How to Tell if You Have Sweating Pipes and Not Leaking Pipes

It may sound strange, but water dripping from the plumbing is not always a sign of leaking pipes. Often, condensation can build up so much that sweating pipes present the same symptoms as leaky plumbing. So how can you tell the difference?

Why Do Pipes Sweat?

Much like a cold drink on a hot day, water pipes running through a humid area end up covered with beads of water. This phenomenon is called sweating pipes. Wiping off the moisture build up will remove the water, but depending on the level of humidity, the dripping could be back in a short time – leading many homeowners to believe they have leaking pipes.

Testing for Prime Conditions

When you suspect that sweating might be a problem, test the humidity levels in the area. Pick up a relative humidity meter at the hardware store (wall mounted or handheld) and get a reading for the area around the pipes.

If the relative humidity is too high, use a dehumidifier to reduce the levels. This should also eliminate the water around your pipes. After using a dehumidifier, it may be a good idea to install foam pipe wrap insulation to reduce any future incidents of pipe sweating.

If the humidity testing shows that decent levels currently exist, you may have a problem with leaking pipes. At that point, you can call in a plumber to diagnose and repair the problem.