Backed-up sinks. Discolored water. Leaks. These problems may sound scary, but the truth is they’re typical problems in many homes. In fact, plenty of them can be repaired with just a few easy steps.
With the proper tools and information, you can save yourself time—and money—by tackling these issues yourself. Plus, understanding how to remedy common problems will help you tell when the issue is more complicated and best solved by a professional.
So, don't let a clogged drain or a leaky faucet get you down—with the right info, it's easy to successfully repair common plumbing problems all by yourself. We’ll take a look at a few frequent plumbing issues and how you can address them.
1. Why Is My Sink Gurgling?
If you’re hearing a gurgling sound coming from your sink, it may be an indication 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 relatively easy to fix:
- First, try using a plunger to eliminate any blockages that may be generating the gurgling sound.
- If a plunger isn't effective, you can try using a drain snake to clean out particles from the pipe. Last of all, if your plumbing vent is blocked or disconnected, make sure to reconnect it and search for any other objects in the way.
If you’re still having difficulties, it may be best to contact an experienced plumber in Greater Richmond. They can help determine the root of the issue and provide you with skilled repair service.
2. Why Is My Sink Not Draining?
If a sink is not draining, generally that’s a result of something blocking the drainpipe. However, it may also be a result of a bigger issue with your plumbing system.
Common reasons why the water in your sink won’t drain:
- Blocked or clogged pipes: As time passes, hair, food scraps, grease, animal fats and other junk can accumulate in the pipes, creating a blockage that prevents the water from draining.
- Broken seals: If the sink’s rubber seals are cracked or damaged, they may not be creating an effective seal around the drain to keep out air and allow the water to drain.
- Crud in the trap: The curved pipe beneath 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 prevent your sink from draining. Vents can be blocked by debris where they leave your house.
To unclog a pipe, try using a plunger to push the obstruction through the line. If that doesn’t work, think about using a plumbing snake to remove hair or other debris and allow the water to flow through. Other methods are to try baking soda and vinegar or a drain-cleaning product to break down the clog.
Depending on your plumbing setup, you may be able to check for a blockage in the P-trap, which is a bend in the pipe below your sink. This is accomplished by dismantling the pipe and clearing the line. To do this, first shut the faucet off and set a bucket below the bend. Then, dismantle the pipe and extract any debris. Once it’s clean, put the pipe back together and rinse with hot water.
If trying to clear the line and P-trap isn't effective, inspect where your drain vent extrudes from your house to make sure it isn’t blocked by debris such as leaves, dirt or even a nest by an overenthusiastic bird or household pest. If this also doesn’t work, you may need to get a hold of a skilled professional for plumbing repair in Greater Richmond to make sure there isn’t a significant problem with your plumbing.
3. Why Is Cloudy Water Coming from the Sink?
In general, cloudy or white-looking water is due to air bubbles in the water. Normally, this is benign and can often clear up on its own. It may be caused by a water company doing work on the lines, or a close-by construction project.
One way to determine if cloudy water is caused by air bubbles is to fill a glass of water and then leave it on the counter. It’s likely that 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 check with a professional for assistance.
The discolored water also could be due to high levels of minerals in the water in your residence. 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 prevent hard-water buildup from damaging your pipes and creating the distasteful cloudy water.
If cloudy water is a reoccuring problem, consider cleaning off the aerator, which is a screen at the end of your faucet. Use a water and vinegar mixture to clear away any debris or buildup. If that doesn’t work either, you may want to contact a professional plumber and let them find a solution.
4. Why Is My Sink Leaking/Dripping?
The reason for a leak or water drip underneath a sink is usually because a plumbing fixture has broken down or malfunctioned. At times, it’s caused by a clog obstructing the line.
Here are some of the more common causes of sink leaks and how you can resolve them:
- Loose Connections: One of the most likely causes of a puddle of water underneath the sink is a result of loose connections between pipes, fixtures and hoses. If any part has not been correctly tightened, or if it was not sealed right in its fitting, water can easily escape from these weak spots.
- Worn-Out Washers: After a while, the washer in a sink fixture can become worn out and fail to create a satisfactory seal. If you discover water seeping from the sides of the handle or base of the faucet, it’s very likely that a new washer is needed.
- Corroded Pipes: The pipes underneath a sink can wear down over time, causing deterioration and cracks. Corrosion is especially common when working with older or lower-cost materials, so it's important to keep an eye out for any signs of degradation in order to avoid a major leak.
- Plugged Drains: A clogged drain can cause water to back up and start leaking from the seal. It's crucial to examine the drain for any evidence of blockage and to clear away any debris that may be inhibiting water flow.
5. Why Is My Sink Water Brown?
The most common factor that leads to brown tap water is rust. Rust in most cases comes from high levels of iron in the water, which may be the result of corroded pipes or worn-out fixtures. Rust may also show up when sediment builds up. Buildup may appear if the filtration system is failing or there are significant levels of minerals like manganese.
In some instances, the water can be stained from silt or clay particles that have been stirred up from repairs on the water line or your plumbing. If you purchase your water from a municipal utility company, be sure to contact them to inform them of the discoloration. They will hopefully be able to notify you if there has been any recent activity 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 get rid of the unsightly problem.
6. Why Is My Sink Draining Slow?
The most commonly encountered cause for a sink to drain slow is a partial obstruction in the pipes. Hair and soap buildup are likely reasons for a clogged bathroom sink, while food residue and grease—along with soap scum—often are responsible for kitchen sink clogs.
Three ways you can fix a clogged sink include:
- Plunger: One way to eliminate 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 loosen the blockage and dislodge the clog.
- Plumbing snake/weasel: If a plunger doesn’t work, you may have to use a plumbing snake—a long, thin chunk of plastic—to put down your pipe to attach to the clog so you can pull it out. Sometimes, these are known as plumbing weasels.
- Chemical Clog Remover: Several chemical clog removers being sold today break up blockages in sink pipes. Make sure to follow all directions, and that the product won’t damage your home’s pipes or the basin in your sink.