3 Reasons Not to Ignore Leaky Pipes

Leaky pipes can cause a lot of damage, both visible and hidden. When leaks are ignored for too long, doors, ceilings, roof, walls, and the pipes themselves may need to be replaced. If small leaks occur behind walls or under the floorboards, they can encourage bacterial growth and rot, which cause physical harm to humans that can be irreversible.

Here are the top three reasons you should never ignore that little drip:

1. Mold

Whether you notice them or not, leaky pipes can foster the growth of harmful mold. Homeowners may notice seemingly random symptoms like itchy, watery red eyes; sinus congestion and runny nose; skin rashes and irritations; headaches and dizziness; and/or difficulty breathing. Infants exposed to mold can become asthmatic throughout childhood and later life depending on how severe the mold is and whether it lingers or gets removed.

In order for mold to grow, it needs the following three things: a food supply, moisture, and time. Mold will feed on cellulose or the fiber found in most common building materials, such as drywall, plywood, carpets (and the padding underneath), and even metal strips or furring. Dust mites supply a virtually endless smorgasbord for mold.

The moisture can be as devastating as a flood or as subtle as humidity. Either way, it helps mold grow and expand into a poisonous problem for homeowners.

Anywhere between 24 hours and ten days after the feeding and watering is when occupants will begin to notice the telltale signs of black or green fungus. However, there is no way to turn back time once mold has taken hold.

2. Foundation damage

Even the smallest leaks can cause damage to the foundation, which means major financial devastation on top of physical destruction. And when the foundation is damaged, the structure of the house is compromised, which could render your entire home unsafe to occupy. Having to vacate your home compounds an already emotional situation.

As water trickles through pipes and into the ground, it causes the soil around your home to wash away or expand, depending on what part of the country you live in and the compactness of the soil. When the earth shifts, your home’s foundation will move as well—up, down, or sideways.

You may notice cracks near doors and windows that reach to the ceiling or down to the floor. Other signs of a shifting foundation include loose floorboards, bulging floors, and doors that won’t open or close properly.

Unfortunately, by the time a homeowner can perceive such signs, the damage to the foundation is almost certainly irrevocable. Locating the leaking pipe(s) is the first step of an expensive journey to creating a habitable space once again.

3. Electricity and water are not a good mix

Many older houses around the country had inexpensive copper water pipes installed underground for plumbing needs. These copper pipes are connected directly to the ground system’s main circuit breaker, and the grounding buss bars and neutral system are linked together with the portable water system, the main water line, and the gas line.

This is perfectly safe, and electrification of the copper pipes would only occur if the neutral or ground systems were to be combined somewhere other than the main panel in the house. Homeowners will not be electrocuted or even mildly shocked.

Over time, though, the ground currents create a growth of green stalagmites and stalactites inside the copper pipes. The result is internal corrosion, which eats away the copper and leaves pinhole-size openings for water to escape.

The best solution for leaky pipes is prevention. Good home maintenance includes checking the pipes and plumbing on a regular basis. Even if no water is visible, leaks can be small or internal to a pipe. Begin your home improvements with custom pipe wraps for plumbing parts in cold-air areas of the house. And remember, if it’s too late and you find yourself facing a plumbing emergency, contact us!

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