Leaking faucets and pipes are common plumbing problems in apartments and houses. Dripping faucets are more of a nuisance and a waste of money than a plumbing emergency, but those drips add up quickly — fixing the leaks in your home could save up to 10 percent on your water bill.
Nationwide, plumbing leaks can account for over 1 trillion gallons of water. Leaking faucets are easy to spot since the water physically drips out of the faucet when it is in the off position. You can usually hear the drips even if you aren’t in the room. Leaking pipes can cause major damage if you don’t catch the problem immediately.
A dripping faucet typically occurs when the washer that forms the seal on the tap gets damaged. Damage may include tearing, dislodging or stiffening. When this damage occurs, the washer no longer seals tightly, allowing small amounts of water to drip from the faucet. Over time, the valve seat may also wear or corrode.
Leaks may occur due to deterioration, shifting, high water pressure or other damage. In faucets, replacing the washer responsible for the leak solves the problem. This can be a DIY job, but replacing the washer is easier with specialty tools, so you may want to call a plumber. Leaking pipes may be a simple job or a very complex one.
Natural wear from regular use is often difficult to avoid. Over time, leaking faucets are bound to happen. Slow that wear by turning faucets on and off slowly and avoiding excessive pressure on the handles. Leaky pipes are difficult to prevent, but you can spot the problem early with regular inspection.
Visible rusting or white lime deposits can signal the potential for leaking. Call a plumber to replace the washer if you don’t have experience with plumbing. For leaking pipes, call a professional when the job is too large or if you don’t want to mess with the clean-up. Water heater issues are usually easy to spot.
Dripping water, puddles of water, discolored water and noises coming from the water heater unit are other signs of a problem. In some cases, you can troubleshoot the issues yourself, but many water heater issues and repairs require professional help due to the complexity and potential for danger. Leaks are sometimes the cause of water heater problems, including not having enough hot water.
The deposits can reduce the efficiency of the water heater, reducing the supply of hot water throughout your home. Sediment can also cause strange sounds from your water heater, which are caused by heating and exploding of the sediment or build-up of scale on heating elements. Check the pilot light if the water heater runs on gas.
Look at the temperature setting to ensure it wasn’t turned down accidentally. If you think mineral deposits are the issue, drain the water tank to flush out the sediment. If you see water pooling on the floor, call a plumber, as the tank is likely leaking and may need replaced by a professional.
Check the pressure valve regularly. Flush the tank periodically to remove sediment. Look around the tank occasionally to check for drips and leaks that could indicate a bigger problem. Unless the issue has a simple fix, such as relighting the pilot light or adjusting the water heater thermostat, call an experienced plumber when you have water heater troubles.
If the water heater issues cause water puddles on the floor, take a few immediate steps to ensure your safety. Here is what to do: Shut off the power to your water heater. For an electric water heater, ensure you are completely dry and wear a pair of work gloves to shut off the breaker that controls the water heater.
Turn off the water to prevent additional leaking. You can shut off the valves to the water heater if they are functioning properly. If not, shut off the main water valve into your home until a plumber arrives to evaluate the situation. Move items away from the water heater. Common plumbing problems in old houses often revolve around low water pressure, but the issue can happen in new homes as well.
Whatever the reason, low water pressure makes it difficult to rinse things and shower, so resolving the issue is a priority to get back to normal water use. Low water pressure has a few possible causes. A water main break can reduce pressure to your tap – this could be the issue if your neighbors also suddenly experience low water pressure.
Shut off all taps, check your water meter and wait a few hours without using any water to check for leaks. If the water meter changes, you likely have a leak. Another potential cause is build-up of minerals and sediment either in the pipes or in the faucet aerators and showerheads.
If you think build-up is the problem, start with the aerators or showerheads where you have the water pressure issues. Unscrew the end on the faucet tap for cleaning. Soak the aerator in vinegar overnight to loosen the build-up. If you can’t remove the aerator or showerhead, put vinegar in a plastic bag.
Other issues often need the help of a plumber to restore water pressure. Install a filtration system to keep minerals out of your pipes to avoid future build-up. Check pipes regularly to find and repair leaks early. Call a plumber if the water pressure decreases suddenly or you can’t pinpoint the cause of the problem.
If you notice a gradual decrease but the issue isn’t in your aerators, you could have a build-up or corrosion issue in your pipes. This also requires a plumber to replace or repair the affected sections. Toilet plumbing problems come in many forms, but a running toilet is one of the most annoying.