The Dangers of a Sewer Leak

A sewer leak is one of the most dreaded household plumbing malfunctions. Though most modern homes have preventative measures already in place, pipes can degrade or get damaged over time, creating prime conditions for a leak. If you regularly experience household mold, strange odors, slow draining, extra foliage growth with no alternative explanation, or cracks in the foundation of your home, it’s time to call a plumber. You may be dealing with a sewer leak.

The unpleasant eau de excrement odor aside, a sewer leak can be quite dangerous to your health and your home alike. The consequences of neglecting a leak, aside from being unsanitary, can lead to some serious issues for your home and well-being. Read on below to learn more about some of the most common dangers of a sewer leak.

Most Common Dangers of a Sewer Leak

Poisonous Sewer Gas

When human waste breaks down, it forms a byproduct known as sewer gas. Sewer gas is composed of several chemicals, including ammonia, methane, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen sulfide. This smelly gas is often identified as smelling like rotten eggs – but is it toxic?

The answer is yes and no. In low concentrations, sewer gas is foul but not necessarily harmful. At higher concentrations, or if you are exposed for a long period of time, you may experience symptoms of sewer gas poisoning. Left unchecked, these symptoms can lead to serious health issues for household residents, including pets. This is why, if you suspect a leak, it’s crucial to call a plumber immediately.

Ammonia is a toxic chemical at high levels. Low to moderate exposure can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation. High levels of ammonia can cause death in humans.

Hydrogen sulfide is one of the main components of sewer gas. Research shows that hydrogen sulfide is toxic to the organ systems of the body – meaning that exposure can lead to organ damage and death.

While carbon dioxide and methane are not inherently harmful to humans, you do not want these gases hanging around in the air that you breathe. Methane alone is highly flammable. In combination with ammonia (which is also flammable), these gases are a serious fire hazard.

If you suspect sewer gas exposure, contact a medical professional and an emergency plumber immediately.

Contaminated Water

Old or damaged pipes can crack, rust, degrade, and eventually seep into nearby groundwater. This worst-case scenario can contaminate your water supply. What’s worse, if your neighborhood uses aquifers for groundwater, contamination can occur on a much larger scale. An entire neighborhood could suffer poisoning from one cracked line.

The health consequences of drinking water contaminated with sewage cannot be understated. Even healthy individuals may experience disabling gastrointestinal problems, stomach cramping, dehydration, developmental problems, reproductive problems, or death. Such consequences can be avoided by having your plumbing checked approximately every two years. It’s just not worth the risk of skipping essential maintenance.

Home Damage

Sewer leaks can cause the foundation of your home to crack as well. As water or sewage leaks pool in various areas of your home, it can cause the ground to shift. All of this erodes at your home’s foundation from the bottom up, which can cause cracks in the foundation and even buckle your patios or driveways.

Water damage is also a common side effect of a sewer leak. If your septic tank is located close to your home, or if the leak is severe enough, you may experience flooding and water damage to your house. Water alone can cause serious structural damage to a home, but the chemicals and hazardous byproducts from natural waste can make that damage much more severe. Drywall can give out, mold can form, and, ultimately, supports can even become unstable. A bad leak can leave a house almost uninhabitable if left alone for long enough.

Unwanted Critters

If you choose to neglect your leaking sewer, you may as well tape a sign to your window that declares “PESTS WELCOME.” Sewer leaks can attract a host of unwanted vermin. Rats, mice, squirrels, raccoons, possums, and chipmunks naturally search for hidden sources of water away from prying eyes. Drippy pipes are naturally enticing. If you provide a convenient water source in the form of a leak, expect to see (or hear) some crawly new friends.

That includes insects! Cockroaches, mosquitoes, ants, spiders, and termites are just a few of the insects that are commonly attracted to standing water and sewer leaks. These sneaky insects often build whole colonies before they’re ever noticed. Maintaining your pipes is an easy way to prevent such animals and insects from invading your home.

Increasing Water Bill

If your water bill has been steadily increasing and your house smells funny, you may be paying for a sewer leak. All of that water not only damages your home, but it can put a serious dent in your wallet too. A moderate water leak can cause you to waste 6,000 gallons of water per month. That’s an incredible waste of water and money.

