Upgrading Your Pipes

A Homeowner's Guide To Water Supply Line Leaks

When most people think of plumbing problems, they think of clogged drains. While drain issues are common, the most damaging type of plumbing issue in a home often comes from the water supply pipes. Knowing the basics of how to spot leaks and what to do if you have one can help you avoid expensive damages.

Signs of Water Leaks

Much damage can be prevented simply by having the ability to locate a potential leak as soon as it occurs. Signs of a leak include increased water bills or usage, mildew or mold growth on walls or carpets, and the sound of running water even when all the taps are closed. Foundation cracks, lowered water pressure, and water stains on walls or ceilings can also indicate that you have a leak in a water supply line.

Extent of the Damage

Once you know you have a leak, you need to assess the damage. First, prevent further damage by shutting the water valve that supplies the area of the home. A plumber can use a pipe camera and digital leak detection tools to locate the exact location of the leak and assess the damage. In some cases, you simply have a small leak in a single length of pipe, while in other cases your water lines may all be in poor repair and in danger of leaking. On top of the pipe conditions, you must also determine what repairs will be necessary for water damaged walls, flooring, or the foundation.

Pipe Materials In Use

It's important to know the materials of your water supply pipes. Most modern homes use PEX, a plastic material that is quite durable and nearly infinitely repairable. In older homes, you may have copper, cast iron, galvanized steel, or lead pipes. With the exception of lead, the other materials are generally considered safe. Some materials, like old cast iron pipes, are more prone to issues though, such as rust and corrosion that can lead to leaks. Knowing your pipe material can help you stay ahead of plumbing problems.

Repair or Replace

Once the plumber is onsite, you will need to determine whether to replace or repair the supply lines. If you have lead pipes, then replacement is the only suitable option. For all other materials, your plumber will need to assess the state of the pipes as a whole. If the leak is only affecting one pipe and the rest seem to be in good shape, then they can repair the broken length or replace it with a new length. If the damages are throughout the supply lines, you may need to repipe your entire home.

Contact a plumbing repair contractor in your area if you are having issues with your water lines.