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Got Leaks? The 8 Most Common Causes of Leaky Pipes

As a homeowner, you understand the potential damage that could result from an unrepaired plumbing leak. But preventing this possible water damage isn’t always straightforward, especially for homeowners with no plumbing experience.

Most leaks occur due to one of the following eight common causes. Understanding these causes can help you know when to contact a plumber and protect your pipes against future leaks.

1. Advanced Corrosion

No pipe material lasts forever. Over long periods of time, corrosion such as rust can eat away at the pipes in your home and eventually create openings for water to escape through.

Your plumbing is at a higher risk of corrosion issues if the pipe was laid more than 30 years ago. The piping materials used at the time do not resist corrosion as well as modern materials.

Your system could also develop corrosion if your water’s chemicals, like pH and mineral content, are off balance.

2. Degraded Seals

Not all of your plumbing system consists of metal pipes. Anywhere that your pipes connect to a specific fixture, you’ll most likely also have an industrial rubber seal to keep the connection watertight.

Like your pipes, your plumbing seals can degrade over time. If a seal cracks or crumbles, water may seep out around it. Overly dry and old seals are particularly susceptible to corrosion.

3. Excess Water Pressure

High water pressure may feel nice in the shower, but the harder your water hits the inside of your pipes, the greater the risk of eventual leaks. In extreme cases, incorrect water pressure can cause pipes to burst.

In more mild cases, excess water pressure causes fixtures to leak sporadically, especially right after you stop the water flow. If you notice this change, have a plumber test the pressure and make adjustments if needed.

4. Fixture Cracks

If a faucet or the pipes connected directly to it develop cracks, you may notice an immediate leak. These cracks usually occur due to impact, like someone tripping and catching themselves on the faucet or a child throwing a toy and hitting the fixture.

However, these cracks can also develop somewhat out of sight, like under a sink, due to the repeated impact of items being forced into the cupboard space. If you notice damage to a fixture or the surrounding pipes, schedule a replacement as soon as possible.

5. Incorrect Pipe Laying

Plumbing work should always be handled by a licensed professional. Many serious leaks that cause plumbing emergencies occur due to incorrect pipe laying. Small mistakes that may not be noticeable immediately can cause massive amounts of water damage later.

Because a plumbing system requires water to flow against gravity in many places, it’s important that pipes and connectors are laid properly and that backflow devices are used as needed. If you suspect that your pipes were laid improperly, have a reputable plumber assess the system.

6. Pipe Joint Damage

One of the most vulnerable parts of any pipe is its joints, or the bends that allow the water to be redirected anywhere in your home. These joints often consist of separate curved pieces that are attached to straight pipes on either side.

Extreme temperatures and excess water pressure, as we discussed in section three, can be particularly hard on pipe joints. Your first sign of pipe joint issues may be abnormal noises, particularly when running hot water. Have a plumber investigate any banging or clanking.

7. Shifted Connections

Over time, your home and the pipes that run through it may shift. This movement can occur due to foundation problems, erosion, flooding, building settling, or earthquake tremors. If a set of pipes shifts too far, one of the connections may break.

If you notice any unusual changes to your plumbing after a storm or natural disaster, such as a hurricane, call a plumber. Symptoms like low water pressure, running water noises behind walls, or discolored water could point to a leak somewhere in the line.

8. Untreated Clogs

Drain clogs may seem like an inconvenience at worst, but these obstructions can lead to serious issues with your plumbing. If a clog consists of corrosive substances, like household chemicals, it could speed up the damage to your pipes and eat holes through them.

This danger of trapping harmful substances in one spot is one of the main reasons why you should avoid chemical drain cleaners. These solutions often do not remove the entire clog and may sit in one location in your pipes without moving for long enough to cause serious damage.

Instead, have a plumber come and use a plumbing snake or hydro-jetting to remove the entire obstruction.

Virtually all household leaks occur due to one of the circumstances listed above. To keep your plumbing protected from leak development, schedule yearly inspections with a reputable technician from The Clean Plumbers.

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