Friday, January 13, 2012

On Sink Leaks and the Odd Habits of the Modern Canine

My best leak detector used to be Bishop, my golden Labrador who passed away four years ago. Every canine has its quirks, its oddities and its habits and Bishop was no different in this regard. He wasn’t much for biting at flies or starting epic, saga-like fights with cats but he had an odd habit of lapping up any puddles he could find which, as you might imagine, led to some rather disgusting situations. Most of the time, however, Bishop was just fine licking up spilled water, soda or juice, and was around for long enough for me to feel assured that this was not necessarily a dangerous occurrence.

Our new dog, Guinness, a French bulldog, has more normal habits (humping pillows, chasing random beams of light etc.) and it now falls to me to be on the lookout for bathroom leaks, and all other home-improvement warning signs, for that matter. Most of the time, the surefire sign is a spot on your ceiling (for second-floor bathrooms) or just random puddles of water. Almost all leaks in bathrooms come from corroded, cracked or improperly installed P-Traps, especially if the P-Trap is metal. This is the reason that many NYC plumbers are now installing or replacing broken P-Traps with PTV P-Traps, which hold out for impressive stretches of time.

The last major leak I had to fix at a customer’s home, however, was a speedy valve problem. Speedy valves can be found on the ends of your hot and cold water lines and, in my case, the valve on the hot water needed to be replaced; a bad soldering job can also be blamed for speedy valves leaking. As much as the state of these valves and your P-Trap are important when diagnosing a leak, one of the bigger questions, actually, is if the leak is constant or intermittent. If it’s constant the problem is likely with your water line, which will require more work. In fact, Bishop fed off a water line leak for nearly a weak in his salad days, before I knew what I was doing when it came to plumbing.

Bishop was also a fan of the leaks that came out from under our old pedestal sink, and spent many a day performing the gross task of lapping up any moisture around the bottom ring of the pedestal. Many think that this has something to do with the inner mechanisms of a pedestal sink. The truth is that pedestal sinks are no different from other sinks, in terms of pipes; there is nothing inside your pedestal and all the pipes can be found directly under the faucet fixture, not below. I highly suggest you find a leak-seeking dog, if you can, but if you cant, this should be helpful enough when it comes to diagnosing your major sink leaks. After all, as much as you might wish it, your pooch can’t wield a wrench.