Drain Pipe Leak Troubleshooting Guide

A burst pipe can cause major damage inside your home, especially if you don’t notice it right away. Ruined wall boards, water damaged cabinetry, or prolific mold growth are just some of the issues. The following guide can help you recognize some of the common threats to your pipe, as well as how to recognize a break and what you should do if you find one.

Why do pipes break?

Fortunately, most plumbing pipes are of high enough quality that a random break isn’t usually a concern. There are usually some warning signs that a break could occur, as detailed below:

  • Frequent clogging: If your pipes clog frequently, they could be more prone to corrosion that could give way when pressure builds up from a clog.

  • Old pipes: Older homes typically have metal pipes in the wall and under the sink, which are more prone to leaks compared to modern PVC and poly pipes.

  • Cold weather: Pipes on exposed walls are more likely to burst in freezing weather, especially if they aren’t heated or properly insulated.

How can one recognize a break?

Recognizing a break in a drain pipe requires being aware at all times. The following are signs to look for on a regular basis:

  • Water or damp in the cabinets beneath a sink.

  • Dark stains or bubbling paint on wall board or on the ceiling below an upstairs plumbing fixture.

  • Condensation buildup on walls that have pipes behind them.

  • A dripping sound that you can’t quite locate when there is no water turned on.

  • Musty odors with no known source.

What should one do if they suspect a leak?

If you suspect a leak, there are steps you can take to try and determine the location.

  1. Shut off water to the sink that feeds the drain pipe. There should be a water shut-off valve near the sink that you can turn to the off position.

  2. Check the exposed pipes for leaks. In the case of sinks, the leak is often in the curved trap pipe assembly that is directly below the sink drain.

  3. If accessible, use a pipe wrench to remove the pipe. Place a bucket beneath the area first to catch any water still in the pipe.

  4. Replace the pipe if it is damaged. If the leak is from the joint between pipes, wrap plumbers tape around the joint before screwing the pipes back together. This will tighten the seal to protect against leaks.

  5. For leaks that continue, can’t be located, or are within the wall, leave the water turned off and contact a plumber.

A plumbing service can find the exact location of a hidden leak so it can be repaired before the damage becomes too severe. Contact a company like Assured Plumbing & Heating to learn more.