Common Plumbing Problems & How to Fix Them
Most of the time, you don’t have to think very much about your plumbing. However, when something goes wrong, it can be costly and prevent normal usage of your bathroom, kitchen, or other plumbing. But what are the most common problems, how can they be fixed, and what can be done to prevent them in the first place?
Common Plumbing Problems and What They Mean
As a homeowner, chances are high that you’ll run into plumbing problems at some point. Plumbing problems are a normal part of owning a home due to the wear and tear on fixtures that you use daily. Sometimes, these smaller problems are the only issue, but other times they’re a sign of a greater problem. For example, low water pressure may just be mineral buildup within your shower head, but it may also indicate that there’s a leak somewhere in your pipes.
The Toilet Is Constantly Running
A toilet should fill up your tank with water and stop when it’s full. If the toilet is constantly running, that’s a sign that the inner workings of the tank aren’t functioning properly. The cause could be an ill-fitting flapper valve, an out-of-balance float, or a loose-fill tube. Another possibility is that your toilet is leaking.
The Toilet Is Clogged
Fixing a clogged toilet begins with the plunger. In most cases, the plunger will get the water moving again. If not, use a drain snake. This is a long wire coil that can feed down into a curved toilet drain. Once it hits the clog, you can push through it or pull it out.
The Faucet Is Leaking
A dripping faucet typically isn’t an emergency. The water drips into the sink, where it drains down the pipes as it’s supposed to. It’s not going to cause a buildup of moisture in your bathroom like a leak elsewhere might. However, the water that’s wasted by dripping out of your faucet can add up over time, costing you more money on your water bill.
A Pipe Under the Sink Is Leaking
Leaking pipes can cause water damage and lead to mold and mildew growth. If the leak is coming from a pipe joint, removing the pipe and refilling the joint with joint filler might do the trick. If your pipe or fitting has a crack, you can find replacements at any hardware store.
The Sink Is Draining Slowly
This may be caused by a clogged drain. A plunger can usually dislodge the occasional clog. You can also use chemical drain cleaners to help remove bigger clogs.
The Tub Is Draining Slowly
If you have a bathtub in your bathroom, its pipes can become clogged just like a sink or a toilet. You can use a plunger, a chemical drain cleaner, or a drain snake to dislodge the material that is clogging the drain. If you have long hair, then hair in the drain is a common cause of a clogged bathtub.
The Water Pressure In Your Shower is Low
Most water entering homes contain a certain amount of dissolved minerals. These minerals can clog up the openings in your showerhead and your faucet. To remedy this issue, take off the showerhead and soak it in vinegar overnight. This will remove minerals and get the water flowing again.
Alternatively, there could be a leaky pipe somewhere else in your house. If water that is supposed to make its way to your shower head is instead leaking out before it gets there, that can lower your water pressure.
The Water in Your Bathroom Is Cold
If the water in your sink or shower is always cold and doesn’t warm up, there may be an issue with your hot water heater. Leaks or mineral deposits could prevent the water heater from producing enough hot water. Alternatively, the issue could be with the water heater’s ability to effectively heat water.
Common Fixes for Plumbing Problems
Some common plumbing problems, such as unclogging a toilet or replacing a flapper valve on a toilet, are easily done by homeowners. Other plumbing problems can be more complex and may require the services of a professional plumber.
Buy a Toilet Repair Kit
A toilet repair kit is an inexpensive kit that includes replacement parts for the most common toilet issues. These are generally available at most hardware stores. You can use this to replace the flapper valve, float, or other hardware within the toilet tank that is causing the toilet to run.
Check for Leaks with Food Coloring
If you suspect that there is a leak in your toilet that is causing the sound of water running, then you can check using food coloring. Put some food coloring in the tank of the toilet and then wait twenty minutes. Be careful not to use or flush the toilet during that time. If the food coloring has made its way into the bowl of the toilet, then water is leaking from the tank to the toilet.
Invest in a Plunger, Drain Snake, and Chemical Drain Cleaner
Clogs are a common bathroom problem and can occur in the toilet, sink, or bathtub. The first step toward fixing a clog is to use the plunger to try to dislodge the material stopping up the drain. Next, you can try using a drain snake to dislodge the clog by pulling it up and out of the drain. Chemical drain cleaner can also be used to help dissolve the material clogging the drain and is a good option when the clog is too far away from the drain to reach.
Replace the Washer
If you have a leaking faucet, a common solution is to replace the washer on the pipe. Often, this completely fixes the problem. For leaking pipes, however, it’s often not as simple. It could be as simple as a washer or it could be an entire pipe that needs to be replaced. While this is possible to do yourself, leaks aren’t always simple to repair. You may want to consider calling a plumber.
Soak the Tap or Showerhead in Vinegar
If you have low water pressure in either your shower or your tap, a common cause is mineral buildup. Take off the faucet or the showerhead and soak it in vinegar. This can dissolve mineral buildup around where the water comes out.
Check the Pilot Light
If your hot water heater isn’t heating the water in your home effectively, the first thing you should do is check the pilot light. If the pilot light on your water heater isn’t lit, then it can’t heat the water. You can relight the pilot light yourself using a wand lighter or a long match. You should make sure that the temperature knob is on the ‘pilot’ setting.
Call a Plumber
Not every plumbing job is something that you can easily do yourself. Leaks can easily be more complicated than they initially appear. Calling a plumber is also a good idea for people who don’t have any experience in plumbing. It’s usually easier and cheaper in the long run to call a professional plumber in from the beginning rather than risk making a problem both worse and more expensive to repair by trying to DIY the problem.
Preventative Measures to Stop Future Plumbing Problems
Some plumbing issues can be difficult to prevent. Wear and tear on hardware like pipes and your faucet can result in leaks over time. They may not be entirely preventable, but wasted water or damage from a leak can be prevented by keeping your plumbing maintained and regularly checking for leaks and problems.
Maintain Your Equipment
Proper maintenance can go a long way toward preventing plumbing problems. Make sure you read the instructions for anything new that relates to your plumbing. There will be recommendations for how to maintain your hot water heater, your new toilet, or other new bathroom fixture. Properly performing any necessary maintenance can help keep your plumbing working as it should for longer.
Regularly Inspect Your Hardware
While you may not be able to prevent leaks, it’s a good idea to check for them. Look and listen for water drips anywhere water could possibly leak. This includes near your hot water heater. You should also check for other signs of leaks, including rust or mineral buildup.
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