DIY Guide to 15 Common Plumbing Problems & Solutions

DIY Guide to Common Plumbing Problems & Solutions

DIY Guide to 15 Common Plumbing Problems & Solutions

Welcome to the ultimate DIY guide to common plumbing problems and their solutions! This blog post will provide a comprehensive overview of some of the most common plumbing issues and how to diagnose whether it’s a more significant issue or something you can resolve yourself.

We’ll also detail what you can do to fix each problem and when it might be time for professional help. So let’s get started with tackling those pesky household plumbing problems!

πŸ’§ 1. Dripping Faucets

dripping faucet

A dripping faucet can be pretty bothersome, especially if you’re dealing with it daily. The cause of this problem generally lies in worn-out washers and loose connection points in the pipe.

Another possible reason for a dripping faucet could be a clogged or impacted aerator due to mineral deposits that build up over time. Frequent use of the faucet could further aggravate the situation as more particles get stuck inside the aerator.

🧰 The Fix!

Fixing a dripping faucet generally involves replacing worn-out washers and tightening loose connection points. If an impacted aerator causes the issue due to mineral deposits, it may need to be removed, cleaned, and reinstalled correctly, or you could just replace it.

πŸ“— Related Reading: At What Temp Should I Drip My Faucets?

πŸ’§ 2. Slow Draining Sink or Tub

overflowing sink

A slow-draining sink or tub may signify a clogged drain or pipe. The underlying cause could be anything from accumulated gunk and sludge to tree roots strangling the pipes under the ground.

Hair, grease, and other materials can get stuck inside the pipe leading to an obstruction that slows down the drainage process. It’s essential to locate and identify the root cause of the problem before taking action toward resolving it.

🧰 The Fix!

To fix a slow-draining sink or tub, you may need to use a plunger to clear blockages in the sink itself. If the clog is deeper in the pipes, you can try using a drain snake (sometimes called an auger) to remove any matter blocking the pipe.

Chemical drain cleaners may also be used, but they should be used sparingly and with precaution as they are potentially hazardous.

πŸ“— Related Reading: How to Fix a Slow Draining Sink

πŸ’§ 3. Leaky Pipes

leaking rusty water pipe

Leaky pipes can be a sign of a severe plumbing issue. It could indicate an aged pipe weakened over time or a broken joint or seal. It is also possible for faucets and fixtures to leak due to corrosion, excessive pressure, or rocking when installed improperly.

Some cases could be caused by extreme temperature changes or tree roots disrupting the pipelines underneath. To determine the cause of the leak, it is best to inspect the pipes for any visible signs of damage before attempting plumbing repairs.

🧰 The Fix!

Fixing leaky pipes requires some knowledge of plumbing. If the cause of the leak is visible, such as a worn-out joint or seal, it can usually be repaired or replaced with minimal effort.

However, if the cause is not easily accessible, such as deep within the pipeline, calling a plumber is recommended. In either case, it is crucial to determine what type of material the pipe is made from before attempting repairs.

Once you have identified the issue and material type, you can take appropriate steps, such as applying epoxy around pipe joints, replacing sections of old piping, tightening fixtures or clamps, and other methods to restore your plumbing system to working order.

πŸ“— Related Reading: How To Fix a Leaky Pipe Without Replacing It

πŸ’§ 4. Running Toilet

checking toilet bowl

Running toilets are an issue that homeowners must be aware of, as they can be quite costly if not taken care of immediately. A running toilet typically occurs when the toilet flapper valve is not working properly, and water is constantly being released into the toilet bowl.

The first step to fixing a running toilet is to identify the cause. This could be due to a faulty flapper valve, worn out flush valve seal, or a clogged fill tube, causing too much water to leak from your tank and into the toilet bowl. It could also be caused by a damaged lift chain, float ball, or fill tube shutoff.

It is important to inspect the components to accurately diagnose the issue before attempting repairs.

🧰 The Fix!

Fixing a running toilet requires an understanding of the issue and the ability to identify potential causes.

First, check the flapper valve located at the bottom of the tank. If it is not closing correctly, this could cause water to flow into the toilet bowl continuously. To fix this issue, clean the flapper and the flush valve seat with a cloth and ensure they are correctly working.

Next, inspect the lift chain that connects your flapper to your handlebar and ensure it is securely attached and free from any obstructions. You may also need to replace components to resolve issues preventing proper operation, such as a damaged float ball or fill tube shutoff.

