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  • 4 Common Plumbing Issues and How to Spot Them

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Issues with your plumbing can be frustrating at best, and costly at worst. In some cases, the fix is incredibly expensive and can leave you without water for an extended period of time. That’s why, as a responsible and handy homeowner, it’s helpful to be able to know how to spot potential issues before they arise or understand what’s happening so you can communicate it to a plumbing professional when necessary. Here are four common plumbing issues you should keep an eye out for in your home.

Clogged Drains

As part of the natural course of life, over time, your drains will get clogged with hair, hard water, toothpaste, food, and other debris. This buildup of gunk can start to restrict the flow of water in your pipes. If this problem occurs, you’ll probably notice water pooling in your sink or the bottom of your shower or tub. In addition, if your pipes are galvanized, they will begin to corrode from the inside, which can cause the pipe diameter to become smaller over time and lead to even more backups.

Most of the time, clogged drains are an easy fix. They can usually be fixed with a drain snake, flushing the drain with an unclogging solution, or by taking apart and cleaning the p-trap. Be sure to turn off the water to that specific bathroom, sink, or room if you need to pull apart a plumbing system to clean it.

Leaking Shower

There are a couple of different ways your shower can leak. You may notice water constantly dripping from the shower head or tub spout. Alternatively, water may appear on the floor during times when nobody has used the shower recently. If you’re noticing a leaking shower head or tub spout, the problem is probably due to a faulty shower cartridge or valve. If you’re noticing water mysteriously appearing on the floor or dew on the ceiling underneath your shower, there’s probably a leak behind the shower walls that needs to be patched.

Depending on the source of the problem, a plumber may need to replace your shower head, repair pipes, or replace your shower liner. If you’re more of a do-it-yourself kind of person, the parts and equipment to replace or mend these issues can be picked up at your local plumbing or hardware store.

Low Water Pressure

Before contacting a plumber, check to see if your water is running slowly out of all of your fixtures in your house, or just one of them. You should also check to see if the issue is present when both hot and cold water are running, as sometimes this can be an issue regarding a water heater, rather than your plumbing itself. If all of your water fixtures are putting out water with low pressure, there’s probably a problem with your well pump, filtration system, water service line, or pressure-reducing valve.

If the problem is isolated to one fixture, the fix can be as simple as cleaning the aerator or replacing a cartridge. If your whole home has low pressure, you’ll likely need to replace the pressure reducing valve or speak to a professional for their appraisal of the situation. Be sure to call a licensed plumber to assess the situation and work from there to fix the whole problem.

Toilets Running

When a toilet is constantly running or sounds like it is continuously filling with water after a flush, there’s probably an issue with the flapper that seals the tank and bowl. Most of the time, a running toilet is a simple fix. All you need to do is replace the parts in the tank or make adjustments to the chain attached to the flapper.

If you are noticing water pooling around the base of your toilet, there may be a faulty seal in the tank itself, or a loose screw somewhere in the base. Draining the water and investigating the problem area is key to finding out if this is the issue at hand. You can find replacement parts and sealants at your local hardware store as well, though you may need a second pair of hands to fix this particular issue.

Plumbing problems can cause significant damage if left unattended and they often cause you to waste a lot of water in the process. Be sure to consult with a plumber as quickly as possible if you notice any of these four issues in your home and aren’t sure whether you should tackle them yourself or not. Whether you’re a do-it-yourself plumber, or you need to tell a professional what the problem is, knowing what you are looking for never hurts.

By Dixie Somers
who is a freelance writer based in Arizona.

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