Maybe it’s a running toilet that wakes you up in the middle of the night, or the ceaseless drip-drip-drip of a slow-leaking faucet. Perhaps you’ve tied a rag around the pipe seeping moisture under the sink or noticed a growing puddle at the base of your water heater tank. You’ll get around to fixing these common household plumbing issues, as soon as you find the time.
Household leaks cost you money with every drip of wasted water. Pooled moisture can cause rust rings, encourage the growth of mold, and promote rot and other structural damage. Before your basement becomes a swimming pool, check out these common household leaks, what causes them, and easy suggestions for repair.
The Maddening, Ever-Dripping Faucet
According to the EPA, the average American household leaks about 10,000 gallons of water a year. In that light, it makes good green sense to bump plumbing fixes higher up on the honey-do list. Dripping faucets are a major culprit and also one of the cheapest and easiest repairs. Leakage is usually caused by corroded O-rings or hard water deposits on internal parts like gaskets or washers. Careful disassembly, thorough cleaning, and inspection or replacement of brittle or faulty pieces usually solves the problem.
The Seeping Under The Sink
The maze of pipes and hoses under your kitchen sink is where many common household leaks occur, often hidden by the detergents, cleaners, sponges, and other debris that clutter the floor. A slow, hidden leak can cause warp or even rot away the baseboard or the floor below. It’s a smart idea to periodically clear out the area to check for water stains. Most leaks can be repaired by tightening clamps and connections on hoses to the dishwasher and/or garbage disposal. Check the tightness of the connection for the shut-off valves that are under pressure. If you still can’t find the source of the leak, test the seal around the sink drain. It may need to be re-puttied.
The Marathon Toilet
A toilet that periodically refills is a toilet that has a leak in the tank. The sound you’re hearing is new water rushing through the valve to raise the level to the point where the float lifts and the valve closes. A brittle, sediment-crusted, or otherwise faulty flapper is the most common cause of this problem. The flapper ensures a solid seal for the outflow, allowing the tank to refill after a flush. Replacing a flapper is an easy fix for any DIYer. Check out this tutorial on how to fix a leaky toilet.
The Puddle Peril
If you find a puddle around your water heater tank, don’t panic. If it’s the dead of winter, check for beading along the skin. Condensation can occur when a tank sitting in a warm house first fills with icy water from outside. If this is the case, mop up the puddle and breathe a sigh of relief.
If that’s not the case, check carefully to identify the source of a leak. Water heaters can leak in several places, including pressure relief valves, drain valves, and heating element gaskets. If the leak is coming from elsewhere on the tank, corrosion may be a factor. Water tanks are big metal tea kettles that hold steamy water all the time, so their lifespan tends to be in the eight-to-twelve year range. Consider replacing the tank before you have to test the capacity your basement’s French drain.
As with any household repair, don’t hesitate to call a professional for help. Most leaks, caught early, are an inexpensive fix. In the long term, fixing household leaks can save you up to 10% on your annual water bill.