Your plumbing system is remarkably complex, allowing you to get water from a tap in an instant and not worry about discarding what water you use. However, because your plumbing system has so many pieces, this makes it susceptible to leaks in multiple areas.
Below, we’ll describe some of the most common causes of household leaks and provide you with tips for preventing water waste and damage to your home.
1. Overtightened Faucet Handles
Many people twist faucet handles as tightly as possible when shutting off water to prevent a dripping faucet. What they don’t realize is that doing this prematurely wears out the washer inside the plumbing fixture. When the washer wears out, you’ll get the very problem you were trying to avoid in the first place: a dripping faucet.
Leak Fact: According to the EPA, a leaky faucet dripping at the rate of one drip per second can waste over 3,000 gallons per year--the amount of water you’d need to take over 180 showers!
2. Worn Out Water Supply Pipes
As water main and supply pipes age, they develop issues that make more prone to leaks. The biggest problem is corrosion. If you own an older home, your plumbing system may contain galvanized steel pipes that have lost their zinc coating a while ago. Once that special coating wears away, galvanized steel pipes start to corrode and develop mineral deposits on their interior. Those deposits compromise the pipe walls and can increase water pressure to the point at which the metal breaks and leaks.
Copper can also corrode, although it takes a considerable amount of time. One of the most significant contributors is water with excessively high or low acidity. Sediment can also wear down the pipes over time.
3. Pressure from Clogs
Clogs can do more than cause dirty water to back up into your plumbing fixtures. If a clog is severe, it can cause enough pressure buildup to create a leak in your drain pipes. If you notice water draining slowly down your sink or hear a strange gurgling from the pipes underneath those fixtures, don’t wait to contact a plumber to clear the blockage.
4. High Water Pressure
No one likes weak water pressure (especially in the shower), but excessively high water pressure can wreak havoc on your plumbing system. Overly high water pressure causes wear and tear on pipes and can force water out of pipe and hose connections. If your home has frequent leaks, consider contacting a plumber to inspect your water pressure.
5. Invasive Tree Roots
One of the biggest threats to your home’s water main line and sewer line are tree roots that grow horizontally, rather than down into the earth. Tree roots can creep inside pipes, causing clogs, or even wrap around the lines and slowly crush them. When planting new trees on your property, opt for trees with roots that grow more vertically, and avoid planting them near your plumbing pipes.
6. Shifting Earth and Foundation
It isn’t unheard of for the soil around a home’s foundation to move. Usually, this movement will be gradual as things like tree roots, moisture, and temperature affect the ground, but sometimes it can happen more dramatically, such as during an earthquake. When the earth shifts, this can cause the water supply pipes under your foundation to bend, break, or separate, creating a slab leak. Slab leaks can weaken your foundation and compromise your home’s structural integrity, so it’s never wise to postpone a repair.