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10 Most Frequently Asked Plumbing Questions

Regarding maintaining your home, plumbing problems are among the most common and potentially disruptive problems homeowners face. From minor inconveniences like a dripping faucet to major emergencies like a burst pipe, understanding plumbing basics can save time, money, and stress. To help you navigate these challenges, we’ve compiled a list of frequently asked plumbing questions, addressing common concerns and providing practical solutions. Whether you’re dealing with low water pressure, a clogged drain, or simply want to improve your plumbing knowledge, these FAQs offer valuable insights and tips to keep your plumbing system running smoothly.

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Here are some of the most frequently asked plumbing questions:

#1 What should I do if my toilet is clogged?

If your toilet is clogged, the first step is to avoid flushing it again, which could cause an overflow. There are three basic ways to unclog a toilet:

  1. Use a plunger to create a seal over the drain hole and plunge vigorously to try and dislodge the blockage.
  2. If a plunger doesn’t work, try using a toilet auger. Toilet augers come in three- and six-foot lengths and cost between 15 and 80 dollars.
  3. Lastly, a plumber’s snake or auger can break up or retrieve the obstruction. Insert the snake into the toilet drain and twist the handle to catch or push through the clog. A plumber snake is helpful if the clog is further down the drainpipe. You can rent it at your home center for 25 dollars for four hours.

If the clog persists, a professional plumber may be necessary to address more severe blockages or underlying issues in the plumbing system.

#2 What causes low water pressure, and how can I fix it?

Low water pressure can be caused by various factors, including:

  1. A restricted pipe caused by mineral buildup could cause low water pressure.
  2. A failing pressure regulator is a common cause of low pressure.
  3. Your local municipal water company is known to be the culprit of low pressure.
  4. An unseen water leak is another thing that could be causing the problem.

To fix low water pressure, start by checking for and repairing any visible leaks: clean faucet aerators and showerheads of hard water deposits. If the issue persists, consider replacing the pressure regulator or checking with your local water supplier for any known issues in your area.

Sometimes, pipe replacement might be necessary to resolve persistent low pressure caused by old or corroded plumbing. If you cannot identify the cause, consult with a professional plumber who can help diagnose and fix the problem efficiently.

Old plumbing causes Low Water Pressure

#3 Why does my drain keep getting clogged, and how can I prevent it?

The accumulation of debris such as hair, soap scum, grease, and food particles often causes drain clogs. In bathroom drains, hair and soap can form a sticky buildup that gradually narrows the pipe, while in kitchen drains, grease and food scraps can solidify and cause blockages. To prevent clogs:

  1. Use drain covers to catch hair and other debris before they enter the pipes.
  2. Avoid pouring grease or oil down the drain; instead, dispose of it in a container and throw it in the trash.
  3. Regularly flush drains with hot water to help clear minor buildups, and consider using a product designed for drain maintenance.
Hair Catcher / Drain Maintenance plumbing drain cover

#4 How do I fix a leaky faucet?

Fixing a leaky faucet typically involves a few straightforward steps. First, turn off the faucet’s water supply to prevent accidental flooding. Next, disassemble the faucet by removing the handle; this usually requires loosening a screw, which may be hidden under a decorative cap. Once the handle is removed, you can access the cartridge, valve, or rubber washers inside. Inspect these parts for any signs of wear or damage.

Often, replacing worn-out washers or O-rings will stop the leak. If the faucet uses a cartridge, it might need replacing as well. After replacing the necessary parts, reassemble the faucet and turn the water supply back on. Test the faucet to confirm the leak has stopped. If the problem persists, it may be worth consulting a professional plumber to assess and address any more complex issues or purchase a new faucet.

energy efficient plumbing fixtures

#5 Why is my water heater not producing enough hot water?

Several issues could be at play if your water heater isn’t producing enough hot water. A common cause is a malfunctioning thermostat that isn’t accurately regulating the water temperature. Sediment buildup in the tank is another frequent culprit, as minerals from hard water can accumulate and insulate the heating elements, reducing efficiency. The dip tube, which directs cold water to the bottom of the tank, may be broken, mixing cold and hot water and resulting in lukewarm output.

Additionally, the water heater might be too small for your household’s needs, especially if your demand for hot water has increased. To address these issues, start by checking and adjusting the thermostat. Flushing the tank to remove sediment can improve performance. Inspect and, if necessary, replace the dip tube. If these solutions don’t work, consider upgrading to a larger unit or consulting a professional to diagnose and fix the problem.

