In the Santa Barbara leak detection business, we continue to see a variety of household problems that are mistaken for leaking pipes. While we don’t mind coming out for these easy fixes, we feel it is most ethical to share some of our knowledge with the customer. We want to keep the playing field as level as possible and don’t want any of our Santa Barbara neighbors to feel shorted by misinformation. So without further ado here are a few stories that might apply to your “impending plumbing disaster”. We hope they help someone with their next Santa Barbara leak detection whether in Santa Barbara, Goleta, Carpinteria, Summerland, or Solvang.
Goleta Leak Detection: An Evacuated Home and a Suspected Sewer Backup
Late last year, a panicked Goleta homeowner called us out to his home. He suspected a sewer line was leaking and had moved his family into a hotel. He had a crew ready to jackhammer the floor and wanted to know the soonest we could be there.
Upon our arrival, we detected the scent that had alarmed him. A pungent odor had indeed overtaken the home, but the home was bone dry. After outlining his septic system and performing a preliminary pressure test, we determined there was no leak in any of his drains or sewer lines. We decided instead to follow the smell, pinpointing it to one particular room. Upon closer inspection, we found a stain on the drywall. Behind it, a dead rat was rotting away. While the owner was certainly embarrassed, we were all glad to have the problem fixed.
Tip 1: A Sewer leak has a very specific smell
Anyway, the point of this story is that sewer leaks most often have a very specific smell of garbage and/or fecal matter. It’s very specific and will usually spread over time as the leak expands further. Although it’s an unpleasant reality, rats are a constant presence throughout Santa Barbara county. Even the cleanest of homes fall victim to infestation and the odor will always be cause for concern. A dead rat smells much more sour, like rotten meat. While we hope you don’t have to distinguish these smells for yourself, we hope you consider the possibility of a rat the next time your home is over taken with a mysterious pungent odor. There are many surprises in the Santa Barbara leak detection game and rats are certainly a consistent one.
Montecito Leak Detection: The Mysteriously Flooded Bathroom and Actual Plumbing Disaster
This past spring we located a leak in the bathroom of a Montecito Estate. Water was pooling under the bathroom floor for over a week. The estate manager already had a plumber demolish an entire tile bathroom wall and jackhammer down into the concrete foundation, but neither pointed to an obvious problem. Running out of ideas, the manager called Acme Detection. He explained how every morning the water reappeared and then quickly vanished.
Upon our arrival, it was clear the bathroom was going to need a complete renovation. We performed pressure tests with both air and gas, but no obvious signs of a leaking pipe emerged. Luckily, our boss Gary was able to trace the source of the water using a thermal imaging camera. With its’ heat map, the source of the leak was obvious; a bidet that would mysteriously shut on and off on its’ own.
Tip 2: Check your meter
It’s easy to get ahead of yourself when water is obviously leaking. However, patience is important. Your meter will tell you if you’re actively losing water. When you suspect a leak, the first thing you should do is turn off all the water and check the meter. If the dial is still moving, you have a leak and should call a Santa Barbara Leak Detection company.
At this estate, the meter was dead still with all the water off. This meant the leak was periodic, not constant. Periodic leaks are usually malfunctioning irrigation valves, an incorrectly set timer, or a bidet triggered by an unknown source. Remember that water doesn’t always show up right under or above the leak. It always takes the path of least resistance. It’s not uncommon for a leak to be 100 feet away from the pools of water appearing on your floors.
Solvang Leak Detection: Light Rain and Poor Insulation
Water is scarce throughout the Santa Barbara area. Any time it appears randomly is a cause for concern. One random appearance led to a leak detection call in Solvang from a home owner experiencing periodic carpet dampness.
Upon our arrival, the homeowner explained how water would mysteriously appear in his living room. It’s arrival was unpredictable, but it usually happened after rain. This lead him to think a broken drain pipe was underneath his home.
After pulling back the carpet and performing a quick inspection of the floor, it was determined there was no leak in the pipes. However our thermal imaging camera pinpointed the source of the leak in the back wall of the house. Upon closer inspection, it was clear that water was rolling down from the hill above, penetrating the exterior wall of his home.
Tip 3: If you suspect a drain leak, you can test it
A drain pipe leaks only when water travels down it. While it doesn’t rain much, you don’t have to wait for the weather to verify a Santa Barbara drain leak detection. Simply outline your drain’s usage with the water’s appearance and the results are usually self evident.
That’s all from here. We hope these stories can be of use and that you feel more self sufficient upon reading them. If you need additional help, check out our other articles or give us a call to set up an appointment for your next Santa Barbara Leak detection. Good luck and we hope your home is under control!