πŸ“— Related Reading: 3 Simple Reasons Why Your Toilet Keeps Running

πŸ’§ 5. Clogged Toilet

old toilet

Clogged toilets are a common issue that can arise due to various problems. Most often, this is due to items being flushed down the toilet that should not be.

These items range from paper towels and disposable wipes to toys, toothbrushes, and other miscellaneous objects. Clogs can also form in toilets due to improper flushing techniques, such as flushing too much toilet paper at once or using too little water when flushing solids, such as when using a dual flush toilet.

Other potential causes of clogged toilets include foreign objects stuck in the drainage pipes, broken or loose parts within the tank itself, and low water levels causing the toilet to fail to flush correctly.

🧰 The Fix!

Clearing out a clogged toilet can be done in a few simple steps. First, ensure that the water level is at its highest point in the bowl and that no additional material is left behind.

Use a plunger to create pressure which helps to dislodge objects or materials blocking the drain. Once the plunging has been completed, it is important to check the p trap at the base of the bowl for any debris or residue and remove it.

πŸ“— Related Reading:

πŸ’§ 6. Low Water Pressure

low hot water pressure

Low water pressure can result from many underlying factors, such as high home water demand, broken or blocked pipes, or faulty backflow valves. It can also be due to mineral build-up inside pipes, causing them to become restricted and reduce water flow.

Low water pressure in pipes may also be due to air bubbles trapped in the pipe, which impede the flow of water. Leaks in plumbing fixtures may also lead to low pressure when they are not adequately sealed.

🧰 The Fix!

Some simple DIY solutions can often fix low water pressure. Checking faucets and hoses for blockages such as sediment and mineral deposits can help improve water flow. Cleaning out aerators may also improve water pressure if they are blocked.

Checking your low water pressure with a pressure gauge will help you understand your problem better. As a guide, your residential water pressure would be between 30 to 80 psi, with an average of around 40 psi. If it’s above 80 psi, call your local water utility immediately.

Additionally, checking for leaks in your plumbing system is essential, ensuring they are fixed for the pressure to increase.

πŸ“— Related Reading:

πŸ’§ 7. Leaking Hose Bib

outdoor hose bib

Leaking hose bibs are typically caused by faulty valves that are either broken or worn out. This can lead to water seeping through the faulty valves and dripping from the hose bib, resulting in a leaking faucet.

In addition, pipes that are not sealed tightly around the hose bib may also be a contributing factor, as this can cause water leakage. If left untreated, a leaking hose bib can be a source of significant water waste and damage walls and flooring due to dampness.

🧰 The Fix!

Fixing a leaking hose bib is typically an easy DIY job. First, identify the source of the leak by inspecting the valve and any surrounding piping. If the valve appears to be the issue, it can usually be replaced without difficulty.

Tightening any loose fittings may also help to stop water from dripping from the faucet. Replacing worn-out or corroded pipes may be necessary to fix a leaking hose bib effectively.

πŸ’§ 8. Slow or Clogged Drains

clogged shower drain

A buildup of hair, soap scum, and other debris inside the pipes often causes slow or clogged drains. If left untreated, the buildup can block the flow of water, causing slow draining and eventually leading to complete clogs.

In some cases, this can be attributed to a broken drain trap or pipe and objects like toys or jewelry getting stuck in the plumbing system. Furthermore, old pipes that have corroded over time may be more susceptible to clogs due to their reduced diameter and eroded surfaces.

🧰 The Fix!

To fix slow or clogged drains, you can start by using a plumbing snake to clear the drain line of any blockages. If that doesn’t work, it may be necessary to use a plunger to force the clog out of the pipes and ensure the flow of water.

You can use stronger chemical cleaners like bleach or caustic soda for stubborn clogs. To prevent future clogs, consider adding a drain guard to your shower.

πŸ›‘ SAFETY NOTE: It is important to take safety precautions when using these chemicals as they can be highly corrosive.

πŸ’§ 9. Sump Pump Failure

Residential Sump pump

Sump pump failures can occur due to several different causes. These include power outages, a clogged sump discharge pipe, objects blocking the inlet or outlet of the sump, water line breaks, and inadequate maintenance.

If the sump is left idle for too long without regular maintenance, corrosion can also lead to failure. The motor can also become damaged over time due to incorrect voltage or lack of lubrication.

Furthermore, if there is not enough clearance around the sump pump for water to escape properly, it may cause an overflow, resulting in failure.

🧰 The Fix!

The first step to fixing a sump pump failure is identifying and correcting the underlying cause. If you experience a power outage, simply turn the pump back on and observe if it still operates correctly.

