Top 10 Signs Your Home Has A Leaky Pipe Problem
Leaky pipe problems are serious. They can cause significant water damage to any home.
Home insurance covers damage from sudden pipe problems. But it doesn’t cover damage caused by long-term pipe problems or ongoing leaks.
If you ignore a leaky pipe problem, then your insurer could deny your claim.
Fortunately, leaky pipe problems are easy to spot. By paying attention to the signs of burst pipe issues, you can avoid a catastrophe.
Here are some of the most common signs your home has a leaky pipe issue.
1) Musty Odors
Leaky pipes can cause strange odors in your home. There are some obvious and less obvious smells associated with leaky pipe problems.
Yes, you should pay attention to mold and mildew smells. They could indicate a mold problem or a leaky pipe behind your walls. If one part of your home smells musty, it could be the sign of a developing mold problem – or at least a leaky pipe.
2) Other Unusual Odors from your Pipes
It’s not just a musty smell. Leaky pipes can cause other unusual odors in your home.
Do you smell something funny when you turn on the pipes? A burst pipe can cause strange odors to waft up through your system.
Pay attention to smells when you flush the toilet, run the sink, or use your washing machine. As appliances fill with water, they could develop an unusual smell. A funny smell could be the early warning sign of a serious pipe problem.
3) Discoloration on Walls and Ceilings
When water hits the surfaces in your home, it causes discoloration. Look for signs of discoloration on your walls and ceilings. A small yellow dot on your ceiling might look innocent – until you notice the spot gradually getting larger over time.
Look for discolored spots that get larger over time. Watch for signs that something is wrong above your ceiling or behind your walls.
4) Bulging Walls and Ceilings
If your walls and ceilings are bulging, then it could be the first sign of a serious burst pipe issue. Your walls and ceilings are unlikely to collapse, but the surface will eventually break, causing water to pour into your home.
If your wall or ceiling is bulging, and if the bulge continues to get larger, then you may need to take immediate action to protect your property.
5) An Unusually High Water Bill
Many people don’t notice any of the above signs of a leaky pipe – until they check their water bill.
If your water bill was significantly higher than normal, and if you can’t think of a reason for that leap, then it could be the sign of a leaky pipe.
Maybe you had lots of company that month. Maybe you spent more days working from home than usual. These are normal reasons to have a higher water bill.
However, if your water bill is higher without explanation, then it’s a virtual guarantee you have a burst pipe problem.
6) Poor Water Pressure
Has your water pressure felt weak lately? It could be the sign of a leaking pipe. If your shower doesn’t spray as hard as it usually does, then you may have a problem with your plumbing.
Your house only has a certain amount of water pressure to distribute. A leaking pipe in one part of your home could lower water pressure in another. This could be especially noticeable if running multiple appliances at once.
It’s also possible your low water pressure is caused by external factors – like a broken water main in your neighborhood. Contact the city about ongoing maintenance issues. Or, ask your neighbors if they’re dealing with similar water pressure issues.
7) Other Visible Damage to Walls and Ceilings
We talked about discoloration and bulging above, but not all walls get discolored or bulge when faced with water.
Depending on the material, your wall might fight back against the water damage more effectively. It may not look like discoloration, and it may not look like a bulge: your wall or ceiling may simply look damaged.
Look for other signs of water damage to your walls and ceilings, including:
- Peeling paint
- Warped walls
These could be normal symptoms of sun damage or wear and tear. Or, they could be signs of a serious plumbing problem causing water damage to your home.
8) A Running Water Meter
If you shut off all your appliances, but your water meter continues to run, then you may have a leaking pipe problem.
Typically, you check this symptom after noticing one of the symptoms above. Stop using all of the things in your house that run water, then check your water meter. If your meter continues to run, then it could be the sign of a leaky pipe.
Remember that a leaking pipe is easier to check than an electrical issue. Your house always uses a small amount of electricity, even if most appliances are off. Water is different, and any noticeable movement on your water meter could be the sign of a leaking pipe (assuming no toilets or appliances are running).
9) Cracks in your Foundation
When ignored over time, leaking pipes could impact the structural integrity of your home. Homes naturally settle over time, which could lead to cracks in the foundation. You might notice hairline cracks in your ceiling or drywall as your home settles.
However, if you notice unnatural cracks, cracks that suddenly got wider, or other signs of a serious foundation problem, then it could be a leaky pipe issue.
Foundation problems are understandably serious. When ignored, they can tear your house apart. If you suspect your house has foundation problems caused by a leaky pipe, then you need to take action immediately.
10) No Signs of Issues with your Neighbors
Your house may seem like it has a water problem – when it’s really an issue with your neighborhood or street.
Talk to your neighbors to see if they’re experiencing similar issues.
It’s possible your foundation cracks are caused by moving terrain underneath your homes, for example. If your home was built in a new community, then shoddy building standards could be causing foundation issues in multiple homes.
It’s also possible there’s a problem with a public water main, leading to low water supply issues throughout your neighborhood.
If your neighbors are experiencing none of the same issues as you, however, then it may be time to contact the professionals – or your insurer.
How to Make a Leaky Pipe Insurance Claim
Homeowners insurance covers sudden and unexpected water damage, so it could cover your leaky pipe problem.
However, if your leaky pipe problem has occurred over several months, then your insurer could deny your claim. Homeowners insurance does not cover long-term water damage or ongoing leaky pipe problems.
Or, if you don’t want to involve insurance, call a plumber or contractor to investigate the issue. Plumbers and contractors have much more experience dealing with situations like this, and they may recommend the best action to take.
Confused? That’s okay. Water damage insurance claims can get messy. We’ve put together tips here for handling water damage insurance claims, and if you need additional help with a claim, a licensed and experienced Public Adjuster can help.