Plumbing problems and how to fix them
ALMOST every homeowner or renter has a few essential tools on hand to cope with minor plumbing emergencies. Many times, a clogged toilet or slow drain may need a little elbow grease and a plunger to work as intended.
If you’re handy around the house, you can generally tackle a small repair such as changing out a worn washer or replacing a drain cover. However, bigger plumbing repair jobs need professional attention. Trying to repair some common issues such as slow drains or leaking toilets could lead to bigger problems later.
One way to prevent costly repairs to your home is a regular maintenance schedule. Because many issues with your pipes sneak up on you, a thorough inspection is the key to catching small problems before they grow. Hidden leaks in sink drains or below water heaters are more than just a nuisance; over time, they can cause structural damage. Water that seeps into sheetrock or plaster contributes to mould growth. Porous tile or wood flooring can discolour or warp when wet.
Many routine maintenance tasks are simple do-it-yourself jobs.
An inspection is the foundation of any maintenance schedule. You may use your sinks and tubs daily, but you might not notice minor concerns unless you set aside time for an inspection. Go through your home and take a look at your plumbing. Examine all exposed pipes, including under sinks and behind toilet tanks, for any signs of moisture.
After a thorough inspection, remove and clean aerators on faucets and shower heads. Sediment can build up and slow water flow. If you opt for professional plumbing maintenance, your plumber will take care of this step and others for you.
Common repair jobs
Even the most thorough plumbing maintenance inspection won’t prevent the occasional clog or leak, especially in older homes. The high water table in the Sarasota and Bradenton, FL area also contributes to septic system problems that can affect toilets and drains. Many of these common issues have equally common solutions.
If you’ve ever tried to fall asleep with a dripping faucet in the next room or wrestled with a kitchen sink that didn’t know when to stop, you know how annoying this common problem can be. A dripping faucet also drives your water bill higher. A single faucet can send hundreds of gallons of water per year down your drains a drop at a time.
Water entering your home is under pressure to move it through the pipes. When you turn off the tap, rubber or silicone-based wash- ers form a water-tight seal that prevents more water from pushing its way through the pipes and out of the faucet. Over time, washers can become stiff, torn or dislodged, allowing a tiny trickle of water through and creating that annoying drip. While you can replace washers yourself, the repair job can be more of a challenge than you might expect without specialized tools.
Low Water Pressure
When water that should gush only trickles from the tap, you have low water pressure.
This problem might not be related to the pipes in your house but to the municipal water supply. It’s rare, but a break in a main line can temporarily reduce your water pressure. A more common cause of this problem is a build-up of deposits or sediment on faucet aerators.
The water entering your pipes carries dissolved minerals in it that eventually deposit themselves on metal surfaces.
If you have a filtration system, these deposits wind up in the filters and get changed; without such a system, these mineral deposits collect on inner surfaces of aerators and shower heads, clogging screens and slowing flow. Most kitchen faucets have easily removed aerators that just unscrew from the tip of the faucet for easy cleaning.
Taking off the aerator and soaking it overnight in a vinegar solution will generally dissolve the calcium deposits common in Florida water supplies. Shower heads and bathroom faucets may not be as easy to remove, but you can affix a plastic bag filled with vinegar to the shower overnight to clean it.
If you’re tired of jiggling the handle to make your toilet behave after flushing, it might be time to replace its inner workings. Toilets typically run when the flapper valve that lets water pass from the tank to the bowl no longer fits properly, the float is imbalanced or the fill tube comes loose. Toilet repair kits work for most models and require little effort to install.
Occasionally, though, toilets run for more complex reasons. If you’ve replaced the flapper, float apparatus and fill tube, you may have sediment that’s affecting proper flushing and filling. Higher water bills could also indicate a silent leak. To detect a silent leak in your toilet, add a few drops of food coloring to the upper tank and wait 15 to 20 minutes.
Whether your regular inspection reveals a puddle under a pipe or you get an unpleasant surprise when you reach under your sink, leaks can be a costly nuisance. Leaks usually happen at joints, which is why commercial joint fillers and fitting compounds occupy plenty of shelf space in your local hardware store.
These products are a temporary fix, though; a permanent plumbing repair may mean replacing a length of pipe or its fittings.
One way to prevent costly repairs to your home is a regular maintenance schedule