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5 of the Most Common Signs of Leaky Pipes

May 12, 2016

White pipes under a bathroom sink that is leaking large amounts of water from the bathroom sink.

Here’s some disturbing math: according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as many as 10 percent of American homes are losing 90 gallons of water each day due to leaky pipes. Ninety gallons! Fixing America’s leaky pipes could save 177 billion gallons of water each year.  

Fixing those leaky pipes could also save you from some serious spending. A leaky pipe may start out as a minor issue, but even a small, unnoticed drip can cause major damage to your home -- and it doesn’t take very long.

If left untreated, water damage can rapidly spread. Your walls, floors, and ceiling are at risk. Electrical outlets can become serious shock hazards. Health problems become an issue thanks to mold growth and exposure to contaminated water.

If you suspect a leak, you’re probably right.

There are over 245,000 housing units in Washington, D.C. built before 1980. That means there are a lot of old pipes, pinhole leaks, messy clogs, and amateur plumbing jobs out there, too. Any could be the first step towards a major problem.

Learn the subtle (and not-so-subtle) signs of water damage. If you suspect leaky pipes are ready to wreak havoc on your home, it’s time to call a CroppMetcalfe Plumbing professional. Water always wins -- unless you stop it first.

5 reasons to suspect you have leaky pipes

1. Ceiling stains. Your mom was wrong -- sloshing some water out of the bathtub and onto the floor won’t cause enough water seepage to damage your ceiling.  The internal pipes that carry water to that second-floor bathroom, however, definitely can if they’re leaking along the way. 

Water weakens beams over time, which eventually leads to sagging ceilings. If you spot brown, copper or dark stains (or even worse, a sagging ceiling), call CroppMetcalfe immediately.

2. Rusty pipes, fuse boxes or appliances. Discoloration, stains, dimpling, and flaking are all signs that your pipes may be corroding. If you notice rust occurring around pipes, this is a clear indication of water damage. If you notice your fuse box is starting to rust or collect moisture, that’s another big red flag that water is running free inside your walls. 

The frightening part about leaky pipes is that they’re not always in areas that you can visibly see. Even one small leak may be a sign that all of your other pipes need replacing. Instead of taking this task on by yourself, bring in the 5-Star Plumbing experts who will be able to spot and solve the problem.

3. Damaged flooring. Bathroom floors rarely suffer water damage unless there is a leak. However, if you notice your floor buckling, staining or cracking, hidden water may be the source. 

Wet spots, spongy or soft flooring and loose tiles could all be signs of water damage. Whether the water came from a pipe underneath the floor or traveled there from another area, look into it as soon as possible before the current water damage causes a bigger issue.

4. Paint or wallpaper discoloring. As moisture seeps into your walls, the paint will start showing signs of damage. You may notice peeling, discoloration, blistering or even cracks and warping. 

Since drywall and wood readily absorb moisture, water breaks down the fibers and causes them to feel spongy and soft. If you notice chalky textures, changing wall paint or signs of peeling, water damage is most likely the culprit.

5. Persistent odors. The most common odor associated with water damage is a musty, mildewy smell. While you may be able to detect the source of the scent, it’s not always obvious. A CroppMetcalfe Plumbing professional will be able to help spot the root of the problem and fix any water damage in your home. 


While leaky pipes in your home may seem like easy fixes, they aren’t repairs that you’ll want to tackle alone. At the first sign of suspected water damage, consult with a plumbing professional at CroppMetcalfe to help determine the problem and clear your home of trouble. Call 703-698-8855 to speak with a plumbing expert or schedule a service appointment online today.


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