Top 5 Common House Plumbing Problems and How to Fix Them
Top 5 Common House Plumbing Problems and How to Fix Them
Our home’s plumbing system works tirelessly behind the scenes. Hidden within our walls and floors, it works so well that we usually forget it until something goes wrong. Unfortunately, minor problems, if ignored, can turn into bigger ones, causing significant issues down the line.
However, recognizing common problems and addressing them quickly can save you time, money, and stress in the long run. Below, we’ll cover the top 5 common house plumbing problems and how to fix them.
1. Clogged Drains and Toilets
Clogged drains and toilets are an all-too-common nuisance in households. Many homeowners can relate to the dread of watching the water rise to the rim of a toilet bowl or the frustration of standing in pooling shower water.
What Causes Clogs?
Understanding the causes of clogs in drains and toilets is the first step toward effective problem-solving. In bathrooms, the usual culprits are hair, soap residue, and dirt accumulating over time, creating stubborn blockages. On the other hand, kitchen sinks often fall victim to food particles, cooking grease, and other kitchen waste that can solidify and obstruct the smooth flow of water.
Toilets have a different set of challenges. They can become clogged due to excessive use of toilet paper or when inappropriate items like baby wipes, sanitary products, or even children’s toys find their way into the bowl.
How to Fix Clogged Drains and Toilets
Before you reach for your phone to call a plumber, there are several simple methods you can employ to attempt to dislodge a drain or toilet clog:
This should be your first line of defense. Ensure the rubber part of the plunger fully covers the drain, then apply forceful plunges to create suction that can help dislodge the blockage. There are different types of plungers for sinks and toilets. Choose the right one for the job.
Plumbing Snake or Hand Auger
If the plunger proves unsuccessful, a plumbing snake or hand auger can be your next best tool. It reaches further into the pipe, allowing you to break up the clog manually. Toilet augers are usually bent wires, while snakes for drains come in various shapes and sizes.
To remove small blockages, create a mixture of hot water, baking soda, and vinegar. Simply pour half a cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by half a cup of vinegar. Allow it to sit for 15-20 minutes before flushing it out with boiling water.
To get rid of stubborn toilet clogs, you can use a combination of hot water and dish soap. First, pour a considerable amount of dish soap into the bowl and then follow it up with pouring a bucket of hot water (not boiling) into the bowl.
Chemical Drain Cleaner
You might consider a chemical drain cleaner a last resort for drain clogs. These are concentrated solutions designed to eat through clogs, but they should be used sparingly due to their potential to harm your pipes and the environment. Always adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions when using these products.
2. Leaky Faucets and Pipes
A leaky faucet or pipe is one of the most common yet annoying plumbing problems you may encounter in your home. That constant drip, drip, drip can be more than just an irritation. It can waste significant amounts of water over time and even cause damage to your home if not addressed promptly.
What Causes Leaky Faucets and Pipes?
Leaky faucets often result from wear and tear. Over time, the internal parts of the faucet can corrode, warp, or simply wear out, causing water to leak. The most common culprits are the washer, O-ring, or valve seat.
On the other hand, pipes can leak for various reasons, including changes in temperature, high water pressure, or pipe corrosion. Pipe joints are particularly susceptible to leaks.
How to Fix Leaky Faucets and Pipes
Leaky faucets often result from worn-out components. To fix this, first identify your faucet type – ball, cartridge, disk, or compression – as the repair process varies for each. Generally, you’ll need to turn off the water supply, disassemble the faucet using a wrench and screwdriver, and replace the faulty part, like a worn-out washer. If dealing with a ball faucet, you may need to replace the entire fixture.
Pipes can leak due to temperature changes, high pressure, or corrosion, especially at the joints. First, locate the leak and shut off the water supply to fix a leaky pipe. For small leaks, a repair clamp, a rubber pad that goes over the hole and a metal plate that tightens around the pipe can provide a temporary solution.
However, for more significant leaks, you might need to replace the section of the pipe that’s leaking, which involves cutting the pipe. If you’re uncomfortable doing this, or leaks persist despite your best efforts, consider calling a professional plumber. Regular checks and maintenance can help prevent these issues and keep your plumbing system in shape.
3. Water Heater Issues
Water heaters are vital for enjoying hot showers and baths, washing dishes, and doing laundry. Problems with your water heater can range from lukewarm water to strange noises or a lack of hot water. While all water heaters will need replacing at one point or another, addressing common issues early on can significantly extend the life of your water heater.
What Causes Water Heater Problems?
Here are the most common causes of water heater problems:
Age of the Water Heater: Most water heaters last 10-15 years. They’re more likely to experience issues like leaks and inefficiency as they age.