#6 What are the signs of a water leak?

Identifying the signs of a water leak early can prevent extensive damage and costly repairs. One of the most noticeable indicators is an unexplained increase in your water bill, suggesting water is being used when it shouldn’t be. You might also notice damp or discolored patches on walls, ceilings, or floors, which can signal a hidden leak. Mold and mildew growth in areas that should be dry is another red flag, often accompanied by a musty odor.

Additionally, the sound of running or dripping water when no fixtures are in use can indicate a leak. In more severe cases, you may see visible water pooling around your home’s foundation or in your yard. Addressing these signs promptly by investigating the source of the leak and seeking professional help if needed can prevent further damage to your property.

#7 How often should I have my plumbing inspected?

Regular plumbing inspections are crucial for maintaining the health and efficiency of your home’s plumbing system. It is generally recommended to have a professional plumbing inspection annually, especially if you live in an older home. This yearly checkup helps identify and address potential issues before they become major problems, such as leaks, corrosion, or blockages. Homes with older plumbing systems or those in areas with hard water might benefit from an annual inspection.

A simple annual inspection would include

  • Indoor and outdoor pipes, supply lines, and sewage lines.
  • Outdoor hose bibs and laundry rooms
  • Shutoff valve throughout your home
  • Sinks, showers, faucets, toilets and bathtubs
  • Water heater, which may include a flush or descale if the water heater is tankless.

By keeping up with routine inspections, you can extend the lifespan of your plumbing system, prevent unexpected emergencies, and save money on costly repairs. A plumbing inspection is a must if you’re selling or buying a home.

#8 Can I use chemical drain cleaners?

First, there are two types of toxic drain cleaners: caustic and acid. Caustic drain cleaners are made with lye, which will not harm your plumbing. However, they can harm you, so avoid contact with them. A caustic drain cleaner would be Draino or Liquid Plumr. They work well on very minor bathroom clogs, such as slow-moving bathroom drains. They are not meant for toilet clogs or hard-to-reach clogs. Please read the label carefully, follow the directions, and don’t listen to all the hype about it eating your pipe away. You should always take a no-chemical approach to clearing a drain first. Every household should have two types of plungers. one for toilets and one for sinks.  

Residential Drain Cleaners

#9 What should I do in case of a plumbing emergency?

In the event of a plumbing emergency, swift action is crucial to minimize damage and maintain safety. First, immediately shut off the main water supply to prevent flooding and further damage. Familiarize yourself with the location of the main shut-off valve beforehand and make sure you can act quickly. If the emergency involves an overflowing toilet, locate and turn off the valve at the toilet’s base. Next, turn off any electrical appliances in the affected area to avoid potential electrical hazards.

After addressing immediate risks:

  1. Contact a professional plumber to assess and repair the issue.
  2. While waiting for the plumber, try to contain the water using towels, buckets, or a wet/dry vacuum to minimize damage.
  3. If the problem involves a gas line or water heater, evacuate and contact emergency services for immediate assistance.

Taking these steps can help protect your home and guarantee a safe resolution to the plumbing emergency.

#10 How can I reduce my water bill?

Reducing your water bill involves a combination of mindful usage and adopting water-efficient practices. Start by fixing any leaks promptly, as even small drips can significantly increase water consumption over time. Install water-efficient fixtures, such as low-flow showerheads, faucets, and toilets, which can reduce water usage without sacrificing performance. WaterSense-labeled faucets, showerheads, and fixtures will guarantee the best performance.

Be conscious of your water habits; take shorter showers, turn off the tap while brushing your teeth, and only run dishwashers and washing machines with full loads. Additionally, consider using a broom instead of a hose to clean driveways and sidewalks, and water your garden early in the morning or late in the evening to minimize evaporation. Installing a rain barrel to collect rainwater for irrigation can also save substantial water. By incorporating these strategies, you can reduce your water usage and water bill.

Brandon and Family, Licensed plumbing contractor

Family Owned & Operated

My name is Brandon Mageno. I'm the founder, President, and CEO of Big B's Plumbing Company. As the founder, I never thought about being average or good. My passion for being the best plumbing company in Southern California has always been the same. Providing plumbing services to this great county is simply in my DNA. Nothing makes me happier than to see a satisfied customer. Learn More About Us

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