All homeowners have to deal with plumbing problems at some point. They are inconvenient, costly and can become bigger issues if not dealt with adequately. Most of the time, you can resolve plumbing issues quickly, cheaply and without the need for a plumber. Other times, however, the plumbing repairs can become expensive and lead to severe structural damage.
While fixing the problem is the best immediate solution, you should also take the time to identify how you can take future preventative measures to ensure that the situation doesn’t happen again.
Not to worry. Here is a list of the 12 most common household plumbing problems, how to fix these common plumbing problems and any preventative measures that you can take to avoid them.
One of the most common issues homeowners experience is dripping faucets. Due to a malfunction or damage to an internal component, water will continually flow through the pipes. If not fixed quickly, then you may notice an increase in your water bill every month.
In the United States, 10,000 gallons of water is wasted per year because of plumbing leaks.
Most of the time, dripping faucets have easy fixes without the need for a plumber. Inside your faucet is an internal washer. The washer acts as a seal that prevents water from flowing through the pipes. When this washer becomes damaged, dislodged, stiff or torn, water will be able to flow through the seal.
To fix the problem yourself, you first need to turn off the main water line going to the faucet. From there, you have to disassemble the faucet to find the damaged washer. When you go to buy the necessary washer, I would highly suggest that you bring both the old washer and the part it connects with. We don’t want you to drive back and forth between the hardware store and your house to try multiple parts until one works.
Once you know you have the correct washer, put everything back together and enjoy the lack of dripping.
Preventative measures are few when it comes to dripping faucets. The best way to keep the washer intact is to slowly turn the water on and off and not to overtighten.
2. Slow Draining Sinks
A slow draining sink makes everyday tasks more difficult than they should be. If not dealt with accordingly, they can lead to pipe damage, odor or lack of draining altogether. The most likely cause is a blockage that restricts the flow of water. For kitchen sinks, congealed fat or food particles that stick to the sides of the pipes are the culprits of slow draining. For bathroom sinks, the blockage could be a mixture of knotted hair and soap residue.
Regardless of the type of blockage, you have several different options to fix the issue.
First, you can use a plumbers snake to grab and pull out the blockage.
Second, you can use a plunger to suction the blockage out.
Third, you can use a combination of vinegar and baking soda to break down the blockage and force it out.
Fourth, as a last resort, you can use a store bought chemical solution that dissolves and clears most blockages.
If you choose to go with the last two, follow the instructions exactly to not cause any unsafe or unnecessary chemical reactions.
To prevent future blockages, limit the types of substances that go down the sink. Use toilet paper to wipe up hair rather than wash it all down. Avoid pouring grease down the drains.
Sometimes, the blockages get to the point where you have a clog altogether and no water can drain. If this is the case, you can follow most of the same steps for fixing slow draining sinks. These solutions break up the gunk built up and clear out the pipes.
If you notice the clog in a bath or shower drain, you should cease usage immediately. You do not want water to build up in the tub. More water makes it difficult for the store bought solutions from working properly. If you do find yourself in a flooded situation, you should try and plunge or use a plumber snake to allow water flow. Once the water has left, you can follow the instructions as needed.
Hair is the biggest cause of clogged drains. A great way to prevent hair from going down the drain is to install a drain guard. These handy additions stop most hair from flowing down the drain. Less hair means less buildup to worry about.
Clogged toilets are no fun. Dealing with one can be intimidating and grotesque. You’ll know you have a clogged toilet when you find that your toilet fills up with water when you flush but does not drain. Clogged toilets are usually a result of a mixture of human waste, toilet paper, wet wipes and other materials that you may flush down the toilet. Additionally, foreign objects that are not meant for toilets can clog them.
The best solution to fixing a clogged toilet is to grab the plunger and force the clog through the pipes or back out. Once you’ve managed to remove the clog, close the toilet lid before any of the contents splash out.
If the plunger method is ineffective, you can also try using a sewer snake or drain auger to remove the clog.
To prevent future clogs, try to limit the amount of waste and paper going down the toilet in one flush. If needed, flush once before finishing to minimize the amount of waste flushed. For parents, be aware of your children. They may flush random objects down the toilet.
5. Running Toilet
Faulty mechanics can lead to a running toilet that wastes water. After you flush, if the toilet sounds like it’s still running, even if the toilet bowl is filled, you have a running toilet situation. This problem is an easy fix that seems complicated. When you open the toilet tank, you will see various components that can all lead to a running toilet.
On average, a running toilet wastes 200 gallons of water per day.
Most times, a faulty flapper is to blame. Flapper work like a stopper. When you flush the toilet, the flapper lifts, allowing the water to flush into the toilet bowl. Afterward, the flapper should fall back into place and prevent water from flowing down. Fixing the flapper should fix the running toilet. Sometimes, the fix may be even simpler. In rare circumstances, the chain that connects the flapper to the toilet handle gets tangled on itself and you just need to loosen it up again.
