Most homeowners never think about their water or drain pipes, which can be a real problem if a leak occurs. Fortunately, there are things to watch for that can tell you that a problem may be imminent. The following guide can help you spot pipe problems before they occur.
Consider your home's age
Lead pipes haven't been used in homes since the 1930s, although lead solder was still in use up until 1986. While lead pipes aren't prone to breakage, they are a major health hazard since they can leach lead into your water supply. If your home was built before 1986, it's a good idea to have the pipes inspected to ensure they contain no lead.
You don't know when the last inspection was
Poor maintenance is usually the cause of broken pipes. In many cases this means tree roots invading a pipe in the yard, or interior pipes corroding and rusting. It's a good idea to have pipes running through your yard inspected or cleaned to remove tree roots annually. If you notice rust or discoloration in the water supply, it may also be time to have the interior pipes inspected.
Your area has hard water
Hard water has a high mineral content. In some cases, these minerals build up on the inside of the pipes, increasing the chances of rust and corrosion. This is especially a problem with metal pipes, since PVC isn't prone to these issues. If you have hard water, make sure you check the quality of the visible pipes in your home, such as in under sink areas. The outside of the pipe may not show damage, so it's a good idea to shut off the water and remove the pipe trap from beneath the sink. You can look into trap pipe and into the wall pipe with a flashlight to see if rust or other issues are building up.
There is dampness
It can be easy to ignore mild dampness inside an under-sink cabinet, but generally this isn't normal. If it smells moist in the cabinet or if you notice mildew or warped wood, chances are a small leak has already occurred. It's vital to call a plumber to locate and replace the pipe before it bursts inside the walls. This is especially true if you suspect it may be a water delivery line as opposed to a drain line, since water delivery lines can lead to much larger water leaks.
For more information, particularly with pipe materials, contact a plumbing supply company, such as Day's Plumbing Supply Inc.