Discovering a puddle of water around your toilet, water heater, or beneath a dripping pipe just might send you running for the phone in a panic. Before you call a plumber, consider whether you’re witnessing a bona fide leak or just a bit of old-fashioned “sweating.”
Watch The Weather
In humid, warm weather some pipes and fixtures are more prone to “perspiration”. Cold water inside a pipe, toilet tank, or water heater will make the materials in which it’s contained cooler than the outside temperature. As a result, moisture in the air condenses on the surface, causing beads of water to accumulate. Depending on the level of humidity as well as the temperature difference, this can cause enough condensation to form puddles.
Before you panic over a potential leak, check the weather as well as accumulated condensation on the ceramic of your toilet tank, all along the cold-water pipe, or upon the metal casing of your water tank. This kind of condensation is most common in areas that are not temperature-controlled, like basements or attics.
If condensation is causing the trouble, breathe a sigh of relief that you’re not dealing with a potential costly leak. Just keep in mind that if condensation is persistent, the accumulation of sitting moisture can still cause long-term damage on flooring if left unattended.
Fortunately, there are a number of inexpensive and often DIY fixes:
- For toilet tank condensation, consider placing a tray beneath the dripping tank and drain it daily. Alternatively, run the fan often and for longer periods of time, insulate the toilet tank, or ask your plumber about installing an anti-sweat valve.
- For pipe condensation, consider insulating the exposed part of cold-water pipes with plastic foam wrap.
- For water heater condensation, make sure the pilot light is on, increase the temperature setting, or introduce ventilation into the room. If it’s a persistent problem, check with your plumber whether you’re using the correctly-sized tank for your water heating needs.
As always, if you see a persistent puddle and feel like there’s more water accumulation than can be justified by simple condensation, it’s always wise to call your trusted plumber. A certified, licensed plumber will give you an expert opinion to avoid long-term damage and the potential for a catastrophic leak.