When was the last time you thought about the water pipes in your walls? If you’re like most individuals, you probably don’t think about them, unless something goes wrong. Unfortunately, that may be a bad approach. This is because water pipes that aren’t regularly inspected and maintained can cause little leaks, big leaks, and full blowouts that can cause flooding in your building.
The Problem with Modern Plumbing Pipes in Chicago (And Everywhere Else)
Imagine seeing snaking water pipes throughout your building. It’s a pretty unsightly image, isn’t it? Since visible plumbing pipes are considered unsightly, many are located behind walls, behind ceiling tiles, in basements and crawlspace, and under your foundation. While this keeps your building looking aesthetically pleasing, it can lead to an “out of sight, out of mind” problem with your plumbing pipes.
This is different than any other system in your commercial or residential building. After all, if an HVAC vent stops blowing air, you notice it pretty quickly, and if a light burns out, that’s also noticed fairly quickly. However, if a plumbing pipe starts leaking, you may not notice that right away. That’s because most leaks start small, and they can be so small that you don’t notice them. It’s only after the pipe develops a significant leak that you’ll notice a problem, and by then, you may have extensive water damage around the corroded or cracked pipe.
How to Tell if You Have a Broken Water Pipe or Multiple Leaks in Your Chicago Building
While small leaks are hard to detect without a camera inspection, once they get to a certain size or your building experiences many small leaks, you’ll notice. Common signs of multiple leaks in your building or a broken water pipe include:
- Drywall that is Mushy
- Excessively High Water Bills
- Extremely Low Water Pressure
- Mold and Mildew on Walls
- Random Puddles on the Floor or Water Actively Dripping from a Ceiling
- Warped or Wet Flooring
- Water Spots or Brown and Yellow Stains on Walls and Ceilings
Problems Caused by a Big Plumbing Leak
Big plumbing leaks are caused by broken water pipes. These pipes typically break due to age and corrosion. In rare cases, especially after you’ve had your plumbing system completely replaced, or the building is new, the blowout can be caused by improper installation. The good news is that major blowouts can be quickly identified and isolated. This is because once the leak is noticed, the shutoff valve to that pipe can be closed, stopping the flow of water and preventing major damage. Of course, if there isn’t a shutoff valve to that pipe, you’ll have to turn off the water to the building until the plumber arrives and repairs the problematic plumbing pipe.
Common problems caused by blowouts include:
- Flooding on the floor where the broken water pipe occurred.
- Flooding into surrounding units on the same floor.
- Flooding in units below where the blowout occurred.
If your building incurs a complete pipe blowout, you’ll likely have to call the Chicago plumber to have it fixed, then call a water removal company to remove all the water from floors, carpets, and ceilings in order to prevent structural damage, mold, and mildew.
What Happens if You Have Multiple Small Leaks
When it comes to leaking plumbing pipes, it’s typically the small leaks that cause the most damage. This is because they can leak for weeks or months before they’re noticed. Your building could have multiple small leaks right now and there could be a few signs of them. Leaks can be located inside the walls where they can damage the wooden structural components, floor joints, and the sub-flooring. Water also tends to find the lowest point. After all, water runs downhill, and once it finds the lowest point, it will sit there, slowly becoming more toxic and damaging. If it’s left to sit long enough, it will eventually grow mold, mildew, fungus, and bacteria.
Layers of Damage Caused by Leaking Plumbing Pipes in Chicago Buildings
Any water leak is likely to cause layers of damage. The types of damage you can expect from long-term leaks include:
- Damage to ceiling tiles, drywall, and flooring.
- Ruined and molded carpet and rugs.
- Wood rotting in subflooring, floor joists, and even the wood beams supporting your building.
- The growth of mold, mildew, and fungus.
- The attraction of pests, like bugs and rodents.
- Damage to furniture and the personal belongings of your residents.
- Damage to your common areas.
- Damage to wiring and electrical components if water is left to sit inside walls.
All this damage can be expensive to repair. The good news is that you can be proactive when it comes to preventing a plumbing leak and a broken water pipe. After all, most leaks are caused by corroded and old plumbing pipes, so the first step to making sure you don’t have a catastrophic blowout is to know how old your pipes are.
How to Tell if Your Plumbing Pipes Are Old
If you don’t know how old your plumbing pipes are, they may be the age of the building. To help you determine the age of your pipes, you can look to see when your building was replaced or when the plumbing system was last replaced. If you’re really not sure, a camera inspection can help tell you the condition of your pipes and their ages. Plumbing inspections can also tell you if you need any immediate repairs in order to keep the water flowing and prevent expensive problems.
Another way to tell if you need plumbing repairs or plumbing pipe rehabilitation is to know how long plumbing pipes typically last.
- Brass Pipes – 40 to 70 years
- Copper Pipes – At least 50 years
- Galvanized Steel Pipes – About 20 years but sometimes 50 years under the right conditions
- Cast Iron – 75 to 100 years
- PVC and Plastic Plumbing Pipes – Typically 75 years
Nu Flow Midwest
When it comes to keeping your pipes in good condition and preventing leaks and blowouts, you can consider epoxy pipelining as a viable and cost-effective solution. Nu Flow Midwest provides an innovative, epoxy pipe relining product that essentially scrubs and re-coats the interior walls of your building’s pipes. The new, smooth interior surface seals leaks and potential leaks, adding decades of life to a building’s plumbing system. We have completed pipe relining in entire buildings and in large pipe runs where problems occur frequently. Pipe relining is less invasive and therefore less expensive than pipe replacement. If you are experiencing more frequent plumbing repairs, it may be time to find a more permanent resolution.
To learn more about pipelining and how it can help you prevent plumbing leaks and blowouts, contact us today at 815-790-9000.