Common Plumbing Problems & How To Fix Them

There are several common plumbing problems that are relatively easy to solve if you catch them early. In addition to that, taking preventative measures (regular inspection and care) will reduce the chances of the same problem happening again.

Most of these issues are easily solved by the homeowner.  For other issues, it’s better to consult with a professional before attempting to repair yourself. The first step is to understand what issues you may encounter and how to handle them. 

Clogged drains and clogged toilets are the most popular. Next on the list would be the toilet that won’t stop running. Leaky faucets, faulty water heaters, and low water pressure follow closely behind.  They are all caused by different things, but equally annoying problems to encounter. 

Based on usage and age of your home, you are likely to run into one of these issues at some point down the road.  It’s completely normal.  When you are repeatedly dealing with the same issue on a frequent basis, it’s time to consider a replacement or further investigation with a professional plumber.

Down the Drain

The first sign of the beginnings of a clogged drain is a slow drain.  A slow drain is caused by a partial blockage of your drainpipe.  This could be anything from food to hair to inanimate objects blocking the drain.  When the drain is clogged, you will notice that the water is not going down the drain at all. Instead, it is backing up when you are running the water or taking a shower. 

With respect to a clogged toilet, the signs are more dramatic.  Not only will the water not drain, but it will continue to run and could possibly overflow.  That is the moment you hope you know where the shut-off valve is for your toilet.  It’s typically on the side. You can’t miss it. Just turn it clockwise (remember: left to loose, right to tight!) until it’s somewhat tight. 

The toilet will stop running at that point. Clearing the blockage typically restores your drains or toilet back to normal with a little DIY work (have a plunger handy), or a visit from a plumber if you’re unable to dislodge the clog.

In toilets, the problem often comes when waste or other objects cannot move through the pipe, making it difficult or impossible for water to flow past the blockage and down the pipes. Today’s toilets are much more powerful and use much less water than they did 20 years ago.  So, if your toilet is circa 1990’s or older, it’s probably time to consider upgrading to newer, more modern technology.

Preventing Clogs

Avoid clogs by making sure nothing but dissolvable waste goes down the toilet.  You can check out our list of unfriendly items here in our blog. Also be advised that children have been known to drop toys or other items down the toilet.  It’s best to don a glove and retrieve those items yourself rather than try to flush them down the toilet. 

In the shower, a hair catcher is a life saver.  The average human loses 50-100 strands of hair each day! Based on that statistic, you can imagine how many strands go down the drain with every shower.  Keeping loose strands out of the sink can also help you avoid a slow or clogged sink drain.

Should I Call a Plumber?

If you’ve attempted to clear a clog with a plunger and it just isn’t working, then it’s time to contact your plumber for advice or a service call.  They may need to use a snake (called a plumber’s snake or drain snake) which is a hose-like, flexible auger used to dislodge clogs. The plumber’s snake is often reserved for difficult clogs that cannot be loosened with a plunger to clear the drain. If you are repeatedly clogging the drain, even though you can clear it yourself, you are best off calling a professional to prevent further damage to your pipes.

Got Leaks?

Leaky faucets and pipes are extremely common. Although they are not necessarily an emergency, they definitely waste water and can cause damage to areas around the leak. Did you know that fixing the leaks in your home could easily save up to 10 percent on your water bill? A faucet leaking one drip per second adds up to over 3,000 gallons every year — the equivalent of 180 showers.

What Causes the Problem: A dripping faucet typically occurs when the washer that forms the seal on the tap gets damaged. Damage may include tearing, dislodging, or stiffening. When this damage occurs, the washer no longer seals tightly, allowing small amounts of water to drip from the faucet. Over time, the valve seat may also wear or corrode. If your pipes are leaking, the most likely location is at a joint. Leaks may occur due to deterioration, shifting, high water pressure or other damage.

How to Fix Leaky Faucets and Pipes: In faucets, sometimes all you need to do is replace the washer that is causing the leak. Certainly DIY worthy, but the job is more easily handled with the right tools; so calling in a professional may be a smart choice.  It may also be a bigger problem than a faulty washer, and a professional would know what to look for.

Preventing leaks is not an easy task, simply due to the normal wear and tear that your fixtures are subjected to on a daily basis.  Over time, a leak can occur.  One way to extend the life of your fixtures is to use less force when turning faucets on and off.  Excessive pressure can cause premature wear.

Annual preventive maintenance can help keep you one step ahead of leaks.  Looking for small drips, moisture and other signs like visible lime deposits or rust, can tip you off to a problem that could occur in the near future.

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