Plumber Lehi Blog
Winter weather can have a devastating effect on plumbing, especially if that plumbing is uninsulated and above ground. Being buried under the ground has an insulating effect on pipes, so both insulation and being underground can help protect your pipes from the ravages of winter. If the pipe is in the walls of your house or buried underground, you may not even realize you have a leak. Why is it so important to detect and fix a leak right away? It is important because the longer a leak is left unchecked, the more damage it causes.
What damage does a leak cause? The first casualty of a leak is water usage. Because we live in a desert, water is a very precious commodity. What sort of water loss are we talking about? Even a very small, slow leak can use up to 43 extra gallons a month! If you look at an entire year, that is around 525 gallons! What is the true cost of a leak? Every leak is different, of course, but generally the cost of leak breaks down to three factors: the size of the leak, what plumbing needs to be repaired or replaced, and what damage is done to the surrounding materials or items. A few of the things that are usually ruined during a leak include the walls and ceiling, typically made out of drywall, flooring, insulation and wood, or even electronics. Leaks in the lawn or garden are not usually as devastating, if caught in time, because plants are usually able to overcome overwatering if it doesn’t go on for too long. Obviously getting your plumber in to fix the leak as soon as possible helps lessen the amount of damage.
If left untreated, a leak can lead to mold, if continued to be untreated this will lead to black mold. Although most mold is considered dangerous, black mold is considered to cause several health problems. The first problem mold causes is to those with allergies, especially those who are sensitive to mold. Some people even become allergic to mold through continued exposure. The normal reactions to mold are about the same as a mild to moderate allergy: runny nose, itchy eyes, and so on. Unfortunately the more severe reactions to mold can include fever or shortness of breath. This is especially dangerous for people who already have health conditions that affect the lungs. A few of these conditions include asthma and COPD. Having mold in the house increases the risk for people with these conditions to develop both regular and fungal infections. Not only are there health risks from mold, but most plumbers don’t handle mold removal. That means you will have to call in a different specialist to get any mold treated. So the costs of health, mold removal, and the materials removed like walls and flooring.
How can we detect leaks as soon as possible? The first answer is to do a regular check of your plumbing. We recommend having your plumber do a yearly video check of your plumbing. This process can not only detect leaks, but can help tell you and your plumber what leaks are likely to develop in the coming year by noting where pipes are thinning. A homeowner should also be doing a check of visible pipes regularly. At the very least we recommend you check visible water connections and drains about once a month. This check is something a homeowner can do on their own. Simply check for the signs of a leak around all visible pipes. A few places you should check include where pipes connect to walls, appliance water hookups (both on the appliance and where it connects to the wall), dripping faucets, running toilets, and swamp coolers. But other than visible water, what signs show a leak? Here are a few things to watch for:
- Your Water Bill has Increased
Sometimes a leak is where you can’t see it. The leak may be in the ceiling, floor, or the wall. If you can’t see it and no other sign is showing up yet, then your first indicator may be that your have to pay more for your water even though you don’t think you’ve used more water. Checking for a water leak is fairly simple, even if you can’t see the visible signs. If you suspect a leak, simply turn off all taps, or other running water, and don’t use any appliances that use water like a dishwasher or water fountain. Then go look at your water meter. Most water meters have a little dial, this is usually in the shape of a disc or triangle. If the dial is moving, water is exiting your pipes somewhere. Double-check that no one else in your house turned a source of water on. If no one is using water, than you probably have a leak. If you cannot find the leak your plumber can help.
- Fountains or Lakes of Water
Obviously any water visibly spraying, leaking, or puddling where it isn’t supposed to be is a problem. If you have a lot of water making a lake out of your lawn, or a new fountain in your wall or yard, there is a leak or a burst pipe. In flooring this may show up as puddles or really soggy carpet. If the leak or breakage of the pipe is that bad, try to get your plumber in right away.
- Smelly Stinky Mold
Mold is one of the not-so-early warning signs of a leak. Mold forms where it is very moist, so it can naturally form in places like the bathroom or kitchen. Especially in the tub or toilet. But when a leak is present mold usually forms close to the pipe where the leak is. So you may find mold where a pipe attaches to the wall, or even in a middle of the wall or ceiling without an apparent cause. Because we in Lehi like to use carpet, tile, or wood to cover our floor mold is not usually the first sign of a leak on the floor. The mold may still be there, but it is unlikely a homeowner will see the mold before other signs show up. Even if you cannot see the mold, the mold will after a time produce a musty smell which can permeate a room or house, depending on the amount of mold.
If mold or that musty smell shows up in one of these places, be sure to check for a leak either by either a visual inspection or the water meter test. Remember, the longer the leak goes on the more mold will develop and spread, and the worse the type of mold present.
- Signs of a Leak in Paint
Around the same timeframe of developing mold, the paint around a leak may start to act funny. Sometimes the paint will bubble up from the rest of the wall. This could be one really big bubble, or a series of small bubbles. These bubbles are usually pretty big, so it should be pretty obvious if your wall or ceiling has them. Sometimes after bubbling the bubble can dry out and either sag or crack. This doesn’t mean the leak is gone. Sometimes it just means the water has found a new path behind the wall. A paint sag may also form if there is too much water or air in the bubble.
- Collapsing walls, ceilings, or buckling floors
If the leak is really big or running for a long time, the drywall or other material on the wall may sag, or collapse. The flooring, if wooden or imitation wood, may buckle up away from the underlayment, causing odd little triangles of different lengths between the seams of the wood.
If you find a leak, or diagnose one using the water meter test, be sure to contact Your Plumber Lehi right away! Because the longer the leak goes on, the more that will need to be fixed.