Unfixed plumbing problems can snowball into something more damaging. Plumbing problems can cause water damages that can ruin your home and everything in it. It would take time and money to fix if this is left unfixed and ignored. But homeowners now have a way to determine if there are any, potential, plumbing problems in your household, what precautionary steps to take to prevent them, and avoid serious water damages in your home.
Think about this scenario:
You invested in Home Insurance for your house, and while you were away on vacation an unaddressed plumbing issue happened and caused a water leakage – imagine three gallons of water per minute is leaking in your house. By the time you arrived home from your, let’s say, five-day vacation, thousands and thousands of gallons of water have already filled your home, ruining every possession, furniture, fixtures, and memorable photos you have. And to add to this nightmare, your house is inhabitable for a certain amount of time until the cleaning and fixing are done.
This is of course just a tale of warning. Read through these guidelines as this is meant to help homeowners know more about the major water issues that plumbing problems can bring if left unaddressed, and the steps you can take to avoid the disastrous aforementioned tale of warning.
Causes of Common Plumbing Problems
Plumbing problems are everywhere, it can happen anywhere in your household. Inconsistent maintenance or lack of it is usually the reason why this happens. However, aside from that, there are other reasons why this happens:
- Faulty manufacturing and design
- Flaw in installation
- Exposure to strong chemicals such as cleaning products (best to avoid storing chemicals under the sink where there are plumbing fixes and avoid cleaning the surfaces of its parts)
Prevention is better than cure. It would be better to steer clear of having plumbing problems than fixing them to avoid other serious damages that could happen. To deter the chance of having plumbing problems, have a regular inspection of your plumbing parts inside your house. This is crucial as you can tell visually if something in your plumbing parts is about to be damaged. Understanding and thinking of the plumbing parts could also help, you can consider the lifespan and the parts and appliances that you use for plumbing. Knowing when parts have served their purpose and need to be replaced is a good practice of maintaining a functional plumbing system and protecting parts of your home together with its features and anything inside it.
Checking your plumbing system visually and looking for “symptoms” or signs that it needs to be replaced or needs fixing could help avoid getting into any plumbing problems. As a maintenance practice, this should be done regularly. Start by looking for drips or slow leaks in any of the plumbing components that you have at home. Inspecting its surroundings and maintaining it is also important as if it is damaged or contaminated, it has a big chance of spreading and later on damaging your pipes. Be alarmed if you see any water damage on your cabinets, cupboards, or anything near it, this is a major sign that there might be a water leakage that you wouldn’t want to leave unaddressed.
Your house’s whole plumbing system is not easily accessible and visible, but there are certain parts of your home where plumbing parts can be easily checked:
- Under sinks and wash tubs
- Inside access panels near showers, sinks, or appliances
- Parts of toilets, water heaters, and appliances
- Basements and holes
Specifically, if you are looking at the areas mentioned above, check the pipings, valves, and fittings as leakages are most commonly found on connection points; for example, check the joining part of pipes on faucets, washing machines, refrigerators, dishwashers, water heaters, water filtration systems, shut-off valves, other appliances, and toilets, too. The piping system may look complicated and may be hooked up or connected to multiple various sections of a pipe inside your house. Your appliances and fixtures alone can cause problems, inspecting them would also be a big help together with performing regular maintenance as recommended by the manufacturer.
You should also consider the type of material of your plumbing system. Signs of problems differ per part as their materials are made of different things. Copper piping problems are very different in PEX which is a common type of plastic piping. Generally speaking, for copper pipings you would look at signs of corrosion, cracking, hazing, discoloration, and mineral deposits resulting from a water leak. Examples of what problems to expect, per pipe material, are as follows:
With this type of material, you have two signs of possible plumbing problems namely: discoloration or deposit buildup. Deposit buildups look like they are growing out of the copper pipe, you may also see small corrosion on the surface of the pipe or even discoloration but these may not need to be addressed. You can still choose to contact a licensed plumber to see what he thinks about it.
