No matter how fastidious you are in regards to household maintenance, you will probably encounter a plumbing problem in your home at some point. Here is a brief explanation of why plumbing issues arise and how you can identify them.
A leaking pipe can do a huge amount of damage to your property in a very short space of time; in addition to ruining plastering, it can also encourage the growth of mould, mildew and wet rot. Corrosion is often the culprit, particularly in older homes which have plumbing systems which are made from types of metal that are less resistant to rust. Over time, the process of corrosion will thin the casing of a pipe, eventually resulting in the formation of a hole that allows water to escape.
In some cases, however, a leak can spring because the pipe has collapsed, rather than corroded. This can occur if there is construction work taking place on the property or if there are foundation issues (such as subsidence) which have caused the soil beneath the house to shift. Moving soil can place extra pressure on the plumbing system's pipes, sometimes to the point where sections of the piping will collapse and rupture.
A leaking pipe is not always easy to detect. However, there are a few signs which you can watch out for; things like puddles accumulating under sinks, a smell of mould lingering in the air or wet rings and a reduction in water quality all can be indicators of a rupture in your plumbing system. If you do notice any of these signs, call an emergency plumber in your local area, such as 24/7 trades; as noted earlier, it takes very little time for a leak to do a great deal of damage to your home.
In theory, your home's water pipes should be airtight. In reality, however, this is not always the case. Sometimes, small bubbles of air can form inside a pipe. These bubbles will always rise to the water's surface; when this happens in constricted sections of piping (such as in the middle of a U-bend) a pocket of air (known as an airlock) can be created, which prevents water from moving forward through the rest of the system. In some instances, this will simply reduce the amount of water flow. However, if the air pocket is quite large, it may cause a complete blockage.
If an airlock has formed in your plumbing system, you may hear a tapping or knocking noise when you turn on your taps. Additionally, you might notice that the water coming out of the faucets is sputtering, rather than flowing normally. To fix this issue, you will probably need to have a plumber drain your home's system.