Backed-up sinks. Discolored water. Leaks. These things may sound scary, but the truth is they’re frequent problems in many homes. In fact, plenty of them can be repaired with just a few painless steps.
With the right tools and practical knowledge, you can save yourself time—and money—by tackling these issues yourself. Plus, understanding how to take care of 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 fix common plumbing problems all by yourself. We’ll take a look at several frequent plumbing dilemmas and how you can take care of them.
1. Why Is My Sink Gurgling?
If you’re noticing a gurgling sound coming 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 plugged or disconnected.
Fortunately, this problem is simple to solve:
- First, try using a plunger to clear any blockages that may be causing the gurgling sound.
- If a plunger doesn't loosen the clog, you can try using a drain snake to remove buildup from the pipe. Lastly, 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 problems, it may be best to contact a seasoned plumber in Marshalltown. They can help diagnose 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 clogging up the drainpipe. However, it also can be a result of a more severe problem 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 materials can collect in the pipes, causing a blockage that prevents the water from draining.
- Broken seals: If the sink’s rubber seals are cracked or broken, they may not be creating an effective seal around the drain to keep out air and permit 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 get leaks which restrict it from draining properly.
- Blocked vent pipe: A blockage in a vent pipe, which allows gas to escape your plumbing system, might prevent your sink from draining. Vents can be blocked by debris where they leave your house.
To clear a pipe, try using a plunger to push the blockage through the line. If that doesn’t work, consider using a plumbing snake to clear away hair or other debris and allow the water to flow through. Other strategies are to utilize baking soda and vinegar or a drain-cleaning product to dissolve the clog.
Depending on your plumbing setup, you may be able to look for a blockage in the P-trap, which is a bend in the pipe under your sink. This is done by disassembling the pipe and cleaning out the line. To do this, first shut the faucet off and put a bucket under the bend. Then, disassemble the pipe and retrieve any debris. Once it’s clean, 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 comes out of 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 household pest. If this also doesn’t work, you may have to get in touch with a skilled professional for plumbing repair in Marshalltown 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 disappear on its own. It may be because of a water company doing work on the lines, or a neighborhood construction project.
One way to determine if cloudy water is created by air bubbles is to fill a glass of water and then leave it on the countertop. 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 check with a professional for assistance.
The off-colored water also could be caused by high levels of minerals in the water in your home. Excessive minerals accumulate 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 prevent hard-water buildup from ruining your pipes and making 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 mix to remove any debris or blockages. If that doesn’t work either, you might want to seek advice from 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 beneath a sink is often because a plumbing fixture has failed or malfunctioned. Occasionally, 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 resolve them:
- Loose Connections: One of the most common causes of a puddle of water underneath the sink is due to loose connections between pipes, fixtures and hoses. If any fixture has not been securely tightened, or if it was not sealed right in its fitting, water can simply 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 an adequate 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 required.
- Corroded Pipes: The pipes underneath a sink can corrode over time, leading to deterioration and cracks. Corrosion is particularly common when working with older or lower-cost materials, so it's important to check for any indications of degradation in order to avoid a major leak.
- Blocked Drains: A clogged drain can force water to back up and start dripping from the seal. It's essential to always check for any signs 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 reason for brown tap water is rust. Rust usually comes from excess iron in the water, which might 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 significant levels of minerals like manganese.
In some cases, 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 buy your water from a municipal utility company, be sure to contact them to inform them of the discoloration. They should be able to inform you if there has been any recent construction on the water lines.
An expert plumber in Marshalltown 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 get rid of the unsightly problem.
6. Why Is My Sink Draining Slow?
The most commonly encountered reason 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 at fault for kitchen sink clogs.
Three ways you can fix a clogged sink include:
- Plunger: One way to clear away a partial clog is to use a plunger. If you don't see any standing water in the sink, allow it to fill with enough water to cover the drain. Then, use the plunger to attempt to dislodge the clog.
- Plumbing snake/weasel: If a plunger doesn’t fix the problem, you may need a plumbing snake—a long, thin piece of plastic—to put down your pipe to attach to the clog so you can yank it out. Sometimes, these are referred to as 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 the remover won’t damage your home’s pipes or the basin in your sink.