Some plumbing issues are so subtle, you stop noticing them – a dripping faucet, a continuously running toilet, or a shower that never gets quite as hot as you would like. Even if you see these as only small inconveniences, plumbing issues can be a big problem for your water bill, your house’s structure, and for the environment. Read on to learn more about the most common plumbing problems, as well as suggestions for resolving them.
Issue 1: Backed-Up Garbage Disposal
Garbage disposals can handle a lot of food waste, but not everything. If you are routinely stuffing down materials like pasta, potato peels, or even too many coffee grounds, the accumulated food can stick to the blades and clog the drain. Use cold water instead of hot to solidify oil before it reaches the pipes and keep it running until all of the waste is completely ground. If you hear a lot of grinding or nothing is staying down, you can use a plunger to extract the clog. However, you may need to call a plumber if the obstruction is too difficult for you to clear on your own.
Issue 2: Water Won’t Drain
Ever take a shower and notice you are standing in an inch or two of water? Or as your washing your hands, the water isn’t draining as fast as you are running the tap? That means there is a clog somewhere in the pipe, usually the result of hair, soap, or toothpaste getting trapped over time. You can attempt to snake the drain yourself, especially if you are confident about the source of the clog. But most plumbers would caution you about using liquid drain cleaners. Not only are they typically made from toxic chemicals, these substances can also be so harsh that they actually damage your pipes while ostensibly clearing them.
Issue 3: Toilet Continuously Running
There are a few reasons your toilet might be continuously running, and many of the issues are easily fixed. Start by turning off the water using the knob on the wall behind the unit. Remove the top lid and push the toilet handle while watching the tank to see if the flush lever and rubber, flapper are working properly in tandem. If the chains connecting the two pieces is too short or long it is likely preventing the flapper from staying closed. Either replace a too short chain or remove extra length by moving the clip down. Additionally, examine the flapper itself – if it broken or worn, you might need to replace the part. Another potential source of a running toilet is a float that is set too high. To remedy this, just bend the rod slightly to lower the float. If you cannot easily do this (or you’re worried about breaking anything), call a plumber.
Issue 4: Frozen Pipes
When the temperatures outside drop, your home is susceptible to frozen pipes. Shut off the main valve and set out a drop cloth or similar around the frozen pipe in case there is a leak. Gradually warm up the pipe using a hair dryer, space heater, or work light at least 8 inches away from the surface. Do not leave a heating unit alone; always supervise the defrosting process. For internal pipes that are not easily accessible you may need to call in the pros.
Issue 5: Low Water Pressure
First try cleaning your faucet or showerhead. Mineral deposits can build up over time and interfere with the water output. Soak the aerator screen in white vinegar for a few hours and see if the pressure improves. If not, replace the unit. Showerheads especially will wear out over time. Finally, if neither solution works – and you notice your water bill seems strangely high – you likely have a leak somewhere. Get a plumber to help you identify and resolve the leak, which in turn should improve the water pressure in your home.
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