You cannot escape plumbing problems if you own a property with a plumbing system. They can happen at any time and come in all forms and sizes. Sometimes, it will be a leaking faucet in the middle of the night, and other times an overflowing toilet when your workmates are over for a lunch date.
Plumbing problems can be caused by normal wear and tear of plumbing fixtures and equipment or improper use and maintenance of the plumbing system. Whichever the case, they are stressful and inconvenient, and they can cause water damage on your property if not handled correctly and on time.
Some Plumbing issues are simple, and you can handle them with the right tools and know-how. In contrast, others are sensitive, come with potential dangers, and are better handled by professional plumbers.
Knowing the type of plumbing issue you are facing helps you decide when to pick up your plumbing tools and when to call a plumber. Here are common plumbing problems every homeowner should know.
The sound of a dripping faucet is not only annoying but leads to water wastage and high water bills as a result. leaky faucets are caused by several issues, including a worn-out O-ring, an old cartridge, a bad valve washer, improper faucet installation, or corrosion.
You can fix dripping faucets with basic tools and DIY skills. Switch off the water supply to the dripping faucet, disassemble the faucet and replace the O-ring, valve washer, or cartridge, depending on the cause of the leak. Contact a plumber for expert diagnosis and repair if the replacement does not stop the drip.
Leaky pipes create huge water wastage and property damage. Leaking pipes are caused by several issues, including:
- Drain clogs
- Improper pipe layout
- Damages on the joints
- Excess water pressure
- Freezing in the pipes
- Cracked seals
Some leaking pipes are easy to detect, while others, like those under the sink or in the bathroom, can only be noticed after thorough inspection when the damages, like mold growth, start to show. If ignored or not solved early enough, leaking pipes lead:
- Water wastage
- High water bills
- Wood rot
- Rusting of nearby metals
- Furniture damage
- Damage to the floors, walls, and ceiling
Leaking pipes are emergency plumbing issues and should be fixed immediately. The pipes might need fixing or replacing depending on the extent and cause of the leak.
If you are not a professional plumber, we encourage you to call a plumber to deal with the pipes on your behalf. A plumber will diagnose the system and advice on the best solution. Moreover, they will advise you on maintenance tips to prevent future leaks.
Cracked pipes are very common in winter because the expansion and contracting cause the pipes to burst or break. Therefore it is crucial to prepare your pipes for winter to prevent damage. Here are several ways how to prepare your pipes for winter:
- Hire a plumber for inspection
- Drain the exterior pipes in the garden or driveway to prevent expansion
- Wrap the pipes with insulating material
- Set the thermostat at the same temperature day and night during winter
- Allow the faucets of exposed pipes to drip cold water to prevent frozen pipes
- Keep warm air circulating in the cold areas of your house to keep the pipes warm
- Paint exterior faucets with bright colors to make it easy for the plumber to see them in an emergency during a snowstorm or at night.
A clogged bath, kitchen sink, or shower drain is another common plumbing problem and is caused by blockages that restrict water flow, causing a slow drain or no water flow at all. Common causes of clogs include;
- Oil, grease, or fat
- Soap scum
- Strange objects like small toys or marble
- Tree roots
- Feminine products like wet wipes
- Hair clogs
- Pipe scale
- Food remnants
- Cat litter
- Pipe Corrosion
You can clear slow or clogged drains using a plunger, a plumbers snake, pouring vinegar and baking soda solution in the drain, or using chemicals.
How to unclog using a plunger
- Apply petroleum jelly on the edge of the suction pads of the plunger for a better seal
- Ensure that there is enough water in the sink or shower so that the plunger is fully submerged
- Plunge until you get a smooth flow
How to unclog using chemicals
- Put on gloves and eyewear for safety
- Read and follow the instructions on the chemical
- Use one chemical at a time. Mixing chemicals can cause a dangerous reaction
- Carefully pour the chemicals down the drain
- Make sure to pour the recommended quantity only
Chemicals are a quick fix to clogs for most homeowners. However, they cause damage to the pipes when used often. If the clog does not clear with the recommended quantity, it is time to contact an expert.
Multiple clogs or clogs that keep recurring are an indicator that you might have a sewer line issue. In that case, stop with the DIY unclogging methods and contact a plumber. The experts will get to the clogs’ root cause, develop a long-lasting solution and guide you on routine drain cleaning.
Sewer System Backup
A sewage backup leads to multiple clogs and slow drains in residential and commercial buildings. The problem can be caused by the following:
- Flushing items like diapers, wet wipes, napkins, food remains, and other objects that should not be flushed.
- Tree roots that have invaded the pipes and blocked the flow
- Old sewer lines break and collapse and they should be replaced
Diagnosis and fixing sewer line issues is a complicated process requiring proper skills and tools. Therefore, leave this work to the professionals.
The process is also expensive, but it is better to bear the cost than to deal with the massive sewage damage over your property.
Toilets can experience plumbing problems in two forms: running and clogged toilets.
Internal toilet leaks are not easy to notice because they do not leave any mess of evidence on the floor. If you do not catch it early, a running toilet wastes a lot of water, and your water bill will keep increasing. The major causes of a running toilet include;
- Faulty flapper valve
- Issues with the refill tube
- Flapper chains of the wrong size
- Mineral deposits and sediment buildup that affects flushing
If your water bills seem to increase without a significant increase in water usage, check whether your toilet is running. Put food coloring in the water tank and see if you find it in the bowl without flushing.
