Three Most Dangerous Leaks and How to Prevent Them
Household leaks can take many forms. Some, such as a dripping water faucet in an outside yard, are little more than a nuisance. But some leaks are so serious that in some cases they can cause debilitating health problems, expensive property damage, fires and even loss of life.
It is important, therefore, that every Arlington home owner is aware of the kind of leaks that can occur, how dangerous they can be, and what steps should be taken to ensure that they do not occur.
Here is a look at some of the most dangerous leaks and how to prevent them.
• Carbon Monoxide Leaks
Any appliance in your home that burns natural gas or propane — such as a gas furnace, gas stove or gas water heater — and that is poorly fitted or maintained can leak and thereby cause the release of a highly toxic gas called carbon monoxide to enter your house.
Even wood stoves that are poorly ventilated can cause carbon monoxide to leak into a home. Sometimes venting that is inadequate or ductwork that is faulty can prevent the carbon monoxide from escaping and allow it to build up in the house.
Carbon monoxide gas cannot be seen, smelled or tasted. But it can result in symptoms similar to the flu, such as headaches, difficulty breathing and even loss of consciousness. Prolonged exposure can cause serious health problems, including brain damage, or even death.
Such leaks are particularly dangerous in confined areas where the carbon monoxide can build up rapidly.
Carbon monoxide detectors available at hardware stores should be fitted on each floor of a house, especially near bedrooms. When the carbon monoxide reaches a certain level, the alarm will sound, warning the occupants of the house to move outside or to fresh air elsewhere in the house and call 911.
Take preventative measures.
However, the best plan is to avoid the alarm sounding in the first place.
Some preventive steps can be taken by a home owner. For example, never let anyone sleep in a room that has a gas appliance that is not connected to an outside vent. Or, should you notice an irregularity that leads you to suspect that carbon monoxide might be in danger of leaking into your house, call an expert to determine whether that is the case; do not wait for the alarm to sound to test whether your suspicions are valid.
Nevertheless, the wisest choice is to call a qualified plumber to conduct a thorough check to detect incipient problems. Have your gas furnace, heating system and water heater inspected every year. It’s a good idea also to check out your vents and chimney at the same time.
It is important that an Arlington home owner does not install or try to repair appliances that burn fuel. Always leave it to those who have experience and training to know what they are doing.
• Natural Gas Leaks
Natural gas appliances that are faulty or are fed by pipes that are leaking can cause gas to escape into your home. Unlike carbon monoxide, the gas itself is not poisonous, but the danger of an explosion is high. The simple lighting of a match or a fire starter can ignite the gas and cause a fire that can destroy the entire home. After all, the purpose of using the gas in the first place is to burn it in a controlled way to create heat.
An odorant added to natural gas enables you to smell it and the odor should, of course, be a warning sign to avoid igniting anything in the vicinity.
If you are aware of the source of the leak, such as a plate on the gas stove that has been turned on but not lit, take immediate action to stop it and introduce fresh air into the room. If the gas smell is still apparent after a while, or the source of the gas leak is not apparent, the best action to take is to call 911 immediately.
Check for signs of possible leakage.
As is the case with the potential release of carbon monoxide, you should take all steps you can to avoid a gas leak in your home from ever taking place.
In addition to having your gas appliances and systems inspected and serviced annually by a qualified plumber, check for any signs of corrosion, such as rust or green discoloring, on pipes and appliances. Have those spots checked by a certified plumber who can take steps to repair any potential damage.
• Water Leaks
Some water leaks are minor and easily solved, but others can be highly expensive and can even pose safety and health risks.
Consider these examples:
- The pipe carrying water to a washing machine can burst, causing water to flood the floor in minutes. Left unattended for even a relatively short time, the water can rise fast, causing damage not only to the floor, but also to the walls. Soon the water can spread to other rooms, ruining carpets and damaging furniture as it flows around the house or apartment.
- A faulty sprinkler system in an apartment or condo complex can burst, causing thousands of dollars in damage within a short time not only to the apartment itself but also to those below. The damage could take weeks to repair.
- A leaking pipe within a wall might go unnoticed for some time until mold and mildew build up on the walls. That build-up, in turn, can cause serious health issues, particularly to people who are highly sensitive or allergic to mold and mildew.
To prevent such water leaks, ask a plumber to conduct an inspection of your entire house, replace pipes where necessary and repair those that are in danger of leaking.
Take preventive action now.
To lessen the chances of any of these dangerous leaks from happening to you, call a licensed plumber who has the experience to determine where problems might lie and will have the knowledge and ability to attend to these problems before they result in a potentially catastrophic loss.
For quality services in your Arlington, VA home, call The Plumbing Dr at (703) 525-9280.