A Quick Guide to 5 Common Plumbing Problems

Plumbing problems are some of the most common problems in houses and apartments, and they could be costing you more than just patience. Fortunately, most of these problems have some quick fixes. Read on to find out how to diagnose and address the five most common plumbing problems from clogged drains to low water pressure.

1. Clogged Drains

It doesn’t take a plumber to recognize a clogged drain. If the water isn’t disappearing, it’s probably clogged. While there are different kinds of clogs, including sewer line clogs (which may require professional help), we’re going to address the kind that you’ll be able to fix at home. This includes clogs caused by drain buildup or foreign objects lodged in the pipes.

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While the water that leaks out from a clogged drain can usually be cleaned up easily, your main concern with a clogged pipe should be water damage. You don’t want it to get to the point where water is leaking through the whole house. This type of water damage can lead to a whole host of other problems, including water stains, destruction of property and mold growth.

Our Tips
If using a drain snake doesn’t solve the problem, you may need to use a drain cleaning solution. But be careful. Drain cleaners can erode your pipes. In an apartment, it may be hard to determine what material your pipes are made from. In this case, we recommend choosing a cleaner that is safe for all pipes.

2. Dripping Faucet

With its trademark drip, drip, drip, a leaky faucet is pretty obvious.

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Think that dripping sound is annoying? How do higher water bills sound? Depending on the size of the leak, a dripping faucet can cost you $20 or more a month. Not only is this a waste of money, it’s a waste of water. 34 gallons a year, to be specific. And that’s if only one faucet is dripping at a rate of one drip per minute. Imagine if those numbers went up.

Our Tips
There are a couple different ways to fix a leaky faucet. One of the most common causes of a leaky faucet is a faulty aerator. To fix this, simply remove the aerator and take the O-ring, a rubber ring on the spout side of the aerator, out. Use vinegar to remove any buildup that may be present on the aerator.

3. Running Toilet

Is your toilet running? Better catch it. To find out if you have a toilet leak, drop some food coloring into the toilet tank. If you can see the color in the toilet bowl within 15 minutes of flushing, odds are, you have a leak.

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A slow toilet leak may be undetectable and can waste 30 gallons of water a day. A medium leak (the kind you’ll probably notice) can waste 250 gallons of water a day.

Our Tips
Most often, running toilets and leaks are caused by damage to a part of the toilet called the flapper. This is a rubber seal that covers the flush valve at the bottom of the toilet tank. Fortunately, these are pretty inexpensive and easy to replace.

4. Low Water Pressure

Most people are probably able to detect low water pressure, but before you jump to conclusions and start getting out your wrenches, make sure you check the water pressure for both cold and hot water. If you’re only experiencing low water pressure with hot water, the problem may be your water heater.

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There’s nothing worse than standing under the shower head and feeling virtually no water pressure. Or when it’s time to wash the dishes, turning on the sink and feeling water gently flow out rather than come out full-force.

Our Tips
There are a couple things that could be causing low water pressure. The first thing to check would be the water meter valve. This is usually found on the street side near your water meter. If this valve appears to be completely open, check the main shut-off valve. This is usually located on the side of the water meter closest to your house. If both valves are fully open, it may be time to check for a leak in the pipes.

5. Leaky Pipes

While all the other plumbing problems we’ve discussed are fairly easy to detect, leaky pipes might not be quite so obvious. A higher than normal water bill may lead you to believe you have a leaking pipe. Mold, mildew, musty smells, stained and damaged floors and ceilings can all confirm this.

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Leaks can cause irreparable and expensive damage to your property. By promoting the growth of mold and mildew, they can also be a health hazard, causing you and your family to get sick more often.

Our Tips
For a temporary fix, if you’re able to find the leak, you can try to stop it with a pipe patch. These can be bought at a hardware store or made yourself. If you want to do it yourself, you’ll need heavy rubber from an inner tube or C-clamp and hose clamps or two plates that can be bolted together. Use the rubber to cover the leak and then use the hose clamps or plates to hold the rubber in place over the leak.

Before You Get Started…

When you’re ready to embark on your plumbing apprenticeship, keep a couple things in mind. Always turn the water main off before starting to fix anything.

Also, be sure to bring any hardware that you need replacements for to 3rd Street Hardware. This is the best way for us to give you the correct hardware for your repairs. If you don’t feel comfortable removing anything, snapping some photos with your phone can also help.

Last, but not least, if you live in an apartment, make sure to report the problem to your landlord. Failure to do so may result in you losing your security deposit. And don’t forget to check your lease, because you might not be responsible for the plumbing repair. For example, a clogged drain is a simple fix, but sudden water damage in your ceiling? That’s a different story. Either way, be sure to do everything you can to resolve your plumbing problems as soon as possible. After all, moisture attracts bugs. Need we say more?

If you find yourself needing to practice your plumbing and don’t know where to begin, give us a call or stop by for a visit. We’re happy to help you with any of your plumbing, hardware or DIY needs.

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