You can fix a leaking toilet on your own, but hire a plumber if you do not have a toilet repair kit and skills. They will look at all the issues that cause running toilets and solve them to prevent future water wastage.
A clogged toilet overflows, spreading sewage all over the floor, making the house smell bad, and causing health hazards because it spreads bacteria all over. Toilet clogs happen when you flush things that should not flush, like diapers, some feminine hygiene products, food residues, hair clogs, and dental clogs, among others.
A toilet clog can be easily cleared through vigorous plunges, but contact a licensed plumber if that does not work. To keep your toilet from clogging, flush three things only, Number 1, Number 2, and tissue paper.
Low Water Pressure
Low water pressure makes the water coming from the shower and sinks too hot to use. To fix the low water pressure issue, you must identify the cause which might be pipe corrosion, hidden leaks, or sewer clogs.
Moreover, ensure that the main water valve is fully open. Sometimes, the house has low water pressure because the water valve is halfway open. Once it is fully open, run the showerheads and faucets. If any of these fixtures have low pressure, the issue might be with the particular fixture, or there might be a bigger issue with the main water pipes.
If you are only experiencing low water pressure in the shower, check for mineral buildup in the aerator and showerhead. If that is the case, you can clean the aerator and showerhead with vinegar by following the steps below:
- Turn off the water and switch of power supply to the shower
- Disassemble the showerhead and use a toothbrush to clean off accumulated soap and mineral sentiments
- Use a toothpick, needle, or safety pin to poke the showerhead holes to loosen stuck deposits
- Soak it in vinegar overnight to remove the remaining deposits
Water Heater Problems
Hot water is a must-have in every home and especially during the winter. Unfortunately, most hot water heater problems are only realized once it no longer works.
A faulty water heater is a plumbing emergency, and you should contact an emergency plumber immediately. Lack of hot water can be caused by the following:
- Faulty thermostat
- Mineral buildup in the water heaters
- Faulty electrical connections
- Improper installation
- Wrong type or small-sized water heater
All water heater problems should be handled by a plumber unless it is a basic thing like relighting a pilot light. Depending on the diagnosis, a water heater can be repaired or replaced.
Sump Pumps Failure
Sump pump failures can be caused by the following internal and external issues improper installation, stuck switches, clogs in the discharge pipe, large amounts of water, or old age.
The sump pump is a complicated system whose issues should only be handled by an expert; therefore, once you notice that it is not working or there are strange noises, contact your emergency plumber immediately.
Jammed Garbage Disposal
Garbage disposals take away the burden of taking out kitchen garbage now and then. However, they jam if:
- You run it without water
- You do not clean it regularly
- Dispose of large and hard food substances like bones, potato peels, or strange objects like small toys
If the garbage disposal stops in the middle or grinding, hit the rest button. If it does not switch on, there is a bigger issue that requires you to open it up.
However, always contact a plumber if you do not have the proper tools and skills to handle garbage disposal. The motor is very sharp, and sticking your hands inside without protective gloves can injure you.
Wet Spots On The Lawn
Wet spots on the lawn can indicate minor or serious plumbing issues. It is a major issue if they result from a damaged septic tank or leaking the main sewer or water lines. Such issues are a disaster in waiting, and you should call a licensed plumber immediately for diagnosis and repairs.
Serious water spot issues can be very expensive, but you can curb such surprises by regularly checking your plumbing system.
Water stains on the walls, ceilings, and basement result from water damage. In most cases, the stains are accompanied by mold or mildew growth and a mushy smell which is not good for the respiratory health of the occupants.
The stains damage the aesthetics of your property, but worse, they indicate cooking structural damage. The only solution to water stains is identifying the cause, which is a water leak from the roof, gutter, or pipes.
Call your plumber immediately if you spot a water stain because you never know the extent of the water leak behind. The longer you wait, the worse the damage and the more expensive the repairs. Also, if you’re getting water leaking into your house from outside you should call a professional immediately.
The accumulation of debris and dirt majorly causes overflowing gutters. The water causes wet spots on the lawn and, worse, foundational damage.
Moreover, overflowing gutters are very dangerous over the winter. The water freezes into heavy ice, causing the gutter to rip off and damage the roof.
To prevent overflowing gutter issues, clear your gutters of dust, leaves, and debris before the rain or cold season. Moreover, you can prevent dirt from accumulating in the gutters by installing a wire mesh over the gutters.
If your gutters are meshed but still overflowing, they might need to be aligned properly, or you might be having gradient issues. In that case, call a professional for diagnosis to protect your foundation and roof.
Plumbing problems are common and inevitable. Understanding common plumbing problems helps you to find quick solutions. Sometimes, the best solution is to call a plumber, but you can solve some simple plumbing issues independently. If you are going to attempt DIY on a plumbing problem:
- Shut off the main water valve
- Have the right tools
- Dress appropriately because it can get messy
- Do not attempt anything you are not sure of
- Keep the contacts of a professional plumber close in case you need to call for help