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Nine Plumbing Issues That Could Be Signs of Bigger Problems

Maybe you’ve experienced the annoying drip of a leaky faucet, keeping you up when you’re trying to sleep. But you put up with it and the small bump in your water bill — you’re too busy, got things to do, you’ll get to it later…

But problems with your plumbing shouldn’t be treated lightly. What may seem insignificant or only a minor annoyance could actually be a warning of bigger problems. Even a small water leak in your home can lead to significant damage from mold or rot. With plumbing, you should heed the time-honored advice that “A stitch in time saves nine.” Here are eight common plumbing issues and telltales that could be signs of bigger problems that you should address right away.

Weak Water Flow

Are you experiencing weak water flow with one of your faucets? Or are you having issues throughout your home? In the first case, the solution is usually a simple one; in the latter, there may be some larger systemic issues that need to be addressed right away. Low water pressure at a single faucet is usually caused by a clogged aerator in the faucet. It’s a simple fix, and one that shouldn’t be put off, since if cleaning the aerator doesn’t solve the problem you may have a clog in the pipe.

If your water pressure is low throughout the house you may have a clog in the main water line or a leak somewhere in the system. If this is a sudden issue, consult with a plumber right away.

Spiking Water Bills

If you experience sticker shock when you open your monthly water bill, you may have a serious problem that needs to be addressed right away. In some circumstances, the solution may be as simple as fixing a running toilet, but in more extreme cases you may have a break in your water line.

Here’s a simple way to check. Turn off the water to your home at the main shut-off valve and then examine your water meter. If it’s still running there’s a break in the water line leading into the house. Time to call a plumber right away!

Slow Drain(s)

We’ve all experienced a slow drain or a clogged toilet at some point in our lives. And usually, it’s something that’s pretty easy to handle with a plunger or a commercial drain cleaner. If the problem is limited to one drain, there’s usually nothing to worry about, although if it persists, you should contact a plumber to snake out the affected drain.

But if slow drains start occurring throughout the home at the same time you’re looking at a much more serious problem, most likely a blockage of the main sewer line, often caused by tree roots. Consult a plumbing professional immediately before serious damage or a sewer backup occurs.

Foul Odors

A properly designed plumbing system is a marvel of pipes, traps, and vents, designed to ensure that you receive a steady stream of water while whisking away waste. Sewer gasses are blocked from entering your home by water-filled drain traps, assisted by roof vents that channel gasses to the roof. If you detect foul sewer gas smells in your home, one of these two systems has failed in some way. An experienced plumber can quickly diagnose the issue and take steps to alleviate the issue before it becomes worse.

Rusty or Discolored Pipes

You’ll be hard-pressed to find exposed pipes in most newer homes. But if you have an older home or an unfinished basement it’s not uncommon to be able to examine your pipes. If you notice discoloration or rust on the pipes, particularly around joints or fittings it could be a sign of a slow leak that could end up resulting in a big leak later down the road. Time to get it checked.

Rattling Pipes

Of all the things that might make noise in your home —furnaces, squeaky stairs, noisy kids — your pipes shouldn’t be one of them. If you’re starting to grow accustomed to the rattle of pipes whenever you use the plumbing, it’s time to take stock. It’s not uncommon for plumbing to develop a problem called a “water hammer.” This occurs when the flow of water in your pipes changes direction suddenly, usually because of air pockets that have developed in the pipes. If you let this problem persist pipe fittings may work loose, causing leaks in your plumbing system.

Stained Walls or Ceilings

Have you noticed a change in your home’s decor? Some new spots of color on your walls or ceilings? Don’t break open a can of paint and hope for the best. Odds are you’ve got a leak behind the wall or ceiling. This is a problem that requires immediate attention from professionals who know how to isolate and repair the leak before extensive damage occurs to your drywall, or mold and mildew builds up behind the wall.

A Wobbly Toilet

You’re the king (or queen) of your castle, so it only makes sense that you should be able to sit securely on your throne. If you find that you’re wobbling while using the WC, your toilet needs some serious attention. You may be able to lock things down by tightening the bolts holding your toilet to the floor, but if that doesn’t do the trick, the wax seal underneath your toilet may need to be replaced.

A more serious problem is possible. If you have a leak underneath the toilet the subflooring holding the toilet may have begun to rot and you’ll need structural repairs to your floor. The moral of the story is clear — take care of leaks right away.

Discolored Water Coming From the Tap

Cloudy or discolored water often occurs when water systems perform routine maintenance. But if you have discolored water every day, particularly when you first turn on the water in the morning, the problem is most likely rust in your pipes, often caused by old galvanized steel pipes. To correct the problem the pipes will have to be replaced. Fortunately, you may not need to replace all of the pipes if the discoloration is only occurring at one faucet.

Short Delays, Big Costs

The one common thread to all of these plumbing problems is the potential that each has for creating much more serious problems down the road. Even a small leak in the walls of your home can cause serious damage to your drywall, or create serious issues with mold. Likewise, clogged drains can be a warning of backed-up sewage pipes in the future — a smelly situation.

Talk to the Pros

It can be easy to see that you’ve got a plumbing problem, but diagnosing the root cause and applying the proper solution is often somewhat more difficult. That’s when it’s important to tap into the expertise of an experienced professional who has the knowledge to apply the right solution to your problem.

If you’re encountering plumbing problems in your home, or are looking to make plumbing upgrades in your kitchen or bath, get in touch with us. We’ll be happy to check out the problem and provide you with a free quote.

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2 comments on “Nine Plumbing Issues That Could Be Signs of Bigger Problems”
  1. Thank you for mentioning how you should seek professional help if you notice that multiple drains in your home aren't working properly. My brother is thinking about hiring a plumber that can fix his drain before he hosts a house party next weekend. I hope that he can find someone that can get the job done quickly.

  2. I didn't know that an obstructed aerator can be the cause of low water pressure. My wife and I have started to notice that the water pressure in our kitchen sink has become especially low this month. We'll find someone that can help handle our plumbing issue for us.

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