Backed-up sinks. Discolored water. Leaks. These things may sound intimidating, but the truth is they’re common problems in many homes. In fact, plenty of them can be solved with just a few simple steps.
With the correct tools and skills, you can save yourself time—and money—by dealing with these issues yourself. Plus, knowing how to take care of common problems will help you tell 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 info, it's easy to sort out straightforward plumbing problems all by yourself. We’ll take a look at a few frequent plumbing dilemmas and how you can address them.
1. Why Is My Sink Gurgling?
If you’re hearing a gurgling sound emanating from your sink, it may be a sign of air or water trapped in the pipes. This can take place if there is a blockage in the pipes, or if a plumbing vent has become blocked or disconnected.
Fortunately, this issue is simple to fix:
- First, try using a plunger to eliminate any blockages that may be causing the gurgling noise.
- If a plunger does not work, you can try using a drain snake to clean out buildup from the pipe. Last of all, if your plumbing vent is blocked or disconnected, make sure to reconnect it and search for any other objects in the way.
If you’re still having difficulties, it may be best to call a qualified plumber in Sandpoint. They can help identify the root of the issue and provide you with answers.
2. Why Is My Sink Not Draining?
If a sink isn't draining, generally that’s a result of something blocking the drainpipe. However, it could also be a result of a more severe 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 build up in the pipes, creating a blockage that prevents the water from draining.
- Broken seals: If the sink’s rubber seals are cracked or busted, they may not be creating an effective seal around the drain to keep out air and allow the water to drain.
- Crud in the trap: The curved pipe beneath the sink, called a P-trap, can become blocked with debris or form leaks, which stop it from draining properly.
- Blocked vent pipe: A clog in a vent pipe, which allows gas to exit your plumbing system, might keep your sink from draining. Vents can be blocked by debris where they come out of your house.
To clear a pipe, try using a plunger to move the clog through the line. If that doesn’t work, consider using a plumbing snake to remove hair or other debris and allow the water to run through. Other strategies are to try baking soda and vinegar or a drain-cleaning product to disintegrate the clog.
Depending on your plumbing setup, you may also search for a blockage in the P-trap, which is a bend in the pipe underneath your sink. This is accomplished by taking apart the pipe and cleaning out the line. To do this, first turn the faucet off and set a bucket underneath the bend. Then, disassemble the pipe and extract any debris. Once it’s clear, put the pipe back together and flush it with hot water.
If trying to clear the line and P-trap doesn’t work, look at 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 overenthusiastic bird or other animal. If this also doesn’t work, you may want to get in touch with a skilled professional for plumbing repair in Sandpoint to make sure there isn’t a significant problem with your plumbing.
3. Why Is My Sink Water Cloudy/White?
In general, cloudy or white-looking water is caused by air bubbles in the water. Normally, this is harmless and can often clear up on its own. It can 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 counter. It’s likely that the air bubbles will go away and the water will eventually go back to being clear. If the water is still cloudy after 24 hours, you may have another problem and will want to check with a professional for assistance.
The cloudy water also could be due to high levels of minerals in the water in the plumbing system. Excessive minerals accumulate until they impact 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 ruining your pipes and creating the distasteful cloudy water.
If cloudy water becomes a persistent problem, consider washing out the aerator, which is a screen at the end of your faucet. Use a water and vinegar mix to eliminate any debris or blockages. If that doesn’t work either, you may want to seek advice from a certified plumber and let them find a solution.
4. Why Is My Sink Leaking/Dripping?
The reason for a leak or water drip beneath 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 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 properly tightened, or if it was not sealed adequately in its fitting, water can easily escape from these weak spots.
- Worn-Out Washers: Over the years, 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 necessary.
- Corroded Pipes: The pipes underneath a sink can wear out over time, resulting in weakening and cracks. Corrosion is especially common when working with older or lower-cost materials, so it's important to search for any indications of degradation in order to avoid a major leak.
- Plugged Drains: A clogged drain can force water to back up and start seeping from the seal. It's crucial to look for any signs of blockage and to clear away any debris that may be restricting water flow.
5. Why Is My Sink Water Brown?
The most commonly encountered factor that leads to brown tap water is rust. Rust in most cases 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 faltering or there are significant levels of minerals like manganese.
In some instances, 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 purchase your water from a municipal utility company, be sure to contact them to let them know about the discoloration. They will be able to tell you if there has been any recent work on the water lines.
An experienced plumber in Sandpoint can help you confirm if the discoloration is coming 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 widespread 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 blamed for kitchen sink clogs.
Three ways you can fix a clogged sink include:
- Plunger: One method to clear away a partial clog is to use a plunger. If you don't see any standing water in the sink, turn on the faucet to put in enough water to cover the drain. Then, use the plunger to attempt to dislodge the clog.
- Plumbing snake/weasel: If a plunger doesn’t work, you may need a plumbing snake—a long, thin chunk of plastic—to put down your pipe to attach to the clog so you can yank it out. Sometimes, these are called plumbing weasels.
- Chemical Clog Remover: Multiple chemical clog removers being sold today dissolve blockages in sink pipes. Be certain to follow all directions, and that any brand you buy won’t damage your home’s pipes or the basin in your sink.