Use a sewer snake or another similar tool to clear any clogs in the sump discharge pipe. Clearing away any objects blocking the inlet or outlet of the sump can also help prevent further failures.

If water lines have broken, it may be necessary to call a licensed plumber to repair them. Additionally, regular maintenance should be carried out to lubricate the motor and inspect for corrosion.

Ensuring adequate clearance around the sump pump will also minimize the chances of an overflow occurring.

πŸ“— Related Reading: Homeowners Guide to How Does a Sump Pump Work

πŸ’§ 10. Hot Water Heater Problems

water heater element

Water heaters can experience several issues, such as leaking, rusting, inadequate hot water supply, and poor temperature regulation. These can be caused by faulty parts such as the heating element, thermostat, pressure relief valve, or internal gaskets.

In addition, if the water heater hasn’t been drained and flushed regularly, it can cause mineral deposits to build up, leading to serious damage. Not enough clearance or ventilation around the water heater can result in insufficient air circulation, which affects its efficiency.

Finally, an old or outdated water heater may be unable to handle the increasing demand for hot water in modern households.

🧰 The Fix!

To fix water heater problems, the first step is to diagnose the problem accurately. You should check for any visible signs of leakage, corrosion, or rusting.

Check if there are any blockages in the pipes leading to or from the hot water heater. If you cannot diagnose the issue, it’s best to call a plumber who can do a more thorough inspection.

Once you have determined the cause of the problem, you may be able to repair it yourself with specialized tools and parts. If your water heater needs replacement parts, such as a new heating element, thermostat, or internal gaskets, you will need to purchase these from a plumbing supply store.

If necessary, you may also need to drain and flush the system to remove any sediment or buildup that has occurred. Finally, ensure that your water heater is adequately vented and has enough clearance around it so that air can circulate freely and efficiently heat the tank.

πŸ“— Related Reading:

πŸ’§ 11. Main Water Line Break

massive underground water leak

A main water line break can happen when a pipe beneath the ground is damaged or corroded. This can be caused by age and wear or if the pipes are not adequately insulated or buried too shallowly.

In some cases, tree roots near the water line may also grow into it and damage the pipe. Other signs of a main water line break include gurgling noises in drains and toilets, low pressure in faucets, bubbling in toilets, and puddles collecting in your yard.

If you suspect your main water line is broken, it’s important to call a professional plumber to inspect and repair it as soon as possible to avoid further damage.

🧰 The Fix!

To fix a main water line break, the first step is to locate the pipe and isolate it from the rest of your home’s plumbing system. This can be done by turning off the main water supply to your house, stopping further water from entering the broken pipe.

After completing this step, you should have a plumber inspect and repair the pipe. Depending on the extent of damage to the pipe, repair options may include replacing damaged piping sections or installing a new section altogether.

The plumber may also use specialized tools to check for blockages or corrosion to ensure that the pipe remains sound and secure after repair.

πŸ’§ 12. Sewer System Backup

sewer line clearing

A sewer system backup typically occurs when something obstructs the flow of water or waste through a pipe. Clogs are caused due to buildup, tree roots, and other debris that has gotten into the pipes.

Another common cause of backups is when wastewater from heavy rains or flooding exceeds the capacity of your sewer line. Additionally, if the ground around your sewer lines has shifted, it can cause a blockage that leads to a backup.

Sewer line problems are messy and potentially hazardous, so it’s essential to call a professional plumber for help if you suspect an obstruction in your sewer line.

🧰 The Fix!

To fix a sewer line backup, the first step is to identify what’s causing the blockage or obstruction. This can be done by using specialized cameras and other tools to inspect the pipe for any visible signs of damage or clogs.

After pinpointing the cause, the plumber will choose a repair method depending on the extent of the damage. Common fixes include clearing debris and tree roots, replacing broken pipes, or installing new piping.

The plumber may also use chemical solutions to help clear more stubborn clogs. Repairing a sewer line backup is a complex process that should only be done by an experienced professional to ensure its safety and durability.

πŸ“— Related Reading: Sewer Cleanout: What it is and Why it Matters

πŸ’§ 13. Water Stains in the Basement

water leak in basement

Water stains in the basement are often caused by water seeping through cracks in the walls, floors, or foundation. If these cracks aren’t repaired quickly, they can lead to mold and other damage in your home.

Another common cause of water stains is plumbing leaks from toilets, sinks, and other fixtures connected to your home’s plumbing system. Poorly sealed windows and doors can also let moisture into the basement, leading to water stains.

🧰 The Fix!

If it’s coming from cracks in the walls or foundation, these should be repaired as soon as possible. Plugging up any holes with caulk or sealant can help keep moisture out.

