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6 Common Plumbing Faults & How To Spot Them

Repairman checking the washing machine

From leaks and blocks to fluctuations in water quality, plumbing faults are amongst the most commonly occurring home maintenance issues faced by many if not all homeowners. And whilst many plumbing faults can be easy enough to spot in an immediate sense, the full extent of their effects tend to go a lot deeper than a layman may be able to see. 

For this reason, it’s essential that all homeowners familiarise themselves with the characteristics that can be expected from all the most common issues to plague your pipes and drainage. Knowing what to look for can not only help homeowners address potentially damaging plumbing issues as promptly as possible, but may also provide more context for the licensed plumber you enlist to thoroughly correct those identified faults.

Here are 6 of the most common plumbing issues you may encounter over the future, and how you can spot them promptly. 

1. Blocked drains or pipes 

Sinks, bathtubs and showers that have a hard time draining is one of the most tell-tale signs of a potentially blocked pipe. If left unchecked, blocked drains and pipes can trigger a number of structural concerns for your property, such as rust on pipes, mould growth, and potentially even the waterlogging of your home’s foundation. 

Blocked drains and pipes may also create serious health risks for you and your wider household as well in more ways than one. Mould growth and moisture on walls can trigger asthma attacks alongside being breeding grounds for airborne allergies. Similarly, blocked drains and pipes can cause used water (or wastewater) to cycle back into your home’s sinks, bathtubs, and basins. Having wastewater blockages on your property can attract pests like flies, which can in turn bring allergens or even harmful bacteria into your family home. 

2. Leaky toilets, showers, or taps

Like blocked drains, leaky taps are fairly easy to spot, and perhaps even easier to hear. No doubt, we all have our own horror stories of being kept up late the night before a flight, a meeting, or any other major appointment simply because some faucet has decided to create its own drippy-droppy symphony. 

Whilst leaky taps and showerheads may take the cake as one of the most annoying plumbing faults, this particular fault can also be rather damaging if they’re not addressed promptly. Alongside having the potential to increase the size of your quarterly water bills, leaky pipes may also cause your home’s water quality to take a sudden and potentially damaging dive. Leaks can leave your water vulnerable to picking up a number of external contaminants, like dirt, animal faeces, algae growth, and any chemical runoff that may be present on or around your property. 

 Professional plumber doing a boiler check

3. Leaky roofing

For those living in regions known for having temperamental weather conditions, staying on top of your home’s roof plumbing maintenance can naturally be a high priority. The last thing you want is to be living with a leaky roof in the middle of storm season. The only silver lining to this incredibly uncomfortable and downright damaging situation, is that rainfall can at least make it very easy to identify the location of leaks in your roof and ceiling.

So how do you spot leaks in your roof during the summer, or if you’re perhaps living in a more arid climate? A pronounced sound of wind whistling through a crevice in your home can potentially be the subtle sign of a gap in your roofing materials. If you suspect that your roof may be experiencing some gaps in its caulking, then it’s well worth venturing into your attic space or ceiling cavity with a flashlight in order to look for signs of a breach in your roofing materials, or perhaps even signs of water damage like dampness on walls or ringlet stains.

4. Faults with hot water tank system

Faults with your hot water system tend to be the most uncomfortable plumbing problem that many modern homeowners may face. Unlike all the other plumbing faults we’ve outlined here, this particular issue can be a lot harder to avoid. Of course, virtually all of us are sure to know the second that our hot water cuts out. You just better hope that you’re not halfway through a shower if it does happen.

But your hot water doesn’t have to turn off in order for there to be a potential fault at play. There are other signs that your home’s hot water system could be on the fritz. Be sure to keep a look out for warning signs like a reduction in hot water availability, odd-smelling water, your system producing odd noises, or leaks in your tank. Be sure to waste no time ringing up your household plumber if any of these warning signs are detected.

5. Low or high water pressure

Believe it or not, but balancing your home’s water pressure is so much more than just a lifestyle concern. Fluctuations in water pressure can be another side effect of some of the plumbing problems we’ve outlined above. For example, pipe blockages can potentially lead to water not being able to flow through easily to your faucets and showerheads. In fact, pipe blockages are amongst the most common causes of low water pressure in modern homes. 

Contrastingly, high water pressure can be caused by a number of different factors, including faults with your pressure regulators or shutoff valves. If you suspect that the plumbing hardware of your home may be causing fluctuations in water pressure, it’s imperative that you consult with a qualified plumber to ensure that the issue is resolved correctly and with expert care. Even if the fix may seem as quick as turning a knob the other way round, the potential risks caused by changing settings yourself without having a clear diagnosis, is simply not worth the fiddling. 

6. Carbon monoxide leaks from faulty gas appliances

Finally, if your home is fitted with a gas hot water system or other gas plumbing systems and appliances, then one particular fault that you’ll absolutely want to monitor are potential carbon monoxide leaks. Unlike liquid leaks, carbon monoxide leaks can be a bit harder to detect, as the gas itself also happens to be odourless and colourless. Unfortunately, carbon monoxide leaks are also known to be quite deadly, so you really can’t take any chances here.

Thankfully, there are some nifty tools you can use to keep track of carbon monoxide levels in your home, like specialty carbon monoxide detectors. These can look similar to smoke detectors and are also wall mountable, so you’ll never be at risk of losing your detector or unknowingly letting its batteries run out. 

Alongside using a carbon monoxide detector, it’s also important to keep an eye out for the common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. These include headaches, dizziness or light-headedness, nausea, and other flu-like symptoms.  

Be sure to keep all these warning signs and characteristics in mind when assessing the health of your home’s plumbing system. In doing so, you can help ensure that your pipes, fixtures, and home systems stay in the best possible condition, and that all your home’s routine plumbing maintenance is handled thoroughly.