If water dripping from the kitchen or bathroom sink is frustrating, just imagine the stress levels when you hear the sound of those same dripping noises from within your walls! But there is a silver lining: When you hear a dripping sound, at least you know there’s a problem. The real damage takes place when it’s left unaddressed.
If a slow leak is left unaddressed, the water can cause damage to the walls, flooring, and ceiling of the floor below. Not only can it cause rot, but when combined with the warmth of the home, it’s the perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew. Airborne particulates and a weakened structure can be quite harmful to you and your family.
What causes drips in the wall?
A leaky faucet is one thing, but leaky pipes in the wall? It’s almost inexplicable. However, it’s not as uncommon as you might think, especially with pipes on exterior walls. Although the main culprit is usually the age or material of the pipe, sometimes leaks can happen due to human error.
In really old homes, galvanized steel or cast iron pipes are usually the culprits for leaks because of corrosion. If you have this kind of plumbing, get it checked out at your earliest convenience. Because in addition to leaks at the joints, they may also be passing along lead into the water you drink.
Many current homes may be using PVC and copper pipes for their plumbing. These are much better materials than steel pipes, but they still have drawbacks. Both can burst when the pipes expand during long bouts of freezing weather and can also be easily pierced during home renovations.
In newer homes, PEX piping is the material of choice because it’s rigid enough to handle longer runs but also pliable enough for minor bends and turns. It also expands in high-pressure situations such as when water freezes. And it won’t corrode like other piping materials. But it’s also a newer material – so homes built two or three decades ago may still be dealing with older pipes.
Be careful with your walls!
And this is where the human element comes into play. Whenever you think about hanging a picture, installing shelves, or any other process that involves nailing or screwing into a wall, make sure you find a stud to nail into. Pipes run inside the wall cavities, occasionally moving through wall studs.
When that happens, protective plates are placed to ensure you don’t accidentally put a nail through the pipe. If you just put a nail or screw anywhere in the wall, the plumbing won’t be protected. So, if you’re drilling into a stud and you meet with unusual resistance, that could be why. Move up or down a few inches.
The Importance of professionals
Outside of the age of your plumbing, improper installation of plumbing fixtures or the plumbing itself is a common reason for leaks. While fixtures may be mended with minimal know-how (new washers, a bead of caulk, plumbers tape), fixing the mistakes of years gone by is a much bigger job.
When working with cast iron, copper, PVC, and even PEX, it’s vital to understand how everything fits together, especially at the joints. For example, copper pipes need to be soldered together to create a tight bond and PVC requires a specific glue to bond. And all piping needs to be supported in one way or another.
If the installations weren’t done correctly, there will be problems either from the start or after a few years. Proper insulation can also help on exterior walls as well as hose bibs on exterior faucets during the winter months. Of course, we realize that most homeowners weren’t on hand to ensure the plumbing was done directly.
But we’re here to fix those problems now. Meticulous Plumbing has more than 30 years of experience inspecting, repairing, and replacing pipes in the Portland Metro area. We’ve worked on 100-year-old renovations as well as new construction. If you hear the drip drip drip of a leaky pipe in your walls, or see signs of water damage, schedule an inspection right away!
Once you see excess water pooling from any type of leak, we recommend turning off the water to your home and calling Meticulous Plumbing for a quick consultation. We know how important running water is to any home and we’ll work to remedy the situation.
In addition to identifying the source of the water leaks and making the repairs, we also handle a host of other plumbing issues. From replacing hot water heaters and fixtures to inspecting drain pipes to relocation washing machines, we are a full-service plumbing company.