Causes of Common Plumbing Disasters

Posted Apr 6, 2017

What are some of the costliest repairs in your home? Costly can be characterized by lost money or lost time – or both. You may have experienced some of these so-called “disasters” and wondered what you could have done to prevent them. In particular, let’s talk about disasters of the wet variety – plumbing repairs.


It goes without saying that nothing is built to last. Parts and products will eventually wear out and need to be repaired or replaced. But the rate of repair or replacement has a lot to do with how well things are maintained, especially common plumbing fixtures and appliances in the home. In order to identify some of the disasters caused by plumbing fixtures and appliances, let’s identify the source of the problems – and their location in the home.

We spend a lot of time in the bathroom so let’s start there first. What disasters happen in the bathroom? At least three come to mind: running toilet, leaking shower head, and clogged sink (also found in the kitchen so let’s kill two birds with one stone here). First, the toilet.

A running toilet is annoying and wastes several gallons of water by the hour. It is often caused by a defective flapper inside the tank, not properly sealed and causing water to leak from the tank. Next, the shower head. Leaks often occur when something as simple as a small rubber washer is worn out, breaking the seal and allowing water to leak. Lastly, the clogged sink. The most common culprit of a clogged sink is something that will not decompose or wash away, namely human hair, bits of plastic or fingernails, etc.

All of these bathroom backups can cause extensive water damage to walls or floors. In the most severe cases, a bathroom’s structure can be compromised by something as small as a dripping faucet – if left unchecked over time.

The next place we spend a lot of time is in the kitchen, another prime area for plumbing maintenance. Two appliances that drive homeowners nuts (when malfunctioning) are garbage disposals and refrigerator ice makers.

First of all, garbage disposals are not made to dispose of everything. Utensils, plastics, bones and other goodies do not grind up but rather, bind up a disposal. A backed up disposal can shut down the sink drain and spill over its top. Just as annoying is a refrigerator icemaker, which depends on a plastic or copper tube for its water source. A break in the tube or crimp in the copper line can back up the water and cause a major leak behind or below the refrigerator. And like the bathrooms disasters, damaged flooring and walls can be the result.

Maybe the biggest plumbing disaster of all comes from something unseen by the naked eye: frozen water pipes in crawl spaces or attics. Water pipes in uninsulated areas can freeze when outside temperatures fall below the freezing mark. Often, homeowners are unaware of the problem because they are away from the home for extended periods of time or have failed to properly insulate pipes, crawl spaces, or attics. Frozen pipes can burst, causing extensive damage and lead to an even more dangerous situation: mold growth.

How can you avoid common disasters? Make sure your fixtures and appliances are maintained and if needed, serviced by a professional plumber. You may also want your plumber to give you a whole-house inspection, which can pinpoint potential trouble spots where your next plumbing disaster might be brewing.  Call Milani Plumbing, Drainage & Heating with any questions.

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