A burst pipe is one of the worst things for homeowners to be faced with; the damage the escaping water can cause will quickly escalate as the relentless torrent pours through your home. As such, it is probably a lot easier to relax when a water pipe bursts outside of your home, or underground, as such places do not directly affect you. But what if a pipe should burst and you have no knowledge of it?
A slowly growing menace
It is perfectly possible for an underground pipe to develop a leak but not disrupt the flow of water to your home significantly enough to be readily noticeable. Initially, this will not cause any real damage, but if left unattended then the problems will soon start to mount up. Being underground, there may well be no easy way to find the problem, but if you notice even a slight drop in water pressure then you should first check what you can, before calling a water pipe leak detection service to check over the rest of your pipes. There is of course, the chance that the drop in water pressure is completely benign and nothing to worry about, but if it is a leak the damage can become very serious.
Disappearing beneath your feet
The problem with water is that it always needs somewhere to go and it is very hard to contain. Most natural materials found in the ground allow a greater or lesser degree of water penetration, and even it finds something that doesn’t allow it through, the water will simply build up until it can find another outlet. This will manifest itself as an underground stream from your leaking pipe into the ground which will slowly but surely begin to wash small parts of the soil and earth away with it to form a cavity. This is a miniaturised version of how underground rivers and lakes are formed; a water source constantly penetrating through a more permeable area of the ground. If this is allowed to continue for a prolonged time the cavity will increase in size and it will start to destabilise the ground above it. This is how sinkholes are formed and in an extreme scenario this could undermine the foundations of your home and literally bring the walls crashing down.
If in doubt…
Of course, the idea of your house collapsing into the ground because of a leaky pipe is an extreme one; but it is very possible, if highly unlikely. As with many facets of homeownership, the best mantra to have is “if in doubt, find out”. This could well mean calling in the professionals, such as Australian Locating Services, needlessly; but a the cost of checking would always outway the cost of repairing damage if there is an issue and it is left unattended. It’s no understatement to say that leaky pipes are no fun for anyone, but don’t let the hassle of dealing with it cause you to, potentially quite literally, undermine yourself.