Your plumbing system is one of the most important systems in your home. Unfortunately, with all that responsibility, problems are bound to come up along the way – often at the most inconvenient times.
Whether you’re a new homeowner or a seasoned one, understanding the common plumbing problems and how to address them can save you both time and money. Here are the top 5 common house plumbing problems and how to fix them from the pros at ASI Heating and Air.
1. Leaky Faucets
One of the most prevalent problems in households is a leaky faucet. Not only does the constant dripping sound get annoying, but it can lead to water waste and a significant increase in your water bills. Leaky faucets are typically caused by worn-out washers or O-rings that need to be replaced because they’ve dislodged, stiffened, or torn. When this occurs, the washer no longer seals tightly, allowing small amounts of water to drip from the faucet.
Another possible cause is the valve seat, which may also wear or corrode. If your pipes are leaking, the most likely location is at the joint. Leaks may occur due to deterioration, shifting, high water pressure, or other damage.
Here are the steps to fix a leaky faucet:
- Start by turning off the water supply to the affected fixture.
- Remove the faucet handle and replace the faulty washer or O-ring with a new one.
- Ensure that all components are properly reassembled, and the water supply is turned back on gradually to check for leaks.
Replacing a washer or O-ring is a simple DIY job, but it’s often easier with specialty tools. If you prefer, you can call a plumber. This also helps if there’s something more going on with your plumbing besides a worn washer.
Natural wear from regular use is unavoidable, but you can prevent leaky faucets and pipes by turning faucets on and off slowly and avoiding excessive pressure on the handles. You can also spot problems early with regular inspections. Indicators of a possible leak include moisture, small drips, visible rust, or white lime deposits.
2. Clogged Drains
Clogged drains are a common plumbing issue in kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms. They can be caused by a buildup of hair, soap scum, food particles, or other debris. Slow drainage or water backing up in sinks and tubs are signs of a clogged drain.
For minor clogs, you can use a plunger to solve the problem. Place the plunger over the drain and apply firm, rhythmic pressure to create a vacuum. If the clog persists, consider using a drain snake to break up and remove the blockage. For preventative maintenance, avoid pouring grease down the kitchen sink and use drain screens to catch hair and debris in the bathroom drains.
3. Running Toilets
A running toilet is more than a nuisance. If you leave it go, a running toilet can result in a significant increase in water bills. The problem is often caused by a faulty flapper, which fails to create a proper seal and allows water to continuously flow from the tank to the bowl.
Other possible causes include an imbalanced float, a loose fill tube, or a leak. Check for a leak by putting food coloring in the tank, then after about 20 minutes, check out the bowl to see if the color traveled into the bowl water.
If you think your running toilet is caused by a faulty flapper, this is often easy to fix on your own. Start by removing the tank lid and inspecting the flapper. If the flapper appears to be worn or damaged, replace it with a new one. Adjust the chain length if necessary to ensure the flapper seals tightly. If the issue persists, check the fill valve and adjust the water level in the tank to the recommended level.
If it’s not the flapper, check the other components to find the problem. Check the chain attached to the flapper and ensure it’s the proper length and not tangled, adjust the float to ensure the fill valve shuts off properly, and make sure the fill tube – a thin, flexible tube inside the tank – is attached and directed toward the overflow tube.
If these measures don’t solve the problem, consult with a professional plumber for drain service.
While you can’t do much to prevent toilet issues, you can inspect the components regularly to ensure they all work properly.
4. Low Water Pressure
Low water pressure can be frustrating when trying to shower, wash dishes, or perform other daily tasks. It can happen suddenly or get worse over time, depending on the cause.
Low water pressure can be caused by various factors. A water main break can reduce pressure to your tap, which could be an issue if your neighbors suddenly experience low water pressure. That same loss of pressure can happen if the pipe is leaking within your home. Shut off the taps, check your water meter, and wait a few hours without using any water to check for leaks. If the water meter changes, you probably have a leak.
Another possible cause is the buildup of materials and sediment in the faucet aerators or the pipes, which slows the water flow and causes low pressure.
Here’s how to fix low water pressure:
- Start by checking for visible signs of leaks in the plumbing system.
- If none are found, clean faucet aerators and showerheads, as mineral deposits may accumulate and restrict water flow.
- If the issue persists, consider checking the pressure regulator, which may need adjustment or replacement.
In some cases, you may need to call a professional plumber to identify and address the root cause of low water pressure.
A filtration system can help you keep minerals out of your pipes to avoid future buildup. Check the pipes regularly and make sure to call a plumber to repair leaks early.
5. Water Heater Issues
A malfunctioning water heater can disrupt daily routines, especially during the colder months. Common water heater problems include inadequate hot water, strange noises, or leaks. These issues can arise from sediment buildup, a faulty thermostat, or a deteriorating heating element.
Check the pilot light if the water heater runs on gas. If the pilot light isn’t on, the unit won’t produce hot water. Check the temperature setting to ensure it wasn’t turned down accidentally.
Draining the hot water heater tank periodically is the key to flushing out sediment that accumulates at the bottom and affects heating efficiency. If the water heater is making unusual noises, it may be an indication of sediment buildup or a failing heating element. If this is the case, it’s best to consult a professional plumber for a thorough inspection and necessary water heater repairs or replacements.
Unless the issue is a simple fix, such as relighting the pilot light or adjusting the thermostat, you may want to call a professional plumber. Serious issues can be dangerous and extensive to repair, so it’s better to leave the job to a professional.
If you discover water puddles on the floor around your water heater, it’s important to take a few immediate steps to ensure your safety. Here’s what to do:
- Shut off the power to your water heater. For electric water heaters, ensure you are completely dry and wear a pair of work gloves to shut off the breaker that controls the water heater. For a gas water heater, use the shut-off valve at the connection point of the unit.
- Turn off the water to prevent additional leaking. You can shut off the valves to the water heater if they are functioning properly. If not, shut off the main water valve into your home and wait for a plumber to arrive.
- Move items away from the water heater to give the plumber space to work.
Tips for Handling Your Own Plumbing Repairs
Tackling your own plumbing repairs can save you money, but a mistake could cost you a lot more. if you want to fix a plumbing issue on your own, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Make sure you understand what the problem is and how to fix it. If you’re not sure – or you feel like the project is out of your scope – call a professional instead.
- Secure all the supplies and tools you need for the whole project. Make sure everything is an exact fit and compatible with your plumbing system. The last thing you want is to get started, only to find out you don’t have what you need.
- Shut off the main water supply to the house to prevent major water damage.
- Wear old clothes. Plumbing work gets messy.
- Have a plumber in mind in case the project takes a turn for the worse. Don’t be afraid to call the plumber if things get too difficult.
Get Your Plumbing Problems Fixed
Being aware of the common plumbing problems in a household and knowing how to address them can save you a lot of time, money, and hassle. While some issues can be solved with DIY measures, others may require the help of a professional plumber like ASI Heating and Air. Contact us today to schedule your appointment!