6 SIGNS YOUR HOME MAY HAVE A MAJOR PLUMBING PROBLEM
Have you ever been in bed and drifting off to sleep when suddenly the drip-drip of a faucet or constant sound of a running toilet lets you know you have a plumbing problem? Those are the easy signals, but how do you know you have a potential plumbing emergency when the problem doesn't make any noise? Here are 6 silent warning signs that it's time to break out your tools and deal with an issue before it becomes an emergency, or maybe you’ll choose to call us for further assistance. In that case, please know that we are here 24/7 for all your plumbing needs.
Maybe it was a simple spill that someone conveniently forgot to tell you about, but when you walk across the carpet in your socks, stocking or bare feet, the last thing you expect is a sudden squish. Certainly you’ll go through the steps of drying it out and maybe even putting a fan there to speed it up, but what if the wetness persists? At that point, you have to consider the scope of the wetness. Is it near a wall? Check the baseboards to see if they’re wet. Check the area on the other side of the wall, if possible. If it’s coming from the wall, you may have a burst or leaking pipe in the wall. Is it an isolated patch in the carpet that’s getting wet but it’s not near a wall? This is the nightmare scenario. To begin with, look up. Do you see water on the ceiling or is the paint bubbling? In that case, the problem is most likely coming from above. Is there a bathroom or laundry room upstairs? That may be the source. Not coming from above? At that point, you may have a slab leak. Unless you have plumbing experience, it may be best to call us at that point. Tearing through walls and carpets looking for a leak could be very costly. It’s your choice, of course, but we recommend calling a professional.
The next time you’re poking around under the kitchen sink, take a long look at your pipes to see if there are any signs of discoloration, especially around a union. If so, it’s a strong sign there’s moisture present. This may be caused by dripping from a sink or drain line, or something more serious, such as a slow leak in the supply line. If it’s the latter, then you should definitely put this at the top of your to-do list. Plumbing supply lines are pressurized, which means that a slow leak has the potential to turn into a big mess fast!
Without getting too far into building science, a general plumbing rule of thumb is that every drain needs a trap, and every trap needs a vent. All those traps and drains are designed to prevent sewer gas from entering your home. The vents in your home should channel sewer odor up to the roof, while drain traps create a “water plug” that acts as a barrier stopping sewer odors from coming through the sink drain. If you smell sewer gas in your home, that means either a trap has run dry or a vent line has cracked. A dry trap can be fixed as easily as refilling it with water, or you may need to examine it for signs of the leak. Tracking down a cracked sewer vent can be much more difficult, as they are often enclosed in a wall, and will require a bit of drywall surgery in order to find and repair.
Weak Water Flow in Multiple Locations
A slow stream or low water pressure indicates an issue in distribution. If it’s only occurring at one location, it’s usually an issue in the faucet aerator—which is usually an easy fix. But if the water pressure is low in several spots around your home, that’s the sign of a bigger problem. In that case, you’re looking for a problem at the water main, in the hot water heater, or (worst case) an active leak in the supply line. If you’re seeing low water pressure in conjunction with some of the other items on this list, such as bubbling wall paint, it’s imperative that you take action right away.
It’s no surprise that a slow drain is a sign of a problem in your plumbing. Depending on where the issue is, it may be an easily removed clog near the drain, or it could be an issue farther down the line that will require significant snaking to resolve. Luckily, a little bit of detective work should help zero in on the problem. Cleaning out a simple clog is a great DIY fix, but slow drains throughout the home are often an indicator that there may be a major issue, like tree roots, in the sewer line. If only one room has a slow drain, you are in luck. Slow-moving or stopped-up drains are very common in bathroom sinks. Fortunately, the fix is usually simple and takes only a few minutes. The problem is almost always caused by hair and gummy soap scum that get caught on the stopper or pivot rod and clogs the drain. If you remove the stopper, you can use a bent wire or clothes hanger or other similar tool to remove the hair clog, then put everything back together. If this doesn’t cure the problem, you may have to clean out the trap or trap arm or the drain opening. If you need help with any of that, we are here 24/7, so just give us a call.
Spiking Water Bills
A sudden jump in your water bill is more than just a pain in the wallet. It’s also a sign that something has changed in your plumbing system. If you haven’t done anything to justify an increase in water usage (such as filling up a pool or watering your lawn more than usual) you should begin troubleshooting to find out if you have a leak. The most common source of the water bill jump is a constantly running toilet. Many homeowners don’t appreciate how much water a toilet uses; the toilet valve is essentially a garden hose going at full blast, and it’s not unusual for a single running toilet to waste hundreds of dollars of water. The good news is that for this problem, if you stand near the toilet, you can usually hear the water running. The most common things that cause the water to endlessly run are a misaligned adjustable float and a worn flapper. Both parts are sold at Lowe’s and The Home Depot and are fairly easy to replace. Make sure you turn off the water coming from the wall first, then flush the toilet to remove any water before attempting repairs. Here’s an excellent video from The Home Depot that is short but very easy to follow: https://youtu.be/z5324QzZB38. You can also use a towel or rags to mop up the extra water at the bottom of the tank.
That’s it for this installment. Thank you for reading and here’s wishing you a trouble-free week ahead!