Everyone has experienced the scenario when they are dozing off in bed late at night when all of a sudden a faucet starts to trickle or a toilet starts to swirl, alerting them to a plumbing issue. But how can you tell if there could be a plumbing emergency when there isn’t any noise? Here are 10 quiet cues that it’s time to get your plumbing toolbox and take care of a problem before it turns into an emergency.
Take a close look at your pipes the next time you’re in your basement or searching around beneath the kitchen sink to check for any indications of discoloration, especially near a union. If so, there is definitely moisture there. Dripping from a sink or drain line or a more serious issue, such a gradual supply line leak, might be the blame for this.
Put this at the top of your list of things to accomplish if the latter is the case. Because plumbing supply lines are pressurized, a small leak might quickly become a huge problem. Here’s how to stop leaks in plumbing joints if you see discoloration and buildup.
A common plumbing rule of thumb is that every drain need a trap, and every trap requires a vent, without delving too far into building science. Sewer gas cannot enter your home because of all those drains and traps. While drain traps produce a “water block” that serves as a barrier to prevent sewage aromas from entering down the sink drain, vents in your house should direct sewer stench up to the roof. If you smell sewage gas inside your house, either a vent pipe has split or a trap has dried out.
You may simply remedy a dry trap by adding water to it again, or you can check it for leaks by looking closely. Finding a damaged sewage vent can be considerably more challenging because they are frequently concealed in walls and need some little drywall repair.
SEVERAL LOCATIONS WITH WEAK WATER FLOW
Low water pressure or a slow stream are signs of a distribution problem. If it just happens in one place, the faucet aerator most likely has a problem, which is typically simple to remedy. However, if there are multiple locations in your home where the water pressure is low, there may be a larger issue.
In that situation, you’re searching for an issue with the hot water heater, the water main, or (worst case scenario) an active leak in the supply line. Take immediate action if you notice low water pressure together with any of the other problems on this list, such as bubbling wall paint.
It should come as no surprise that a sluggish drain indicates a plumbing issue. Depending on where the problem is, it can be a little blockage close to the drain that can be cleared simply or it might be a bigger problem farther down the line that needs extensive snaking to fix.
Fortunately, a small amount of research should assist identify the issue. Simple clogs are easy to remove on your own, but slow drains throughout the house are sometimes a sign that there could be a more serious problem, such as tree roots, in the sewage line.
NO WATER IN WINTER
In the middle of winter, if your water pressure abruptly drops or stops altogether, there’s a potential that your pipes have frozen. This is a serious problem that has to be resolved right away.
Frozen pipes pose the greatest risk after they thaw and are a particular issue in houses where the supply lines pass through an attic, crawlspace, or other unheated area. The ice is acting as a block, preventing any splits from occurring and causing the water to pour out.
If you suspect that this is the problem, carefully work your way through the debugging process and get ready to deal with a leak. If you’re fortunate enough to have frozen pipes that thaw out without a hitch (copper pipes can expand slightly without breaking), don’t bank on it happening again soon. Take action right away to correct the problem.
INCREASED WATER BILLS
It hurts more than just your wallet when your water bill suddenly increases. It’s a clue that your plumbing system has changed as well. You should start troubleshooting to see if you have a leak if you haven’t done anything to warrant an increase in water use, such as filling up a pool or watering your yard more frequently than normal.
The most frequent cause of an increase in water usage is a running toilet. The toilet valve is effectively a garden hose running at full force, and it’s not uncommon for a single running toilet to waste hundreds of dollars’ worth of water. Many homeowners are unaware of how much water a toilet wastes.
BUBBLING CEILING OR WALL PAINT
It’s usually an indication of moisture if paint on a wall or ceiling starts to bubble or peel off unexpectedly. This headache is typically brought on by a leak in the plumbing or roof. It’s time to start the investigation process if you notice paint bubbling or blistering, or if brown stains start to emerge on a wall or ceiling.
GREEN SPOT IN THE BACKYARD
A patch of your yard that is noticeably greener than the surrounding areas is one typical indication of a sewage problem. This is particularly true if the patch lies along the city sewage line’s most typical route, which is between your home and the street.
Sunken spots in the yard can also result from leaking sewage drains because the extra moisture causes the earth around to compress. This silent damage to the outer part of your plumbing system needs to be stopped, whether it is the result of deteriorating materials or invading tree roots.
When you sit down on the toilet, if it wobbles, something isn’t quite right. Hopefully all that has to be done is tighten the seat. Examine the bolts holding the toilet to the floor if the bowl itself is swaying, though. There is a risk that the wax seal around your toilet drain has broken, and water is eroding your sub-floor if those bolts are snug yet the bowl still wobbles. Although replacing or reseating a toilet can seem like a big plumbing project, this article breaks it down into manageable steps so you can do it yourself.
SHOCKING WATER COLOR
Your faucets’ inability to provide pure water is a sign that something is wrong. Water that is very hazy is frequently the result of air in the pipes, but water that is yellow or brown suggests rust. Less commonly observed is a green tinge brought on by substantial corrosion in copper pipes. (Note that occasionally water might enter your house polluted by these elements.
For example, in older systems, there can be an onrush of rust in adjoining homes when the fire department flushes the hydrants.) Since pipes in that condition of deterioration typically start to leak outside the system rather rapidly, this is an indication that it’s time to examine the system as soon as possible!