No one wants to have to deal with burst or leaky pipes, they are a major hassle. Ask anyone who has had to deal with damaged pipes, they will tell you that dealing with them is awful. Think of all the possible damage that damaged pipes can cause. Not only do you have to replace the pipes, you also have to deal with all the damage caused by the water. Leaked water from the damaged pipes can cause mold, it can cause structural damage and it can damage appliances and electronics. Altogether, damaged pipes that are not fixed ASAP can cost you tens of thousands of dollars in damages. Thankfully, pipes do not just break and burst overnight, there are numerous warning signs beforehand that can tell you if there is a major problem with your pipes.
If you notice any of these warning signs, stop using your water and call a plumber right away.
When you use a sink, your drain, or flush your toilet, keep an eye on how long it takes the water to go down. If you notice that it is taking a while for the water to go down, listen for faint bubbling noises. This is a sign of air bubbles in your pipes. Now air in your pipes is not a bad thing inherently, in fact, pipes are meant to have some air in them to help stop the onrushing water from damaging your pipes. But, if you notice bubbles coming up from your sink, drain, or toilet, then it means you probably have a blockage somewhere in your pipes. The water is getting backlogged because of the blockage, and this forces the air up into your sink, or drain, or toilet.
When a pipe gets physically damaged, there is a possibility that it can get badly dented. As you can probably imagine, a dented pipe impacts the water flow. Water in pipes is meant to flow without any sort of impediment, a dent interferes with that. The dent prevents the maximum amount of water from going through the pipes at once. This results in a high pitched noise, which could be described as whistling. This does not sound like a major issue (after all, who cannot deal with a bit of whistling), but the dented pipe means that more water pressure is going to be applied to other parts of your pipe because of the decreased water flow. This increased water pressure can cause your pipes to burst in extreme cases.
A banging sound in the pipes is a fairly common issue. It is almost always a sign that you have “water hammers.” Basically, this means that the air in your pipes, that prevents the water from coming to an abrupt stop, is gone. With no air in the pipes, this means the water essentially bangs the pipes when it stops, hence the sound. Although you can call a plumber for this issue, you can also do it yourself by turning off your water, draining your pipes, and then refilling them; this allows the air to flow back into the pipes.
This is probably one of the more obvious signs. If you notice any water puddles forming near areas with pipes, then it is a pretty good indicator that something is wrong. Manually inspect the pipes to see if you can see anything wrong. If it is simply a loose bolt, then you can easily fix it yourself. But, if it is a serious problem, then call a plumber immediately. Also, beware of pipes that you cannot see. If you notice random water puddles around your house, but you cannot find the pipes they are coming from, then the puddles may be originating from pipes hidden in the walls or ceiling. In those situations, you definitely have to call a plumber.
If you notice that the areas around your pipes, drains, or sinks smell, then you probably have a big issue with your pipes. Odd smells are a sure sign that your pipes are backed up somewhere. The smell is likely backed up sewage, so you better get a plumber down to your house as quickly as possible; if there is one thing in this world you want to avoid, it is a pipe full of old sewage bursting. You will probably see a lot of guides online telling you to wash out your pipes with bleach, or some sort of chemical mixture, in order to dislodge any blockages. It is true that those remedies can work, but again, when dealing with backed up sewage, it is better to just let a professional handle it.
This is one of the bigger warning signs. If you ever notice that parts of your wall are unusually damp, then it is very likely that a pipe behind your walls is leaking or has burst. This is not a good sign, leaky or burst pipes in the walls can cause major mold issues and serious structural damage to both the walls and floors. Do not bother trying any home remedies here, call a plumber as soon as you are able to.
The above warning signs are the major ones, but there are other signs to keep on the lookout for. Notice that your water bill is unusually high? Could be a pipe issue. Notice that your toilet clogs regularly? There are a lot of possible causes, but pipe issues are usually the source of frequent clogging. Notice that your water is a different colour or has developed an odd odour? Well, your pipes have likely begun to corrode.
In general, if you ever suspect that your pipes are damaged, then call a plumber right away. Yeah, it sucks to have to spend money on a plumber, but calling a plumber for a small pipe issue sure beats calling a plumber to come deal with the major water damage that comes from not fixing damaged pipes right away.