Thursday, December 1, 2022

3 Common Plumbing Problems & How to Fix Plumbing Problems

Close up of single vanity in the bathroom with modern fixtures and tile backsplash.

Plumbing problems are never fun. You don’t realize just how much you rely on functioning plumbing for day-to-day living.

Fortunately, some common plumbing problems can be fixed on your own. For bigger problems, you should seek out advice from a plumber. He or she will make sure the issue is corrected properly and not just MacGyvered with whatever spare parts or putty you can find.

From bathtub leaks to dripping pipes beneath the sink, it can be difficult to diagnose plumbing problems or even to articulate what’s going wrong. Thus, being aware of the most common plumbing problems and solutions will help you know when to tackle the issue yourself and when to call the plumber!

Close up of a shower fixture running at full pressure.

1. Leaky faucets and pipes

Leaky faucets and pipes are easy to spot since water will be physically dripping from them, even when they are turned off. While dripping faucets are more of a nuisance than an emergency, leaking pipes can cause major damage to your bathroom if you don’t address the problem immediately.

What causes this problem? 

A dripping faucet usually occurs when the washer that forms the seal inside of the tap is damaged or worn down over time. When this erosion occurs, the washer will no longer seal the tap tightly enough, which causes dripping water to slip through. Usually occurring at the joint, a dripping pipe is also caused by damage – most likely from deterioration, shifting, or high water pressure. 

How to fix the issue

Replacing the faucet’s washer that’s responsible for the leak is an easy DIY project; just make sure you get the right replacement from your local hardware store. For leaky pipes, you may need to simply replace a U-joint with a new pipe, but if you’re not sure, this project is better left to the pros.

When to call a plumber

To avoid a big mess, calling a plumber in both scenarios is probably your best bet, particularly if you have no plumbing experience of your own. They will have specialty tools on hand to replace washers and pipe joints, and they’ll also (hopefully!) save you from dealing with any clean-up. 

2. Low water pressure

A typical problem in old homes, low water pressure can come on quickly or slowly worsen over time, depending on the underlying cause. Leaving this pesky issue alone won’t lead to any major damages, but it does make rinsing things and showering difficult and more time-consuming, so it’s definitely worth resolving.

What causes this problem?

One possible cause is buildup of sediment or minerals in your faucet aerators, showerhead, or pipes, which can restrict the water flow. If the whole home is experiencing low pressure, it could indicate a much bigger issue with the pressure-reducing valve, well pump, filtration system, or water service line.

How to fix the issue

If it’s only occurring in a single fixture, you can try clearing debris from the aerator, soaking the aerator in vinegar overnight to loosen up the buildup, or cleaning or replacing the cartridge. If your entire home has low water pressure, you’ll likely need to replace your pressure-reducing valve or fix a leak in your water service line, which calls for a professional.

When to call a plumber

You’ll want to call a plumber if you realize the issue isn’t just limited to one faucet or showerhead, as the problem will require a series of repairs to fully resolve.

Luxury bathroom with stone tile surround on the bathtub and shower. Toilet in the foreground..

3. Clogged drains and toilets

Last but not least, clogged drains and toilets are another extremely common plumbing problem that are impossible to ignore – as they usually result in overflowing water and a huge mess! 

What causes the problem?

This issue is most often caused by something blocking the drain either partially or completely. Instead of being able to flush your toilet normally or watch as water drains freely down your sink, the water will back up and overflow. In sinks and showers, hair is usually the culprit. In toilets, clogs are usually the result of something other than dissolvable waste being flushed, which causes blockage in the pipes. 

How to fix the issue

Thankfully, clogged drains and toilets are the easiest plumbing issue to solve on your own. With the help of a trusty plunger, move it up and down to create suction over the drain. If this doesn’t help, chemical drain cleaners or plumbing snakes can also help to dislodge blockages.  

When to call a plumber

If you run into repeated clogging in the same drain, the issue may be more complicated than a simple plunging job and require help from a plumber. A plumber may need to replace your pipes, which could be damaged for a variety of reasons and therefore more prone to clogging.

These are just a few of the most common plumbing problems that you’ll run into over time, but unfortunately there are many more – like leaky bathtubs! Here’s what to do if you notice staining or drippage around your tub.

Find Out Why Your Bathtub Is Leaking