Plumbing problems can range from minor nuisances to major disasters. Many problems begin small but can quickly escalate out of control. Left unaddressed, issues with your home's plumbing can easily lead to mold, water damage, and other severe long-term problems. Because the potential for costly repairs is so great, recognizing the signs of plumbing trouble is an essential skill for any homeowner.
Unfortunately, the most severe plumbing problems don't always make themselves readily known. In many cases, homeowners don't realize that something is wrong until the issue is out of control. The three plumbing issues below may not be easy to spot, but learning what to watch out for could save you hundreds of dollars in the future.
1. Deep Sewer Trouble
Is your home connected to the city sewer? If so, issues with your lateral sewer pipe are your responsibility. Extreme clogs can back up your sewer line and cause dirty and dangerous wastewater to enter your home. Not only does this leave you on the hook for fixing the sewer pipe, but home repairs and clean-up may be even more expensive.
It's easy to spot a sewer clog when wastewater is bubbling out of your drains, but there are earlier signs of trouble. A clog that's forming will typically cause your pipes to burble and may produce a foul odor. Sewer clogs often impact drains on lower levels before upper level drains, so pay special attention to issues that seem to be limited to just one floor.
2. Small, Long-Term Leaks
A leak located behind a wall, inside a vanity, or above a ceiling can cause incredible amounts of damage. Even small leaks can destroy drywall and create a perfect environment for mold growth. Once they take hold, mold spores can then quickly spread elsewhere in the home, growing wherever the right conditions exist.
Water damage on walls and ceilings are obvious signs of trouble, but they aren't always the first issues to appear. Pay special attention to areas that look or smell damp, especially in bathrooms. Regularly cleaning the cabinets below your kitchen and bathroom sinks is an excellent way to spot small leaks before they become more serious.
3. Foundation Trouble
While the two problems above can be tricky to notice, there's one class of plumbing problems that can truly lead to catastrophe: slab leaks. When plumbing that runs through or beneath your foundation leaks, it can damage the concrete or create voids in the soil beneath your home. Both situations can lead to exceptionally costly and even dangerous damage.
Slab leaks are unusually hard to notice, but they aren't without warning signs. A sudden increase in your water bills or the sound of running water in your basement could indicate trouble. If the problem has been going on for long enough, then you may even find cracks in your foundation as the concrete shifts.
The best way to avoid expensive repairs from unaddressed plumbing problems is to remain observant. Watch for the signs of trouble and contact a plumber if you suspect a hidden issue.