WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I THINK I HAVE A LEAK INSIDE?
Do you think you have a leak or did the water utility company notify you of a leak? Try to find the source and you will save the plumber time and save yourself money.
Locate the Leak
Some water leaks are easy to find because you see or hear them. A faucet that drip, drip, drips or a toilet that continually runs alert you to a leak that is costing you money. Other leaks require a bit of detective work to find.
Does your water bill show you are using more water than normal or notify you of a leak? Let’s look at some common leak locations found inside your home.
Hot Water Heater Leak
If you think the offending leak may be in the hot water heater, you may need to call an expert. You don’t want to cross wires or puncture the tank when you stick a screwdriver in there. The TPR valve, inlet, outlet, leaky drain valve or the water heater itself may be the culprit.
The TPR or temperature pressure relief valve is a common place for a water heater to leak. It is a brass valve found close to the top and has a discharge pipe that usually ends a few inches off the floor. As they age, they can develop a drippy leak. The TPR is not difficult to replace but if it regularly discharges blasts of hot water or if the new valve leaks just like the old one, call Emory Garland Plumbing.
The leak may also occur at the tank inlet or tank outlet. The leak may look more like a patch of corrosion or rusty streak around the connection. A major leak will eventually develop. To stop it, replace the short sections of corroded galvanized pipe with sections of dielectric nipples. You will need some muscle and soldering skills for this job. Contact us if you prefer a certified plumbing contractor.
To discover if it is a leaky tank drain valve, drain a few gallons of water from the hot water heater. If the tank clears of sediment but the tank drain valve no longer closes properly and allows a steady trickle to flow out of the spout, it is probably the washer in the valve corroded and no longer forms a seal or gunk is hindering the valve and allowing it to stay partially open. You may need a new valve. Hot water heater drain valves are like standard garden spigots so this job might be able to be done by an amateur plumber. First, turn the water heater off and let the water cool. Getting the threaded end of the valve out of the tank is sometimes very difficult. Use a full-port brass ball valve as a replacement to prevent future problems and have easier draining.
After checking the usual hot water tank leaks listed above and you still have a water puddle, it might be time to shop for a new hot water heater. Signs of a leaking tank are water running from the seams, or damp insulation around the burner or heating element inspection door.
Remove the top of the toilet tank and listen carefully. If you hear hissing, try to determine the source of the sound and decide if the toilet leak is something you can fix.
You may add some food coloring in the tank (not the bowl) and wait several minutes and see if you have coloring in the bowl. If so, you have a leak in the flapper at the bottom of the tank.
Try adjusting the float and valve. If that doesn’t take care of the running water or leak, you can decide if it is something you want to fix or call us at 813-909-7418.
If you like to do it yourself projects, first determine whether you have a compression faucet, ball faucet, cartridge faucet, or a ceramic-disk faucet. In a future article we will discuss how to take your faucet apart and repair the leak yourself.
Hose Bib Leak
Hose bibs are found inside your home, usually under a sink. Your hoses hook to your water pipes with these and they are also known as a threaded faucet.
Once you have located the hose bib, using your longest screwdriver, place the metal tip of the screwdriver directly on the metal part of the hose-bib. Put your thumb knuckle on the top of the screwdriver, and then place your knuckle on the side of your head, immediately in front of your ear. The sound will travel directly to your eardrum and the solid screwdriver should work like a stethoscope. This works for most metal valves.
Listen for any sound coming from the hose-bib. If you hear anything, either mark it with chalk or remember where it is and move on to the next hose bib. If the sound gets louder at any of the other hose-bibs, then the leak is closer to that particular threaded faucet. You may now contact your plumber and save him time and you money.
Be careful when checking the hot water heater so you don’t get scalded.
Shower Head Leak
If the showerhead is leaking at the joint between pipe and head:
- Unscrew the showerhead. You can use a wrench if needed.
- Remove and inspect the rubber gasket inside the showerhead. Replace the gasket if it leaves black goo on your fingers.
- Match the old rubber gasket to the new to ensure the correct size.
- Insert the ring into the showerhead and push into place, making sure it lays flat inside the head assembly.
- Wrap Teflon tape around the pipe threads of the pipe, not the showerhead. Be sure to wrap the Teflon tape in the same direction the threads flow. You will completely cover the threaded area but not the smooth pipe. Wrap the tape tightly. You will see the ridges of the threads, but they should not cut through the tape. Tear the tape to break it from the spool.
- Thread the showerhead back into place, turning until the head is hand-tight.
- Turn the water on and if there is no leak, you are finished! If it still has a leak, unscrew and re-screw the head.
- After determining the leak is gone, use a wrench and turn the head ½ turn more. Do not overtighten. You may need to add more Teflon tape to keep it from a small amount of welling.
Professional, Clean Plumbing Contractor
We clean up after every job and are on time, usually within an hour of appointments.
When you need a 24-hour plumbing contractor, ready to help you with all of your plumbing problems, call 813-909-7418. Contact Emory Garland Plumbing, a licensed, bonded and insured Tampa plumber available with all of your plumbing problems.