Solved: Gurgling Sink and Six Other Top Plumbing Issues

April 30, 2023

Backed-up sinks. Discolored water. Leaks. These things may sound scary, but the truth is they’re typical problems in many homes. In fact, plenty of them can be fixed with just a few easy steps.

With the right tools and knowledge, you can save yourself time—and money—by dealing with these issues yourself. Plus, knowing how to resolve common problems will help you realize when the issue is more complex 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 straightforward plumbing problems all by yourself. We’ll take a look at a few frequent plumbing dilemmas and how you can resolve them.

1. Why Is My Sink Gurgling?

If you’re concerned by a gurgling sound emanating from your sink, it may be the result of of air or water trapped in the pipes. This can take place if there is a blockage in the pipes, or if a plumbing vent has become obstructed or disconnected.

Fortunately, this issue is relatively easy to fix:

  • First, try using a plunger to clear any blockages that may be causing the gurgling noise.
  • If a plunger doesn’t work, you can try using a drain snake to clear away debris from the pipe. Last of all, if your plumbing vent is blocked or disconnected, make sure to reconnect it and check for any other blockages.

If you’re still having trouble, it may be best to contact an experienced plumber in Marshalltown. 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 just not draining, usually that’s a result of something blocking the drainpipe. However, it could also be caused by a much larger concern 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 collect 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.
  • Buildup in the trap: The curved pipe under the sink, called a P-trap, can become blocked with debris or develop leaks, which prevent 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 house.

To unblock a pipe, try using a plunger to move the clog through the line. If that doesn’t work, think about using a plumbing snake to clear away hair or other debris and allow the water to run through. Other techniques 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 underneath your sink. This is done by disassembling the pipe and clearing the line. To do this, first turn the faucet off and place a bucket below the bend. Then, take the pipe apart and extract any debris. Once it’s emptied of debris, 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, look at 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 another critter. If this also doesn’t work, you may have to get a hold of a knowledgeable professional for plumbing repair in Marshalltown to make sure there isn’t a bigger 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 harmless and can often clear up on its own. It can be caused by a water company doing work on the lines, or a neighborhood construction project.

One way to find out if cloudy water is caused by air bubbles is to fill a glass of water and then leave it on the counter. Odds are the air bubbles will escape and the water will eventually go back to being 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 discolored water also could be caused by high levels of minerals in the water in the plumbing system. Excessive minerals collect until they impact the water’s appearance and taste, in which case a water softener may be of assistance in fixing the problem. It can counter hard-water buildup from harming your pipes and creating the distasteful cloudy water.

If cloudy water becomes 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 buildup. If that doesn’t work either, you might 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 directly below a sink is usually because a plumbing fixture has worn out or malfunctioned. Sometimes, it’s caused by a clog obstructing the line.

Here are several of the more commonly seen 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 a result of loose connections between pipes, fixtures and hoses. If any fixture has not been properly tightened, or if it was not sealed right in its fitting, water can quickly 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 very likely that a new washer is required.
  • Corroded Pipes: The pipes underneath a sink can corrode over time, leading to weak spots and cracks. Corrosion is especially common when working with older or discounted materials, so it's important to search for any signs of degradation in order to avoid a major leak.
  • Clogged Drains: A clogged drain can cause water to back up and start leaking from the seal. It's important to 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 commonly encountered cause of brown tap water is rust. Rust usually comes from elevated levels of iron in the water, which can be the result of corroded pipes or worn-out fixtures. Rust may also develop when sediment builds up. Buildup may collect if the filtration system is declining or there are significant levels of minerals like manganese.

Sometimes, the water can be muddied from silt or clay particles that have been stirred up from service on the water line or your plumbing. If you purchase your water from a municipal utility company, get in touch with them to inform them of the discoloration. They will be able to notify you if there has been any recent work on the water lines.

An expert plumber in Marshalltown 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 commonly encountered cause for a sink to drain slow is a partial blockage in the pipes. Hair and soap scum are likely reasons 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 option to help you remove a partial clog is using 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 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 extract it manually. Sometimes, these are referred to as plumbing weasels.
  • Chemical Clog Remover: Several chemical clog removers on the market break up blockages in sink pipes. Be certain to follow all directions, and that the remover won’t damage your home’s pipes or the basin in your sink.