I am a former Vietnam-era AF air navigator with degrees in History and Economics. Areas of interest include aviation and military history.
An Annoying Dripping Sound
September 3, 2011
The drip-drip of a leaking faucet or running toilet is both annoying and expensive as the water that is steadily going down the drain is not free.
In the interest of avoiding a large water bill as well as silencing the annoying dripping noise, it is best to get this fixed quickly.
When the problem is simply a dripping faucet or running toilet the solution is usually simple and inexpensive.
One can usually fix a running toilet by removing the cover of the tank and adjusting the chain that runs from the flush handle to the rubber stopper at the bottom of the tank.
Occasionally, a new chain and/or stopper is needed but these can be purchased for a few dollars at any hardware or home building supply store.
Similarly, a leaking faucet can usually be fixed by simply replacing a worn washer on the faucet, although occasionally one has to to buy and install a new faucet. But again, the cost is not that much.
While the above two are usually simple and inexpensive do it yourself (DIY) projects, other leaks can be major problems.
I encountered this one night when I was home alone and the house unusually quiet.
The Sound of Dripping Water But No Leaky Faucets
Returning from a trip to the bathroom in the master bedroom of our townhouse I heard an annoying dripping sound.
Going back to check the bathroom, I found no dripping from the faucets or exposed pipes on the sink or shower and nothing from the toilet.
The drip-drip sound continued. However, as before, there was no evidence of any leaks. I even checked the floor around the toilet where the dripping sound was coming from, but it was dry.
While I tried to ignore the sound, I was haunted by the fear that the sound was coming from behind the wall and had visions of hidden flooding, mold and an expensive repair job.
My fears proved true when I shut off the intake valve for the toilet and flushed it thereby removing all water from the toilet.
I then put my ear to the wall behind the toilet. I heard the drip and concluded that I had a leaking pipe behind the wall.
Going online I found a number for a 24 hour plumbing company.
I called, but, when I explained the problem, the person answering asked some questions and concluded that the leak was probably minor.
I was advised to wait until morning when they would dispatch a plumber at their lower day rates rather than the more expensive emergency night rates.
A Plumber was Called
The plumber came first thing in the morning. After shutting off the toilet and removing the tank, he proceeded to cut two holes in the wall before he was able to discover the source of the leak.
Fortunately, the leak was minor having resulted from a connector having sprung a leak.
The leak was small, and while there was a small pool of water at the base, which was the cement slab on which the house rested, it was not yet large enough to seep through the base of the wall into the bathroom itself.
Also, while there had been some spray from the leak, the area it hit was small and absorption minimal. This was good as I was concerned about mold growth and/or rotting of the wood but neither were evident.
The Pipes in Our Home are Polybutylene
Lead has been the metal of choice in the making of water pipes for centuries.
However, health concerns and economics have resulted in different materials being used for pipes in recent decades in the United States.
In fact, lead has been so closely associated with plumbing for so long that our word for both plumbing and plumbers comes from the ancient Latin word plumbum which means lead.
However, the pipes in most homes and other buildings constructed in the past half century or more are now made of copper, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), Polybutylene (PB) or similar materials.
I already knew that our home had Polybutylene pipes and was a little concerned due to stories I had heard about problems with this material springing leaks.
The plumber assured me that the pipe looked good and it was just a small connector piece that had broken.
This observation by the plumber, plus what I had previously learned about Polybutylene pipes reassured me.
My previous research indicated that having Polybutylene pipes should not be a problem as that material is good.
The problems with Polybutylene pipes are usually the result of improper installation.
Since our townhouse is close to 30 years old and with no evidence of leaks during the three decades since the house was built, I have assumed that our plumbing was installed properly.
Concerns about Possible Mold Growth
With the leak fixed, there was still the problem of the two holes in the wall.
It took a couple of weeks before I could get the handyman who I usually call for jobs that are bigger than I can handle to come and replace the drywall in the two holes left by the plumber.
I used part of this time to help dry the wood thoroughly by running a fan on it for a few days.
At the advice of a friend who had previously had a mold removal company, I mixed some laundry bleach and water in a spray bottle. Putting on goggles to protect my eyes, I sprayed the exposed area behind the wall thoroughly with the bleach mixture.
There was no water damage to the wood, but I wanted to kill any mold spores with the bleach mixture and drying of the area to prevent the growth of mold behind the wall.
Mold behind walls is not only a health hazard but a major expense to get rid of once it gains a foothold and spreads.
Bathroom is Now Good as New
Wanting to keep our expenses to a minimum, I painted the wall after it had been fixed and then attempted to put the toilet back together.
Before I could put the toilet back together I had to replace a couple of gaskets but these only cost a couple of dollars at the local Home Depot.
