Plumbing systems are built to last. Many can survive for decades and decades with only a few pipe replacements here and there, provided you take proper care of them.
That’s the most important thing, though: taking proper care of your plumbing system. In order to do that, you’re going to need to know what kinds of issues your plumbing system is likely to run into, so you know when to call for repairs if you spot their warning signs. We’ve outlined some common plumbing problems, their symptoms, and what you should do about them below.
Hard water is a very common plumbing issue throughout the country, though it does depend on the geographic location of the home. Hard water is just water with a higher concentration of calcium and magnesium in it, which is harmless to humans but a potential threat to the plumbing system.
Years of exposure to hard water can cause lime scale to form in the pipes, a kind of chalky mineral deposit that restricts the flow of water through the system. If the lime scale is not removed in time, it can harden and require replacing the entire affected pipe section to be removed. If you notice falling water pressure, or the formation of a white, chalky substance around your faucets and in your shower, you probably need to talk to a professional about hard water treatment as soon as possible.
Leaks are very common for plumbing systems of all kinds. Even a very small leak can cause quite a bit of water damage if left alone for long enough. The smallest leaks, called pinhole leaks, are actually too small to be found with anything but professional inspection tools. That is, unless you count observing the water damage they inflict after months of going unnoticed. We recommend preventive maintenance to deal with those.
Moderate or large leaks, though, can be detected more easily. You should watch your monthly water bills closely, first of all. If they start to climb without you using any more water than you normally do, then it might be due to a leak in the system. Falling water pressure is another sign that you have a leak somewhere in the pipes, especially if it is a sudden drop.
This one is only likely to happen during the winter, but it’s still something you need to be aware of. When the temperature drops below freezing, any pipes that aren’t insulated properly (even the ones in your home) can freeze up. When the water freezes inside the pipe, it expands and puts added pressure on it. If you’re not careful, this can cause the pipe to rupture. We recommend preventing this from happening by insulating any vulnerable pipes yourself (like the ones under the sink) and turning off the water to pipes that you don’t plan on using during the winter. If there’s no water in the pipes, there’s no danger of it freezing over. If you do have an uninsulated pipe that isn’t providing water during the winter, even with the faucet open, then it may have already frozen. Contact a professional to thaw it for you.