Authors pickup truck in front of a winterized and frozen-in building in upstate New York (C) Daniel FriedmanTypes of Plumbing Leaks
Plumbing Leak Diagnosis Tips

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Types of leaks in water supply or drain piping:

This article describes the different types of plumbing leaks that can occur in building supply piping or drain piping.

Knowing just what kind of leak is occurring in a building helps pinpoint the problem and also helps specify the necessary plumbing repair.

We discuss: Water supply pipe and well pipe leak types & diagnosis. Types of plumbing leaks helps find leaks in buildings. When where, why, and how to check for & fix water supply and drain leaks. How to de-winterize a building and restore the plumbing & heating systems to service

Watch out: a water supply leak, left un-attended, can cause catastrophic damage to a building, wetting floors, walls, ceilings, even filling a basement such as could have happened to the flood-damaged home in the photo above.

We also provide a MASTER INDEX to this topic, or you can try the page top or bottom SEARCH BOX as a quick way to find information you need.

Types of Water Supply & Drain Pipe Leaks - How to Find Plumbing Leaks in buildings

Water seeping from a wall, traced to leaky water supply main (C) Daniel FriedmanUnderstanding the types of water leaks that occur in building piping can help you find or watch out for leaks that are not so obvious when water is first turned on in a building. Keep in mind that these are by no means all of the building leaks that can occur.

Others include leaky shower pans, leaky air conditioning condensate drains, bad sump pump drains, leaky water tanks, leaky water heaters, leaks at tankless coils, and leaks from outside the building from roof runoff or surface runoff. Here we describe the differen ttypes leaks that occur in building piping.

Understanding what's going on with a pipe leak can help avoid making matters worse as well as help directing the repair.

The water seeping from the paster wall shown at left was a leak that could teach us about water supply piping leaks and repairs: water was just seeping out of the wall until someone got curious and "poked" the wall to make a larger hole.

Then water came spewing out of the wall from a burst main water supply pipe connected to municipal water.

Don't do that! Fortunately someone had the presence of mind to jam a stick into the hole to reduce the rate at which the buildig was flooding. Details of this hullabaloo and how it was repaired are at REPAIR BURST LEAKY PIPES.

[Click to enlarge any image]

Article Contents

Types of Leaks in Water Supply Piping

Corroded leaky copper water pipes (C) Daniel Friedman

Types of Leaks in Building Drain Piping

Badly corroded, leaky kitchen sink strainer assembly (C) Daniel Friedman

Also see THAWING FROZEN PIPES which addresses how to find frozen and burst pipe leaks in buildings,


Types of Leaks at Plumbing Fixtures

Toilet, one piece design (C) Daniel Friedman

Plumbing fixtures (sinks, tubs, showers, toilets) may produce other leaks that are not due to a leaky water supply or drain pipe leak. Here are some examples to look for:

Bath tub overflow leaks into wall and ceiling (C) Daniel Friedman at

Dripping faucet (C) Daniel FriedmanFaucet leaks: sink, tub, shower, or laundry sink faucets may leak continuously by dripping into the fixture sending that water down the drain system. But such leaks can still cause problems by flooding a septic system (in severe cases) or by causing freeze damage to drain pipes in cold climates.

A more odious faucet leak can occur when the faucet valve stem packing fails.

Loose toilet base or bad wax ring leaks around the toilet (C) Daniel Friedman at

Well Piping Leaks

Old wells, lots of things to fix (C) Daniel FriedmanOur article on this topic is found at WELL PIPING LEAK DIAGNOSIS. Excerpts are below.

Well pipe leaks can be tricky to find as the pipe is usually buried for most or even all of its course between well and building. However there are symptoms that can point to a well pipe leak.

Water will leak out of a well pipe at a bad connection, perforation, or cracked pipe when the well pump is running, particularly if the water system uses a submersible pump that is located in the well itself.

If you have this problem you may find a wet spot in the ground near the well piping, provided that the pipe is close enough to the surface.

You will also notice that the well pump is running more often than normal, and that your "apparent" water usage may have increased. Some people even report finding a "water fountain" or geyser in the lawn at a burst water supply pipe from both private wells and from a municipal water main.

Air may leak into a well water pipe at a bad connection, perforation, or other damage when the well pump stops running, particularly if the leak problem is combined with a defective check valve or foot valve in the piping system.

The result may be air discharged from plumbing fixtures (see AIR DISCHARGE at FAUCETS, FIXTURES), improper air charge in the water pressure tank, or loss of pump prime. Short cycling of the water pump or loss of pump prime may result as well.

At WATER PRESSURE PROBLEM DIAGNOSIS TABLE we note that a possible explanation for loss of building water pressure, or loss of well pump prime can be air leaking into a well piping line, as well as water leaking out of the well pipe.


Continue reading at REPAIR BURST LEAKY PIPES or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.

Or see LEAK TYPES SUPPLY or DRAIN PIPE FAQs - questions & answers posted originally at this article.


Or see LEAK CAUSES in WATER PIPING - what causes leaks in metal piping?

Or see WELL PIPING LEAK DIAGNOSIS - how to figure out if there is a leak in the well piping system

If you are de-winterizing or are thawing frozen piping see Thawing Frozen Pipes which addresses how to find frozen and burst pipe leaks in buildings without causing a catastrophe

Suggested citation for this web page

LEAK TYPES, WATER SUPPLY or DRAIN PIPES at - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.


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