Running water has become a major fixture in modern life. We often take it for granted that our plumbing systems are hard at work every day, moving water from point A to point B so we can bathe, wash dishes, flush the toilet and more. Much of this magic takes place behind the scenes—underneath countertops, inside walls and in the basement—so it’s important to keep a close eye on your waterworks. After all, a small issue can quickly become a damaging flood.
Here are seven plumbing problems you may experience at home.
Drip. Drop. Once you hear the telltale sounds of a leaky faucet, it’s hard to tune them out. What’s more, homeowners may be surprised to learn how wasteful dripping faucets are. According the U.S. Geological Survey’s drip calculator, just one faucet dripping five times per minute wastes a liter of water per day, or 173 gallons per year.
One day you notice your sink or tub isn’t draining as quickly as it did when you first moved in. What gives? It may be as simple as using a Zip-it or similar plumbing tool to clear out debris. In your kitchen sink, food particles may be causing slow or nonexistent drainage; in the bathroom, the culprit is usually hair.
Pipes leak for any number of reasons, from winter temperatures causing water inside to expand to pinholes appearing in copper pipes. The first sign is often wetness in the ceilings, walls or basement. While homeowners can take temporary measures like shutting off water supply and applying a pipe repair clamp, it’s important to call a plumber immediately.
What happens when a small leak becomes a torrential flood? Burst pipes can appear out of seemingly nowhere and wreak havoc on your home. Even a half-inch pipe has a flow rate of 50 gallons per minute. Imagine that much water flooding your home or yard! This is precisely why it’s so important to address leaks. If a pipe does burst, turn off water at the main shut-off valve as soon as possible and call an emergency plumber. Thankfully, homeowners insurance may cover the cost of subsequent water damage depending on the circumstances.
Does your toilet sound like it’s never quite finished filling after a flush? If so, you may have a running toilet. Sometimes it’s a simple fix, like replacing the flapper to seal off water between the tank and the bowl. If this quick fix fails to do the trick, call a professional.
Low Water Pressure
One day you’re trying to rinse the shampoo out of your hair when it hits you: Your showerhead’s flow has been much weaker than usual. Come to think of it, all your faucets have had a lower flow lately too, even when the handle is turned to the maximum position. You may be suffering from low water pressure, so it’s time to investigate possible causes and remedy the situation. Worst case scenario, your older plumbing system has enough buildup to require new pipes.
As you can imagine, sewer backups are less than glamorous. They can stem from aging pipes, rainstorms or overgrown tree roots causing cracks in sewer lines. It’s important to identify the cause and clean up the damage immediately to reduce the risk of disease and molding. The basement often serves as the “scene of the crime” because of its low-lying drains.
Now that you know more about these seven plumbing problems you may experience at home, you won’t be so quick to write off that dripping noise as harmless. Remember, a small plumbing problem can become huge in a matter of seconds.
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