4 Most Common Plumbing Problems and How to Fix Them

Everyone house has plumbing problems from time to time. The good news is that you can often solve them yourself.

Never try to resolve plumbing issues if you feel uncomfortable or if you’re worried you might make matters worse.

However, there are a number of very common plumbing problems that you can easily resolve yourself with very few tools. Here are 4 of the most common plumbing issues people encounter, and some tips for fixing them.

4 Common Plumbing ProblemsProblem #1: The Trap in the Sink Is Blocked

Tools: Bucket, toothbrush, pliers (or wrench)

What to do: The sink trap is that curved piece of pipe underneath the bowl, and if an object gets stuck in there, you need to disassemble it.

1. Put a bucket underneath the trap as a preemptive measure to catch any debris or water.

2. Undo the slip nuts (these are the two rings on the outside of the pipe). They can usually be twisted off by hand if the sink trap is plastic, but if it’s metal, you may need to use a wrench or pliers to get a good grip. To avoid scraping the metal, put tape over the slip nuts.

3. Remove the trap and scrape out the blockage using a toothbrush or other small brush.

4. Put the trap back and reattach the slip nuts. Make sure they are secure, but don’t overtighten as this can lead to additional problems.

Problem #2: The Sink Drain Is Clogged/Water Is Draining Way Too Slowly

Tools: Plunger, baking soda, vinegar, hot water

What to do: A lot of people use a cleaning solution like Draino, and while this is effective, the chemicals can be pretty harsh (especially if you need to unclog your kitchen sink). If you don’t want to use harsh chemicals on your sink, there are a couple other methods you can try.

1. For the first attempt, fill the sink up about halfway with hot water.

2. Use a plunger to form a seal over the drain (it should be submerged in the water).

3. Move the plunger up and down to dislodge the clog.

4. If the plunger method doesn’t work, bail the water out of the sink.

5. Push a cup of baking soda down the drain and pour in a cup of vinegar after it.

6. Wait five minutes to see if the baking soda and vinegar solution dissolves the clog, then run hot water to test whether the sink is draining.

Problem #3: The Toilet Is Clogged

Tools: Plunger, clothes hanger, old rag, plumbing snake

What to do: A clogged toilet is probably one of the most dreaded household plumbing problems, but you can usually unclog it on your own without having to call a plumber.

1. Get out your trusty plunger and form a seal over the drain (if there is no water in the bowl, add some so that the plunger is submerged).

2. Push up and down slowly but firmly to dislodge the clog.

3. If the plunger doesn’t work, unravel a clothes hanger and tie a small rag around one end to avoid scraping the porcelain bowl.

4. Push the end of the hanger with the rag into the drain and wiggle it around to dislodge the clog.

5. If you have a plumbing snake or can borrow one, this will work in the same way as the clothes hanger but give you more flexibility.

6. Push the plumbing snake into the drain and twist it around until the water starts to drain.

Problem #4: The Water Pressure in the Shower Is Weak

Tools: Descaling solution, bowl, screwdriver

What to do: Where there’s weak water pressure, there’s usually lime scale buildup to be found.

1. Begin by unscrewing the shower head from the hose.

2. Unscrew the spray plate.

3. Place the spray plate in a bowl of descaling solution.

4. Leave the spray plate in the bowl for the amount of time specified by the descaling solution.

5. Flush any remaining lime scale from the pipes, then reattach the spray plate and the shower head.


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Author Bio:

Juliana Weiss-Roessler writes about plumbing and other home repair topics for John J Cahill, Inc.  Along with her husband, Juliana lives in Austin, TX, with their two tiny-but-rambunctious dogs and one tiny-but-rambunctious baby boy.

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1 comment

  1. Four Seasons Mechanical says:

    Great blog article on the 4 most common plumbing problems and how to fix them; it was very well written and you share many great tips for readers to be able to apply themselves. A small tip regarding blocked or clogged toilets is to avoid flushing too much waste at one time. Try to separate toilet paper and waste into individual flushes. With many toilets now a days being “low flush” and using less water per flush, the more waste that is flushed at once, the greater the likelihood of a blockage or clog. Thanks for sharing a great post.

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