eye out for anything unusual.

As soon as you see any of the aforementioned indicators, it is a good idea to take a look around and see if you can identify any potential problems, and if you can’t, call someone in to help.

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