Common Plumbing Issues in Every Home and How to Prevent Them

We all have dealt with plumbing problems at home one time or another. Most of us have the essential plumbing tools at home, which help us deal with minor emergencies.

Plumbing problems can be trying and require a little elbow grease and a plunger, and if you know your tools well, you should be able to deal with simple repairs such as changing a washer or a drain cover.

It is best to hire a skilled plumber to handle difficult plumbing situations. Finding high-quality and certified plumbing services in Downers Grove shouldn't be a problem. A good plumber can not only help you resolve your plumbing issues, he can also educate you on maintaining your home's plumbing.

The Importance of Plumbing Maintenance

One of the most effective ways to spare yourself the costly home plumbing repairs is by having a regular maintenance schedule in place. Ensure that either you or a plumber regularly carries out a detailed inspection of your pipes, drains and fixtures to catch the minor problems and nip them in the bud before they can cause damage.

Leaks in pipes and/or below water heaters are some of the most common plumbing problems and if ignored, they can go on to cause serious structural damage. Water seepage into sheetrock and plaster can give rise to mold growth over time. Water on wooden flooring can discolor and/or distort it.

When inspecting by yourself, you could do the following

1. Examine your pipes, including those under the sinks and behind the toilet tanks, as well as your drains for ruptures and leaks.

2. Look for signs of corrosion on brass and copper fittings. Damp metal is more susceptible to weathering.

3. Monitor water pressure in your sinks, showers and tubs by turning on the valves. A little variation is normal as long as all of them have a steady flow. Make a note of the pace at which the water drains off. Slow draining could be an indicator of a potential clog.

4. Flush toilets to check whether or not they are functioning properly; check for leaks at the base, which may be a sign of a faulty wax seal.

5. Remove and clean aerators on faucets and shower heads. This should clear up the buildup of sediments, which is responsible for slowing the flow of water.

Common DIY Plumbing Repairs

Mentioned below are some of the most common plumbing issues faced by households and ways in which you can prevent them.

  • Low Water Pressure

When water that should gush out of the tap only trickles, you probably have a problem of low pressure. Sometimes, this problem isn't related to the pipes in your house, but to the water supply i.e. a break in the main line can temporarily reduce the water pressure.

Many a time, this problem is caused by the buildup of sediments or deposits in the faucet aerators. The water that you use carries several dissolved minerals which get deposited on metal surfaces. In the absence of a filtration system, these deposits collect inside the aerators and shower heads, clogging screens and hampering the flow.

Most kitchen and bathroom faucet aerators are easily-removable. All you need to do is unscrew them from the tip of the faucet and soak them overnight in a vinegar-water solution. This should dissolve the deposits.

Shower heads may not detach easily. In such cases, you can attach a plastic bag filled with the vinegar-water solution around them and leave it overnight. This should help in cleaning out the deposits.

If the water pressure continues to be low even after cleaning the aerators and shower heads, the issue may be more complicated.

  • Leaking Pipes

Leaks in pipes, typically, happen at the joints. This is when commercial joint fillers and fitting compounds can come in handy. These products will only give you temporary results, though. A permanent solution may involve replacing the pipe or a few fittings.

Replacing a U-joint is a relatively simple, but a messy affair. It is best to employ a plumber to fix it and save you the cleaning time and effort. For temporary relief, you may use a compression clamp and a rubber sheet or a leak tape.

  • Running Toilet

Silent leaks in the toilet can be easily detected. Simply add a few drops of water or food coloring into the tank. Wait for about half an hour and look into the bowl for color in the water. If you see colored water, your flapper valve (the one that allows the water to pass from the tank to the bowl) isn't working as it should. Apart from that, a higher water bill should also give you a hint.

Toilets tend to run when either the flapper valve stops fitting, the float is imbalanced, or the fill tube comes loose. Most of the time the DIY toilet repair kits are quite effective and don't require much effort to install.

Sometimes, the reasons for running toilets are complex. If the problem persists even after you've changed the flapper, the float and the fill tube, the sediments could be affecting their proper functioning.

  • Slow/Clogged Drains

When the water that goes into your sink, tub or toilet takes a long time to go out, or simply doesn't drain at all, you probably have a slow or a clogged drain. Many a time, the ever-dependable plunger works just fine in solving this problem by using air pressure to dislodge a clog. However, it doesn't remove it entirely.

You can use commercial drain cleaners in such cases. However, over time their chemical content can damage the interior of the pipes. If clogs are a persistent problem in your home, it would be best to call a plumber to fix it.

At times, debris blocked in the pipes can also slow your drainage. Inspect your drains with the help of a flashlight. Use a pair of pliers or tweezers to remove a cluster of hair or other objects obstructing your pipes. Install drain screens to prevent debris from getting into the drain.

  • Dripping Faucets

Not only can the sound of dripping water be extremely annoying, a sopping faucet can also make your water bill shoot up. Turning on a faucet causes the water to move through pipes. When you turn it off, rubber or silicone-based washers form a water-tight cap, which prevents more water from flowing out.

These washers can wear out or get dislodged, which can allow small amounts of water to trickle through and give rise to dripping. When the drip is minimal, it may be easy to replace the washers yourself, with the help of specialized tools. However, if the leak has been around for a while, the valve seat may have corroded, which may require the involvement of someone proficient in dealing with this i.e. a plumber.


The above tips should help you deal with minor plumbing problems in your home. The bigger problems, however, would require the intervention of a skilled plumber as they are well-versed with all the specialized tools and the tricks of the trade to resolve the most complex of issues. Make sure to keep a plumber's number handy at all times. Even though you may not need it every day, you will be glad to have it around in case of a snapped valve or a burst pipe.

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