It is well known that most people like to save money on home repairs. The vast majority of easily accomplished repairs are usually on your home to-do list, waiting for you to have the time to tackle them. It is important to know which plumbing issues require a professional plumber, one with the technical training, skills and experience to diagnose and repair the problem.
Many of us want to try and accomplish what we can ourselves, with varying results. We support this fully — please reference our past blog post to determine the severity of your problem before giving us a call. But our goal is to help solve your plumbing issue before it becomes a crisis, or before a DIY attempt makes the problem worse.
Here are some common issues homeowners tend to experience, and why you should leave the repairs to the professionals. The first seemingly innocuous issue?
Low Water Pressure
While a harmless issue on its own, there exists a variety of reasons that could be causing this to occur. Problems arise when homeowners attempt to “fix” low water pressure based on their own diagnosis. Tampering with multiple fixtures and systems increases your chances of damaging your plumbing or making the problem worse. For the average person, it can be difficult to determine the exact cause. Low water pressure can be caused by a number of plumbing problems, including:
- Rusty, clogged pipes
- Faulty faucet
- Failed pressure regulator
- Malfunctioning main shutoff or water meter valves
Your low water pressure could be indicative of a much greater predicament. Left untreated, it may only exacerbate with time.
Pro Tip: Determine if you have low water pressure throughout the entire house or just one location, then test both the hot and cold water. Do so by turning on and checking each faucet in the house. This will speed up a resolution when the plumber arrives.
Whether in your sink, toilet or bathtub, clogs are quite a nuisance. Troubleshooting can often fix the easy clogs. But with the larger ones, homegrown solutions can exacerbate the problem or delay finding the true culprit.
The source of a major clog isn’t always apparent. It could be external to your home, with an issue at the main sewer line causing the clog! Diagnosing the exact location of the drainage issue is just your first obstacle. Fixing it permanently may require outside help.
Chemical solutions can work to resolve your clogged drain. When used according to the product instructions, liquid and gel drain cleaners can be effective without harming your health or your home’s plumbing system. Other solutions involve taking apart your drain and drain pipe or renting an auger or plumber’s snake.
Call your plumber if you are currently experiencing any of the following:
- Clogs and backups in multiple fixtures and locations
- Clogs that persist despite the use of chemical solutions
- Toilet clogs resisting all plunging attempts
- Wastewater or sewage seeping back up into toilets, sinks or bathtubs
- Kitchen sink backups despite extensive garbage disposal use
- Water back up in the drainage of one appliance while using another
Pro Tip: Prevention is key with clogs. One simple measure for your shower drain is purchasing a hair catcher. For common kitchen culprits that can lead to drain clogs, check out our list of 10 items you should avoid putting down your drains.
Water expands when it freezes, and winter temperatures tend to be a major cause of leaking or burst pipes. Pipes that consistently re-freeze and re-thaw are at a higher risk of weakening, then bursting.
Not all leaks will flood your house, but water damage is costly. Sources of leaks can be in the piping itself or in the joint and pinpointing the origin of the leak can be time-consuming and difficult due to the location of the piping. But without swift action and accurate root-cause determination, a small leak can quickly become a more serious problem. Leaks often indicate piping is in need of replacement, and a patch job one place can often cause a burst pipe elsewhere. Unless you can confirm the piping is truly sound, a DIY fix may be only a temporary solution.
You may have leaking pipes if you see:
- Puddles of water appearing near plumbing or drain fixtures (sink, bathtub, washing machine, dishwasher)
- Water spots, bulges or stains in your ceiling or walls
- Mold spots from dampness near water fixtures
- Movement of your water meter dial after a two-hour period of no water use (compare positioning beforehand and after)
Pro Tip: Know where your main water shutoff valve is and turn it off immediately if you have a significant leak (or if your pipes have burst). If it’s stuck or rusted into position, don’t force it. This is another problem your plumber can fix. See our blog post about locating and maintaining these water shutoff valves.
As for frozen pipes, there are numerous prevention methods, such as letting relevant faucets drip during extreme cold spells. For more detail, reference our instructions for how to prevent frozen pipes.
Malfunctioning Water Heater
The average lifespan of a water heater can be anywhere from 8-12 years. For those who currently need a new one, avoid the temptation to save money by installing it yourself. Why? Installing your water heater yourself without the aid of a professional plumber may invalidate the warranty.
Whether gas or electric, water heaters can and do fail or require replacement over time. Call a professional when you notice your unit is:
- Rumbling or banging due to sediment
- Emitting rusty or metallic water
- Working inconsistently with fluctuations in temperature
- Older than 10 years
A licensed professional can inspect the safety mechanisms, replace necessary parts or determine if a new water heater is necessary. The risk of flooding or lack of hot water alone are reasons to stay up-to-date on your water heater’s inspection and maintenance schedule.
A neglected or old water heater can, very rarely, flood or explode. A malfunctioning safety valve that cannot release the necessary pressure could potentially cause pressure to build up until the tank ruptures. These are examples of situations where you may endanger yourself or family and property if you attempt to make a repair or replacement yourself. For safety reasons, let the professionals handle your water heater issues.
Pro Tip: For residential water heaters, according to the Department of Energy the recommended temperature is roughly 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Keeping the temperature too low or too high has its own safety and financial risks.
Inspect your unit from time to time – noticing the aforementioned issues early on can prove immensely beneficial in reducing the risk of a calamity involving your water heater. Routine maintenance is also key: flush your water heater once a year to improve efficiency and extend its lifespan. Doing so removes sediment, potential colors and odors.
At the end of the day, with plumbing, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Call us today with any questions or concerns. Let our licensed technicians address your plumbing and drainage problems before they become emergencies.