Plumbing leaks can be a nightmare for homeowners, causing damage, wasting water, and leading to costly repairs. Homeowners don’t need to be plumbers, but they do need to know the common causes of plumbing leaks so that they can take preventive measures to avoid plumbing emergencies. Below, we look at the main causes of plumbing leaks and provide practical tips to help you prevent them.
Common Causes of Plumbing Leaks and How to Prevent Them
- Aging and Corroded Pipes
- Pipes naturally degrade over time due to corrosion, rust, and general wear. This wear and tear can lead to tiny cracks and leaks that worsen over time. If your home has older plumbing and pipes, it’s important to routinely look for signs of degradation.
- Prevention Tip: Consider replacing old pipes with newer, more durable materials such as copper, PVC, or PEX. Additionally, scheduled professional maintenance and inspections can catch early signs of corrosion and damage.
- Poor Installation
- If the original installation of your home’s plumbing fixtures, pipes, and connections is poor, it can result in leaks. Even a small error in the installation process can lead to significant water damage over time. Always hire experienced plumbers who follow industry standards to ensure proper installation.
- Prevention Tip: Always choose licensed and reputable plumbers for installations. A well-installed plumbing system is less likely to develop leaks and other issues.
- High Water Pressure
- Although you want good water pressure for plumbing efficiency, if it is excessively high it can stress pipes, joints, and connections, leading to leaks. Over time, the constant strain can cause weak points to develop and leak water if necessary to prevent undue stress on your plumbing system.
- Clogs and Blockages
- If you have a clog in a drain or pipes, water can get trapped in pipes, causing pressure to build up which may lead to leaks or even burst pipes.
- Prevention Tip: Avoid putting grease, hair, food scraps, and other debris down drains. Use drain covers to catch potential clog-causing materials and regularly clean drains to prevent buildup.
- Temperature Fluctuations
- Extreme temperature changes of any kind can cause pipes to expand and contract which may lead to cracks and leaks. This is most common in cold climates where frozen pipes can burst when the water inside them freezes and expands.
- Prevention Tip: Insulate your pipes, especially those exposed to colder temperatures. Let faucets drip slightly during freezing conditions to relieve pressure and prevent freezing.
- Chemical Corrosion
- Some chemicals and substances can corrode pipes, weakening them, which may lead to leaks. This is more commonly seen in homes with aggressive water quality or when harsh chemicals are flushed down drains.
- Prevention Tip: Be cautious about the chemicals you use in your plumbing system. Avoid using drain cleaners that contain harsh chemicals because they can actually damage pipes. If you’re uncertain about a product, consult a professional plumber.