And remember – all of that leaking water is seeping into the foundation of your home, creating the prime conditions for mold and mildew.

These serious dangers are not something to put off. Neglecting your leaking sewer can cause damage to your home and your health. The best way to avoid these problems is to solve them before they arrive by way of prevention. You should never attempt to fix a serious plumbing problem on your own. It could be a real safety hazard and you may accidentally cause more damage. A licensed plumber will have the proper equipment and expertise to repair your sewer. Additionally, a licensed plumber should regularly inspect your home’s plumbing system at least every two years, and more often if problems arise.

When You Need a Plumber

Here at Palo Alto Plumbing, our licensed plumbers can solve anything between a drippy faucet and a cracked sewer pipe. Our detail-oriented and knowledgeable plumbers can ensure your household’s health and safety by providing quality services. Don’t let a fixable leak destroy your home. Contact us at 650-405-3052 or fill out a contact form on our website to chat with one of our representatives about all of your plumbing needs!

Common Causes for Home Water Leak

Water leaks – the bane of any homeowners existence. It’s not only irritating – the drip drip sound is enough to drive anyone crazy – it’s also wasteful. A leaking faucet can waste gallons of water per day. In fact, a water leak that presents as a leaking faucet can waste up to 350 gallons of water per year. No matter where you live, this is bad news. You might feel the impulse to ignore a water leak. After all, a tiny leak is easy to ignore. However, water leaks do not go away on their own. If left unchecked, they can lead to further damage. There are many types of leaks and some are hard to identify. Read on to learn more about leaks and their causes.

Supply Line Leaks

Supply line leaks are not the same as faucet leaks. In the case of a supply line leak, the actual water supply line that supplies water to your home is compromised. The supply pipe is usually outside of the house, often buried underground. The supply line is connected to the water meter. If you notice that there is water in the water meter, this could be a sign that you have a supply line leak. Another sign of a supply line leak is if there’s water in the ground above where the line is buried. In this case, the leak is likely severe. If you have a supply line leak, do not attempt to fix this yourself. Call in a professional.

If your water pressure is too high, this can put wear and tear on your pipes. Wear and tear can lead to leaks in the supply line, which can get worse if left neglected. A professional plumber can identify the location of the leak and reinforce the area that’s weak. They can also strengthen or replace other areas of pipe that look like they are close to leaking in order to prevent supply line leaks in the future.

Toilet Leaks

Toilet leaks are some of the most common kinds of leaks in the home. They are also among the hardest to identify because they are generally silent. They don’t create the noise that leaks from a faucet can create. Because the leak is going directly into another body of water, these leaks can be hard to see and hear. The best way to identify a leak in your toilet is to listen for a sound coming from the valve in the toilet. If the valve makes a sound while the toilet is not being used, this is an indication of a possible leak.

One way to discern whether there’s a leak in your toilet is to deposit dye tabs into the water in the tank. If the colored water begins to show up in the bowl of the toilet within 15 minutes or so, you likely have a leak on your hands. A professional is the best person to fix this problem. They will be able to replace or adjust valves and lines in your toilet so that the leak ceases to be an issue. Loose or worn out parts of the toilet’s plumbing system are usually to blame for the leak. If valves are diminished or damaged, they are likely the cause of the leak in your system. While this is a repair that is easy for a professional plumber to make, it’s not something that you should try at home. If you do, you may find that you do more damage than good. And you may need to pay for more costly repairs in the long run.

Clogged Drains

A clogged drain does not just present a problem on the outside. It presents a problem on the inside, as well. A clogged drain in the sink makes it difficult for water to flow through the pipes. This can lead to internal blockages that put stress on your plumbing system, eventually leading to breaks or cracks in the pipes if left unchecked. If you notice that water is draining more slowly than usual, have your plumber check for clogged pipes. Doing this can help prevent or identify leaks in the plumbing system.