Unfortunately, the toilet began leaking when I got it back together and I was unable to find and fix it. So, the plumber had to be called back. He discovered a problem with one of the parts inside and quickly fixed it.
What I originally feared would be a major and very expensive project turned out to be a minor project involving little expense.
We were without the use of the toilet in our master bedroom bathroom for about three or four weeks, but that was a minor inconvenience.
The total cost ended up being a little over two hundred dollars by the time we were finished.
Our bathroom is now good as new.
Do it Yourself Plumbing
Links to My Other Hubs on Home Projects
- An Intelligent Toilet
Toto Intelligent Toilet automatically analyzes a persons urine during normal urination. Data saved and can be tracked and analyzed using Kenko Kanri Kun health management software on home PC.
- Fixing a Leaking Faucet with a Digital Camera
- How-to Select a Kitchen Paint Color
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2011 Chuck Nugent
Chuck Nugent (author) from Tucson, Arizona on April 15, 2014:
You have some good tips for limiting the damage from a plumbing problem until you can get the problem repaired. Taking the lid off the tank on the toilet and lifting the chain will stop the rising water. You can also turn the knob on the small pipe running from the wall to the toilet tank - this also shuts off the water to a toilet. And the turn off knob in the front yard will shut of all water coming from the main water line to the pipes leading to your house thereby shutting off all water to your house.
Michele Kelsey from Edmond, Oklahoma on April 11, 2014:
I have a bad habit of using too much toilet paper and overflowing the toilet. I've done this all my life! Confession time!!! LOL.
However, being that you get that "uh oh....the toilet water is rising...." feeling, I have learned some tricks! Of course the plumber stopper thingy is a must, but there is a chain that in the tank if you pull it up, you can stop the water. Also, in the front yard of one of my old houses, there is a pump thingy (like my technical terms?) that you can turn the handle or knob or something and it shuts the house's water off.
Anyway, just an FYI about my plumbing tricks! hee hee. I might not be wise, but those 3 tricks have got me out of a few jams.
Chuck Nugent (author) from Tucson, Arizona on April 05, 2014:
misslong123 - Thanks for sharing and I am glad you enjoyed this Hub. As a homeowner myself, I have learned about many things and how to fix and maintain them. I have also learned how to determine which things I am capable of fixing and which need a professional as well as determining when it makes more sense economically to hire someone else to fix a thing quickly than to spend hours of valuable time fixing it myself.
Michele Kelsey from Edmond, Oklahoma on April 03, 2014:
You are so right on the importance in calling a plumber. In the course of owning a house my husband and I learned how to fix a lot of plumbing issues ourselves and eventually how to prevent them from happening but at some point you gotta face the facts. You can only do so much yourself. Sometimes you really do need a professional!
Adam on November 10, 2013:
Howdy chuck, had some time fixing it yeah?. Glad you done it well, it means we could it done it too. But in my case can't do it alone. Thanks Chuck!
Robin Edmondson from San Francisco on September 06, 2011:
I had no idea that plumber came from the latin word lead! Very interesting. Thanks for sharing your story. I'm so glad that you had it fixed fairly inexpensively and early so that you didn't have to deal with mold issues. Thanks for the useful information!
DorthyJane on September 05, 2011:
Had a "connector" break inside our bathroom wall 10 years ago in February. We were out of town and it destroyed the entire bottom floor of our home as water rushed down the stairs until my son discovered it.
Now we shut the water off before we go away.
Ghaelach on September 05, 2011:
Your story reminds me of my problems with pipe leaks.
I live in an eight floor appartment block on the forth floor and had three leak problems in one year. The block was built in the middle 1970s.
The leaks all came from above my place, so i got it all and so did the families below me.
As this is now an insurance job everyone is pushing the blame over to the next. It's still not sorted and we still have a few brown dry wet marks in different rooms.
Glad your's was a minor problem.
India Arnold from Northern, California on September 04, 2011:
Chuck, very glad you were able to get the leak fixed absent of any prolonged mold and mildew issue. What a hassle to have another service person come out to fix the holes the plumber made,...just goes to show you plumbing is a huge challenge! Enjoyed your hub a great deal. Thank you for sharing your story and information.
Chuck Nugent (author) from Tucson, Arizona on September 04, 2011:
Cardisa - the rest of the family was out that night and I was just reading a book which is probably why I heard the dripping. However, I could hear it outside the bathroom as well as in the bathroom so the noise had some volume to it.
Thanks for pointing out the errors. I have fixed those and a couple of others I found as well.
Carolee Samuda from Jamaica on September 04, 2011:
Hi Chuck, glad that leak didn't cause any mold to start goring. You are pretty good to hear that leak. Many people would have missed it.
BTW Chuck, your 4th and 5th paragraphs are repeated as the 6th and 7th. Just thought I'd let you know.