Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Plumbing Leaks in crawlspace
Plumbing leaks can wreak havoc on a floor structure. Water pipe breaks and sewage drain leaks are likely to occur in a home's lifetime. It isn't always the case, but homes with crawlspaces seem to be the largest culprit for plumbing leaks. I mainly see 2 problem sources for leaks, environment conditions of the crawlspace, and installation errors.
The crawlspace environment in most cases is very humid at certain times of the year. In the spring, rain water leaks into the crawl; and in the summer, hot, humid air is vented into the crawlspace. This humidity effects the plumbing in mainly 2 areas. The first is the condensation on the cooler surface such as your copper water pipes. If the excess flux is not properly wiped off of the joints of the copper pipe, then green oxidation will occur which is basically what rust is to iron. The humidity in the crawlspace will speed up this process causing pinhole leaks in the pipes. The second is minor, but I have seen it over and over again. The straps holding sewage pipes and water lines up off the floor are metal in some cases. This thin metal will rust and break causing the plumbing pipes to fall, sag, or bend; thus rupturing or breaking the pipe. This is why it is so important to encapsulate your crawlspace. Encapsulating and dehumidification will prevent a humid crawlspace in all climates.
Another problem source for crawlspace plumbing leaks is installation errors by plumbers. Crawlspaces are not ideal working conditions and "some" plumbers get a little sloppy in their installation. Pipes are not hung properly, pipes are "kinked" at an angle going through the floor, excess flux is not properly removed from joints, floor joists are cut in half for installation of sewage drains, and on and on and on the list can go. The picture above is 3 weeks after a plumber supposedly fixed a plumbing leak. Its actually still leaking as I'm writing this post. The plumber didn't get into the crawlspace to check if it was still leaking after he "supposedly" fixed it up top. He said he didn't need to go down there. Watch out Cincinnati!
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Thanks for reading the rambling thoughts of a crawlspace inspector,
Larry Ralph jr.