We’re endowed with five senses (and perhaps many more) for a good reason – they help us negotiate the world around us. Each sense can compensate in some way for what the other senses can’t do. In the world of plumbing, your hearing is typically one of the best senses for detecting problems. You’ll hear the drip of water falling to the ground from a leak, the hiss of something wrong with your boiler, or a clanging metal noise in pipes from pressure that is too high. But here are a number of totally silent signs that you may have a plumbing problem:
Your Fixtures are Draining Slowly
When one fixture is draining slowly, it probably means it’s clogged. Check to see if your drains need to be cleaned manually and use a plunger or drain cleaner to try to unclog them. When all of your fixtures are draining slowly, you may very well have a major plumbing problem on your hands. There might be an issue with your plumbing vent or perhaps tree roots are clogging the sewer line. As time goes on, slow draining fixtures can lead to water backing up. When it’s backing up in every fixture, it’s well past time to call a plumber.
The Water Must Flow
Low water flow is another sign of plumbing problems and there are a lot of commonalities between it and slow draining fixtures. When a single fixture has low water flow, it’s usually a problem with that fixture and easily fixed – replacing faucet aerators or cleaning shower heads can help here. When every fixture has low water pressure, it usually means you have an issue with the water main, or even a leak.
High Water Bills
When your water consumption hasn’t changed and the cost of water hasn’t gone up, your water bill should remain fairly consistent. When you experience a sudden spike in your water bill, it might be a sign that you have a leak. Very arid zones can have particularly nasty consequences for water leaks. Plumbers in Albuquerque warn of serious fines that can be imposed by the water authority if leaks aren’t properly managed. When your bill suddenly skyrockets, it’s time to call a plumber.
Bubbles, Bubbles, Everywhere
Bubbles should be restricted to soap suds and children’s games; when they start showing up in your walls, it’s a sure sign you have a moisture problem. When paint starts to bubble and peel, it may be because a room isn’t well aerated. Your bathroom, for example, can have these problems without a leak. When your ceiling is starting to bubble in your bedroom, however, there’s a good chance you have a leak. First, check to see that your home is properly aerated to deal with moisture. If it is and you still have bubbles, call a plumber.
The Grass is Always Greener…
…when you have plumbing problems? Seems odd, but it’s true – when sewage is leaking, grass tends to grow greener. This is because there are a lot of nutrients in sewage and it acts as a fertilizer. This problem is also applicable to people with septic fields; when those fields are oversaturated, the grass will grow greener. When you have especially green grass, but only in some spots, or if you start seeing water pool in your yard, it’s time to call a plumber.
Mold and Mildew
When you see mold and mildew growing on your walls, you know you have a problem! This should be dealt with right away because it is very bad for your health. Much like the bubbles and peeling paint from earlier, this could be a sign your home is just too humid. Check air flow through the home and consider investing in a dehumidifier. When mold is appearing largely on one surface, though, it’s not unlikely that it’s being caused by a leak. You may also notice damp spots on that surface. Call a plumber.
We’re getting into the more obvious signs of plumbing problems, now. When your carpet is wet in one spot for no reason, your ceiling is starting to sag, or your walls are unreasonably damp, you’ve almost definitely got a leak somewhere. Don’t poke around in there yourself – call the professionals.
The Nose Knows
Most of the things we’ve discussed so far can be detected with your eyes, but your sense of smell can be incredibly useful for finding plumbing problems: sewage smells bad. When your sewer line is clogged and backing up, you’ll be able to smell it and that’s a sure sign you need a plumber to come check things out.
Water is Supposed to be Clear
Clean, crystal clear drinking water – that’s what everyone wants. When your water is colorful, it means there’s something wrong. It may be as simple as rust in the pipes or it may be that there are problems with your regional water supply. You want to get this checked out because rust means your pipes are degrading, and degraded pipes are compromised. Compromised pipes are more likely to leak, and that can lead to some real headaches.
Where’s the Water?
Saving the most obvious problem for last, if you turn on the tap and no water comes out, it’s a sure sign you have a major plumbing problem. Check your other fixtures, of course, to make sure the problem isn’t localized in one area. When no water is flowing at all, you should call a plumber as soon as possible – you may have a very serious leak.
All of the problems we’ve listed can be detected without needing to hear them. That said, there are plenty of plumbing problems that can be detected with your ears – unusual gurglings and rattling sounds should also always be investigated.