Understanding the Effects of Leaky Pipes

Many people fail to understand how destructive even the smallest plumbing leak can be. While casual observation may reveal nothing more than a few insignificant drops slowly oozing out of a solder joint or perhaps a random drip of water hanging from a faucet, these tiny droplets add up to gallons per day. This constant leak can create the conditions necessary for serious damage to your home.

Rust Never Sleeps

A concept to remember is that small leaks nibble away at the edges around the leak and make it bigger. Hoping that it will go away all by itself is not a smart or possible strategy. Chances are, the leak will grow over time. It may gradually get bigger, or it may stay the same for a long time and then burst out in a huge wave at the most inconvenient time possible once rust has weakened a pipe enough to make this happen.

Rust Makes Rot

The effect of a continued leak keeping things constantly damp. Damp surfaces inside wooden cabinets gradually create avenues for water to get inside the grain of the wood and turn once-stout structures into fragile sawdust-like materials that can crumble as soon as any extra pressure is applied. According to Amyotte’s Plumbing & Heating, once sufficient decay has occurred, the rot can travel even further downward and start having an effect on the flooring underneath.

Rot Makes Holes

If allowed to go on long enough, small leaks eventually create large, rot-induced holes in cabinets and floors. This can allow moisture into the lower spaces of the house, where sunlight never reaches to dry it out. It is in these areas that mold can grow and eventually make a home entirely uninhabitable. Even if mold does not grow, wet surfaces can moisten the concrete foundation. If this stays constantly wet, the moisture can seep all the way through and start affecting the fill dirt surrounding the home. If soil conditions are not perfect, wet dirt can expand and heave, eventually crushing the foundation walls of the structure.

Even the Good News Is Bad

Of course not all leaks are inside the walls or cabinetry. Faucet leaks can drip into sink and tub basins. While these leaks take much, much longer to have any lasting effect on the physical safety of the house, they are quick to cause permanent stains. Given the high cost of water these days, any leak adds a surprising amount of money to your utility bills before visible damage is done.

The potential for constant, slow leaks to cause extremely costly damage to the house or threaten the health and safety of the inhabitants is what really makes those little leaks so devastating.


Image Source: Flickr

Lizzie Weakley

Lizzie Weakley

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