Plumbing issues come in different shapes and sizes, from dripping faucets to major pipe leaks that are capable of causing severe structural damage to a property.
Most plumbing problems, however, are minor and inexpensive and aren’t that difficult to remedy. With basic tools and a little know-how, you can fix many of them yourself. Just make sure to tackle these issues as soon as you notice them. Delaying repairs will only increase the risk of water damage or, worse, water-related disasters.
Below, we’ve compiled some of the most common plumbing issues. Some are relatively straightforward to deal with, while others almost certainly require the help of a professional plumbing repair.
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Taking the number one spot on this list of common plumbing issues is clogged drains.
Sink and shower drains handle a lot of waste, so clogging is almost inevitable. Food, fat, hair, and other foreign objects can build up in the pipes, making it harder for water to pass over time.
If the clogging isn’t severe, you can usually unblock drains using a plunger or with the baking soda + hot vinegar method. For deeper and more stubborn blockages, however, you may need to use a plumber’s snake or seek help from a plumbing professional.
That non-stop dripping sound coming from your faucet is not only annoying; it’s also a waste of water. And when left unaddressed for some time, it’ll run up your utility bill too.
Most of the time, all you have to do to stop the dripping is tighten a few connections or replace the worn-out washer and valve seat. This should be an easy fix for avid DIYers, but if you’re not sure how to go about it, choose the safer option: call in the pros.
Is there a puddle of water under your pipes? Then you probably have a leaking pipe problem on your hands. Pipe leaks are commonly a result of worn-out fittings or rust and erosion at the joints.
If it’s just a minor leak, you can close it by applying plumbers’ putty or wrapping the area with fiberglass repair tape. However, if leakage is more than a slow drip or if the pipe is showing visible signs of wear and tear, you may want to consult with a professional plumber as soon as possible.
You turn on the shower and the water coming out is barely a trickle. What could be the problem? Low water pressure, most probably.
Water pressure can be affected by the build-up of calcium or sediment on your faucet aerators. One quick fix to the problem would be to unscrew the aerator and soak it in vinegar overnight to remove the deposits.
If this solution fails to restore the flow, the issue might be with your pipes or water supply. In that case, you’d be better off calling a plumber to assess the problem.
If your toilet flushes slower than it used to, it could be clogged. Similar to drains, toilets can get clogged with paper, waste, and foreign materials — especially non-flushable items.
When toilets get clogged, you can usually dislodge the blockage with a plunger. However, if your toilet still isn’t running normally after a few tries or the bowl is starting to fill out, it’ll do you good to call a plumber right away.
Running toilets is another plumbing issue that many homes and establishments struggle with. Like dripping faucets, running toilets produce an irritating dripping sound that persists long after you’ve flushed the toilet.
A faulty flapper valve is the culprit behind most running toilets, so replacing it usually fixes the problem. Other times, however, a silent leak or sediment build-up could be the cause. A plumber can easily detect the problem and repair it in an instant.
Were you planning to take a relaxing hot shower but got doused with cold water instead? Chances are there’s something wrong with your water heater. It could be anything – from sediment build-up to a faulty thermostat.
Sometimes, flushing your water heater tank can solve the problem. But if you’re not comfortable troubleshooting your water heater, you can always contact a trusted plumbing service to do it for you.
The thing with plumbing issues is that they usually go undetected for a while. It’s only when the problem is too obvious or you’re suddenly hit with a huge water bill that you begin to notice them.
Left unchecked, minor issues can turn to major problems and end up really hurting your wallet. Regular plumbing inspection and maintenance can help ensure that your drains and pipes continue to work properly.
For the average person, plumbing is a tricky job. When faced with a plumbing problem that’s beyond your technical capabilities, it’s best to leave the repairs to the experts.
About the Author
Rachel Watson is the Senior Content Editor of Precision Air & Plumbing, a full-service HVAC, plumbing and home performance contractor operating in Chandler, Arizona. Rachel enjoys yoga and writing articles about how to make home living more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly.