Anywhere that water flows, there is potential for it to leak. Most calls to plumbers are requests to fix water leaks or damage related to leaks. The best way to treat leaks is to prevent them from occurring. In this series, we will discuss some of the most common causes of household water leaks and what you can do to prevent or repair them.
#1 Loose Connectors
Problem: Where water pipes connect to other pipes or to appliances, they can become loose over time, or they could have been connected improperly and be loose from the beginning. This can happen if connectors are not completely tightened to create a seal. If connectors are overtightened, it can crack the threading that makes the connection, creating a permanent leak. If the hose or pipe is not long enough and there is tension at the point of connection, it can wear down the connection over time. If the person who connected the hoses or pipes was not paying attention, they could have simply misthreaded the connecting pieces, which would be good news because simply unscrewing it and reconnecting it is the solution, and that’s relatively simple. Some connections can start off just fine and begin to leak over time because of movement, such as your washing machine when it vibrates during the spin cycle.
Solution: Make sure that when you connect pipes, hoses, and tubes, they are secured properly and leak free before regular use. Make sure that you have proper fitting connections that don’t cause extra tension. For pipes or tubes that are regularly moved, such as your washing machine, check the connection points regularly.
#2 Temperature Drop
One of the characteristics of water is that it expands when it freezes. When sudden, dramatic, drop in temperature occurs, water can freeze in your pipes. If there is minimal water in the pipes, the frozen expansion may not completely fill the pipes and can help minimize the damage. If you know beforehand that a freeze may occur, you can drain lines as much as possible. In areas where there are regular extreme temperature lows, it is important to also maintain your home’s heating system to prevent the temperature from falling below freezing inside your home.
Problem: The force of the water expanding as it becomes ice crystals can break down pipe walls. This is the reason you should always drain outside pipes and hoses before the first winter freeze! If the temperature drops before it is expected to and lines are full of water, they could expand with the ice and even burst.
Solution: Blow out sprinklers before the first freeze of the year. Always make sure to empty out your lawn hose after each use and, more importantly, always disconnect it from the water connection on your house. If a sudden drop in temperature happens before you blow out pipes, attempt to run water through the pipes every so often until temperatures rise to above freezing or you are able to blow out the pipes; moving water doesn’t freeze as readily. If water does end up freezing in your pipes, attempt to cut off the water supply to the pipes affected and call a trusted plumber, quick.
In the next part of this series, we will discuss how water pressure, vegetation, and pipe joints can affect your home’s pipes and cause leaks.