Spotting Hidden Water Damage, Part 1

Few home disasters are worse than water in areas of the home that are supposed to be dry. Leaking roofs, windows and doors, leaking pipes, faulty appliances and condensation are all sources of water in the home. There are some water problems plumbers can’t take care of, but this post will discuss hidden water damage related to plumbing problems.

Being able to identify plumbing problems is critical to protecting your home from water damage. Quickly finding leaking plumbing joints, worn out fixtures and sources of condensation can mean the difference between a small repair and thousands of dollars worth of plumbing damage, wood rot and mold remediation.

A leaking faucet is easy to spot. If you’re lucky, the leaking water drips down into the sink and goes down the drain. If you’re not so lucky, a leaking faucet may allow water to drip down the walls or underneath the sink. Sometimes, you may find leaking water near the faucet handles or near the neck of the fixture.

If you suspect a leak, look for pooled water under the sink, seeping water around the faucet handles or neck, or signs of damage along the wall or in the sink base if your sink has one. Signs of water damage can include peeling or bubbled paint, warped or rotten wood, water stains on the walls, soft bulging plaster or drywall, mold growth, buckling floor tiles or mineral build-up around the base of the faucet.

Sometimes, replacing a washer or gasket can repair a leaking faucet. Many newer faucets are “washerless” so a $0.10 washer won’t do the trick. Some inexpensive faucets have plastic bodies that either crack with time, simple wear, over-tightening at the connections or manufacturing defects. In these cases, faucet replacement is in order.

Replacing a faucet isn’t hard, provided you have the right materials. Most faucets have standard threaded supply and drain connectors, so you may only need Teflon tape or pipe dope and a few hand tools to complete the repair. Despite the fact that federal laws require faucets and other plumbing materials to meet certain health and safety standards, plenty of low-quality parts still make it to store shelves. Choose a faucet that is made from quality material, guaranteed to be free of heavy metals and designed to work with your sink.

If your sink doesn’t have independent shut-off valves, now is a good time to add them in line with the water supply. If your sink does have shut-off valves, now is a good time to test them and verify that they’re still working! If they’re hard to move, sticky or leaky, replace those, too!

In most cases, a faucet replacement is “out with the old, in with the new.” Other leaks, such as those hidden behind walls or underneath the floors can be messy, difficult and time-consuming to locate and fix. If you’re not confident that you can complete this kind of repair, or you simply want professional assistance, contact Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911 and we’ll replace your leaking sink faucet, test your shutoff valves and install valves (or replacements) if needed. We can also replace pipes hidden in the walls and test them for additional signs of wear or damage.