Backed-up sinks. Discolored water. Leaks. These problems may sound intimidating, but the truth is they’re frequent problems in many homes. In fact, plenty of them can be repaired with just a few simple steps.
With the right tools and knowledge, 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 involved 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 fix ordinary plumbing problems all by yourself. We’ll take a look at several frequent plumbing problems and how you can resolve them.
1. Why Is My Sink Gurgling?
If you’re hearing a gurgling sound coming out of your sink, it may be a sign 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 plugged or disconnected.
Fortunately, this issue is not too difficult to correct:
- First, try using a plunger to eliminate any blockages that may be causing the gurgling noise.
- If a plunger doesn’t work, you can try using a drain snake to clean out particles from the pipe. Last of all, if your plumbing vent is blocked or disconnected, make sure to reconnect it and check for any other obstructions.
If you’re still having difficulties, it may be best to phone a qualified plumber in Los Angeles. They can help determine the root of the issue and provide you with skilled repair service.
2. Why Is My Sink Not Draining?
If a sink isn't draining, usually that’s because of something blocking the drainpipe. However, it could also be a result of a larger concern with your plumbing system.
Common reasons why the water in your sink won’t drain:
- Blocked or clogged pipes: Over time, hair, food scraps, grease, animal fats and other items can accumulate in the pipes, producing a blockage that prevents the water from draining.
- Broken seals: If the sink’s rubber seals are cracked or damaged, they may not be creating an effective seal around the drain to keep out air and enable the water to drain.
- Debris in the trap: The curved pipe beneath the sink, called a P-trap, can become blocked with debris or form leaks which prevent it from draining properly.
- Blocked vent pipe: An obstruction in a vent pipe, which allows gas to leave your plumbing system, might keep your sink from draining. Vents can be blocked by debris where they leave your residence.
To unclog a pipe, try using a plunger to force the blockage through the line. If that doesn’t work, give some thought to using a plumbing snake to retrieve and pull out hair or other debris and allow the water to flow through. Other methods are to use baking soda and vinegar or a drain-cleaning product to dissolve the clog.
Depending on your plumbing setup, you may also check for a blockage in the P-trap, which is a bend in the pipe underneath your sink. This is done by disassembling the pipe and cleaning out the line. To do this, first turn the faucet off and set a bucket under the bend. Then, dismantle the pipe and extract any debris. Once it’s emptied of debris, put the pipe back together and wash it out 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 need to contact a knowledgeable professional for plumbing repair in Los Angeles to make sure there isn’t a bigger problem with your plumbing.
3. Why Is My Sink Water Cloudy/White?
In general, cloudy or white-looking water is due to air bubbles in the water. This is normally 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 determine if cloudy water is caused by air bubbles is to fill a glass of water and then leave it on the table. It’s likely that the air bubbles will escape and the water will eventually 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 the result of high levels of minerals in the water in your residence. Excessive minerals build up until they alter the water’s appearance and taste, in which case a water softener may help. It can prevent hard-water buildup from damaging your pipes and making the distasteful cloudy water.
If cloudy water becomes a stubborn 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 blockages. If that doesn’t work either, you may want to contact a skilled plumber and let them find a solution.
4. Why Is My Sink Leaking/Dripping?
The reason for a leak or water drip underneath a sink is often because a plumbing fixture has failed or malfunctioned. Sometimes, it’s caused by a clog stopping the line.
Here are a few of the more common causes of sink leaks and how you can resolve them:
- Loose Connections: One of the most frequent causes of a puddle of water underneath the sink is due to loose connections between pipes, fixtures and hoses. If any fixture has not been securely tightened, or if it was not sealed adequately in its fitting, water can easily escape from these weak spots.
- Worn-Out Washers: After a while, the washer in a sink fixture can become worn out and fail to create an adequate seal. If you discover water seeping from the sides of the handle or base of the faucet, it's likely that a new washer is necessary.
- Corroded Pipes: The pipes underneath a sink can wear out over time, resulting in weakening and cracks. Corrosion is quite common when working with older or inexpensive materials, so it's important to search for any warning signs of degradation in order to avoid a major leak.
- Plugged Drains: A clogged drain can make water back up and start dripping from the seal. It's essential to always check 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 widespread cause of brown tap water is rust. Rust normally comes from excess iron in the water, which can be the result of corroded pipes or worn-out fixtures. Rust may also develop when sediment accumulates. Buildup may appear if the filtration system is declining or there are high levels of minerals like manganese.
Sometimes, the water can be discolored from silt or clay particles that have been stirred up from work on the water line or your plumbing. If you buy your water from a municipal utility company, be sure to contact them to tell them about the discoloration. They should be able to notify you if there has been any recent work on the water lines.
An expert plumber in Los Angeles can help you figure out if the discoloration is originating 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 common cause for a sink to drain slow is a partial obstruction in the pipes. Hair and soap buildup are likely suspects for a clogged bathroom sink, while food scraps and grease—along with soap scum—often are responsible for kitchen sink clogs.
Three ways you can fix a clogged sink include:
- Plunger: One way to clear away a partial clog is using a plunger. If there isn't any standing water in the sink, turn on the faucet to put in enough water to cover the drain. Then, use the plunger to loosen the blockage and dislodge the clog.
- Plumbing snake/weasel: If a plunger doesn’t fix the problem, you may need a plumbing snake—a long, thin section of plastic—to put down your pipe to attach to the clog so you can pull it out. Sometimes, these are referred to as plumbing weasels.
- Chemical Clog Remover: Many chemical clog removers are available to break down 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.