Leaky pipes will always be one of the most annoying issues that most homeowners face. Did you know that the per data, the average family of four wastes up to 11,000 gallons of water every year through leaky pipes? That’s equivalent to 280 loads of laundry or 1,800 times running your dishwasher.
While leaky pipes in accessible areas, such as under the sink pipes, are obvious and can be easily resolved, some pipe leaks are well-hidden behind the structures of your house that you may not notice until they become a bigger problem.
In this feature, you’ll learn more about hidden water leaks and their common causes. More importantly, you’ll learn the risks of hidden pipe leaks when left unattended. Keep on reading to learn more.
Water Leaks And Their Common Causes
Your plumbing is a complex network of pipes connected together, providing you with clean water while taking away wastewater as far away from your home as possible. However, as one of the busiest systems in your home, your plumbing system is also prone to damage that causes water leaks.
In general, leaky pipes are caused by various factors. Some of the common culprit include:
Natural Wear And Tear
Like any other system, your plumbing pipes are prone to damage and decay over time. Even the best and most durable pipes will eventually succumb to wear and tear. If you have an older plumbing system and haven’t had a professional inspection in a while, it’s best to call your local plumber to determine if your plumbing needs replacement.
Damaged Pipe Joints
The most vulnerable area of a plumbing pipe is its joints. These joints consist of separate curve pieces connecting straight pipes to redirect water throughout your home. Over time, excess water pressure or natural wear and tear can cause these joints to deteriorate.
High Water Pressure
Your pipe can only handle so much water pressure. If the water pressure is too high, your pipes may start to leak along the joints or even burst under the pressure. Water pressure issues often result from poor pressure regulation. Other issues like clogs can cause increased water pressure problems as well.
As your pipes get older, rust and corrosion can eat away at the materials which creates an opening for water to seep through. In addition, your pipes may also develop corrosion if your water’s mineral content and pH levels are imbalanced.
Some of the common causes of pipe leaks actually start outside your home instead of indoors. Intruding tree roots can disturb and damage your water lines, causing moisture and water to seep out into your yard.
Small earthquakes and flooding can cause your pipe to shift. As the ground moves, your plumbing pipes can bend, crack, twist, or separate altogether, causing underground water leaks.
Extreme Temperature Fluctuations
In areas with extreme weather and temperature fluctuations, your pipes are more vulnerable to wear and tear. Plumbing pipes tend to expand and contract due to temperature changes. Extreme temperature fluctuations can cause your pipes to develop cracks and create hidden leaks.
4 Risks And Dangers Of Hidden Pipe Leaks
If not found and resolved immediately, hidden pipe leaks can cause numerous risks and dangers to your family and property. Some of the risks are as follows:
They May Contaminate Your Household’s Water Supply
If there’s a leak in the plumbing pipes that are carrying drinking water into your home, there’s a chance that it can become contaminated. A study revealed that pollutants can enter water pipes via leaks and be transported throughout the whole residential water distribution network.
This untreated water may contain anything that’s been dumped on the ground such as pesticides, motor oil, animal waste, and the like. And drinking this contaminated water can cause serious health problems. For instance, drinking contaminated water is often linked to diseases such as diarrhea, cholera, typhoid, polio, hepatitis A, and dysentery. In particular, diarrhea is the most widely known disease associated with the consumption of contaminated water.
In addition, consuming water that contains even small trace amounts of chemical pollutants such as fertilizers or pesticides can cause serious health issues. It may cause rashes, itchy skin, and hair loss. You and your family may also be at risk of cancer, kidney and cardiovascular problems, and damage to your immune and reproductive systems in the long run.
They Encourage Microbial Growth
In terms of hidden pipe leaks, one of their most common symptoms is the growth of microorganisms such as mold, mildew, and fungus. Mold, mildew, and fungus strive in humid, damp, and dark environments. And a leaking hidden pipe is the perfect place for them to thrive and grow.
Too much mold growth can cause a musty and stale odor around your home. Prolonged exposure to a moldy environment may cause a variety of health issues for your family. In fact, some people are highly sensitive to mold. Exposure to molds can result in symptoms such as wheezing, stuffy or runny nose, and itchy or red eyes or skin.
Further, if you have pre-existing health conditions such as allergies or asthma, the presence of mold can worsen your condition and cause intense reactions, such as difficulty of breathing or rashes all over your body. Some effects can be worse and even be life-threatening – warranting a quick visit to the emergency room as a result.
In addition to the potential health problems they may cause, mold and mildew can cause serious damage to your home’s structure as well. When mold spots grow and spread on floors, walls, and foundations, they weaken the property’s structure. If left uncontrolled, a mold infestation can rot and severely damage the home foundation which results in permanent damage that are very pricey to fix or mitigate.
Hidden Leakes Attract Pests And Other Dangerous Organisms
A leaky pipe not only encourages microbial growth–various pests and insects are attracted to moisture and enjoy living in damp, dark places too. Hidden leaky pipes create an ideal habitat for a host of critters around your home. And they may pose significant dangers to your health and home structures.
For instance, cockroaches and rats love the dark, damp environment that a leaky pipe behind your walls creates. Cockroaches and rats are known disease carriers. These pests can spread bacteria and cause diseases such as cholera, diarrhea, typhoid fever, plague dysentery, leprosy and so much more. Both pests’ fecal waste release harmful vapors and substances into the air that can cause asthma attacks or allergic reactions.
Mice and rats can cause structural damage to your home through defecation, gnawing, and nest-building. They tend to chew on just about anything that they see useful in building their nests, which include paper, wood, books, and clothes. This makes rats and mice the most alarming types of pests that invade your home since they can cause both health problems and structural damage.
Meanwhile, termites and carpenter ants are more likely to seek out leaky areas in your basement and attic. Unlike rats and cockroaches, termites and carpenter ants are not known to carry diseases harmful to humans. They may sting or bite, but these wounds are not toxic either. That said, they can cause serious damage to your home’s structure. In particular, these pests prefer damp wood in your walls and hidden structural beams since the moisture makes it easier for them to gnaw through the wood.
Other pests like springtails and silverfish may not be dangerous to your health nor damage your home, but they can still be a nuisance or problems when they grow in numbers.
Water From Hidden Leaking Pipes Causes Structural Damage To Your House
It’s well known that water leaks can cause serious damage to your home’s structure. Aside from the fact that leaky pipes encourage mold and pests that damage the surface, water is a primary enemy of most home structural components and materials, particularly wood and metal.
Water and wood don’t mix well. When water leaks from damaged pipes come in contact with unprotected wood for an extended period, the latter will start to rot and disintegrate.
In addition, water can break down the metal and cause surface rusting and corrosion. Rust can break down and deform an affected metal structure, which can compromise the structural stability of your home.
Further, leaky pipes that cause water to seep into your home’s foundation, crawl space walls or basement can cause serious structural damage. It comprises your home’s stability and causes it to sink into the ground.
As you can see, hidden leaks not only the integrity of your home but also the safety of your family. Thus, they’re considered dangerous and should be remedied as soon as possible.
Now that you’re well aware of the causes and risks of hidden pipe leaks in your home, you need to make it a point to always carry out regular plumbing inspections. This way, you can keep your home’s plumbing system and pipes in tip-top shape and ensure that there are no unwanted water leaks that can endanger your family and personal belongings.