Sediment Buildup: Minerals in water can accumulate at the bottom of the tank over time, forming a layer of sediment. This sediment can reduce the heater’s efficiency and cause it to make unusual noises.
Faulty Heating Elements: These elements are responsible for heating the water in your tank. If they malfunction, you may end up with lukewarm or cold water.
Incorrect Thermostat Settings: Sometimes, the problem isn’t with the water heater but with the thermostat settings. The water won’t heat up as expected if the temperature is too low.
Corrosion: Due to constant exposure to moisture, parts of your water heater can corrode over time. This corrosion can lead to leaks and water discoloration.
How to Fix Water Heater Issues
To fix water heater issues, first, identify the cause. If you suspect a sediment buildup, flush the tank to remove debris. You can do this by attaching a garden hose to a drain valve at the bottom of the tank and turning it on. Alternatively, if you think it’s a problem with your heating elements or thermostat settings, you may need to call a professional plumber.
Another issue to watch out for is corrosion. Inspect your tank and replace corroded parts if you notice signs of corrosion, such as discolored or smelly water. Consider getting a replacement if your water heater is over ten years old and experiencing multiple issues. Investing in a new model can save you money in the long run.
4. Low Water Pressure
Experiencing low water pressure in your home can be pretty frustrating. It can turn everyday tasks like washing dishes or showering into time-consuming chores.
What Causes Low Water Pressure?
Several factors can cause low water pressure. One of these is blocked pipes due to mineral accumulation over time. This buildup reduces the flow of water, resulting in low pressure. Another common cause is leaky pipes. If there’s a leak somewhere in your plumbing system, it can cause a significant drop in water pressure.
Corroded plumbing is also a frequent culprit, especially in older homes. Over time, corrosion can narrow the inside of pipes, reducing the amount of water that can flow through them.
Sometimes, the problem isn’t with the plumbing system but the fixtures themselves. A faulty faucet or showerhead could be contributing to your low water pressure.
How to Fix Low Water Pressure
Knowing what causes low water pressure is half the battle. The next step is figuring out how to fix it. If the issue is with a specific fixture, try cleaning it to remove mineral buildup. If that doesn’t work, consider replacing the fixture entirely.
If you suspect your home may have a leak, inspect for any signs, such as wet spots on walls or floors. A professional plumber should be called to repair any leaks you find. Similarly, make sure the main water valve is fully open. Turning it counterclockwise can often increase the water pressure if it’s not.
For persistent problems, you might want to consider investing in a water pressure booster. These devices can be somewhat expensive, but they are very effective at increasing water pressure throughout your home.
If you’ve tried these solutions and are still dealing with low water pressure, it’s probably time to call in a professional. They can conduct a comprehensive inspection to pinpoint the exact cause of the problem.
5. Running Toilet
A running toilet can be more than just a nuisance. It wastes water, increases utility bills, and can even lead to more severe plumbing problems if left unchecked.
What Causes a Running Toilet?
There are several common causes of running toilets. The most common is a faulty flapper valve inside the tank. This valve regulates how much water enters the toilet bowl when flushed. When it wears out or starts to leak, it can cause water to continually seep into the bowl, resulting in a running toilet.
Another common issue is sediment buildup inside the tank. Over time, minerals in the water can form deposits on various components of your toilet, such as its flapper valve and fill valves. This sediment can prevent the flapper from correctly sealing off the tank, resulting in a running toilet.
Finally, misaligned float valves or fill valve issues can cause your toilet to run continuously.
How to Fix Running Toilets
Fixing a running toilet isn’t as difficult as it may seem. Start by checking if any parts are worn out. If you notice signs of damage or corrosion on the flapper valve, replace it with a new one.
Sediment buildup can also cause your toilet to run continuously. Remove the tank lid and inspect for any debris or mineral deposits inside to fix this. If there are any present, use a brush to scrub them away before reassembling the tank.
Make sure all the components in your tank are correctly aligned. If they’re not, adjust them until everything is set up correctly. This will help ensure that the water only fills the tank to a certain level when flushed.
Don’t Let Plumbing Problems Take Over Your Home
Plumbing problems can be a pain to deal with. However, with the right knowledge and tools, many common issues can be resolved quickly and easily. When you come across plumbing issues that are hard to tackle, don’t hesitate to call in a professional plumber for help.
ASI has certified White Glove technicians trained in residential drain cleaning, general repair, water treatment solutions, leaky faucets and drips, slab leak repair, and water heater installation and repair.
With the right experts, you don’t have to worry about your plumbing problems taking over your home. For more DIY resources and information, check out these helpful articles:
Tips to Measure and Install Plumbing Pipes
How to Protect Your Home from a Major Plumbing Issue
Plunging 101: How to Plunge Your Toilet Before It Overflows
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