10 Ways to Avoid Leaks in Your Home 

Household leaks can be devastating, LeakSmart can help

While we were quite happy to say goodbye to 2020, we face 2021 with similar constraints and continue to spend time a lot more time at home. Let’s take advantage and keep our homes a place of relaxation, rejuvenation, and restoration. To avoid significant damage to your home, it is important to know what core plumbing issues could occur, what to do if they do occur, and who or what can help. Here are 10 areas of consideration where your home could be vulnerable and what you can do about it.

#1: Is your water pressure low?

Cause: Potential water leak, a blocked sewer line, or pipe corrosion

Solution:

  1. Start by looking for mineral deposits on your showerhead and faucets. If you see build-up, soak the shower or faucet head in a pan of vinegar.
  2. If you are still experiencing low water pressure, inspect your bathroom and kitchen pipes, looking for leaks and condensation – if you find an issue, call your plumber right away, as leaking water can cause damage very quickly to walls, floors, and ceilings.
  3. It is not uncommon for pipes to freeze over winter months, causing leaks or even bursts. No issues with the pipes you can see? Check with your neighbors to see if they are experiencing a similar issue. If so, contact your water municipality. There could be a leak in the lines delivering water to your neighborhood.
  4. Compare your water bills, if yours is significantly higher and you have the same number of people in the home, this could indicate a problem.
  5. Consider putting in a leak detection system. Most systems can both identify and alert you to a leak in the waterline and water pooling on the floor. Make sure you get one that works 24/7; always protecting you and your home.

#2: Is your sink, tub, or shower slow to drain?

Cause: It is very common to have drain build-up. This is usually due to hair, soap, and other unintended objects.

Solution:

  1. We recommend cleaning the drain ASAP, as this could lead to a plumbing nightmare. Common tools to use include a drain snake or chemicals for a standard clog. Quick hack: pour a cup of bleach down the drain monthly to dissolve blockages.
  2. Some people even pour Coke down the drain to loosen that nasty build-up. Vinegar and baking soda are also effective at dissolving clogged messes.
  3. Try a drain guard to catch hair and other objects that may obstruct the drain passage.

# 3: Is your faucet dripping?

Cause: First off, do you know how old it is? Most faucets only last 10-12 years. If it is an old faucet, it could be caused by a worn-out washer. Leaks may be due to corrosion or even a bad installation job.

Solution:

  1. If you are a DIYer, O-rings can be easily replaced.
  2. If you find that it’s beyond repair, it might be time to replace the faucet completely. Luckily, faucets are relatively inexpensive and easy to replace, and most come with straightforward installation instructions or links to a YouTube video with step-by-step directions.

# 4: Can you hear your toilet running?

Cause: Running toilets are both a nuisance and a huge glut of wasted water. In fact, you can lose up to 200 gallons in a single day from running water.

Solution:

  1. Start by checking the flapper. If it isn’t working properly, replace the flapper by purchasing a flapper repair kit. Kits are just a click away or available through a big box store like Walmart, Home Depot, and Lowes or other multi-purpose stores such as Sutherlands, Meijer, Ace and Tractor Supply
  2. Another hack is to put food coloring in the upper tank to see if the color moves to your toilet.

#5: Is your kitchen disposal working?

Cause: Personally, my disposal has failed at least three times. This is a common issue, especially if you like to cook and vegetable peelings/shavings are a common disposal diet. Here again, closely inspect the disposal for water leaks.

Solution:

  1. Disposals often get jammed. Consider hitting the reset button to restart the disposal to remove those clumping vegetable peels.
  2. Switch it to the “on” position and listen to what the disposal does. It will either remain silent or hum.
  3. If it is silent, you may have an electrical issue and the circuit might have been tripped. If it is humming, it might be clogged. Now, switch the disposal “off”.
  4. Look down the drain hole – again, make sure the disposal is off first. If you see waste, get a needle nose plyer to remove the waste.
  5. Turn the disposal back on to see if you have cleared the blockage. If you are successful, you may want to back off on dropping the vegetable peelings down the disposal and opt for the garbage can instead!

#6: How old is your water tank?

Cause: Did you know that most water tanks only have a 10- to 12-year life span? Inspect around the water heater to see any condensation or leaking water.

Solution:

  1. If your tank is older than 10 years, we would recommend an inspection by your trusted HVAC professional or plumber. Issues can stem from loose electrical connections, heating element failures, or leaks.
  2. We recommend considering installing or asking your trusted pro to install a leak detection point solution. Water tank appliance kits can give you an early warning that your tank is needing maintenance, repair, or replacement.

#7: Have you checked your sump pump lately?

Cause: Sump pumps can fail for a variety of reasons, including a bad installation, a stuck switch, a clogged discharge pipe, or even just due to a heavy rain event. Here again, pumps older than 10 years are at a higher risk of failure.

Solution:

  1. We recommend a pro inspection again – while they are out checking the water tank, they can check the sump pump.

#8: As the snow thaws, have you thought about your HVAC system?

Cause: Depending on where your HVAC system is installed, it could cause devastating damage. It is common for the condensate line to clog. When this happens, water can flow over a drip pan.

I have seen firsthand not only damage to the floor but also devastating damage to the ceiling in the room below. It can literally happen overnight.

Solution:

  1. Have a professional check the condensate line as well. And set a reminder for yourself to check the drip pan frequently.

#9: Did you buy a fixer-upper?

Cause: If the answer is yes, it is not uncommon to find plumbing work done by the past homeowner. It is also not uncommon to find polybutylene pipes that were used for a good 20-year span from the 70s to the 90s. You may also find galvanized pipe that was used before the 60s. Both types do not stand the test of time and are known to become brittle, erode, and crack over time.

Solution:

  1. Don’t assume the initial inspection caught everything. Have the pipes thoroughly inspected by a professional.

#10: Have you checked your roof and foundation lately?

Cause: If you live in a cold climate, snow can accumulate where roof lines come together. As it melts, it can cause significant damage.

Solution:

  1. To try and prevent this, we had a heater installed to be turned on during times of heavy snow. This will melt and dry the roofline area, protecting it from a devastating leak.
  2. Inspect your walls near roof lines looking for weeping or other signs of water. You could consider a water sensor here. There are sensors on the market that have extension lines that detect water across the entire length of the cord allowing you to detect water along a wall line. Many sensors also detect when humidity levels are dangerously high.

So many articles today share how homeowners are completing home improvement projects as they notice wear and tear, especially now that we are spending more time at home. As you consider your own projects, also remember the silent culprits of water damage: 40% of water damage comes from appliances (such as water tanks, toilets, and faucets), 20% comes from within the piping itself, and 20% comes from water outside the home (such as floods, etc.). Active inspection is key and leak detection/protection tools can alert you before you know you even have an issue. Also, consult your trusted professional to do a thorough inspection, showing you where you may be at risk – because after all, with the added time spent at home, the last thing we want to worry about is tying up your home due to ceiling, wall, or floor damage repairs.