Loose Joints

If the joints that connect your piping are weak or loose, they can cause a water leak to occur in your home. When you have your pipes inspected, make sure that your plumber looks to see if the joints are in good condition. If they aren’t, they may need to be replaced or repaired. One indication of possible weak joints is a banging noise when water is in use. If you are accustomed to hearing this noise, it might be time for an inspection.

Rust

If your pipes are made of metal, they should be checked periodically for rust or corrosion. Over time, metal can be worn down and can develop areas of weakness or breakage. If pipes are rusted, there is an increased risk of a water leak.

Temperature

As with all things, pipes are affected by extreme temperatures. If temperature fluctuates wildly from hot to cold, this can cause undue wear and tear on your plumbing. This can lead to a water leak. Keep this in mind if you are experiencing severe weather conditions. It might be a good idea to have your plumbing inspected after a particularly extreme spell of weather just to make sure that everything is in good working order.

Damage

The damage that can be caused by a water leak goes far beyond inconvenience. Mold growth, structural damage, and electrical danger are all potential results of a water leak that goes unchecked. It’s important to know about the causes of leaks in order to prevent them.

Contact Us

If you notice or suspect a water leak, contact us. At Palo Alto Plumbing, we have the knowledge and expertise to do the job right the first time – every time. Contact us today by calling 650-374-0868. We look forward to hearing from you.

Methods to Detect Water Leak

It’s important to take immediate action if you notice water leaks in your home. Aside from reducing your water bill expenses, this will also prevent further damage to your plumbing system. But the thing is, it can be tricky to detect water leaks. Not all homes have the same plumbing systems, either. So, if you’re just as confused about plumbing as most homeowners, here are some signs of water leaks and how to detect them on your own.

Common Causes of Water Leaks

Water leaks sometimes occur due to a variety of reasons, which can include the following:

  • Pipes wear down over time
  • Overgrown tree roots can break underground water pipes
  • Animals burrowing or digging into pipes
  • Weather fluctuations
  • Malfunctioning of pipelines
  • Bursting of water pipes

Methods to Detect Water Leaks

Tracking Your Water Bills

It’s a good idea to pay attention to your monthly water bills. This is because unexpected changes can help you determine if your home might have a water leak. For instance, you might notice that your water bill has gone up, but there haven’t been any changes to how much water your household uses. In this case, it means that your home probably has hidden water leak issues.

With the multiple water pipes installed underneath your system, it becomes challenging to detect exactly where the leaks are. So, you should look for a professional plumber to inspect your pipes, and make the necessary repairs. It’s important to take care of these issues before the leak gets worse.

Checking the Water Meter

One of the simplest ways to detect water leaks in your home is by checking the water meter. In most cases, plumbers place water meters in different locations, like in the basement, under your kitchen sink, or in concrete boxes outdoors. After you locate your water meter, ensure you turn off the water in your entire home. This includes all of your appliances. Definitely don’t leave the washing machine or dishwasher running while you do this test. Once everything is turned off, look at the water meter to find out whether there’s any movement. If you notice some, then there’s probably a leak in one of your water pipes.

On the other hand, if you don’t notice any changes, it’s advisable to wait for at least one hour and check again. There could be a slow water leak in the pipes if you can spot some minimal movement. Knowing the actual location of the leak is tough, though. Odds are you won’t be able to find it on your own, so contact a plumber right away.

Stethoscope Test

One of the easiest ways to detect water leaks is through vibrations coming from running water. When performing the test, it’s advisable to ensure that all pipe fittings are tightly closed.

The next step is to get a metal screwdriver and place the tip on the pipe, with the other side next to your ear. You’ll feel some vibrations if any water is flowing through. This can indicate that there may be a water leak in your pipe. You should call a plumber immediately to examine the actual location of the leak, and make the necessary repair or replacement.

Check for Clues

If your home is slightly older, then the chances of having water leaks in the pipes are much higher. Start checking the condition of your bathroom. Make sure to monitor if there are leaky faucets, drains, or showerheads.

In the long run, watching out for these things can help you save money on expensive repairs or replacements. You can also use this method to check if your kitchen pipes are leaking. If you suspect that there are possible water leaks, don’t hesitate to contact a professional to inspect your water pipes, and fix the problem immediately.

