Homes are a combination of complicated systems and one most important component is the plumbing system. This system is designed to carry fresh water into your home along with a drainage system to remove both solid and liquid waste. Your plumbing system requires regular maintenance and ongoing updates to keep your home sanitary while providing water for cooking, bathing, drinking, and other household chores. Many of these maintenance steps can be completed by homeowners but there are situations that may arise that will require the expertise of a professional emergency plumber.
In this article, we will discuss common plumbing issues faced by many homeowners and identify the signs that these conditions are present and the common causes. We will also offer some practical solutions you can try yourself and determine when it is best to call the plumber.
Common Plumbing Issues
Leaks: One very common plumbing issue is leaking pipes. Many leaks are obvious such as dripping faucets or toilets that continuously run. Other leaks are harder to detect as they are hidden from view. You may suspect you have a leak if your water bills are unusually high, you have poor water pressure, your water is discolored or smells bad, and, of course, if you see water where it shouldn’t be. Broken seals and joints can allow water to escape causing leaks. They can also be a result of corroded pipes, clogs including those from invading tree roots, and shifting soil that no longer supports the drainage pipes.
As you can see the causes are many and the signs are obvious so if you suspect a water leak it is time to call the plumber.
Clogs: A drain clog can originate at the mouth of your drain or be buried deep within the plumbing system making it difficult to locate and repair. Here are signs your plumbing is clogged. Drains that will not empty or are slow to empty can be red flags alerting you to a problem. As wastewater sits in the drain it can stagnate causing a terrible odor or gurgling sounds so use your senses to detect a clog. A sure sign your system is blocked is that sewage begins backing up into your shower and sinks causing a terrible mess and a plumbing emergency.
Clogs frequently form from poor habits in the bath and kitchen. Soap scum and accumulating hair combine to block drains and kitchen fats, oils, and grease are well known to be destructive to plumbing pipes. Clogs can also be linked to hard water minerals corroding pipes and thirsty tree roots seeking water.
Minor clogs can be eliminated using homemade concoctions that break up blockages or by using a plunger or plumbing snake. When these methods fail it is time to call in the plumber as they have the specialized equipment and expertise to resolve even the most stubborn clogs.
Low Water Pressure: Water is pressurized in order to allow it to move to all areas of your home through the plumbing system. The ideal pressure to aim for is between 45-55 pounds per square inch (psi). When it falls below 40 psi you experience low pressure which interferes with bathing and all your household chores.
There are a slew of reasons why your water pressure may be low beginning with the main city water supply having issues. As the water from the city enters your home it passes through a shut-off valve and if not fully open your pressure can suffer. Pipes filled with limescale can restrict the flow of water and clogged pipes or those with leaks can also reduce the water pressure in your home.
Fully opening the shutoff valve is the first step. Some homes are equipped with a pressure regulator that may be malfunctioning and needs adjustment or replacement. Clog removal and leaking pipes should be addressed by the plumber as they can look at the overall picture of your plumbing system to determine the cause of your low pressure and make the necessary repairs.
Water Heater Issues: Hot water heaters are an essential part of a home’s plumbing system and require ongoing maintenance to continue providing sufficient hot water. These are common signs your heater is having issues that need to be addressed. Probably the surest sign is no hot water or water that is lukewarm. This could be caused by a pilot light that won’t stay lit or a failing heating element. A malfunctioning water heater may make unusual noises or produce water that is rusty and discolored. Water heaters are also known to create water pressure issues so be sure to investigate the water heater if your faucets are not delivering the amount of water they normally supply.
Other than a visual inspection of your water heater, water heater issues are best left to the plumber. They can correctly diagnose and repair problems and help avoid a plumbing disaster such as a flood. They can also promptly replace a water heater in an emergency when there is no time to waste.
Gas Lines: This is the single component of a plumbing system that should never be touched by a homeowner regardless of the expertise they possess. Hissing sounds, leaking gas lines omitting rotten egg smells, increased gas bills and the malfunctioning of gas-powered appliances are all signs of a gas emergency and are indicators to leave your home immediately and call for help. Once the gas company is notified it is time to call the plumber!
Although the topics discussed in this article are not the only plumbing issues homeowners can face they are the most common ones requiring homeowners to contact their plumbers. Leaking and clogged pipes can lead to structural damage in your home and although some minor problems can successfully be addressed by homeowners, most will require the expertise of a professional. Low water pressure and malfunctioning water heaters are also best left to the plumber who can accurately diagnose and repair any issues that arise. Most importantly, remember to never attempt to repair a gas line issue in your home as gas lines are dangerous components of your plumbing system
As tempting as it might be to try and repair your plumbing pipes and related issues it is not recommended to go beyond a few common sense fixes. Plumbers are well-trained and understand the signs and causes of all your plumbing issues and can apply their experience and expertise to repair and promote the longevity of your plumbing system. When in doubt…call the plumber!