The overflow pipe takes water from a storage tank or cistern inside your home to the outside. Its main purpose is to prevent flooding by releasing extra liquid via a separate channel directed towards a backup tank or outdoors to a body of water or different holding space. They’re one of the most important elements of your home’s plumbing system. However, when an overflow pipe is dripping or leaking, another issue might require your attention.

Many plumbing systems in your house have overflow pipes, including:

  • Baths and sinks
  • Central heating water tank
  • Coldwater tank
  • Toilet cistern

Here’s what you should know about overflow pipe leaking issues.

Why does it occur?

The most common reason for overflow pipe leaking is poor maintenance. If you don’t clean or inspect your overflow pipe, it can become clogged with sediment and debris, causing water to back up inside your septic tank. If the pipe is rusted or worn out from years of use, it can cause leakage.

A leak can also occur for overflow pipes in toilets if the float valve is faulty or stuck. These types of valves can be located in the cistern behind your toilet bowl, recognizable as the piece of equipment that floats on the surface as the cistern refills with water. These same devices are seen in cold water tanks and central heating expansion tanks. It’s a device that controls the water level and consists of a metal or plastic arm with a plastic ball on the end that floats on the water. If the valve isn’t moving, then water will continue to flow.

Another common factor is a broken coil; this is common in hot water cylinders or cisterns. A broken coil will allow the hot water from the feed to mix with the water in the cistern; this results in increased water pressure that can cause leaks.

Signs of a damaged overflow pipe

If you notice any of the following signs, your overflow pipe may be broken or damaged:

  • Water is leaking from the overflow pipe. This is often the result of holes or cracks in the pipe’s walls.
  • Water pooling around the overflow pipe. This might be a sign of too much pressure coming through. Usually, the water valve in the overflow pipe has become loose, and this causes increased pressure.
  • Water is leaking through the overflow pipe. There might be something blocking or restricting flow.

If you notice any of these issues, turning off the water feed and draining it is essential to avoid further problems. This will also help you determine what’s causing the issue. Depending on the issue, you might try to DIY a solution or hire a plumber to assess the situation.

How to prevent an overflow pipe leak

Regularly maintaining the overflow pipe and its proper functioning is an important step toward avoiding water damage. To prevent overflow pipe leaks, ensure you:

  • Regularly check for signs of damage
  • Check for leaks
  • Replace the overflow pipe if needed (when broken or worn down)
  • Keep the overflow pipe clean and free of debris

If you’re having issues with your overflow pipe, consider hiring a professional to look closer and help you fix the issue.

Written by Geraldine Orentas

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