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A leaking pipe can be a huge waste of water in South Africa and can also impact your business both from a cost and time perspective. It’s a good idea to check exposed piping every two years for any deterioration. For pipes hidden behind plaster in the wall, a licensed plumber has the tools to check for issues.

The sound of a dripping pipe is not a good one! A leaky tap or water dripping from the joint in a pipe could mean there’s something more serious going, like corrosion (applies to older pipes made of galvanised steel or copper used mainly inside buildings).

What to do when you discover a leaking pipe.

Take these easy steps to prevent further damage from a leaking pipe:-

A. Leaking kitchen or bathroom tap – check with staff members or colleagues if this has been happening for a while and you just haven’t noticed. If there’s a new or slow leak, it could be that your faucet needs a new washer.

  1. Turn off the water at the mains (you should always know how to do this, in case of an emergency).
  2. If water is dripping from the base of the tap where you turn the water on and off, then use the correct tool to unscrew the tap at the most suitable place. If you aren’t sure, don’t try to ‘copy MacGyver’ or become a plumber overnight – rather call a professional (like 24-7 Plumbing on 087 256 8915)!
  3. If you’re confident about what you’re doing, continue with this process – remember that water trapped in the pipe leading to the tap will be released, so watch out for a spurt of water.
  4. Inspect the washer and see if that’s the problem. If it is, replace with the same size and thickness of washer. Close up the piping neatly and tightly. Open the water mains then switch on the tap slowly. The leak should be gone.
  5. If the washer seems to be in good condition, then it may be something more complex, in which case, you will likely have to call in a specialist.

B. Leaking outdoor tap –pipes outside take a lot of beating from the weather.

  • Switch off the water at the mains, then carefully check if there is damage to the piping leading to the tap. You may get lucky and find the area of trouble.
  • If you cannot locate the problem (and it’s not a washer), then you should consider calling a plumber who can provide a leak detection service. Don’t dig up the parking area or landscaped area around your business!

What else should you check for?

a) Have a look at the water coming out of the tap. If it’s badly discoloured or smells awful, there’s a problem further into the plumbing system which you won’t be able to sort out with a simple DIY solution.

b) If the wall(s) is becoming lumpy or stained, or if the skirting board is rotting, then there is a fault in the wall plumbing. Make the call to your local plumber.

What are some of the reasons a pipe could be leaking?

  • Small shifts in the foundation – this is a normal occurrence over time, but there may be a bigger impact on your water lines, causing them to crack, or worse still, break apart.
  • High water pressure – this isn’t too much of a problem in South Africa as the municipality keeps a watch on the pressure, due to the scarcity of water resources. However, this can still occur and high speed water rushing through the pipe can lead to damaging wear and tear.
  • Tree and shrub roots – if tiny cracks appear in your garden pipes, water vapour is released into the surrounding soil. Roots will be attracted to this and may cause them to grow in the direction of the pipes. This will naturally create problems after some time.
  • Corrosion – in the past, many buildings were constructed using galvanised steel piping, which can be susceptible to rust. To help prevent this, piping used more often today is:
    • plastic pipes, are made up of high density polyethylene (or PE);
    • reddish ‘polycop’ piping (suitable only for cold water interior and below ground piping);
    • composite pipe – this is a modern, multi-layer pipe which is made from two layers of high-density polyurethane, with a middle layer of welded aluminium.
    • temperature changes – there can be extremes in temperature, especially in Gauteng during the winter months. This could cause a cracked and leaking pipe.

What are the lessons to be learned from a leaking pipe?

  • Don’t ignore a leaking tap or pipe. Take action right away, to prevent the damage getting worse.
  • If you aren’t sure what to do and/or the leak is in a difficult place to access, rather call someone who knows what they are doing and won’t end up costing you a fortune.
  • As with anything that is subject to wear and tear, keep a watchful eye out and try to do some maintenance on a regular basis.

Savvy Plumbing is part of the Boksburg-based Savvy Holdings Group, which has been around since 2012. Our experienced management and staff have collectively been in this industry for over twenty-five years, so you can be assured of knowledge, professionalism and technical know-how. Call us today on 087 806 6262 or email info@savvyplumbing.co.za or send us a message for help.