What Is The Difference Between Sweating Pipes and Leaking Pipes?

plumbing What Is The Difference Between Sweating Pipes and Leaking Pipes?
Water on the outside of your pipes is always a bad sign. But before you dread a sizable plumbing bill or dig out your soldering kit, think about this – you may have sweating pipes instead of leaking pipes.
Sounds like a problem the local spa should have, doesn’t it? But sweating pipes are actually a common occurrence and, depending on the humidity levels, may produce as much water in your walls, ceilings and cabinets as leaky pipes do.


What Causes Sweating Pipes?
Think about how much water condenses on the outside of a cold glass of beer during a hot summer day. That same scenario can happen with your plumbing.
Cold water pipes run through hot and humid areas of your home. And much like that glass, the pipes can develop a layer of heavy condensation or “sweat.” A lot of humidity equals a lot of sweating, so much so that it may actually drip off the pipes and resemble a leak.
Take a Simple Test
Grab a relative humidity tester from the local building center and run a few tests. If the humidity levels in the room are off the charts, chances are the water you see is simply sweating pipes. Get a dehumidifier running and put some foam pipe wrap around the plumbing to prevent the problem from happening again.
If the levels are within an acceptable range it’s more likely that you have leaking pipes. By drying off and carefully examining the pipes, you may be able to find the source and make a quick repair.
Otherwise call in the plumber and start thinking about that repair bill again.
Sweating pipes are not a serious problem, except for the fact that they create potentially dangerous moisture levels in your home. This can lead to mold and mildew issues or damage to drywall and framing.
Diagnosis and correction are fairly straightforward and not terribly expensive. Then, if you really want to experience sweaty plumbing, get over to that local spa and enjoy.
Photo courtesy of flickr/A is for Angie