As a homeowner, there will inevitably come a time when you have to take care of a plumbing issue on your own. While we always recommend professional plumbing over DIY plumbing, in the event of an emergency, there are some basic things that you can do in the meantime. We want to educate our customers on some of the most common emergency plumbing issues that homeowners face and provide some tips on how to address them.
Common Emergency Plumbing Issues
Some days you find the dreadful reality that you have been dealt a plumbing tragedy. 1 in 6 adults in the United States has needed plumbing services at least once in the last year. Unfortunately, plumbing issues are an inevitable household nuisance. If this is your first time, or you are just looking for a refresher, here are some of the most common household plumbing issues:
- Leaky faucets:
- Clogged drains
- Water heater issues:
- Leaky pipes:
- Running toilets
- Low water pressure
- Jammed garbage disposal
Temporary Solutions to the Issues!
Now that you know some of the common issues, what can you do about them? Fortunately, there are temporary solutions you can do yourself if getting a plumber isn't in your budget right now.
If you have a leaky faucet or pipe, the first thing you should do is shut off the water to that fixture. This will prevent any further damage and help you to assess the problem. In most cases, it is simply a matter of replacing a washer or O-ring or tightening the packing nut. If the leak is coming from the base of the faucet, then it is probably a problem with the O-ring or washer. To fix this, you will need to disassemble the faucet and replace the damaged parts.
If the leak is coming from the handle of the faucet, then it is probably a problem with the packing nut or valve seat. To fix this, you will need to disassemble the faucet and either replace the packing nut or tighten the valve seat. Once you have identified and fixed the source of the leak, you should be able to use your faucet without worry. However, if the leak is coming from a pipe, it may be necessary to replace the entire section of the pipe. A temporary solution to a leaky pipe includes pipe clamps, epoxy putty, or a slip coupling! Leaky pipes are more difficult to fix yourself.
Clogged drains are another common plumbing issue. The good news is that you can often fix them yourself without having to call a plumber. The first thing you want to do is determine what is causing the clog. If it's something that can be easily removed, sometimes the best thing to use is something you already have in your pantry. One home remedy is to pour a pot of boiling water down the drain, followed by a cup of baking soda. Let that sit for a few minutes, and then flush with hot water. This method works well for small clogs. For bigger clogs, you may need to use a plunger or snake. If you have a plunger, make sure there is enough water in the sink to cover the plunger's suction cup. Put the plunger over the drain and push and pull until the clog is gone. If you don't have a plunger, you can try using a snake. Start by taking off the drain cover and feeding the snake into the drain. Turn the handle in a clockwise motion and push the snake through the clog. Once you've broken through, pull the snake out and run hot water down the drain to clear any remaining debris. If none of these work, you may need to go to the store and purchase a chemical drain cleaner. Be sure to follow the directions on the bottle and use it carefully.
Water Heater Issues
Water heaters are intricate appliances, so it's recommended to entrust repairs to the experts. However, you can take a few steps to prolong the lifespan of your water heater and avoid costly repairs:
- Drain your water heater at least once a year to eliminate sediment from the bottom of the tank that may lead to issues.
- Check your water heater's temperature and ensure it's not set higher than 120 degrees to prevent scalding and save energy.
- Insulate your water heater if it's in a chilly part of your home, as this will prevent the tank from freezing and cracking.
If you have a running toilet, there's an easy way to fix it. First, check the flapper chain to be sure it's not caught on something. If the chain is fine, then you may need to adjust the float ball. This is located in the tank and controls how much water is allowed into the bowl. To adjust the float ball:
- Bend the arm it's attached to. If neither of those fixes the problem, it's probably because the flapper valve needs to be replaced.
- Just shut off the water to the toilet, flush it to empty the tank, and then remove the lid.
- Find the flapper valve at the bottom of the tank and replace it with a new one.
- Reattach the lid and turn the water back on.
Low Water Pressure
If you're experiencing low water pressure, it could be due to a clogged aerator. The aerator is the small screen at the end of your faucet that regulates water flow. To clean it, remove the aerator and soak it in vinegar for a few hours. Then, scrub it with a toothbrush and rinse it well. If that doesn't work, your problem, such as a leaky pipe, could be much more severe.
Jammed Garbage Disposal
A frequent plumbing problem is a garbage disposal that is jammed. To resolve this, start by pressing the reset button on the bottom of the disposal. If that doesn't work, you can try to unjam it yourself by using a plunger, pliers, or tongs, but remember to turn off the power beforehand. If this doesn't work, you'll need to use a wrench to remove the housing and access the blades. Once you have access, remove any debris that may be causing the jam.
When To Call A Professional
If you run into a plumbing issue and don't have the time or funds to hire a professional, there are options you could do yourself. After reading the common issues and solutions, if you find any that apply to you, many step-by-step videos can walk you through fixing your issue. If you find that your issue is too complex to fix yourself, don't hesitate to contact a professional! Oak Plumbing offers various professional services and 24/7, 365-day emergency services. Plumbing emergencies are always essential to fix. Whether you are looking for a temporary solution or a permanent solution, you have come to the right place!