Home Improvements

3 Common Plumbing Problems and How to Fix Them

At this point, we’re all adept at dealing with electrical issues due to loadshedding, but plumbing problems are an entirely different beast. Not only are they frustrating, but they can affect your ability to use the bathroom, take a shower, and even wash your hands. 

These aren’t problems that you want to deal with day in and day out. So it’s important that you know how to spot common plumbing problems, and have a basic understanding of how to tackle them.

Read below to learn more about some of the most common plumbing problems, and how to address them. 

Close up of a network of pipes with valves and joints.

Leaky Pipes

Leaky pipes can be the bane of a homeowner’s existence. Unlike leaky taps, they aren’t always easy to spot. This means water can leak out unnoticed, slowly but steadily driving up your water bill. With enough water leakage, it can even cause structural damage. 

What Causes the Problem

Leaks occur due to a variety of reasons, such as:

  • Clogs in pipes
  • Corrosion of the pipe material
  • Joint damage
  • Cracked seals
  • Cracked pipes
  • Excessive water pressure

Extreme close up of a water droplet landing in a pool of water.

How to Fix It

Leaks should never be ignored because they can cause damage to your home and your plumbing system. Since it’s difficult to find the source and cause of the leak, it’s best to call a plumber to come and do an inspection. 

They’ll be able to find and fix your leak, saving you hours you would have spent crawling around looking for the leak yourself.

Leaky pipes are one of the most common plumbing problems. Image of an outdoor tap with water drops coming out the tap and leaking out around the top of the tap.

Clogged Drains and Toilets

Clogged drains and toilets are some of the easier-to-spot plumbing problems. If you see water backing up when you’re emptying your sink or tub, then the most likely cause is a clogged drain. Similarly, if you see water backing up into the bowl or even overflowing when flushing, your toilet is probably clogged.

In these instances, you simply have to clear the blockage to fix the problem.

What Causes the Problem

There are a lot of things that can cause a blockage. In showers, hair is usually the main suspect, but shampoo lids, razor blade covers, and even small toys can block the pipe. Kitchen sinks are often blocked by food waste or oils. Oil tends to harden inside pipes, making it difficult for water to flow through.

Similar to pipes, toilets can get blocked if something that doesn’t dissolve gets flushed. So whether it’s human waste, feminine hygiene products, baby wipes, or too much toilet paper, it can all cause a blockage and make it difficult or impossible for water to flow down the pipes.

White tiled bathroom with a modern white toilet, toilet paper, and toilet brush. The plumbing problems associated with toilets are easier to notice.

How to Fix It

Whether you’re dealing with a clogged drain or toilet, always start with a plunger. Note, there are different types of plungers for toilets versus drains. A plunger helps loosen the clog using air pressure, so you could possibly fix the problem in this step. 

For drains, place the open end of the plunger over the opening, making sure the entire drain is covered. Then, move the plunger up and down to create suction. It’s possible that the suction will pull the blockage up far enough that you can remove it with tweezers or pliers.

If a plunger isn’t getting the job done, you can use chemical drain cleaners to remove the blockage. You can also try using a plumbing snake to dislodge the blockage.

If you have easy access to the pipes, like under a basin, you can also turn the water off and dismantle the pipes before you clean out each section. This can be quite messy as all the backed-up water will spill when you undo the pipes. 

If you’re still struggling to clear the blockage, it might be best to call a plumber. You should also consider getting a plumber to come and take a look if the same drains get clogged over and over again, as this might be a symptom of a bigger problem. 

White counter top with a silver sink and a curved black tap. Plumbing problems in basins and sinks are easier to clear than deep internal pipes.

Low Water Pressure

One of the first places you’ll notice low water pressure issues is in the shower. There are few things worse than getting home after a long day’s work and needing a relaxing shower, only to be met with low water pressure.

What Causes the Problem

There are a few underlying factors that can cause low water pressure. Commonly, homes with high water demand, leaky pipes, or clogs tend to have low water pressure.

But this can also be caused by other things like mineral build-ups, air bubbles that are trapped in the pipes, and unsealed joints. 

Close up of a multi-stream tap with water running out of it.

How to Fix It

The first thing you should do if you notice low water pressure is check how much water gets used each day. Small changes, like having a guest stay over, can cause changes in the water pressure.

If there haven’t been any changes in the household and the water usage hasn’t gone up, then you should check your faucets and hoses for any blockages. Cleaning out aerators can also improve the water pressure.

If there’s no obvious cause, then you should have a plumber come and take a look at your entire system. There might be a leak or small problem that you didn’t spot initially.

Burst municipal pipes can also cause low water pressure for entire areas. So the problem might be temporary and not require anything of you to fix it. Check in with your neighbours or community forums to find out if others are experiencing the same problem. 

Person holding a hose with a sprinkler attachment, water running out of it. Low water pressure and other plumbing problems can make tasks like this difficult.

Understanding Common Plumbing Problems

Understanding common plumbing problems doesn’t just help you potentially fix the issue, but it’s also helpful when describing the issue to a plumber. The more accurate information you can give them, the quicker your issues get sorted out.

If you’re experiencing any plumbing issues, don’t waste any more time! Contact a trusted plumber to come and take a look ASAP.

You’re in good company