We all know water is essential. Hydration. Hygiene. Keeping alive that philodendron your aunt gave you for your birthday. Sometimes, that water that is so essential to your survival can come back to haunt you in the form of a plumbing leak.
These home repair calamities can be a huge drain (pun intended) on your water bill before incurring the cost of repairing a plumbing leak.
When you start to hear the dreaded drip-drop or see the expanding stain of waterlogging that can indicate a leaking pipe in the wall, it’s best to get started repairing those water leaks quickly. It’s the official definition of ‘adulting’ and sometimes, unfortunately, we all have to do it before things get out of hand.
But with a little bit of the proper assessment and planning, you can get back to the important things in life—like congratulating yourself on keeping that houseplant alive and wondering if that means you should get a dog.
Common Types of Plumbing Problems
Water leaks can happen anywhere in your house—not just the bathroom or the kitchen. The plumbing system of your house can be intricate as a spider’s web and you don’t want to be the fly that gets caught in their repairs. These plumbing leaks can cause damage ranging from Darn It to Doozy to full-on Disaster.
Smaller Plumbing Leaks
Leaking sinks are the most obvious and least damaging kind of plumbing issue. If the noise doesn’t keep you up at night you’ll at least notice it before you go to brush your teeth in the morning—even without your morning coffee. If you catch this in time, the leak can typically be fixed for roughly $130 to $170 .
Sometimes these leaks can be more nefarious, including leaks from the sink pipes hiding in the cabinets below. These kinds of leaks can easily erode your cabinetry and spread quickly.
Leaks can also occur around the base of your faucet, causing water to damage your countertop. These surface or wood repairs of your cabinets can cost around $250 to $500 and that is before the cost of any new materials
Then there’s the garbage disposal, which can spring a leak in a variety of places. Depending on the scale of the issue, it might be possible to DIY the water leak repair. But if the leak is large scale or the garbage disposal needs to be replaced you could be looking at a bill worth a few hundred dollars.
Larger Plumbing Leaks
Water leaks in walls are hidden out of sight which can make them difficult to find. These nasty leaks are unlikely to cause any change in water pressure and only occasionally show visibly through wall stains.
Other signs include general sogginess of the surrounding flooring, damp drywall, mold, or a lingering musty smell. These leaks can stem from any of your major water-using appliances and can travel through walls to any room in the house.
The real doozy with repairing this kind of leak is that you almost always have to cut into your wall to fix it, with wall incision and repair amounting to most of the cost—kind of like your anesthesia costing more than your root canal.
While the actual leak repair will often run to about $300, when you add in the diagnosis (including carving into your wall like it’s a cardboard box and your handyman is a preschool art teacher) and wall repair, things can add up to about $1000 or more.
Water heater leaks can damage the foundation of the house and ruin anything you may be keeping in the lowest level of your home (be it camping equipment, a secret tiki bar, or the aforementioned philodendron from your aunt).
The problem with this kind of leak is that beyond the damage the leak itself may cause, the reason for the leak can also prove costly. If your water heater is damaged, often through excessive sediment buildup in the bottom of the tank, the entire appliance may need to be removed and replaced. A new water heater could cost around $1,300 .
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Disaster Plumbing Leaks
Slab leaks are the 1906 Earthquake of plumbing situations. This type of leak occurs when the pipes under the foundation start to leak, which can happen for a variety of reasons. Repairs for a slab leak can be costly, since in order to get to the leak, you may have to remove flooring or gain access through the foundation.
It’s good to keep an eye out for moist carpeting or warped hardwood floors inside your home, a decrease in the water pressure, or noticing that your flooring seems to be rather warm despite the fact that you distinctly remember never installing heated flooring.
These problems can be pricey to detect and pricier to fix (it involves jackhammering) and can range to upwards of $4,000 !
Washer leaks are another common-yet-costly water problem. The water leading to your washing machine is constantly running, so any leaks will continually push water into your walls and flooring and essentially flood your home—and fast!—like the wrath of Poseidon.
The typical cost of a new washing machine can range between $400 and $700 , excluding installation fees.
Fixing The Leak
Your home is a sanctuary for your body, and much like your body it is in constant need of proactive measures and checkups. Unfortunately, you can’t take your home to yoga for some asanas but you can keep in mind the main causes of plumbing issues so you can stop them in their tracks and help maintain or improve the value of your home.
• Notice the water pressure. Low water pressure could potentially indicate a leak. If it’s concentrated in one location, it could be a localized issue, but if the water pressure is low in a few areas, it could indicate a bigger issue. It could also be a sign that buildup is causing the pipe to gradually close. This decrease in water pressure would likely be extremely gradual.
• Note excessive intrusion from outdoor tree roots. They’ve been here longer than you and they’re not afraid to toss their weight around.
• Keep an eye, and a toe, on the floor. Warped or soggy flooring is one of the most visible signs of any plumbing problems. It’s like your home’s way of crying to get your attention.
• A sudden increase in your water bill could also be a cause for concern. If there’s no way to explain the surge in expense, you might want to do some troubleshooting to check for potential plumbing leaks.
Financing a Plumbing Leak
What flow are we talking about? Well, it’s not just the flow of water but also the flow of money. Emergency home repair cost Americans, on average, $6,649 in 2018.
Many recommend saving for such events. The popular “1% rule” encourages bookmarking 1% of the cost of your home, per year, for repairs. But when foresight fails, a home improvement loan can be a better option than waiting for the problem to get worse (and more expensive). The most important thing is to stay dry.
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