Help, My Kitchen Floor is All Wet, Now What?
The majority of home owners will be treated to the sound of dripping water, or the puddling of water on the kitchen floor during their home owner experience. The reason that the kitchen appears to always have a plumbing issue, is due to the fact that there are several different water supplies and water piping in the kitchen, as well as appliances and fixtures that have water connections. Each of these appliances, fixtures, or water connections can all leak. The longer the kitchen has been in operation and the older the appliances, fixtures and all the connections, the more likely the chance of a water leak. There are several general considerations that all homeowners should be aware of, and concepts that they should understand to reduce the stress of discovering water on the kitchen floor or awakening to the sound of dripping water.
1.) The first and primary stress reducer is to understand where the water shut off is for the various water using appliances, fixtures and connections in the kitchen. In most cases, there are small valves located on all of the water connections. These valves are normally under the kitchen sink, and can be visually seen by crawling under the counter with a flashlight and verifying each water valve. It is an excellent idea to hang a ribbon off each valve, to aid in finding the valve under duress, as well as keeping a small LED flashlight under the sink for instantaneous illumination. The valves for the hot and cold water to the kitchen sinks will be found under the countertop that the sink is mounted in. The dishwasher water is normally another valve in the vicinity of the sink valves, and can be identified by the long normally flexible piping that connects the dishwasher with the water line under the sink.
2.) Find the primary shut off for the home. This valve is normally immediately after the water line enters the home, from the street or well. There will always be a primary valve on the main supply water line, which can be turned off, to totally stop all water from flowing within the home. Awareness of the location of this valve is recommended.
3.) In most homes there will be a hot water tank or heater assembly that will have cold water entering and hot water exiting the system. There will be valves at both these locations of cold water entering and hot water leaving. These valves are in place to allow the segregation of the hot water tank or heater, for maintenance and replacement. Either of these valves will also stop the hot water in the home.
4.) If the home has a well system, there will be cold water tank. This tank will have a valve at the entry of the water into the tank as well as a valve at the outlet of the tank. Both of these valves will turn off the cold water into the home.
FIND ALL OF THE WATER VALVES IN THE HOME IDENTIFY THEM AND LABEL THEM!
This procedure will reduce the stress on the entire household when the kitchen floor is wet, or that dripping of water is heard!
Where are the most common areas of water issues in the kitchen?
1.) The first and most common problem is the deterioration of the flexible piping or tubing that connects the kitchen sink or sinks with the primary water supply, both hot and cold. These flexible pipes are located between the valves of the hot and cold water supply to the intake fittings on the faucet. In some cases, the faucets come with flexible tubing permanently connected to the underside of the faucet. If this is the case, the replacement of the entire sink is recommended, if the flexible connections start to leak. Normally, the leak will be a pin prick in the line, resulting in a spraying effect of water under the countertop. This type of leak will cause water to spray all over and will cause a flood in the kitchen. The easiest method of stopping this water leak is to turn the valve off under the sink for either the hot or the cold water, whichever is leaking.
2.) The second most common situation that will cause leaks in the kitchen is the failure of the faucet fittings and washers to remain watertight. The constant movement of the kitchen faucet will eventually cause worn washers and connections, possibly causing water to leak and drip down under the sink. This type of leak will be a constant drip and will not be as immediately damaging as a leak in the flexible tubing of the water supply.
3.) Another very common leak is the failure of the sanitary drain line exiting the bottom of the sink. This leak could occur at the connection of the sink and the sanitary line at the sink drain. Or the leak can occur almost anywhere along the sanitary line from the bottom of the sink to the entry of the sanitary line into the wall under the sink itself. In many cases, the P trap will be leaking due to age, failure of the connections, or a crack in the P trap due to brittleness. If the leak is occurring due to anything that relates to the draining of water from the sink, the elimination of water in the sink will stop any additional leaking.
4.) The dishwasher also requires water. In most instances the water is supplied from the primary water line under the kitchen sink and connects, with a valve into the dishwasher. Dependent upon the type of dishwasher, the connection can be to the cold or the hot water. This line is normally a flex line that can also fail. In the same type of scenario as the flexible connections for the sink, this line can spring a pin hole leak causing a spraying of the water under the counter. This water leak can be stopped by simply turning off the valve that controls the water to the dishwasher.
5.) The dishwasher can also cause other types of leaks. The waterline that enters the dishwasher is in many instances under the chassis of the dishwasher. If the waterline under the dishwasher starts to fail, the water can accumulate under the dishwasher and is not detectable until the water actually drips down into the level below the dishwasher location, or starts to puddle on the floor. In many instances, this leak can be very slow and is easy to ignore. DO NOT IGNORE!! Water cannot be ignored without causing other issues.
6.) A dishwasher also relies on a type of retaining vessel that holds the water in the dishwasher as it washes the dishes. This area of the dishwasher can start to leak due to deterioration, a crack or casketing that fails. Again, this type of water leak is easy to ignore due to the fact that the water leaking only occurs when the dishwasher is actually running. DO NOT! Ignore this water.
7.) If you have other types of kitchen appliances that require water, they can all leak. The instant hot piece of equipment, mounted under the kitchen counter needs to have a water feed. This feed can leak due to deterioration or failure of any of the casketing or flexible connections. The water connection to your ice maker located within the refrigerator, or a separate ice making appliance. Any device that requires water as a supply can leak.
8.) Don’t forget the washing machine; this is also an appliance that uses water in large measures. In most instances, the washing machine has a pan under the washing machine itself that is drained into the sanitary line of the structure. This pan is intended to catch any water that may accumulate under the washing machine. If the washing machine tub starts to leak or a hose leaks, there is a pan that is designed to catch this water. However, if you do not have a pan located under the washing machine, any leaks can cause damage and mold. It is important to make sure both flexible hose connections, that supply both hot and cold water, to the washing machine are maintained. If there is any question regarding the integrity of these hoses, they must be replaced immediately. If one of these hoses breaks, when no one is in the home and the water is not turned off, a catastrophe could occur. It is mandatory that the water always be turned off at the wall, or at the supply to the washing machine. Failure to perform this task, and the subsequent leakage of the flexible hoses, will cause a significant issue.
The most important aspect of managing any leaks in the kitchen is the ability to shut the water off. This is the reason that you should, as a homeowner, know where the valves are that will shut off the water. In the most desperate situation, when nothing else will work, an emergency call to your local water company will eventually shut the water off. If you have public water, there is a water valve that is installed either in the street or at the curbside that will allow the water company to shut the water off in an emergency.
It is important to understand that it is very easy to procrastinate and not fix a reoccurring leak. The water still works and it appears that you can simply allow the water to accumulate and eventually dry up. This is NOT the case! Water will cause substantial damage to the floor, the ceiling and if left unchecked will cause structural damage. In addition, water promotes mold, and I the case of leaks that occur under the countertop or under the dishwasher, the darkness in addition to the moisture will perpetuate mold growth.
If you have a leak, FIX IT NOW!! This is important and could influence the health of your entire home.
Even if the fix will cost you substantial money, it is very important that all water leaks or moisture accumulation is taken care of immediately! Damage, mold and additional deterioration can result from any procrastination regarding water leaks.
If you cannot fix the problem yourself, hire a professional!