Signs Your Home's Plumbing is in Trouble

July 20, 2011

Just like any other system in your home, your plumbing system requires regular maintenance and attention. Preventative maintenance allows you to perform on your own timetable and budget, and helps avoid inconvenient, expensive emergency calls. Below are warning signs that your plumbing system is having troubles.

Dripping faucets

Faucets typically work with a rubber or composition washer that closes onto a metal washer seat. Over time, the washer hardens and cracks or may simply get worn down, which causes your faucet to leak or drip. Closing the faucet tighter can stop the drip, but only temporarily, and will actually increase the internal damage to the washer and faucet. With a drippy faucet, usually the washers or other internal mechanisms need to be rebuilt or replaced. You can extend the life of your washers by gently turning on and off the faucet.

Water leaks

Unlike a dripping faucet, some water leaks go undetected. These water leaks left alone not only add significantly to your monthly expenses, but can also cause extensive water damage to your home. Here are some warning signs to watch (or listen) for:

  • It sounds like water is running even when nothing is turned on.
  • Your water meter is running when you aren’t using any water.
  • Your water bill escalates over a period of weeks or months. (Compare your utility bills month to month.)
  • Your walls or floors have wet, spongy, moist or discolored areas when nothing has spilled.
  • You can smell foul odors coming from the floors or walls near drains or sewers.
  • Your building foundation cracks, vegetation grows unevenly, or earth shifts for no apparent reason.
  • You find warm spots on your floor, particularly on concrete slab floors.

Low water pressure

One symptom of plumbing troubles is low water pressure coming from your faucets. Low water pressure can be caused by supply pipes that are extremely clogged with mineral deposits or rust. Another cause of low pressure can be due to undersized supply pipes in your household plumbing system. You can have a licensed, professional plumber evaluate your water supply capacity for your main supply and for each of the fixtures in your plumbing system. He/she will be able to determine if your home has the proper pipe sizes and/or if you need to replace any old supply pipes.

Rust stains

Rust stains appearing on the surface of your sink basins, tubs and toilet bowls can be another warning sign that your plumbing system is in trouble. This can be caused by serious corrosion on the inside of your iron supply pipes. If this is your situation, your supply system may be in danger of failing or springing a major leak, resulting in even more repairs and expense due to extensive water damage. Other causes of rust stains include high mineral content in your water and water heater problems. If your water heater has not been drained, flushed out and refilled in over a year, it may be the culprit. Water heaters need to be flushed out yearly to prevent internal mineral deposit build-up. Overtime this mineral build-up can lead to the failure of your water heater.

Slow drains

A slow drain at one fixture can be the result of a localized clog. However, slow drains throughout your home point to drain pipes being badly clogged with mineral deposits or rust. Slow drains and toilets that don’t flush can also be the result of an inadequately vented system. A professional plumber can locate clogs, clear pipes and even check the venting and replace any pipes, as necessary.


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Last Updated: June 09, 2023