Around 1 trillion gallons of water are wasted every year due to water leaks, and most of those leaks can be fixed by anyone with basic DIY skills. With an understanding of plumbing basics and a wrench, many persistent water leaks can be resolved. But, if the task is too complex or more serious, it’s time to contact your local certified plumbers.
How Does a Plumbing System Work?
There are two main systems: the water supply and drain-water vent systems. Let’s take a look at them in more detail:
The Water Supply System
The water supply system brings the fresh water into the home from a municipal water source or from a private well. In both instances, there is a reliance on sufficient water pressure or the water supply will not meet the needs of the home. City water comes from the main pipe that runs parallel to the home under the street. There are heavy penalties if you attempt to work on city water lines, and any problems should be investigated by a professional plumber. Well water users receive their water from aquifers, and those homes may be prone to low water pressure issues, which can be fixed by a plumber. There will be a shut-off valve located before or after the water meter if you have one, and this is useful when you need to make repairs.
The DWV System
The drain-water valve (DWV) system removes wastewater and any accompanying waste from the home. For obvious reasons, the DWV system is kept separate from the water supply system. But, there are locations known as bridges where these two systems do come into close proximity, such as an appliance or sink that has a water supply and a drain line installed. To keep things simple, clean water is directed into the fixture or water using appliances, and wastewater goes out into the drain. The drainage system is heavily reliant on gravity to push the wastewater out of the home. There are three main components in a DWV system: drain pipes, traps, and vents.
- The Drain Pipes: This is a pipe that’s angled downwards to move wastewater from the fixture and into the connected sewer line. This is efficient, but there are downsides when a system relies entirely on gravity to work properly. Drain pipes must be positioned properly to use the force of gravity to its full advantage. Drain pipes are bigger than water supply pipes to prevent blocking caused by solid waste that may be present in the wastewater.
- The Drain Traps: These are often referred to as “P-traps” by plumbers; they are U-shaped to prevent backflow through them and into the plumbing system. The water is constantly held in the drain trap due to the curved shape, and this is an important feature. The water held in the p-trap prevents sewer gasses from passing into the home from the connected sewer line. But, there is a problem: the curved shape makes a p-trap prone to clogging issues caused by trapped hair, grease, sediment, and other debris.
- The Drain Vent: This component makes the flow of wastewater smooth to reduce strain on the pipes. The drain vent system runs from the drain pipe to the roof, and it releases trapped air that could prevent smooth draining.
If any of these three DWV systems are damaged, the entire system will become less efficient. Purchasing and installing sub-standard parts may be a cause of potential problems, and certified products that are professionally installed are a smarter decision.
How Do Water Leaks Affect the Water Supply System?
When plumbing pipes are installed properly, they should be leak-proof. But, even the best pipes will degrade over time, and repiping may be required. Even smaller water leaks can release a lot of water over a prolonged period of time. Water damage is expensive to fix, and it can even damage the foundations of your home. When water leaks occur, people tend to notice a loss of water pressure when they take a shower. The water pressure needs to be relatively high, or the plumbing system will not work as intended. In extreme cases, it may be impossible to flush a toilet or run a bath in a reasonable amount of time. Some water leaks are very hard to detect without help from a local professional plumber with specialized tools.
What are the DWV System Water Leak Problems?
The main problem in the DWV system is the formation of clogs in the kitchen and bathroom drains. Hair, food particles, sediment, and other items can combine with oil, grease, soap scum, and other sticky substances. A clog must be removed manually because store bought drain cleaning products contain caustic chemicals that can damage your pipes. Another common problem is water leaks that will be hidden if they are behind a wall or under a floor. In many cases, water leaks are easier to detect if they cause damp patches, mold growth, and other problems. But, just because you cannot see a water leak, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t causing a lot of hidden water damage. It’s estimated that around 10% of US homes lose up to 90 gallons of water in leaks every day. This is expensive and inefficient, and if you cannot locate a water leak, it’s time to call your local professional plumber to fix it for you.
There are two main areas that are especially prone to water leaks, the kitchen and bathroom. The kitchen plumbing is very prone to clogging because people tend to pour a wide variety of items and substances into the drain. The drain is designed for wastewater, and if it becomes clogged, it should be unclogged with a cup plunger or drain snake. Because they are usually located on upper floors, bathrooms are heavily reliant on water pressure. If the water pressure is too low or even too high, there are a number of potential problems that can be expensive to fix.
If you’re worried about water pressure problems and hidden water leaks, contact your local professional plumber today.