Related Content: Plumbing Basics Every Homeowner Should Know

Examine Your Toilet

Since toilets use approximately a third of the water in most homes, it’s essential to examine if the water is running properly. A leaky toilet wastes a lot of water, leading to a costly water bill. To check for water leaks in your toilet, you need to add some food coloring droplets or dye tabs. Next, leave the toilet without flushing for a few minutes. If the color begins to slowly disappear, there’s probably a leak. In this case, you need professional help to stop this situation from getting worse.

Check Your Outdoor Water Systems

Walk around your home to see if your garden accessories are properly working. Take a closer look at the functionality of your taps, hoses, irrigation systems, and fountains. If you notice that your hoses have holes that allow water to leak into unwanted areas, ensure these holes are sealed properly. If you see any part of your outdoor that’s wet, take a step further to identify the cause, or call a professional to fix the problem.

Leak Detectors

Leak detectors can easily help in identifying water leaks in pipes and fixtures. These handy devices are installed to alert you of leaks. They send a message through their alarm system. In most cases, this helps detect water leaks early enough to prevent major water damage to your home.

Growth of Mold

The major cause of mold growth in homes is usually water damage. If you come across mold in your bathroom, kitchen, or basement, there’s a higher chance that there may be a water leak.

Wall Discoloration

You may also notice some abnormal stains on your walls, and even ceilings. The stains are mostly brown or yellow. This is a sign that your water pipes may have leaks that are soaking your walls or ceilings.

Key Takeaway

These are some of the most effective ways to detect water leaks in your home before calling a professional. But if you’ve confirmed that you have a leaky pipe concern, don’t hesitate to call Palo Alto Plumbing. Water damage is costly and can be tough to repair. Don’t risk it. Our skilled and reliable plumbers can fix your plumbing leaks in no time.

Common Plumbing Myths That Can Cost You More Money

Plumbing is one of the least glamorous aspects of home ownership, and every time a plumbing issue arises you can expect it to be a troublesome and inconvenient time for everyone in the household. Sometimes circumstances can worsen to the point that repair costs become more expensive because of misconceptions about the plumbing system. Below are some common ones that can cost you money: 

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What Are the Most Common Causes of Water Discoloration?

Sometimes, the water from your faucet can turn a strange color. This issue can be concerning because clean water is essential in your daily life. However, not all causes of this problem require the attention of a professional plumber.

 

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What Causes Yellow & Orange Resin Beads in Your Plumbing?

Top Reasons Why Yellow & Orange Resin Beads are in Your Plumbing

If you notice yellow or orange resin beads in your toilet, sink, bathtub or anywhere in your plumbing system, don’t worry too much. These are generally non-toxic and can be flushed out of your plumbing system. Ignoring these beads, however, can be harmful to your plumbing, as they may clog up smaller passages in fixtures and appliances.

In this post, Palo Alto discusses two possible reasons why yellow or orange balls may appear in your plumbing system. We also share a few tips on how to deal with them.

Failing Water Softener Screen

Water softeners typically have small zeolite resin beads, which soften the water through ion exchange. Normally, these beads remain in the water softener in order to perform their job. When the yellow beads in water get out of the softener and reach your pipes, however, this could mean that the water softener screen has been torn or damaged. The beads often end up getting stuck inside water faucet aerators. If you find them in your water faucet filter, check your water softener screen or call a plumbing expert for a more thorough inspection.

Dissolved Water Heater Plastic Intake Tube

The appearance of colored resin beads is a common issue in old water heaters manufactured between 1993 and 1997. These beads clog up water faucet filters and cause water to only be lukewarm. These issues are usually caused by a faulty dip tube in your water heater, which can easily be fixed by replacing the broken dip tube and flushing the water heater.

Ion-exchange water softeners

If you have an ion-exchange water softener in your home, it is not uncommon for the beads to break loose and end up in your plumbing. This usually happens when the softener is overcharged with salt, which causes the beads to become brittle and eventually break apart. If you notice that your plumbing is full of these small beads, it is important to have your water softener serviced as soon as possible.

