Are Your Pipes Bad? 5 Signs and Symptoms of Failing Plumbing

by Louis Ownes on Jun 18, 2021

Keeping your plumbing in good working order and scheduling fixes as soon as they’re needed keeps repair costs low. The longer you put off certain fixes including replacing cracked pipes, patching water leaks, and clearing plumbing clogs, the greater the risk of burst pipes, overflowing drains, and other costly, messy secondary damage!

If you’re like many homeowners, however, you might not even think about plumbing repair until you are faced with a burst pipe, water leaks, stopped-up toilet or drain, or other disasters. To ensure you’re doing everything possible to keep your home’s plumbing in good condition and can address needed repairs quickly, check out these 5 signs and symptoms that your plumbing pipes are bad and that it’s time to call a plumber!

1. Odd Sounds From Your Plumbing

Never assume that plumbing pipes bang around behind walls naturally, or that creaks, groans, and other such sounds are to be expected from pipes in older homes. In most cases, those odd sounds coming from pipes indicate air in the line. This air can inhibit the movement of water and solid waste, increasing the risk of clogs.

Pipes banging around behind walls or elsewhere can also eventually come loose from their connectors and hangers. In turn, those pipes might come out of alignment, allowing for standing water or letting water drain too quickly, which also risks clogs. Banging can also mean breakage and resultant leaks! Avoid these risks by scheduling plumbing repairs if you ever notice such odd sounds in your home.

2. Odd Smells From Pipes, Drains, and Taps

Along with odd sounds, never assume that your home’s plumbing should smell odd, or that unpleasant odors are to be expected in older homes. Rotten egg smells often indicate a clog in a sewer pipe or a blocked vent, which allows sewage gasses and odors to waft back into your home.

Unpleasant smells from a kitchen sink might indicate a clog or buildup of food particles around the pipes. If you notice these smells along with clogs, this can indicate damaged outside pipes and residues building up in the pipes. Don’t ignore these smells or just try to cover them over but schedule a plumbing inspection as soon as possible.

3. Never Ignore Low Water Pressure

Low water pressure is nothing to overlook or ignore! In some cases, hard water minerals might be clinging to the tap, slowing down water flow. Use a lime and calcium cleaner on the tap and note if that fixes the problem; if not, you probably need plumbing repairs.

Note that clogs in pipes can build up over time. If solid waste doesn’t drain from pipes completely, it can start clinging to their sides; as more waste builds up, water won’t flow through those pipes as easily. In turn, you might notice low water pressure from your home’s taps.

Damaged pipes and connectors also let water leak out as it travels through that plumbing system. Less water then reaches the taps, resulting in low water pressure. Rather than just opening faucets as much as possible, have the plumbing checked for clogs and leaks and schedule repairs as needed.

4. Slow Drains Can Signal Failing Plumbing

As with low water pressure, solid waste buildup in your home’s pipes can slow down water as drains empty. You might notice standing water in the shower or tub or a sink that doesn’t seem to empty as quickly as it once did. As the water drains, you might also notice gurgling sounds or what appears to be something backing up from the pipes.

Drain cleaners can remove some waste material, but these chemicals are very caustic and can damage pipes. Instead of using store-bought materials, call a plumbing repair contractor instead, so he or she can clean out those pipes safely and effectively.

5. Stains, Mold, and Mildew Can Mean Damaged Plumbing

As water leaks from damaged pipes and connectors, it encourages mold and mildew growth in the home. You might notice this mold along the front of walls or wood framing, and mildew is not uncommon underneath carpeting. Mold and mildew might also spread to furniture and other items sitting close to walls near that plumbing leak.

Along with mold and mildew, dripping water often leads to stains on drywall panels, including walls and ceiling tiles. You might also notice these water stains inside cabinets and cupboards, especially under sinks where leaks are sometimes more common.

Rather than trying to cover over mold smells and clean away water stains on walls and ceilings, have the home’s plumbing inspected for potential leaks. You can then address that damage and clean or replace drywall, carpeting, and other materials in the home.

Do Most Older Homes Have Failing Plumbing?

Looking out for these five signs of plumbing damage can alert you to needed repairs, but many homeowners wonder if older homes will typically have plumbing that is about to fail simply due to their age and everyday wear and tear. Pipes might indeed be more prone to corrosion and other damage over time, but this isn’t always the case!

Keeping pipes clean of debris and ensuring vents are in good condition can avoid the risk of clogs and other damage. If a homeowner also avoids putting things in the toilet and sink that might risk clogs, including greasy food debris, baby diapers, and so on, this can also reduce the risk of damage.

Regular inspections also allow a homeowner to make repairs as needed, to keep that damage from getting worse. Timely repairs also reduce the risk of cracked or burst pipes, damaged connectors, and severe clogs. A homeowner can also replace the water heater as it begins to fail, rather than waiting for it to rust through and then burst, and put added pressure on the home’s pipes!

Knowing these signs and symptoms of failing plumbing also ensures you’re doing everything you can to keep your home’s pipes in good working order. This will help reduce the risk of plumbing damage on your own and ensure those pipes are always in good condition year-round. 

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