Deposito build-ups could look like white, blue, or green. These are dead giveaways of a pinhole leak which leads to a more serious matter. Pinhole leaks indicate a problem in water chemistry. Upon seeing deposits like this, have someone from your state’s Department of Public Health or Department of Environment Protection approved laboratories to test and treat your water. Together with this, areas with leaks and are damaged will need to be repaired. Pinhole leaks may not bother you for now as it starts very small, that then grows even bigger over time if left out unfixed.
Braided Stainless Steel Supply Lines
For connecting appliances and fixtures to your house’s piping system, braided stainless steel supply lines are what they usually use. Stereotypically, we think of stainless steel as a material that corrosion cannot penetrate. Contrary to what most of us think, this type of stainless steel is very open to a specific type of corrosion – stress corrosion cracking. Unlike the calm before the storm, signs of damage in a braided stainless steel supply line can be easily spotted by the naked eye. Number one sign would be the rust and worn-out strands of stainless steel. Lots of single strands of stainless steel would break first before the supply lines start bursting.
Brass parts that are majorly damaged and corroded break out the worst and have the most disastrous damage. Crystal-like deposits that are color white, blue, or green are one of the spotting signs of corrosion on brass valves. The most often root cause of problems with brass valves is usually bad water chemistry, faulty material and design, and/or the brass material being in contact with household chemicals and cleaners that contain strong material that damages brass valves.
PEX Tubing and Connecting Parts
The use of plastic in making plumbing parts is starting to make its name in the industry specifically PEX. Compared to traditional copper piping, PEX piping is now commonly used despite its problem that PEX parts usually encounter. PEX parts have problems when it has prolonged contact with harsh chemicals such as chlorinated, hot water. As it is, water chemistry and household chemicals are the major reasons as to what damages PEX tubing and parts.
To determine whether PEX parts are starting to chip off, degrade or oxidize, look for any cracking or discoloration. This would be the most simple inspection one could do for PEX tubings as this is what can be seen by the naked eye. Which makes regular visual inspection a very important part of maintaining your household and its plumbing system.
Attachments such as metal fittings that are used to connect PEX tubings are usually prone to corrosion similar to brass valves and braided stainless steel supply lines as stated before. And just like everything else for plumbing systems, visual inspection is advised to maintain a functional plumbing system.
CPVC, which stands for Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride, parts’ problems start when this type of material is exposed to either heat or strong chemicals. If you see any discoloration or any part of the CPVC tube cracking, you might want to have it checked by a licensed plumber. Even though this material is used for home fire sprinkler systems, some also incorporate this into their home’s plumbing system.
Toilets have tanks that are made of ceramics that can easily break. It starts with a small and thin crack, but the longer that it is left unaddressed the crack stays thin but it gets longer as time goes by. This crack can cause a major water issue and bigger damages to your home. Ceramic cracks are unnoticeable and spread slowly, if you notice any discoloration or staining on the outer part of the tank, this may be a sign that there’s a crack somewhere.
Aside from the regular inspection for cracks, corrosion, and damages, checking the flush function of a tank should also always be checked as well as replaced from time to time.
If you do find any cracks, corrosions, or anything mentioned above in your plumbing system, immediately call a plumbing professional. Have the professional test your waters, too. Especially if your water supply is coming from a well. As mentioned throughout here, water chemistry can be a major factor as to why you are experiencing plumbing problems in your household.
Understanding and learning your home’s systems and appliances will greatly help you maintain and keep your systems functional, minimizing your expenses for fixes and what comes after it. Take note also of the lifespan of your plumbing components as well as the best practices to maintain them.
Lastly, to make the best out of the technology that we already have, installing a leak detection system or water sensor would be a good idea. With this installed, leaks can be easily spotted and can prevent damaging other parts of your household. And in the long run, would help you minimize the cost of having to fix things over and over again. The best thing about this is that you can monitor and control this via your smartphone as these systems can be synced to it.
What will happen if you come down with a plumbing issue in your home? You can always review your insurance policies with your insurance company online or contact and discuss them with their agents.