Monthly Maintenance Reminder: Common Plumbing Problems

Monthly Maintenance Reminder: Common Plumbing Problems

Plumbing
By Dikran Seferian October 01, 2022

Almost every homeowner deals with plumbing problems at some point in their lives. While certain malfunctions such as a dripping faucet can be rather minor, others such as a major pipe leak can cause a lot of damage. It goes without saying that proper use and quality materials can often prevent a lot of these issues. But once you’re faced with them, it’s best to look for a solution. Fortunately, and in most cases, fixing these problems doesn’t necessarily warrant a professional plumber. You should be able to handle these plumbing repairs yourself if you have the right tools and know your way around them. 

Leaking Pipes

Besides being somewhat of a nuisance, leaking pipes can cause a lot of damage to walls, floors, and furniture. The resulting dampness can also encourage mold growth as well as bug infestations. In most cases, pipe leaks happen at the pipe joints and are mainly due to loose fittings.

You can temporarily fix this plumbing problem with tape, fillers, and compounds. But a more permanent solution involves replacing the pipe or the connected fittings. In this case, you may need to reach out to an experienced plumber.

It’s also worth mentioning that leaks are more likely to happen in the winter when water tends to freeze and expand, causing pipes to burst. During cold weather, you can prevent this by letting the cold water drip from the faucet that the exposed pipe leads to. Running water is known to keep pipes from freezing, even if it’s only a trickle. Setting the thermostat at the same temperature both day and night is also a good idea.

Plumbing tape can serve as a temporary yet effective solution for a leaking pipe.

Plumbing tape can serve as a temporary yet effective solution for a leaking pipe.

Blocked Drain in the Shower or Bath

A combination of hair and soap can cause a shower or bath drain to get clogged. You can normally clear the blockage using a plunger or a plumber’s snake. Another solution involves dissolving the clog with vinegar and baking soda. If neglected, the problem can escalate over time. You can prevent this plumbing issue altogether by placing a drain guard to catch the hair from going into the drain.

To unclog the drain with a plunger, it helps to coat the edge of the suction pad with petroleum jelly. The water in the bathtub or shower should also be just enough so that the head of the plunger is submerged. Then, simply plunge the drain vigorously until the blockage is cleared.

Dripping Faucet

Perhaps the most common plumbing issue any homeowner has experienced is a dripping faucet. Other than being simply annoying, the amount of wasted water can drive up your water bill, costing you a lot of money. Bear in mind that hundreds of gallons can drip away from one faucet throughout the year.

A stiff, dislodged or deteriorated internal washer is usually what causes a faucet to drip. But this doesn’t mean you need to buy a new bathroom faucet. With some basic tools and DIY skills, you should be able to solve this issue. The repair involves switching off the water supply, disassembling the faucet, replacing the faulty washer, reassembling the faucet, and turning the water supply back on. 

If not repaired in time, a dripping faucet can result in a massive water bill.

If not repaired in time, a dripping faucet can result in a massive water bill.

Sink Draining Slowly

Another common issue in your home plumbing system can be a sink that drains slowly. Much like a blocked shower or bathtub drain, this common house problem is often due to a clog that hinders the flow of water. In the kitchen, the culprit would typically be food remnants and congealed fat. In the case of a slow-draining bathroom sink, however, knotted hair and soap are usually to blame.

There are several ways you can unclog your sink drain. These include using a plumber’s snake, pouring down a mixture of vinegar and baking soda or a chemical clog remover, or using your trusty plunger. Neglecting to address the issue will eventually cause the sink drain to be blocked completely.

Tip: Should you be using chemicals, make sure to wear safety goggles and gloves, and to follow the instructions on the packaging. You may also want to avoid going for this method every time as it can damage the pipes over time. 

A Clog in the Toilet

A clogged toilet is usually caused by a combination of toilet paper and fecal matter being lodged in the pipework. The blockage will normally lead to the bowl filling up and not draining away. You can often fix this plumbing failure using the almighty plunger. Other methods involve clearing the blockage with a sewer snake or a drain auger. To prevent this issue, avoid tossing items such as thick toilet paper, cotton pads, and baby wipes in the toilet bowl.

You can almost always fix a clogged toilet with a plunger.

You can almost always fix a clogged toilet with a plunger.

Running Toilet

By resulting in the loss of up to 200 gallons of water per day, a running toilet can cost you a great deal of money. The common reason is a faulty or deteriorated flapper valve. This is the component that controls the water passing to the bowl from the tank.

Fixing this plumbing problem is simpler than it may seem and involves using a toilet repair kit which you can find at any hardware store. A less common cause of a running toilet is sediments which can affect how the toilet flushes and fills. If you notice that your water bills are higher than normal, a plumbing trick involves testing for invisible leaks by pouring a bit of food coloring in the tank and checking if it reaches the bowl without flushing the toilet. 

Faulty Water Heater

You may not notice this plumbing problem until the water goes cold as you’re taking a shower. A water heater failure can be due to various reasons. These include the pilot light going out, a buildup of sediment in the water tank, and a malfunctioning thermostat. Unless the solution is something simple such as turning the pilot light back on, you may need to contact a plumber to handle the issue. A professional will also be able to clarify any specific plumbing questions you may have regarding this issue.

The water in the shower going cold is normally a sign of a faulty water heater.

The water in the shower going cold is normally a sign of a faulty water heater.

Water Pressure Is Low

If the water seems to be trickling out of the faucet instead of gushing, you may be dealing with low water pressure. Older homes are more likely to face this issue as they usually have different types of plumbing systems with materials such as galvanized steel. A number of problems are known to result in low water pressure — most commonly leaking pipes that are worn, broken, or corroded.

In the case of low water pressure in the shower, an accumulation of sediments and mineral deposits on the aerator could be the reason. Soaking the aerator in vinegar should fix the issue. If the showerhead is the problem, you can either soak it in vinegar or replace it with a new one.

To clean your showerhead, disassemble it and scrub it with a toothbrush soaked in vinegar. This helps in loosening any mineral deposits. Then, poke off loose deposits using a toothpick or a safety pin. The next step involves soaking the components in vinegar overnight to dissolve the remaining sediments. 

Garbage Disposal Is Jammed

It goes without saying that garbage disposals are quite useful, and it’s not uncommon for them to get jammed. Operating the appliance without water, throwing certain pieces of food waste such as potato peels or corn husks, or accidentally letting utensils go inside can lead to this common kitchen problem.

The go-to solution for this plumbing issue normally involves pressing the reset button. If that doesn’t solve the problem, you’ll need to open up the garbage disposal using the key that comes with it. You can also use a 1/4 Allen wrench to free the motor if you can’t find the key.

To prevent your garbage disposal from getting jammed, avoid draining food scraps such as potato peels.

To prevent your garbage disposal from getting jammed, avoid draining food scraps such as potato peels.

These are some of the most common plumbing issues that any homeowner might come across, but being handy with tools can help you handle the repair yourself in a breeze.

DS

Written by
Dikran Seferian

Written by Dikran Seferian

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