The most common plumbing problems and best ways to avoid them

plumbing problems

There’s an old adage that the only guarantees in life are death and taxes. When it comes to homeownership, it might be said that the only certainties are mortgage payments and plumbing problems. Every homeowner eventually is going to have to deal with a leaking pipe, a clogged drain, an out-of-commission water heater, or some other plumbing issue. However, this doesn’t mean these problems are always inevitable. In this article, we’ll outline some of the most common plumbing trouble areas and how proactive homeowners can take steps to avoid them and, in the event they still occur, limit the damage they do to their home.

Clogged Drains

At one point or another, every homeowner has had to clear a clogged shower drain, toilet, or sink. It’s arguably the most common plumbing problem. Yet, not all clogs are the same. While some are relatively easy to clear with the help of a plunger or a metal hanger, others are cut from a tougher cloth. Deep drain clogs may require the tools of a professional plumber to clear.

The worst-case scenario is a sewer line clog. All the wastewater in your home exits through the sewer line to the municipal sewer. If this line clogs, it means that this waste can no longer leave the home system, and will start to back up into your home if more water is sent down the drain. This is a disastrous event that can result in thousands of dollars in damages.

How to avoid these problems:

  • If you’re noticing your drains start to clear more slowly, have a local plumber out for a sewer line camera inspection. Using a specialized camera attached to a snake tool, this allows you and the plumber to see into the line to identify any clogs, cracks, or sewer line issues.
  • To avoid sewer line clogs, practice drain-safe disposal in the kitchen and bathroom. Pour hot grease and leftover cooking oil into old jars and dispose of them in the trash after they’ve completely cooled. Never put eggshells, uncooked pasta and rice, or flour down the drain. In the bathroom, avoid flushing hygiene products or so-called “flushable” wipes.
  • Some sewer line clogs are caused by tree roots growing around, and then into, the line. Remove all trees, bushes, and other plants that are within 10 feet of the buried line.

Water Leaks

There are many great things about living here in Florida. One of them is that our homes don’t have to deal with the prospect of frozen pipes, like so many homes in the Northeast and Midwest do. Yet, water leaks can still happen as pipes age and deteriorate or are damaged in some other way.

Here in Florida, we’re known for having some of the hardest water in the United States. In fact, Tampa and Orlando are two of the worst cities in the nation for residential water hardness. All that extra mineral content running through the pipes of your home eventually can lead to scaling: a mineral buildup on the inside of the pipe. Scaling causes a variety of problems, including raising the water pressure on the rest of your home’s plumbing. As this pressure ratchets up, your pipes may not be able to take the strain and end up bursting.

Any water leak—whether it’s from a broken pipe, a leaking roof, or some other source—is bad news for your home. Water damage can ruin floors, undermine your home’s structure, destroy drywall, and encourage rapid mold growth. Anywhere there’s moisture and heat, mold can grab a foothold. If you have a water leak, you don’t just need a plumber. You’ll also need to bring in a professional restoration expert to assess the degree of water damage and mold growth and figure out the best way to return your home to normal.

How to avoid these problems:

  • Install a whole-home water softener to eliminate hard water scaling as a threat to your pipes and appliances.
  • Replace your home’s pipes when they show signs of deterioration.
  • At the first sign of a water leak, take immediate action. Call in a plumber and restoration specialist.

Hot Water Issues

As anyone who has ever had to take a cold shower on a cold winter morning can attest, hot water issues are a major nuisance. Besides ruining your morning routine and getting your day off to a very bad start, no hot water also means you’ll be unable to run laundry, do dishes, or properly wash your hands.

While water heaters are generally dependable, they can run into several issues as they age or go an extended period of time without maintenance and upkeep. Let’s address the most obvious issues first: if your home’s electricity is out, or your gas water heater’s pilot light has been extinguished, the unit is not only going to be able to keep its current hot water supply at the desired temperature for very long. Have you been draining and flushing your water heater annually? If not, the problem could be related to the buildup of sediment on the bottom of the tank: this can reduce capacity, lower your energy-efficiency, or just cause the system to stop working altogether.

How to avoid these problems:

  • Every year, drain and flush out the water heater to remove built-up sediment and corrosion.
  • Midway through the life of the unit, replace the sacrificial anode rod so that the tank walls continue to be protected from corrosion.
  • If you notice any leaks, cracks, or water pooling under the tank, call a professional plumber right away.

Act fast and call in a professional restoration company

No plumbing problem is ever going to solve itself, and procrastination often just ends up making things much worse—and expensive—for you and your home. By taking quick action, however, you can often limit the scope of the damage.