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Most Common Plumbing Problems and How to Fix Them


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Common Plumbing Problems

Owning a home is stressful. So many different things can go wrong that require a professional to fix. This can certainly be the case with plumbing issues. However, not every plumbing issue requires a trained plumber to repair. Here are some of the most common plumbing problems and, more importantly, how to fix them.

I don’t have time to deal with the mess and hassle of DIY plumbing projects

Running Toilet
Many people seriously underestimate the amount of water their toilets use every day. In fact, toilets use more water, on average, than any other household appliance or device. When toilets have leaks or are continually running, this water usage skyrockets, resulting in a much higher water bill until the problem is fixed. A faulty flapper is often the culprit with a running toilet. Upon flushing, the flapper is what allows water to move from the tank to the bowl. This piece can deteriorate over time, creating a steady trickle of water that leads to frequent refilling of the tank.

To begin, empty the water in the tank. This is done by closing the toilet’s water shutoff valve and then flushing to release the water from the tank. Identify the flapper, which is a rubber or plastic piece with a chain attached. Unclip the chain from the flapper, and unhook the flapper from the pegs of the flush valve tube. Finally, all you need to do is connect the new flapper.

Depending on your toilet, you may not need the ring that comes attached to some flappers. If you don’t need the ring, you can remove it and connect the flapper to the pegs of the flush valve. If you do need it, you’ll simply use the ring to hook the flapper back into place. Reattach the new flapper to the chain of the handle lever, which should have a little bit of slack when the handle is in the resting position. Finally, reopen the toilet’s water shutoff valve, and your job is done!

Clogged Drain
Clogged drains in your bathtub or sink are inevitable over time. Eventually, you’ll notice the water is draining more slowly than before. This is generally due to a buildup of hair, grease, soap, or other substances. For clogs that aren’t especially major, you can try pouring several cups of boiling water down the drain (remove the stopper first). Then pour down 1 cup of baking soda and 1 cup of vinegar, and let this reactive combination work its magic for a half hour or so. You’ll want to place a wet rag over the drain to ensure the reaction is contained. Finally, pour several more cups of boiling water down the drain. This will often break up whatever’s causing the backup.

If this doesn’t do the trick, you can try using a plunger. Fill the sink or bathtub with a few inches of water to cover the plunger, and start out slow so you don’t shoot water everywhere. Once the plunger has created a firm seal with the drain, begin to plunge forcefully for thirty seconds or so. If your sink or bathtub has an overflow vent, you’ll want to plug it up with a wet rag to create the seal necessary for the plunger to do its job. This repeated forcing of water down the drain can work well at breaking up a clog. For more serious clogs, you might be best calling a plumber.

Low Water Pressure
You’re rinsing the dishes and notice the water seems to be coming out at a lower rate of speed than usual. This can be really frustrating. The first step toward fixing the problem is identifying the extent of the problem. Check other fixtures around the house. If water pressure is low for all of them, you should check both your water meter valve and your main shut-off valve. If either valve isn’t fully open, open it. If this doesn’t alleviate the problem, it’s possible that your pipes are heavily corroded. This happens to older pipes generally, and unfortunately usually means you’ll need to put in new plumbing.

If the low water pressure is limited to one sink or shower head, it’s possible that there’s buildup obstructing regular water flow. Some plumbing fixtures just need a good cleaning and they’ll be back to normal. Soaking your shower head or sink aerator in vinegar can help remove any collected gunk that’s slowing down the pressure. If you realize that hot water is coming out more slowly than cold water, the problem may lie with your water heater.

Faulty Water Heater
A hot shower is a cherished respite from the cold. But when you’re being showered with lukewarm water, your day can really get off on the wrong foot. There are several things that can go wrong with a water heater, so here are a few of them to check.

First, make sure the pilot light is on. If it doesn’t appear to be lit, switch the gas valve to “Off.” After a few minutes, switch the gas valve to “Pilot” and press the button or valve down. Once the pilot light indicator comes on, keep the button or valve pressed down for another minute or so. If that doesn’t solve the problem, the issue might be a faulty dip tube (the piece that moves water to the bottom of the tank where it’s heated), which can cause cold water to leak into the hot water. One or both of the heating elements of your water heater could also have gone out.

These last two fixes are probably best done by a professional.

One other common issue is caused by the sediment buildup that occurs over time in water heaters. Without proper maintenance, like occasionally flushing your water heater’s tank out, the sediment can wreak havoc within the tank. If flushing out the tank doesn’t alleviate the problem, call a professional to do a thorough inspection of the water heater and see if a repair will suffice or if you’ll need to replace the whole unit. Water heaters tend to only last for a decade or so.

Plumbing problems can, of course, vary, and some may require different solutions than presented here. If you run into an issue beyond your expertise, Stephens Plumbing can do the job with expertise and care. Call (630) 968-0783 or schedule an appointment online.