If the source of water is a plumbing leak, it is essential to get it fixed as soon as possible. Depending on the severity of the issue, the plumber may need to replace old pipes or install new piping. It’s also important to check for poorly sealed windows and doors and repair any damage.

Finally, use a dehumidifier to draw out moisture from walls and other areas where water has made contact.

πŸ“— Related Reading: Types of Basement Floor Drains: Basement Drainage Systems

πŸ’§ 14. Jammed Garbage Disposal

garbage disposal under sink

Jammed garbage disposals can be caused by various things, such as foreign objects like bones or utensils that have found their way into the grinding chamber. Faulty wiring or electrical problems can also prevent the motor from turning.

In some cases, grease and other debris built up in the grinding chamber will prevent it from spinning. The age of the unit can also cause jams due to worn-out parts or corrosion.

🧰 The Fix!

The first step in fixing a jammed disposal is to check that it’s plugged in and has power. If its plugged in and still not working, you may have an electrical or wiring issue.

Next, unplug the unit and remove any foreign objects like bones or utensils clogging the grinding chamber. If grease or debris has built up over time, you can use a long stick to push it out of the way.

Lastly, attempt to reset the unit by pressing its reset button for 15 seconds and then plugging it back in again. If your garbage disposal continues to jam, it may need to be replaced with a new one.

πŸ“— Related Reading:

πŸ’§ 15. Expensive Water Bill

concerned homeowners

Expensive water bills can be caused by a variety of things, ranging from plumbing leaks to inefficient fixtures. Plumbing leaks such as running toilets, leaky faucets, and cracked pipes can all lead to a spike in your water bill due to wasted water.

Other causes may include outdated plumbing fixtures or appliances not designed for efficient use, resulting in additional water usage. In some cases, high rates charged by your local utility company can also cause an increase in your bill.

If you see an unusually high amount on your monthly bill, it may be time to call a plumber for help.

πŸ“— Related Reading: 17 Tips on How To Save on Water Bills

🧰 Tips for Conducting DIY Plumbing Repairs

DIY plumbing

Doing plumbing repairs yourself can be a great way to save money, but it is important to ensure you do the job correctly and safely.

First, ensure you have the necessary supplies and tools for the job. Next, turn off the water supply before beginning work and wear appropriate safety gear such as goggles and gloves. Follow directions carefully, and don’t try to take shortcuts.

Finally, be prepared for any issues arising during the repair process and have contingency plans in place if something goes wrong. With careful planning and preparation, DIY plumbing repairs can be a successful and rewarding experience.

🧰 Tips Before Calling a Plumber

calling a plumber

Calling in a plumber for help with your plumbing repairs can be a great way to make sure the job is done correctly when all else fails. When calling in a plumber, it’s essential to research and compare different companies to ensure you are getting the best service.

Make sure that all of their employees are licensed and insured. Check customer reviews online and look for any signs of trouble, such as unresolved complaints, poor customer service, or subpar workmanship.

βœ… PRO TIP: Since you’re reading this article, a good understanding of the problem will help you articulate the problem to your plumber. This will help the plumber troubleshoot the problem quicker, leading to faster resolution and, hopefully, a lower repair price.

Finally, be sure to get written estimates before any work is done. With this information, you will know precisely what you are paying for and have peace of mind that the repairs will be done correctly and safely.

⭐ Final Thoughts on Common Plumbing Problems

Phyxter Approved Logo on Service Truck

Plumbing repairs can be a daunting task, but with the right tools and knowledge, it is possible to do many common plumbing repairs yourself.

This guide has provided you with 15 of the most common plumbing problems, tips for conducting DIY repairs, and information about when to call an experienced plumber in a plumbing emergency.

Whether you tackle the job yourself or hire a professional, remember that safety and proper planning are essential for successful and long-lasting plumbing repairs.

Want to learn more about your home’s plumbing problems? Feel free to check out our other plumbing articles!

Russell Jones

Russell, a native Australian and VP of Operations at Phyxter Home Services, is also part-owner of Vernon Air Conditioning, Plumbing, and Electrical Services. When he's not busy with work projects and renovations, Russell enjoys putting his vast knowledge of home improvement to good use by sharing his tips and tricks.

About our blog

Phyxter (pronounced Fix-ter) is a national home services brand specializing in Residential HVAC, Electrical and Plumbing solutions.

Phyxter is laser-focused on writing the best articles and guides to empower homeowners to get the best out of their homes.

We hope you enjoy it!

Looking for something?

Join our Newsletter!