With the number of components that make up a plumbing system in the average home, it isn’t surprising that problems can crop up from time to time. Having regular maintenance and keeping a watchful eye can often prevent small issues from escalating into major repairs. Being aware of the most common plumbing problems can also help you avoid unnecessary expense and inconvenience.
#1: Clogged Drains
Plumbing drains get a lot of use on a daily basis, so it’s not surprising that problems can crop up. Kitchen sink drains will eventually get blocked by a buildup of food and grease, while bathroom sinks, shower stalls and bathtub drains can easily become clogged by hair and soap residue.
No matter where the problem develops, a clogged drain can quickly turn into a messy backup. If a sink or shower stall overflows in a second floor bathroom, it could also cause ceiling damage in the room below. Drain cleaners can dissolve most smaller clogs, but you may need to call in a professional to fix stubborn blockages to avoid a disaster.
#2: Leaking Faucets
It’s easy to ignore the slow drip of a leaky faucet, but over time those drips can add up to a big impact on your water bill. Simply replacing the washers is a quick fix that may solve the problem. If not, you may have to install a new faucet. Turning off a tap without applying too much force can help extend its life once it’s fixed.
#3: Toilet Obstructions
When a toilet won’t flush properly because it’s clogged, most homeowners immediately reach for a plunger. If you’re lucky, this will quickly get things moving and help prevent a messy overflow. If the blockage is stubborn, you may need the help of a plumber who can try snaking the toilet. If that doesn’t work, he may need to remove the fixture to see if there is an issue with the drain pipe itself.
#4: Running Toilets
If this necessary fixture won’t stop running after it’s flushed, one of several working parts inside the toilet tank could be the culprit. A faulty fill valve, flapper or flush valve may be the cause of the problem. Once you find out which one isn’t doing its job, replacing it is a relatively easy fix.
#5: Leaking Water Heaters
A serious hot water heater leak can materialize without much warning, and it’s usually not a pleasant experience. The water might go icy cold in the middle of a morning shower, or you might discover a large pool of water in the basement. Your hallway carpet may be saturated by a flood coming from your utility closet.
Regular maintenance such as replacing the anode rod periodically, flushing the tank, and checking the valve can help prevent trouble. If your tank looks corroded, call a plumber to have it replaced before it starts to leak.
#6: Stopped-up Garbage Disposals
When the disposal seizes up, it can cause havoc in the kitchen, especially if it happens at mealtime. You can try freeing the motor by inserting the key into the opening at the bottom of the unit and then turning it left and right. If you don’t have the key, a 1/4 inch Allen wrench will work just as well. If you can’t get the disposal unjammed, you’ll need the help of a plumber to get the problem solved.