A Beginner’s Guide to Common Plumbing Problems and How to Fix Them

If you’re new to home ownership or just living on your own for the first time, you might not be acquainted with the plunging, clogging, dripping, leaking and snaking that comes with common plumbing problems. When something isn’t quite right, it’s important to know when to call a plumber, but it’s also important to know when an issue is minor and can be handled with a little DIY know-how. Our beginner’s guide to simple plumbing problems will give you the info you need to confidently tackle these common troubles yourself.

Leaking Faucet

Is the tap in your kitchen doing a rhythmic “drip, drip drip” into the sink? Has the endless drip left your sink with tell-tale stains? A leaky faucet may seem like more of a nuisance than anything, but in time, it can run up your water usage and cost you big on your monthly bill. Over the course of a year, a leaky faucet could waste hundreds of gallons of water.

The Fix:

In most cases, a leaky faucet is fixed by replacing the washer. Washers can become dislodged, stiff, worn and torn, and need replacing.

Slow Draining Sink or Tub

Slow draining sink or tub

Does your sink or tub empty like you’re draining molasses rather than water? When your water isn’t draining quickly, this means there is something blocking its pathway down the drain. Kitchen sinks will get clogged up with food debris and congealed fats. Bathroom sinks and tubs get clogged with soap and knotted hair.

The Fix:

There are lots of ways to help prevent these types of drain clogs. Products are available for kitchen sinks and bathtubs to stop this clog-creating debris from getting into your drain and it’s a good idea to get one once you’ve cleared the blockage. There are several ways to clear a clogged drain. For kitchen sinks, chemical drain-clearing products help break down food matter and fat and can be an easy solution to the problem. Keep in mind that these chemicals can also damage your pipes if used too often so they should be used sparingly. Blockages in any drain can also be tackled with a plunger but this may be a temporary solution depending on what’s causing the clog. Additionally, hair caught in bathtubs is often close to the top of the drain and tools are available to scoop these knots out. In cases where clogs are further down the pipe, a plumber’s snake can be used in both the kitchen and the bathroom.

Toilet Clog

Toilet Clog

Like your sink and tub, your toilet will clog from time to time as well with a build up of paper and waste. You can avoid these clogs by not flushing anything but toilet paper.

The Fix:

A clogged toilet can be set right, often with just a plunger. Put the plunger in the toilet so that the outside circle of the plunger head touches around the drain. Push down hard on the handle of the plunger. This creates both force and suction to move the debris. Push down on the handle several times until the water drains. If a plunger will not do the trick, the next tool for the job is a plumber’s snake.

Running Toilet

If your toilet constantly sounds like running water is filling the tank, it could cost you plenty in wasted water. In most cases this is caused by a broken flapper valve. The flapper valve controls the flow of water from the tank to the bowl.

The Fix:

Toilet repairs kits are available that allow you to repair and replace the components inside your toilet tank cheaply and easily.

Poor Water Pressure in the Shower

Poor Water Pressure in the Shower

Assuming that low water pressure is something new and isn’t part of a larger plumbing issue, more often than not, low water pressure is caused by mineral and sediment deposits that have built up over time in the shower head.

The Fix:

Soak the shower head in vinegar and give it a gentle scrub. You should be able to see when the holes have become clear. However, you can easily replace and update your shower head if needed.

No Hot Water

No Hot Water

Unfortunately, you don’t often discover this problem until you’re one foot in the shower and ten minutes late for work. If you have no hot water, there is an issue with your hot water tank.

The Fix:

Sometimes, it could be that your temperature setting was accidently turned way down and simply needs to be set back to normal. If that’s not the problem, your pilot light may need relighting. If it isn’t either of these two issues, it’s probably best to have the tank inspected to determine the problem.

When tackling any plumbing problem, always shut off the water supply to the fixture. Make sure you’re well prepared with the right products, tools and instructions and always assume you’ll get wet in the process.