Backed-up sinks. Discolored water. Leaks. These problems may sound intimidating, but the truth is they’re frequent problems in many homes. In fact, lots of them can be fixed with just a few painless steps.
With the proper tools and knowledge, 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 know 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 info, it's easy to sort out ordinary plumbing problems all by yourself. We’ll take a look at a couple of frequent plumbing issues and how you can take care of them.
1. Why Is My Sink Gurgling?
If you’re concerned by a gurgling sound coming out of your sink, it may be an indication 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 plugged or disconnected.
Fortunately, this situation is relatively easy to fix:
- First, try using a plunger to eliminate any blockages that may be causing the gurgling sounds.
- If a plunger doesn't loosen the clog, you can try using a drain snake to remove crud from the pipe. Lastly, if your plumbing vent is blocked or disconnected, make sure to reconnect it and check for any other objects in the way.
If you’re still having problems, it may be best to call a qualified plumber in The Bay Area. They can help determine the reason you are having the issue and provide you with lasting solutions.
2. Why Is My Sink Not Draining?
If a sink is just not draining, usually that’s because of something obstructing the drainpipe. However, it may also be caused by a bigger issue 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, 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 allow the water to drain.
- Debris in the trap: The curved pipe under the sink, called a P-trap, can become blocked with debris or get leaks which prevent it from draining properly.
- Blocked vent pipe: An obstruction in a vent pipe, which allows gas to leave your plumbing system, might stop your sink from draining. Vents can be blocked by debris where they exit your home.
To unclog a pipe, try using a plunger to push the clog 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 run through. Other methods are to try baking soda and vinegar or a drain-cleaning product to disintegrate the clog.
Depending on your plumbing setup, you may have the ability to check for a blockage in the P-trap, which is a bend in the pipe below your sink. This is achieved by dismantling the pipe and cleaning out the line. To do this, first turn the faucet off and place a bucket below the bend. Then, dismantle the pipe and retrieve any debris. Once it’s emptied of debris, 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, look at where your drain vent exits your house to make sure it isn’t blocked by debris such as leaves, dirt or even a nest by an overenthusiastic bird or another critter. If this also doesn’t work, you may need to get in touch with a skilled 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?
Quite often, cloudy or white-looking water is a result of air bubbles in the water. This is normally innocuous and can often clear up on its own. It could be because of a water company doing work on the lines, or a nearby 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. It’s likely that 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 predicament and will want to consult a professional for assistance.
The off-colored water also could be due to high levels of minerals in the water in your home. Excessive minerals accumulate until they affect the water’s appearance and taste, in which case a water softener may be of assistance in fixing the problem. It can stop hard-water buildup from ruining your pipes and making the distasteful cloudy water.
If cloudy water is a stubborn problem, consider clearing out the aerator, which is a screen at the end of your faucet. Use a water and vinegar mix to eliminate any debris or buildup. If that doesn’t work either, you probably will want to contact a professional plumber and let them diagnose the problem and find a solution.
4. Why Is My Sink Leaking/Dripping?
The reason for a leak or water drip directly below a sink is frequently because a plumbing fixture has worn out or malfunctioned. Occasionally, it’s caused by a clog blocking the line.
Here are a few of the more typical causes of sink leaks and how you can fix them:
- Loose Connections: One of the most frequent causes of a drip underneath the sink is a result of loose connections between pipes, fixtures and hoses. If any part has not been properly tightened, or if it was not sealed adequately in its fitting, water can easily escape from these weak spots.
- Worn-Out Washers: Over time, 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 likely that a new washer is necessary.
- Corroded Pipes: The pipes underneath a sink can wear out over time, causing weak spots and cracks. Corrosion is especially common when working with older or discounted materials, so it's important to check for any 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 always check for any indications of blockage and to clear away any debris that may be slowing 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 excess 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 form if the filtration system is failing or there are elevated levels of minerals like manganese.
In some instances, 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 let them know about the discoloration. They will be able to tell you if there has been any recent activity on the water lines.
An experienced plumber in The Bay Area can help you figure out if the discoloration is originating 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 commonly encountered explanation for a sink to drain slow is a partial clog in the pipes. Hair and soap residue are likely suspects 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 method to eliminate 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 try to dislodge the clog.
- Plumbing snake/weasel: If a plunger doesn’t get the job done, you may need a plumbing snake—a long, thin chunk of plastic—to put down your pipe to attach to the clog so you can yank it out. Sometimes, these are called plumbing weasels.
- Chemical Clog Remover: Many chemical clog removers are available to break up 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.