Plumbing system components aren’t meant to last forever, and that includes the water supply lines to your toilets, sinks, dishwasher and washing machine. In some cases, you may not notice a problem until you find water leaking from the damaged site. Upon inspection, you may realize the fixture itself is sound, but the water supply components are not. Sometimes the hoses themselves crack or the shutoff valves rust (aka “freeze” in place) – here’s what you need to do when that happens.
Identify the Leak Source
Begin by assessing the water damage. Clean up the leak site and any other water-damaged items or areas, and dry the area thoroughly. When you first notice the issue, it may be difficult to pinpoint the leak source depending on area accessibility or the amount of water present. By drying everything off, you can identify the exact source of the leak. In other cases, like with rusted shutoff valves, the source is more apparent (the presence of corrosion indicates water is slowly leaking out and causing the rust). Then you can move forward with addressing the problem. Keep in mind that this is an informational blog post and is not intended to replace a professional plumbing diagnosis.
Culprit: Cracked Water Supply Hose
When you find that the water supply hose is cracked, you’ll be unable to use that plumbing fixture until you replace the component. Discovering this is the source shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. Many rubber hoses deteriorate over time, often within three to five years. We advise replacing rubber hoses with stainless steel ones for your water supply lines to fixtures such as your washing machine, dishwasher, toilets and faucets and inspecting them annually.
How to Replace Cracked Water Supply Hoses
Replacing a broken water supply line requires purchasing a new stainless steel one that will fit your fixture (washing machine, dishwasher, toilet, faucets, etc.) and is of similar diameter and length as the old one. As with any plumbing repair, it’s best to begin by turning the house’s water off and running the fixture until the water clears from the pipes. Even then, keep extra towels handy.
Use a wrench to unscrew the water supply hose at the turn-off valve and again where it connects to the base of the fixture. Then, with the new stainless steel water supply hose, connect it to the fixture, then tighten the nut until it’s secure in place. Repeat the process with the other end of the hose until you’re confident it’s tightened enough. Test that it’s intact by turning the water back on and making sure it doesn’t leak.
Pro tip: Place paper towels beneath both ends of the new hose and check back to see if there’s any moisture present to ensure you’ve successfully replaced the water supply hose.
Culprit: Rusted Shutoff Valve
With the presence of a slow leak comes the accompanying corrosion that often rusts your shutoff valves in the “open” position. Over time, as rust spreads over the valve, leaking and resealing itself, the corrosion will make it nearly impossible to turn the handle. Particularly if your home has hard water, mineral deposits can build up and exacerbate the problem.
How to Resolve Leaking, Rusted Shutoff Valves
To be on the safe side, turn off the water supply to your home at the auxiliary valve and turn on the fixture to drain any leftover water in the pipes before attempting any resolution. Now you can begin. Above all, do not try to force the corroded valve to turn closed. Doing so can cause damage to the valve or pipe; you could possibly even break them. Wipe the area clean with a rag, then apply everyday white vinegar and let it sit. The acidity in vinegar helps eat away at the corrosion and rust. If you don’t have vinegar, make a paste of baking soda and water and apply it to the affected area. Be sure to scrub after each application and thoroughly rinse, clean and dry the components when finished.
After you’ve removed as much rust and/or mineral buildup as you can, then try to turn the valve off. Successfully turning off water to the fixture will reduce the potential for more leaking, which can worsen the problem. Then, try tightening the fitting. They can loosen over time, which is often the reason behind a slow leak. In some cases, tightening it will solve the leak and prevent rust from reoccurring. But if the valve is too old, it’s often best to replace it altogether.
Secure a matching replacement valve and fittings, check to ensure the water is turned off and begin. Use a wrench to unscrew the nut holding the component in place. After removing the bolt, compression rings and the valve itself, you can replace them with the new water shutoff valve and fittings. Tighten the connections until they’re secure, then you can run the water again while checking for leaks. We recommend turning on and off your supply line valves annually to ensure proper operation and inspect for future corrosion.
Contact Plumbing Professionals for Assistance
Leaks can be a hassle, especially when they occur at highly used fixtures like your toilet, faucets, washing machine or dishwasher. Pinpointing the source and stemming the flow of water is key, and so is determining the repairs or replacement components you need. When you need a professional plumber to inspect and replace your malfunctioning supply lines and values, reach out to our experienced team at Atlas Home Services. Our plumbing technicians can offer an efficient diagnosis and solution for your broken water supply components – contact us today.