Backed-up sinks. Discolored water. Leaks. These problems may sound frightening, but the truth is they’re common problems in many homes. In fact, plenty of them can be solved with just a few easy steps.
With the proper tools and skills, you can save yourself time—and money—by dealing with these issues yourself. Plus, learning more about how to remedy common problems will help you tell when the issue is more involved and best solved by a professional.
So, don't let a clogged drain or a leaky faucet get you down—with the right know-how, it's easy to sort out straightforward plumbing problems all by yourself. We’ll take a look at a few frequent plumbing issues and how you can resolve them.
1. Why Is My Sink Gurgling?
If you’re hearing a gurgling sound emanating from your sink, it may be a sign of air or water trapped in the pipes. This can happen if there is a blockage in the pipes, or if a plumbing vent has become obstructed or disconnected.
Fortunately, this problem is simple to solve:
- First, try using a plunger to eliminate any blockages that may be creating the gurgling sounds.
- If a plunger does not work, you can try using a drain snake to clear away crud from the pipe. Lastly, if your plumbing vent is blocked or disconnected, make sure to reconnect it and search for any other obstructions.
If you’re still having trouble, it may be best to call a seasoned plumber in Greater Richmond. They can help identify the reason you are having the issue and provide you with answers.
2. Why Is My Sink Not Draining?
If a sink is just not draining, in most cases that’s a result of something clogging up the drainpipe. However, it may also be a result of a larger concern with your plumbing system.
Common reasons why the water in your sink won’t drain:
- Blocked or clogged pipes: Gradually, hair, food scraps, grease, animal fats and other materials can accumulate in the pipes, causing a blockage that prevents the water from draining.
- Broken seals: If the sink’s rubber seals are cracked or damaged, they may not be making an effective seal around the drain to keep out air and enable the water to drain.
- Crud in the trap: The curved pipe at the bottom of the sink, called a P-trap, can become blocked with debris or form leaks, which prevent it from draining properly.
- Blocked vent pipe: An obstruction in a vent pipe, which allows gas to exit your plumbing system, might stop your sink from draining. Vents can be blocked by debris where they exit your residence.
To unclog a pipe, try using a plunger to force the clog through the line. If that doesn’t work, give some thought to using a plumbing snake to clear away hair or other debris and allow the water to flow through. Other strategies are to use baking soda and vinegar or a drain-cleaning product to break down the clog.
Depending on your plumbing setup, you may have the ability to look for a blockage in the P-trap, which is a bend in the pipe under your sink. This is achieved by dismantling the pipe and removing blockages from the line. To do this, first switch the faucet off and put a bucket under the bend. Then, take the pipe apart and retrieve any debris. Once it’s clear, put the pipe back together and rinse out with hot water.
If trying to clear the line and P-trap doesn't clear the blockage, check where your drain vent comes out of your house to make sure it isn’t blocked by debris such as leaves, dirt or even a nest by an misguided bird or household pest. If this also doesn’t work, you may need to contact a knowledgeable professional for plumbing repair in Greater Richmond to make sure there isn’t a more substantial problem with your plumbing.
3. Why Is My Sink Water Cloudy/White?
Quite often, cloudy or white-looking water is a result of air bubbles in the water. Normally, this is benign and can often disappear on its own. It might be the result of a water company doing work on the lines, or a close-by construction project.
One way to find out if cloudy water was made by air bubbles is to fill a glass of water and then leave it on the counter. Chances are the air bubbles will escape and the water will eventually become crystal clear. If the water is still cloudy after 24 hours, you may have another problem and will want to consult a professional for assistance.
The cloudy water also could be the result of high levels of minerals in the water in the plumbing system. Excessive minerals accumulate until they affect the water’s appearance and taste, in which case a water softener may help resolve the issue. It can counter hard-water buildup from harming your pipes and making the distasteful cloudy water.
If cloudy water ends up being a reoccuring problem, consider washing out the aerator, which is a screen at the end of your faucet. Use a water and vinegar solution to clear away any debris or blockages. If that doesn’t work either, you might want to seek advice from a skilled plumber and let them find a solution.
4. Why Is My Sink Leaking/Dripping?
The reason for a leak or water drip beneath a sink is often because a plumbing fixture has worn out or malfunctioned. Sometimes, it’s caused by a clog stopping the line.
Here are a few of the more commonly seen causes of sink leaks and how you can fix them:
- Loose Connections: One of the most likely causes of a drip underneath the sink is because of loose connections between pipes, fixtures and hoses. If any part has not been securely tightened, or if it was not sealed all the way in its fitting, water can easily escape from these weak spots.
- Worn-Out Washers: Over the years, the washer in a sink fixture can become worn out and fail to create a sufficient seal. If you discover water seeping from the sides of the handle or base of the faucet, there's a good chance that a new washer is necessary.
- Corroded Pipes: The pipes underneath a sink can wear out over time, leading to deterioration and cracks. Corrosion is quite common when working with older or inexpensive materials, so it's important to look for any warning signs of degradation in order to avoid a major leak.
- Plugged Drains: A clogged drain can make water back up and start leaking from the seal. It's crucial to examine the drain for any indications of blockage and to clear away any debris that may be inhibiting water flow.
5. Why Is My Sink Water Brown?
The most commonly encountered factor that leads to brown tap water is rust. Rust normally comes from excess iron in the water, which could be the result of corroded pipes or worn-out fixtures. Rust may also show up when sediment gathers. Buildup may collect if the filtration system is failing or there are elevated levels of minerals like manganese.
Sometimes, the water can be stained from silt or clay particles that have been stirred up from work on the water line or your plumbing. If you purchase your water from a municipal utility company, be sure to contact them to tell them about the discoloration. They should be able to inform you if there has been any recent construction on the water lines.
An expert plumber in Greater Richmond can help you confirm if the discoloration is from a rusting pipe that needs to be replaced, or if a filtration system may improve the unsightly problem.
6. Why Is My Sink Draining Slow?
The most common reason for a sink to drain slow is a partial obstruction in the pipes. Hair and soap buildup are likely suspects for a clogged bathroom sink, while food residue and grease—along with soap scum—often are at fault for kitchen sink clogs.
Three ways you can fix a clogged sink include:
- Plunger: One way to remove a partial clog is with a plunger. If there’s no standing water in the sink, turn on the faucet to put in enough water to cover the drain. Then, use the plunger to attempt to dislodge the clog.
- Plumbing snake/weasel: If a plunger doesn’t work, you may try using a plumbing snake—a long, thin section of plastic—to put down your pipe to attach to the clog so you can pull it out. Sometimes, these are called plumbing weasels.
- Chemical Clog Remover: Several chemical clog removers on the market break down blockages in sink pipes. Be certain to follow all directions, and that any brand you buy won’t damage your home’s pipes or the basin in your sink.