Have you ever been showering and the water goes cold suddenly rather than gradually? If so, you most likely have a faulty water heater.
In general, it is best to have a plumber assess the water heater to determine the cause of the malfunction, especially if you’ve just moved into an old house. Water heaters are expensive and complicated items. You don’t want to accidentally make the problem worse by trying to fix it on your own.
That being said, there are two possible solutions that you can try before contacting a plumber. The first is checking the pilot light. It can go out unexpectedly and needs a simple re-light. Second, water heaters heat the water to the assigned temperature. Sometimes, the connection that reads the temperature of the water breaks. This connection is called a thermocouple. Simply removing the old thermocouple and replacing it with a new one can fix the issue.
7. Low Water Pressure
Low water pressure is more common in older homes but can affect new homes as well. Instead of the water coming out in its normal amount, it trickles or feels weak in comparison. For older homes, leaking pipes can cause low water pressure. The pipes are either broken, worn away or corroded.
For newer homes, the cause is less complicated. Calcium buildup from your water supply can cause blockages at the ends of the aerators and showerheads. A simple vinegar scrub and soak can help unclog them.
Take an old toothbrush, soak it in vinegar and scrub the afflicted parts. For more serious buildup, put the vinegar in a bag and place it over the aerator or showerhead. To keep the bag in place, use a tie or rubber band. Let it soak for a couple of hours before removing and wiping.
8. Jammed Garbage Disposal
What takes food waste and grinds it up for easier travel down your pipes? Garbage disposals! Unfortunately, they are also fragile and can break easily. If you run them without water, accidentally drop metal while running or grinding husks and other hard materials, you can either break the blades or cause a jam.
For the latter, you may be able to reset your garbage disposal, but most likely, you will have to disassemble it and remove the jam. To prevent further damage, limit the types of items you put down in your garbage disposal. Hard items, such as corn husks and eggshells, damage the disposals.
9. Leaky Pipes
Leaky pipes are one of the worst plumbing problems to have. If not fixed quickly, they can cause severe structural damage to the home and damage any furniture you may have. Furthermore, the dampness from the leaky pipes can attract unwanted insects.
A leak that averages ten drips per minute wastes 526 gallons per year. That’s a lot of water wasted!
If you’re lucky the damaged pipe is a drainage pipe rather than a supply line. Drainage pipes are easier to fix and require fewer steps. Locating the pipe in question can be more difficult. For supply line bursts, you will have to shut off your main water line before fixing the issue. Leaky pipes usually occur around pipe joints.
You can temporarily fix the issue using tapes and patches. Again, these fixes are only temporary, and you should call a plumber as soon as you can.
Winter months are rough on your pipes. The cold freezes and expands the water inside, leading to tears and ruptures in the pipes. To avoid this issue, leave your faucets dripping throughout the day. The running water will keep your pipes safe from the cold.
10. Sewer System Backup
Of all the plumbing problems to have, a sewer system backup is one of the worst. You will know if you have a sewer system backup if multiple drains are not working properly, and you notice a foul odor coming from the drains. Locating the backup is time-consuming and costly. You will have to call a plumber to have them locate the source of the backup.
If the blockage is found on your property, then you are responsible for all costs associate with the repair. Fortunately, if the repair for the sewer line is on the road, the water company is liable. You will more than likely still have to pay for the cost of a plumber to locate the source of the problem.
Most older-style homes contain metal piping throughout. Over time, these metal pipes will rust away, leading to corrosion and other problems. Even galvanized pipes, which have a zinc coating to protect from deterioration. Over time, though, the zinc coating can fade away, leaving the galvanized pipe prime for rusting.
You will know that your pipes have corroded if there is an orange tint to your water, you notice the water pressure decrease or a water leak elsewhere.
Corrosions can be found anywhere on metal pipes. Try your best to find the source of the leak as best you can.
12. Tree Root Intrusion
While a rare occurrence, tree roots can find themselves inside your pipes. Pipes are a source of water, so naturally, roots will find their way there. If you know that you have a tree root inside your pipes, you can buy products that you pour down the drain to destroy the roots.
As with most pipe-related plumbing issues, you should contact a plumber and have them assess the situation before proceeding to fix the issue. You may be able to remove the roots from your pipe, but the holes are still present in the piping.
Not everyone feels comfortable with fixing most of these issues on their own. There is no shame in calling a plumber and knowing that the job will be done correctly the first time.
Dream Team Home Services is more than happy to assist you in any plumbing needs that you may have. With 24/7 emergency services and 100% satisfaction guaranteed, Dream Team has been assisting the Delaware Valley with all their plumbing needs.
Don’t hesitate. Plumbing problems left unattended can lead to further damage than necessary. Setting up an appointment is as easy as calling them at 484-352-2242, and they will have a specialist to your home as soon as possible. With Dream Team, you will never have to worry.