Three Common Plumbing Problems in Your Home
Plumbing problems can crop up almost anytime even at the most inopportune moment. Sometimes, plumbing fixtures and pipes simply fail when you need them most. It is therefore very important to be able to identify or spot signs and symptoms of a potential problem in your plumbing system.
While these issues may be minor and you might simply shrug it off as something that does not necessarily require your immediate attention, disasters often start from very small, sometimes unrelated, problems. It is therefore crucial to be familiar with some of the signs of a possible problem in your plumbing so that you will also know what to do and what to expect.
High Water Usage
The amount of water consumption actually fluctuates depending on the season of the year. Typically, water consumption is higher in the hot summer months in north Texas, while relatively low in cold winter months. In Plano TX, the average person uses almost one gallon of water every time the faucet is turned on. For example, washing your hands, brushing your teeth, cleaning dishes in the sink etc. Sprinkler usage also increases during the summer months.
However, if you see an unexpected rise in your water bill, then there could be several reasons. Leaks are almost always the culprit.
If you have dripping water from faucets in your kitchen, bathroom or garden or have water leaks at baseboards or near sinks, these can lead to substantially higher water usage. Unfortunately, not only is this a waste of water, but there is a high risk of having damage in your home such as slab leaks or damp areas that could lead to mold growth.
Once a week, perform a quick check of everything that has the potential for leaking:
- Faucets: do they drip when turned off?
- Faucets: below the sinks, check for any water on the cabinet floor and feel for water around the supply lines from the sink to the wall.
- Hot water heater: does it run when no hot water has been used for more then 30 minutes?
- Toilets: does water trickle into the bowl after flushing has completed?
- Showers: does water drip out of the shower head or bathtub faucet when turned off?
- Dishwasher: is there any water on the floor in front of the dishwasher?
- Outside hose bibs: check for leaks.
Also as you go around looking for leaks, it’s a good idea to turn the water shutoff valves off and on to prevent any seizing that would prevent you from shutting off the water supply at a later date. If you come across a shutoff valve that you can’t fully close or open, it’s probably time to replace it to avoid potential issues when you do need to use it. Staggs Plumbing has been replacing shutoff valves with newer more robust models in Plano, Dallas, Rockwall and surrounding areas since 1990.
Dripping water is a sign of a problem in the seal of a fixture. So check it out and replace it as needed. For leaks at baseboards or near sinks, you may need to take a closer look to find the actual source of the leak. If in doubt, it’s always best to call out an experienced and capable plumber.
More information about faucet leaks can be found here.
One of the more common sources of high water usage is running toilets. Toilets haven’t changed much in the past 8 decades so the average DIYer should be able to fix most toilet issues.
- Check the fill tube to see if it is attached to the overflow tube and reattach it if needed.
- Make sure the adjustable float is neither too high nor too low. You may need to make the adjustments so that the water level will be at least an inch below the critical level as marked on your fill valve.
- Adjust or replace the flapper, the flapper handle, and/or the flapper chain.
For further information on common toilet problems, please refer to the clogged toilets page.
Water that will not go down the drain as fast as it should is always a plumbing problem. You may have clogged sinks and bathtub drains that you simply have to unclog. Water that backs up in tubs or in your shower drain can mean that you have already accumulated greasy grime or even balls of hair in your shower drain.
Identifying the cause of plumbing problems in your drains often involves the process of elimination. You can use a flashlight to illuminate the insides of your drain and check if there is already an abnormally high concentration of grime, food particles, debris, hair, or virtually anything.
Alternatively, you can insert a stick into the drain and try to scrape the sides of the drain. You can try to fish out anything that is blocking the efficient flow of water down the drain. You may also need to consider the age of your house and check when was the last time you had your drain and pipes replaced. You might also want to ask your neighbors if they have drainage problems as well. If they do, then the problem is more a sewer problem which your local city or town is responsible for.
If you have a slow-draining sink, try pouring equal portions of vinegar and baking soda into the drain. Pour boiling water first down the drain followed by the baking soda. Wait a couple of minutes before dumping the vinegar that has been mixed in equal parts of boiling water. Cover the drain with the plug or the stopper. Wait 10-15 minutes then flush it again with boiling water.
We’ve often seen shower and bathtub drains clogged by hair. It usually gets caught up in the “P-trap” which is just few inches below the shower or tub drain. There is a very inexpensive tool made of flexible plastic, about two feet long with serrated edges called a Zip-It Bath and Sink Hair Snare. Here’s a link to the product from one of the large hardware stores. It’s very easy to use, requires no tools and just takes a few minutes to clean out most of the hair that’s clogging up the drain.
Alternatively you can insert a drain snake or even a bent wire hanger down the drain and hook out whatever it is that’s blocking the drain. Or, you can pour some caustic soda down the drain. Be sure to wear goggles and gloves though.
At some point, you’re going to need to call in a professional plumber like Staggs Plumbing to get the job done right, as cleaning out drains is not an easy DIY task.
Slow Water Flow from Faucets
If you have reduced water flow from your faucet, the most likely culprit will be a clogged aerator or even a clogged cartridge. However, in order to rule out other problems, you need to open each faucet in your house one at a time and check water flow. If all faucets have weak water flow, then the problem may be low water pressure from your water utility or there may be a routine water work in your neighborhood.
If the problem is a blocked aerator, you simply just have to remove the aerator by unscrewing its body from the faucet. Twist the aerator’s body anti-clockwise or to the left. If it won’t budge, use pliers. Make sure to take note of the positioning or sequencing of the different aerator parts. Clean all of the components. If there is scale buildup, soak them in equal parts of water and vinegar to dissolve the scales. Then just reassemble the aerator.
If the problem is not fixed, then you may have a clogged cartridge. You will need to disassemble the faucet itself and remove the cartridge. Clean it and remove any debris or scale buildup. Then just reassemble.
If the problem is still not fixed and you have low water pressure all over your house, check for leaks and address them accordingly. You may also need to check water pressure regulators and see if they need to be replaced.
These are just some of the more common plumbing problems we have noticed in our customers’ homes. Most require easy DIY fixes. However, for best results it is often advisable to seek professional help for your plumbing problems.
Staggs Plumbing: serving the north Dallas TX metroplex and surrounding areas.