Plumbing: What Causes Leaks and How To Prevent Them

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We all know what a headache household plumbing leaks can be. To the misfortune of many of us, they are not particularly uncommon. That said, trying to determine exactly why a plumbing leak has occurred can be tricky.

Luckily, leaks don’t always indicate that there is some overarching problem with your home plumbing system, and it isn’t always a sign that something has gone horribly wrong. Often, simple plumbing leaks are merely a result of age and normal wear.

That said, it’s important to do what you can to prevent plumbing leaks from occurring in the future. To do that, you first have to know some of their most common causes.

Common Causes of Household Plumbing Leaks

There has yet to be a pipe invented that is completely immune to leaks, but several factors can either speed up or slow down the process. Check out some of the most common issues that can lead to plumbing leaks:

  • Broken Seals: Most modern household appliances are equipped with seals that are installed at the point of water intake. Like any other part of a given fixture, it is possible for these seals to break or wear down over time, limiting their effectiveness. As a result, a leak may occur.
  • Clogs: Clogged pipes and drains can cause a buildup of water pressure inside your pipes. As a result, this places undue pressure on them. Over time, this pressure can cause excessive wear to seals and pipe walls. When the pressure grows too great, they may crack, creating a leak.
  • Corrosion: Due to their constant contact with water and their metallic consistency, many pipe walls are prone to corrosion and rust over time. This can happen faster than usual if your home features hard water or high water pressure. As pipes corrode, their ability to handle the force of flowing water weakens them. Eventually, this may cause a pipe to become especially thin in key areas, increasing the likelihood of a leak.

With a better understanding of what causes common household plumbing leaks, the next logical step is to learn how you can prevent them.

How to Prevent Plumbing Leaks From Happening

The best way to prevent common household plumbing leaks is by taking the best possible care of your home’s plumbing system. Check out some of the best ways you can make sure that you are treating your pipes well:

  • Avoid Harsh Chemical Drain Cleaners: Over-the-county chemical drain cleaners may seem like a quick and easy fix for a drain clog, but using them isn’t always the best idea. Harsh chemical drain cleaners don’t discriminate between organic matter and the pipe that surrounds it. As such, using them too frequently can further erode your pipes and actually increase your risk of a leak.
  • Don’t Treat Your Drain Like a Garbage Can: Garbage disposals and drains are not the same things. Attempting to force large chunks of food or inorganic matter down your drain is basically just asking for a clog. Over time, doing this may require a professional drain cleaning in order to restore your pipes to proper working order.
  • Mind Your Water Pressure: High household water pressure (generally, anything that is above 80 p.s.i.) can trigger or exacerbate pipe leaks. To get a better idea of your water pressure, a professional plumber can test it. If it is the above recommendations, he or she will then investigate possible causes.
  • Soften Your Water: As we mentioned earlier, hard water (water that has a high level of mineral content) can cause mineral deposits to form inside your pipes. Over time, this can cause an increase in pressure and accelerate pipe corrosion. To prevent this, the installation of a home water softener may be required.
  • Never Let Your Pipes Freeze: Frozen pipes are always a legitimate concern when the harsh winter weather begins to set in. This is why it is always important, especially in older homes, to fully insulate every exposed span of plumbing you have access to. In the wintertime, you should also seal any external openings, such as hose spigots, that may allow frigid air to come in contact with your water supply lines. It can also be a good idea to turn on your water to a very light trickle while freezing temperatures persist.

What to Do When Faced With a Plumbing Leak

While there are always ways to lower your risk of experiencing a household plumbing leak, it’s never truly impossible. While many small issues can possibly be addressed on your own, bigger jobs like hairline fracture repair and burst line leaks can pose a serious issue. That’s where the experienced plumbing experts come in.

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