What to expect from the water damage caused by a faulty faucet or valve
Faucets and valves are commons sources of leaks that lead to water damage. They tend to have joints or seams close to movement or activity. This can lead to weakening and can result in leaks that will usually start out slow, but get worse over time. As mentioned on the page about freezing, weather can play a role with damaging valves, but frozen damage can be found here.
Because faucets and valves are usually attached to fresh water lines, losses tend to be category 1 and follow the same guidelines as frozen pipes and supply line breaks. The link to the frozen pipes page is above, and the supply line page is here. Some exceptions are some fire suppression systems and sprinkler systems which can use untreated water from a nearby pond, lake, or well.
Some signs to look for with faucets are loose knobs or handles. If the handle that controls the faucet is excessively loose, it could mean that the faucet is starting to wear out. If you notice this on a sink or shower faucet, consider looking for a new faucet to replace the old one. Another sign is a water flow that does not shut completely off, or is finicky and requires just the right position. Not only does this cost more in water usage, but it could be a sign that the faucet is getting ready to fail. I’ve seen situations where the faucet knob breaks free of the faucet, creating water damage at full blast. This can be especially devastating if no one is home at the time of the failure.
Some signs that a valve is going bad can be tightness. If the valve is overly difficult to open or close, it could be starting to fail. Look for a slow drip when the valve is closed and when it is open. The drip can be as slow as a single drop every couple of minutes, and it will usually show at the valve stem that connects to the open and close handle or knob. If the valve is connected to a copper supply line, it could turn green, so look for green areas on copper pipes near the valve, although this does not always mean a current leak. Prevention is important because most of these types of leaks start slow and they can lead to a great deal of damage due to the time it takes to be discovered. It is better to have a plumber do some preventative repairs than to have a need to call us for water removal and drying. After all blowers and dehumidifiers are disruptive to most people’s lives, and most folks would rather forgo the experience.
Faucets are easy to find and check because they are used often and tend to be the points of use for a family. Valve can be a little trickier if you have never looked for them. Under most sinks and toilets there are valves that allow the water to be shut off before it reaches the fixture. The water meter or point of entry to the home will have a valve as well. Also check the water pipes near the water heater, both leading to it and away from it. Although not common, I like to see valves in a water line before it leads to another area, such as before leading to a bathroom or kitchen. When looking for valves to check, follow the water line from the source as best you can, and check every branch you can find. Being thorough now can save headaches later, but if you do need help we are here for you!
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