Tips on how to identify small drain leak problems to reduce the chances of future water damage problems!
Not all water pipes in a home supply water to a spigot or faucet. Some plumbing takes waste water away after its use. For the purposes of this page I will discuss drain lines but not floor drains which more commonly relate to sewer backup discussed here.
Although this page will not discuss sewer backup, the water damage resulting from a drain leak is, like sewage, still considered category 3. This is because the water that comes from behind the curvature, or drain trap, is grossly unsanitary, and has a high potential of having a high concentration of contaminates and microbes.
Because procedures and treatment for a category 3 loss is mentioned on another page with the link above, this page will try to identify where problems are most likely to occur and therefore be prevented. Let’s start with a shower drain or tub drain, because these are usually hidden. With a tub, look for an access panel behind the wall that has the faucet valve. Many homes have a panel for inspection and maintenance purposes. If your home does not have a panel, consider having one installed, or hope you never have a problem with the plumbing in this area. When inspecting, look closely at the point when two different pipes come together and at the point where the pipes connect to the drain itself. Look for evidence of moisture escaping the confines of the piping. It is especially important to examine the plumbing if a liquid drain clearing product or drain snake has ever been used on these drain pipes. If the shower or tub is in a basement, without regular inspection the leak could get quite bad before it is discovered. If the shower or tub is on another level of the home, the initial problem could show up as a light brown spot on a ceiling directly under the tub, or as darkening of the wood sub-floor when no ceiling is present.
Thankfully sink drains are much easier to examine. Just as with tubs and showers, examine the joints and where the plumbing connects to the drain. Also just as before, it is especially important to inspect these pipes if a drain snake or plumbing treatment has ever been used for clearing a clog. Unlike tubs and showers though, sink drain lines can suffer form over packing the vanity or cabinet that houses the sink. Be very careful not to over stuff these cabinets. Prevention of sink drain leaks can save hundreds or thousands of dollars in damaged cabinetry.
Washer machine drains are usually not a drain that can be inspected, because unless it is in a basement, the piping will usually run inside of a wall. Unfortunately an access panel does not make feasible since in the case of a washer machine. Just make sure that lint and grime is cleaned away from the drain area regularly to prevent any clogging from collecting lint and grime.
A toilet drain leak is also one that is not usually one that can be inspected. Instead pay attention to how it flushes and the coloring of the floor directly around the toilet itself. If the toilet flushes slowly or needs multiple flushes, consider having it inspected by a plumber to ensure that the wax seal is seated properly and that not clogging has occurred. As to the flooring around the toilet, look for darkening of the floor. This will not be visible with a tile floor, but with wood and most vinyl floor, rotting around the flange is visible if inspected closely. Unfortunately, the darkening indicates that damage has already occurred, but if caught early enough, it can be kept from getting too severe.
As always if we are needed for assistance, or even inspections, please don’t hesitate to call us or use the contact for provided here.
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