Backed-up sinks. Discolored water. Leaks. These issues may sound scary, but the truth is they’re common problems in many homes. In fact, lots of them can be repaired with just a few painless steps.
With the right tools and skills, you can save yourself time—and money—by dealing with these issues yourself. Plus, knowing how to remedy common problems will help you know when the issue is more complicated and best solved by a professional.
So, don't let a clogged drain or a leaky faucet get you down—with the right know-how, it's easy to successfully repair common plumbing problems all by yourself. We’ll take a look at a couple of frequent plumbing issues and how you can address them.
1. Why Is My Sink Gurgling?
If you’re concerned by a gurgling sound emanating from your sink, it may be an indication of air or water trapped in the pipes. This can happen if there is a blockage in the pipes, or if a plumbing vent has become blocked or disconnected.
Fortunately, this situation is not too difficult to fix:
- First, try using a plunger to eliminate any blockages that may be causing the gurgling sound.
- If a plunger doesn’t work, you can try using a drain snake to clear away buildup 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 trouble, it may be best to contact an experienced plumber in Libertyville. They can help diagnose the underlying cause of the issue and provide you with answers.
2. Why Is My Sink Not Draining?
If a sink is not draining, usually that’s a result of something obstructing the drainpipe. However, it may 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: Gradually, 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 broken, they may not be producing an effective seal around the drain to keep out air and allow the water to drain.
- Crud in the trap: The curved pipe beneath the sink, called a P-trap, can become blocked with debris or develop leaks, which stop it from draining properly.
- Blocked vent pipe: An obstruction in a vent pipe, which allows gas to exit your plumbing system, might stop your sink from draining. Vents can be blocked by debris where they leave your house.
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 clear away hair or other debris and allow the water to move through. Other strategies are to use baking soda and vinegar or a drain-cleaning product to dissolve 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 dismantling 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 pull out any debris. Once it’s clean, put the pipe back together and rinse with hot water.
If trying to clear the line and P-trap doesn't clear the blockage, inspect 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 overly ambitious bird or household pest. If this also doesn’t work, you may want to get a hold of a skilled professional for plumbing repair in Libertyville to make sure there isn’t a significant problem with your plumbing.
3. Why Is My Sink Water Cloudy/White?
Quite often, cloudy or white-looking water is due to air bubbles in the water. Normally, this is harmless and can often go away on its own. It could be caused by a water company doing work on the lines, or a nearby construction project.
One way to check if cloudy water is created by air bubbles is to fill a glass of water and then leave it on the countertop. Odds are the air bubbles will go away and the water will eventually go back to being clear. If the water is still cloudy after 24 hours, you may have another predicament and will want to check with a professional for assistance.
The cloudy water also could be caused by high levels of minerals in the water in your home. 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 stop hard-water buildup from ruining your pipes and creating the distasteful cloudy water.
If cloudy water is a persistent problem, consider cleaning off the aerator, which is a screen at the end of your faucet. Use a water and vinegar solution to remove any debris or accumulation. If that doesn’t work either, you might want to contact a certified 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 usually because a plumbing fixture has broken down or malfunctioned. Occasionally, it’s caused by a clog stopping the line.
Here are some of the more typical causes of sink leaks and how you can fix them:
- Loose Connections: One of the most likely causes of a leak underneath the sink is a result of loose connections between pipes, fixtures and hoses. If any component has not been correctly tightened, or if it was not sealed right in its fitting, water can quickly 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 see water seeping from the sides of the handle or base of the faucet, there's a good chance that a new washer is needed.
- Corroded Pipes: The pipes underneath a sink can corrode over time, leading to weakening and cracks. Corrosion is quite common when working with older or lower-cost materials, so it's important to keep an eye out for any indications of degradation in order to avoid a major leak.
- Clogged Drains: A clogged drain can force water to back up and start dripping from the seal. It's important to examine the drain 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 factor that leads to brown tap water is rust. Rust usually comes from excess iron in the water, which may be the result of corroded pipes or worn-out fixtures. Rust may also develop when sediment gathers. Buildup may appear if the filtration system is failing or there are elevated levels of minerals like manganese.
Sometimes, the water can be discolored from silt or clay particles that have been stirred up from repairs on the water line or your plumbing. If you buy your water from a municipal utility company, get in touch with them to tell them about the discoloration. They will be able to notify you if there has been any recent work on the water lines.
An experienced plumber in Libertyville can help you figure out if the discoloration is coming 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 widespread reason 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 scraps and grease—along with soap scum—often are blamed for kitchen sink clogs.
Three ways you can fix a clogged sink include:
- Plunger: One option to help you remove a partial clog is to use 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 attempt to dislodge the clog.
- Plumbing snake/weasel: If a plunger doesn’t work, you may have to use a plumbing snake—a long, thin piece of plastic—to put down your pipe to attach to the clog so you can pull it out. Sometimes, these are known as plumbing weasels.
- Chemical Clog Remover: Several chemical clog removers on the market break up blockages in sink pipes. Make sure to follow all directions, and that the product won’t damage your home’s pipes or the basin in your sink.