Backed-up sinks. Discolored water. Leaks. These issues may sound scary, but the truth is they’re typical problems in many homes. In fact, many of them can be repaired with just a few easy steps.
With the correct tools and skills, you can save yourself time—and money—by tackling these issues yourself. Plus, understanding how to remedy common problems will help you realize 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 ordinary plumbing problems all by yourself. We’ll take a look at a few frequent plumbing problems 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 the result of of air or water trapped in the pipes. This can occur if there is a blockage in the pipes, or if a plumbing vent has become obstructed or disconnected.
Fortunately, this problem is not too difficult to fix:
- First, try using a plunger to remove any blockages that may be causing the gurgling sounds.
- If a plunger doesn’t work, you can try using a drain snake to remove crud from the pipe. Last of all, if your plumbing vent is blocked or disconnected, make sure to reconnect it and check for any other obstructions.
If you’re still having difficulties, it may be best to contact a seasoned plumber in the Bay Area. 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 not draining, generally that’s due to something clogging up the drainpipe. However, it also can be a result of a larger 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, producing a blockage that prevents the water from draining.
- Broken seals: If the sink’s rubber seals are cracked or busted, they may not be producing an effective seal around the drain to keep out air and enable 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 restrict it from draining properly.
- Blocked vent pipe: A blockage in a vent pipe, which allows gas to leave your plumbing system, might keep your sink from draining. Vents can be blocked by debris where they exit your residence.
To clear a pipe, try using a plunger to move the clog through the line. If that doesn’t work, give some thought to using a plumbing snake to remove hair or other debris and allow the water to move through. Other methods are to use baking soda and vinegar or a drain-cleaning product to break down the clog.
Depending on your plumbing setup, you may also search 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 removing blockages from the line. To do this, first switch the faucet off and place a bucket under the bend. Then, disassemble the pipe and pull out any debris. Once it’s clear, put the pipe back together and wash it out with hot water.
If trying to clear the line and P-trap doesn't clear the blockage, check 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 overly ambitious bird or another critter. If this also doesn’t work, you may want to get a hold of a knowledgeable professional for plumbing repair in the Bay Area to make sure there isn’t a more substantial problem with your plumbing.
3. Why Is My Sink Water Cloudy/White?
In general, cloudy or white-looking water is due to air bubbles in the water. This is usually benign and can often go away on its own. It might be the result of a water company doing work on the lines, or a neighborhood construction project.
One way to determine if cloudy water was made by air bubbles is to fill a glass of water and then leave it on the countertop. Odds are the air bubbles will go away 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 talk to a professional for assistance.
The off-colored water also could be the result of high levels of minerals in the water in your residence. Excessive minerals accumulate until they alter 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 persistent problem, consider clearing out the aerator, which is a screen at the end of your faucet. Use a water and vinegar mixture to remove any debris or buildup. If that doesn’t work either, you might want to consult a skilled plumber and let them work toward a solution.
4. Why Is My Sink Leaking/Dripping?
The reason for a leak or water drip directly below a sink is often because a plumbing fixture has failed or malfunctioned. Sometimes, it’s caused by a clog obstructing the line.
Here are several of the more common causes of sink leaks and how you can fix them:
- Loose Connections: One of the most common causes of a leak underneath the sink is because of loose connections between pipes, fixtures and hoses. If any component has not been correctly tightened, or if it was not sealed all the way in its fitting, water can simply 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 see water seeping from the sides of the handle or base of the faucet, it's likely that a new washer is required.
- Corroded Pipes: The pipes underneath a sink can wear down over time, causing damage and cracks. Corrosion is quite common when working with older or discounted materials, so it's important to look for any warning signs of degradation in order to avoid a major leak.
- Blocked Drains: A clogged drain can force water to back up and start seeping from the seal. It's essential to look for any evidence of blockage and to clear away any debris that may be slowing water flow.
5. Why Is My Sink Water Brown?
The most commonly encountered cause of brown tap water is rust. Rust usually comes from excess iron in the water, which could be the result of corroded pipes or worn-out fixtures. Rust may also appear when sediment gathers. Buildup may collect if the filtration system is failing or there are high levels of minerals like manganese.
In some cases, the water can be discolored from silt or clay particles that have been stirred up from repairs on the water line or your plumbing. If you get your water from a municipal utility company, get in touch with them to inform them of the discoloration. They will hopefully be able to notify you if there has been any recent work on the water lines.
An experienced plumber in the Bay Area can help you establish if the discoloration is from a rusting pipe that needs to be replaced, or if a filtration system may clear up the unsightly problem.
6. Why Is My Sink Draining Slow?
The most common explanation for a sink to drain slow is a partial blockage in the pipes. Hair and soap residue are likely suspects for a clogged bathroom sink, while food particles 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 using a plunger. If there isn't any standing water in the sink, allow it to fill with 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 get the job done, you may have to use a plumbing snake—a long, thin piece of plastic—to put down your pipe to attach to the clog so you can extract it manually. Sometimes, these are known as plumbing weasels.
- Chemical Clog Remover: Many chemical clog removers being sold today break down 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.