Keeping your home's plumbing in good shape is important for many reasons – slow-draining sinks make it hard to get the dishes done, and leaky pipes can cause water damage to your home. But the damage that plumbing problems can cause goes beyond just inconvenience and mess. Your home plumbing could actually be making you or your family members sick. Take a look at some of the ways that plumbing problems can cause serious illness and find out how to protect your health.

MRSA in the Drains

If you've heard of methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) it's probably because you read about an outbreak in a hospital or another institution. MRSA is an antibiotic-resistant staph infection that's been known to turn up in hospitals, nursing homes, and sometimes in daycares and schools. The symptoms often start out as skin irritations – red bumps that are warm to the touch, contain pus, and may be accompanied by a fever. If left untreated, the infection can spread to your bones, bloodstream, and organs. But what you probably don't know is that it may also be hiding in your home – possibly in your drains.

In one study of 35 homes, staphylococcus aureus was found in 34 of the homes, and MRSA was found in 9 of them. The bug showed up on a number of different surfaces, including countertops, faucet handles, and dish towels. However, researchers also found MRSA in kitchen drains. What this means is that it is possible to have MRSA and other similar bugs in your house, and if your drains are clogged or slow-draining, the germs may not be easily washed away. They could linger in the drains or in standing water that accumulates in your pipes, even after you've cleaned. The longer germs hang around in your drains, the more likely you are to be infected. Having clogs removed can reduce standing water and reduce the likelihood of getting sick. Also, research has found that MRSA can't build up on copper pipes, so if you're due for repiping, you may want to think about having copper pipes installed to help keep the germs away.

Mold Growth From Leaky Pipes

Not all pipe leaks are obvious. If a pipe located in a wall or under your sink springs a leak, it could be a while before you discover it. In the meantime, the damp conditions in the area around the leak will become a perfect breeding ground for mold. And mold is not just an annoyance to clean – exposure to mold can make you really sick.

For many people, the symptoms of mold exposure are similar to allergy or asthma symptoms. You might have wheeziness, a stuffed nose, red or itchy eyes, or a rash. In severe cases, you might run a fever, be short of breath, or develop a lung infection. If you notice these symptoms and can't find another cause for them, there's a good chance that you have mold somewhere in your home, and the likely culprit is a hidden leak. You'll need to have the leak fixed, and you may need mold remediation services to remove the mold and end the symptoms.

If you have reason to believe that your home plumbing is causing illnesses in your home, a local plumbing contractor can help. Taking care of a slow draining sink or a leaky pipe could be the key to keeping your family healthy. Contact a company like Trenchless Pipe Technologies for more info.