Modern plumbing is something of a miracle. But, let’s be honest. We don’t really give much thought to it until something goes wrong. When it does, we give our plumbing a whole lot of thought… and usually money, too.
The key to avoiding expensive plumbing disasters is recognizing when there’s trouble brewing. Here are 7 common problems to watch for:
Plumbing Problem #1 Low Water Pressure
Typically, low water pressure doesn’t come on suddenly. Rather, it happens slowly as minerals and other residue build up and subsequently corrode your pipes. If your pipes are in good shape, a number of things could be contributing to your pressure problem:
- The fixture. If you’re experiencing poor pressure from only one faucet, there’s likely debris build-up in the fixture itself.
- Water heater. If you’re getting good pressure with cold water, but the hot water is weak, your water heater is likely to blame.
- Shut-off valve. Turning the master shut-off valve even a little bit can make a significant difference in the water pressure throughout your home. If your low pressure isn’t localized to one faucet, check that valve.
- Pressure regulator. Many homes are equipped with a water pressure regulator at the shut-off valve. If yours is failing, you could experience either a sudden increase or decrease in water pressure.
- Water main breaks can cause low water pressure, as can leaks at the connection from the city water supply to your home.
Plumbing Problem #2: Leaks and Drips
Sometimes leaks are obvious. You’ll find a puddle under the kitchen sink, or the drip-drip-drip of your bathroom faucet keeps you awake at night. Other times, you’ll find only the evidence of a leak: a water stain on the ceiling that’s perfectly aligned with the toilet flange in the second-floor bathroom or a musty odor coming from your laundry room (that can’t be explained by your teenager’s gym clothes).
Good places to check for leaks include:
- Around your kitchen sink rim. If you have water in your cabinet, you may have a leaky pipe or you could just need a new bead of caulk around your sink.
- Shower walls. If the grout in your tiled shower is in poor condition, water can seep back into the walls and run through the floor below.
- Supply lines. It’s a good idea to periodically check for leaks and drips where toilets, sinks, and washing machine connect to the wall.
If you notice a leak, don’t shrug your shoulders and vow to take care of it “someday.” It’s much easier to fix a leak than it is to clean up a flood. Plus, dripping faucets waste 1 trillion gallons of water nationwide. Every year.
Aside from driving you crazy, a dripping sound usually signifies a greater problem at hand. If the leak is coming from the faucet, it could mean the washers in the faucet need replacing. If the dripping is coming from pipes, it often means those pipes are rusting. This creates holes for water to seep through in the pipes. Leaky pipes need replacing. If you’ve scheduled a service call and need to deal with the dripping faucet for a few days, try this trick: tie a string around the end of the faucet and let it hang into the sink. The water will drip onto the string and run silently into the drain.
Plumbing Problem #3: Slow Drains
The water in your sink should drain quickly and continue to drain as the water runs. If the sink is draining slowly, your pipes could be clogged. Check under the sink for leaks, water damage, or mold. [Redfin].
If one sink is draining slowly, you may just have a clog to deal with. If every drain in your home is slow, you could have a plugged sewer line. If that’s the case, you may hear a gurgling sound and water may back up into the sink, rather than draining away from it. If you use a faucet in one area of your home and then notice water percolating up the drain in another area, it’s a good idea to inspect your waste stack.
Plumbing Problem #4: Running or Plugged-Up Toilets
If your toilet runs constantly, or doesn’t drain properly, it may be a sign of a leaky toilet. You should get this checked out ASAP, because a leaky toilet can rot through the floor, leading to costly damages. Running toilets waste water and stress your plumbing. If you often have to jiggle the flush handle, it’s time to replace the flapper, float, or both.
If your toilets frequently clog, you could have an issue in the main waste line. And if you flush your toilet and water backs up into the tub, that’s a sure sign of a sewer blockage.
Plumbing Problem Sign #5 Foul Odor
If your home has a septic tank, and you notice water, seepage, or a foul odor, you could be dealing with an outdated sewage system. Have a plumber inspect your septic tank, because old sewer lines can collapse, allowing sewage to back up into your home. [Redfin].
Plumbing Problem Sign #6 Tinted Water
If you run a bath and the water has a brown or yellow tint, there is likely rust present. Rust in the water is a sign of decay inside your pipes. This can happen if the water has been sitting in the pipes for a long period of time, such as in a vacation home. You’ll want to replace the pipes as soon as possible. [Houselogic].
Plumbing Problem Sign #7 Cold Showers
A cold shower can feel nice with the summer heat, but if you’re taking more cold showers than you’d like, it might be time to replace your hot water heater. Corrosion on your water heater, dampness near it, and a lack of hot water are all signs of a water heater reaching its last days. Don’t wait to have it inspected and replaced, because the bottom of your water heater could give out and cause flooding. [Redfin].
Many homeowners can take a DIY approach to some common plumbing problems. But for major concerns, like severe leaks and evidence of blockages, it’s best to involve a professional plumber.
For more than 30 years, St. Louis-area homeowners have trusted Maplewood Plumbing and Sewer. Our family-owned business prides itself on our solid reputation in the community. Give us a call at 314-300-0216 to see for yourself why our loyal customers won’t use anyone else!
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