10 Common Plumbing Issues That Can Turn Into Disasters

10 Common Plumbing Issues: How They Happen & How to Fix

You know that dripping tap or slow-draining sink you’ve been so carefully ignoring? Better wake up and get it repaired — SOON! “Little” plumbing problems have a nasty habit of growing bigger, uglier, and more expensive to fix.

Watch out for these 10 common plumbing issues which can turn into disasters. Learn why they happen and how you can solve them.

1. What Causes Kitchen/Bathroom Sinks To Clog?

Your kitchen or bathroom sinks clog for one basic reason — there’s stuff stuck in the drain. This could be grease, hair, food, waste, soap scum, or other assorted debris.

SOLUTION: Remove the blockage when possible (if you’re trying this with a garbage disposal, first disconnect its power source). Use your fingers if you’re fairly gross-proof, or needle-nose pliers if you’re not. Alternatively, plunge with a purpose-built sink plunger or pour in a dose of eco-friendly drain cleaner.

2. What Causes Kitchen/Bathroom Sinks To Drain Slow?

Slow draining sinks, just like clogged ones, are the result of gunked-up drains. The only difference is the degree. A sink that still lets the water out, albeit ever so slowly, has less gunk in it than a sink that’s completely blocked. (Ignore it long enough, though, and that slow drainage will eventually blossom into a full-scale blockage.)

SOLUTION: Experiment with pulling out the mess or plunging the sink. And consider investing a few loonies in the cost of a sink strainer to prevent future hassles.

3. What Causes Toilets To Keep Running?

You hear a noise coming from your toilet when not in use. Most likely, it’s because your toilet is continuously running.

A toilet that seems to be constantly running is not just running. It’s also leaking, to the tune of up to 200,000 litres annually. Leave it alone, and you risk totting up a humongous water bill. The cause is usually the flapper valve, an essential part that regulates the amount of water flow from your toilet tank into the bowl. Unfortunately, the rubber valve wears out easily.

SOLUTION: Check the flapper valve and replace it as necessary — a quick and cheap DIY fix. If that doesn’t help, get it inspected by a professional plumber. You may need to replace your toilet.

4. What Causes Leaky Pipes?

Most frequently, leaky pipes are due to a faulty or loosened connection. Other potential reasons include overly high water pressure and deterioration of the seal or the pipe itself. Be warned; even a small pipe leak can escalate fast and cause serious water damage to your home.

SOLUTION: You’re looking at an urgent issue that’s very difficult for a weekend warrior to resolve successfully. Call a reliable plumber for savvy professional assistance.

5. What Causes Noisy Pipes?

The commonest type of noise made by plumbing pipes is banging when you turn off the water faucet or shower. The result of excessive pressure inside the pipes, this phenomenon is called a water hammer. It’s as hard on your plumbing as it is on your ears.

SOLUTION: If the water hammer is severe and ongoing, hire a plumber to install a water surge arrestor.

6. What Causes Clogged Toilets?

Toilets are made for the purpose of flushing a reasonable amount of toilet paper and human waste. Period. Huge wads of extra ultra-thick toilet paper are responsible for many toilet clogs, and so are:

  • Tissues and paper towels
  • Diapers or baby wipes
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Hair and pet fur
  • Leftover food
  • Junior’s toys

SOLUTION: To unclog a toilet, it’s almost always better to bring the object up than to attempt to force it down. Glove up and pull the offending object out if possible. Otherwise, plunge using a flanged plunger specially for toilets. And if that fails — or you’re getting repeated toilet clogs — contact an expert plumber. We’ll help you decide whether it’s time to replace or repair your toilet.

7. What Causes Low Water Pressure?

Low water pressure (when, for example, your shower comes out as more of a trickle than a torrent) may stem from a water main break, leaky pipe inside your home, or mineral sediment built up in your home plumbing fixtures.

SOLUTION: Start with the easiest option — mineral buildup. An overnight vinegar soak can clear up this problem like magic. Place faucet aerators in a bowl of white vinegar; for your showerhead, wrap in vinegar-saturated paper towel and tie a plastic bag around the whole thing. Report a water main break to the City of Toronto by dialling 311. And to fix leaky pipes, contact a trusted plumbing service.

8. What Causes My Sump Pump To Fail?

A sump pump is your best defence against basement flooding… unless it fails. Cause for sump pump failure include:

  • Clogged sump pump, float switch, or discharge lines
  • Botched installation
  • Pump not powerful enough, too small or too large
  • Lost power

SOLUTION: Cover your sump pump with a lid to keep out debris that might clog it. When buying a new sump pump, ensure it is the right size for your home, equipped with battery backup, and installed by a competent technician.

9. What Causes Frozen Pipes?

The short answer to “what causes frozen pipes?” is, of course, Canadian winters. When temperatures plummet below zero and stay there for months on end, pipes (interior and exterior) will naturally become freeze-prone. The trouble is, once pipes freeze, they tend to burst… and that makes one heck of a mess.

SOLUTION: Every fall, disconnect outdoor hoses and sprinklers, then turn off the water supply to their spigots. Indoors, keep pipes warm—open cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around under-the-sink pipes. To cope with extreme cold, insulate pipes — or the wall behind them.

10. What Causes My Kitchen/Bathroom Faucet To Drip Continuously?

Drip, drip, drip. A dripping faucet is annoying in more ways than one. After all, you’re paying for that water running uselessly down the drain. So what’s behind your drippy kitchen or bathroom faucet? Usually, heavy pressure on the faucet handle has broken the internal seal, a rubber washer, a neoprene seal, or an O-ring, depending on the faucet type.

SOLUTION: You’ll need to repair your faucet. However, a word to the wise: this is one of those DIY tasks that seems easy when you watch it on YouTube but is fussy and fiddly once you’ve got all the faucet pieces spread out on the kitchen table. So why not call a plumber? A pro has the experience and tools to finish the job in an hour instead of wasting your entire weekend?

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