Backed-up sinks. Discolored water. Leaks. These issues may sound scary, but the truth is they’re common problems in many homes. In fact, many of them can be repaired with just a few painless steps.
With the proper tools and knowledge, you can save yourself time—and money—by fixing these issues yourself. Plus, learning more about how to remedy common problems will help you realize 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 fix straightforward plumbing problems all by yourself. We’ll take a look at several frequent plumbing issues and how you can take care of them.
1. Why Is My Sink Gurgling?
If you’re concerned by 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 blocked or disconnected.
Fortunately, this issue is not too difficult to correct:
- First, try using a plunger to clear any blockages that may be creating the gurgling sounds.
- If a plunger doesn't loosen the clog, you can try using a drain snake to clean out buildup from the pipe. Finally, if your plumbing vent is blocked or disconnected, make sure to reconnect it and check for any other blockages.
If you’re still having difficulties, it may be best to call a seasoned plumber in Shamokin and Sunbury. They can help determine the underlying cause of the issue and provide you with skilled repair service.
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 also can be caused by 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 materials can accumulate in the pipes, causing a blockage that prevents the water from draining.
- Broken seals: If the sink’s rubber seals are cracked or damaged, they may not be producing an effective seal around the drain to keep out air and permit the water to drain.
- Debris in the trap: The curved pipe at the bottom of the sink, called a P-trap, can become blocked with debris or get leaks which stop it from draining properly.
- Blocked vent pipe: An obstruction in a vent pipe, which allows gas to escape your plumbing system, might keep your sink from draining. Vents can be blocked by debris where they exit your house.
To unclog a pipe, try using a plunger to force the blockage through the line. If that doesn’t work, think about using a plumbing snake to retrieve and pull out hair or other debris and allow the water to move through. Other techniques are to try baking soda and vinegar or a drain-cleaning product to dissolve the clog.
Depending on your plumbing setup, you may be able to search for a blockage in the P-trap, which is a bend in the pipe underneath your sink. This is achieved by disassembling the pipe and cleaning out the line. To do this, first shut the faucet off and set a bucket underneath the bend. Then, disassemble the pipe and retrieve 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, check where your drain vent exits your house to make sure it isn’t blocked by debris such as leaves, dirt or even a nest by an misguided bird or household pest. If this also doesn’t work, you may want to contact a skilled professional for plumbing repair in Shamokin and Sunbury to make sure there isn’t a bigger problem with your plumbing.
3. Why Is My Sink Water Cloudy/White?
Most of the time, cloudy or white-looking water is a result of air bubbles in the water. This is normally innocuous and can often clear up on its own. It can be the result of a water company doing work on the lines, or a close-by construction project.
One way to find out if cloudy water is created by air bubbles is to fill a glass of water and then leave it on the countertop. Chances are the air bubbles will dissipate and the water will eventually become crystal clear. If the water is still cloudy after 24 hours, you may have another issue and will want to check with a professional for assistance.
The off-colored water also could be due to high levels of minerals in the water in the plumbing system. Excessive minerals collect until they affect 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 damaging your pipes and making the distasteful cloudy water.
If cloudy water becomes a stubborn problem, consider clearing out the aerator, which is a screen at the end of your faucet. Use a water and vinegar solution to clear away any debris or blockages. If that doesn’t work either, you probably will want to consult a skilled plumber and let them work toward 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 broken down or malfunctioned. Occasionally, it’s caused by a clog stopping the line.
Here are some of the more commonly seen causes of sink leaks and how you can fix them:
- Loose Connections: One of the most common causes of a leak underneath the sink is because of loose connections between pipes, fixtures and hoses. If any part 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 time, the washer in a sink fixture can become worn out and fail to create a sufficient seal. If you notice water seeping from the sides of the handle or base of the faucet, it’s possible that a new washer is needed.
- Corroded Pipes: The pipes underneath a sink can wear down over time, causing weakening and cracks. Corrosion is particularly common when working with older or discounted materials, so it's important to keep an eye out 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 crucial to examine the drain for any evidence of blockage and to clear away any debris that may be slowing water flow.
5. Why Is My Sink Water Brown?
The most common cause of brown tap water is rust. Rust normally comes from excess iron in the water, which may be the result of corroded pipes or worn-out fixtures. Rust may also show up when sediment accumulates. Buildup may form if the filtration system is declining or there are significant levels of minerals like manganese.
In some cases, the water can be discolored from silt or clay particles that have been stirred up from service on the water line or your plumbing. If you get your water from a municipal utility company, be sure to contact them to notify them about the discoloration. They should be able to notify you if there has been any recent activity on the water lines.
An experienced plumber in Shamokin and Sunbury can help you establish if the discoloration is coming from a rusting pipe that needs to be replaced, or if a filtration system may get rid of the unsightly problem.
6. Why Is My Sink Draining Slow?
The most common explanation for a sink to drain slow is a partial blockage in the pipes. Hair and soap residue are likely reasons for a clogged bathroom sink, while food particles and grease—along with soap scum—often are at fault for kitchen sink clogs.
Three ways you can fix a clogged sink include:
- Plunger: One option to help you eliminate a partial clog is using a plunger. If there’s no standing water in the sink, turn on the faucet to put in enough water to cover the drain. Then, use the plunger to try to dislodge the clog.
- Plumbing snake/weasel: If a plunger doesn’t get the job done, 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 extract it manually. Sometimes, these are known as plumbing weasels.
- Chemical Clog Remover: Several chemical clog removers are available to dissolve blockages in sink pipes. Be sure to follow all directions, and that the remover won’t damage your home’s pipes or the basin in your sink.