Damaged Pipes

If your pipes are damaged, all sorts of materials can enter into the piping and eventually make their way into your home’s plumbing. This includes everything from dirt and sediment to small animals and insects. Once these materials are in your plumbing, they can cause all sorts of problems, including clogs and leaks. If you suspect that your pipes are damaged, it is important to have them repaired or replaced as soon as possible.

Dirty Sump Pump

If you have a sump pump in your home, it is important to keep it clean. A dirty sump pump can suck up all sorts of dirt and debris, which can then end up in your plumbing. If you notice that your plumbing is full of dirt and debris, your sump pump likely needs to be cleaned.

Failing Septic Tank

If you have a septic tank, it is important to have it inspected regularly. Over time, the septic tank can become full of all sorts of materials, including human waste and detergents. If the septic tank becomes too full, it can overflow and send all of these materials into your plumbing. If you suspect that your septic tank is failing, it is important to have it inspected by a professional as soon as possible.

There are many reasons why yellow and orange balls might be in your plumbing. These resin beads are typically small, but they can cause big problems if they are not removed from your plumbing. If you notice yellow or orange balls in your plumbing, it is important to determine the cause so that you can take the necessary steps to fix the problem.

If your current water heater is from 1993 to 1997, it’s highly likely that your unit has already exceeded its life expectancy. Instead of spending your money on repairs, you might want to consider investing in a new water heater. This will eliminate the possibility of the issue recurring and save you from spending too much on repairs. Make sure to replace your faucet and shower head filters as well.

How to Prevent Orange and Yellow Resin Beads from Taking Over Your Plumbing

Do you have an ion-exchange water softener in your home, it is important to keep it well maintained. This includes adding salt to the softener regularly and having the unit serviced by a professional every few years.

If you have a septic tank, it is important to have it inspected regularly and pumped out every few years. This will help to prevent the septic tank from becoming full of resin beads and other materials that can overflow into your plumbing.

It is also important to keep an eye on your pipes and sump pump. If you notice any damage, it is important to have the pipes repaired or replaced as soon as possible. Additionally, if your sump pump is dirty, be sure to clean it regularly.

Following these tips will help to prevent orange beads in water from taking over your plumbing. However, if you do find these beads in your plumbing, it is important to take the necessary steps to remove them and prevent them from causing further damage.

Palo Alto is a trusted plumbing contractor with over 16 years of industry experience. We take care of jobs of various sizes. Whether your project is large or small, you can count on us to meet or exceed your expectations. Call us at (650) 405-1460 or fill out our contact form to request a consultation. We serve customers in Palo Alto, CA.

Water Heater Sediment Buildup: What You Need to Know

Cleaning water heater sediment can save you money on monthly energy bills by reducing the amount of heat lost to the atmosphere. Sediment buildup in water heaters is an issue that occurs when the minerals that are naturally present in your water source accumulate in your water heater. If left unattended, not only can this cause overheating and reduce the lifespan of your water heater, but the impurities can also leach into your water supply. If you happen to use this water for cooking, you may even accidentally ingest the impurities. So how can one tell if their water heater is suffering from sediment buildup?

In this article, plumbing heating and air expert Palo Alto reveals the signs that indicate your water heater is suffering from sediment buildup and what you can do about it.

Do You Need a Water Softener?

If the glass and metal surfaces in your kitchen are speckled with water spots, you may have a hard water problem. In this blog, Palo Alto Plumbing Heating & Air discusses how a water softener can help with this problem.

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Plumbing Noises & What They Mean

A typical home plumbing system that’s functioning properly doesn’t make loud noises, so it’s worth investigating if yours begins to do so. In this blog, plumbing and air conditioning repair service company Palo Alto discusses what common plumbing noises may indicate.

Common Summer Plumbing Problems

Air conditioning systems are not the only ones to see overuse during the dog days of summer. This season also marks a notable increase in water usage. Water is essential to your daily activities, and ensuring that it flows smoothly without any issues should remain at the top of your priority list when it comes to summer household chores.