Plumbing issues often go undetected and small leaks can turn into big problems. Here are some things you can look for that indicate signs of a plumbing problem at home.
1. A Decrease in Water Pressure
A few factors can cause low water pressure. If it is sudden, it might be a cracked or leaking pipe that is allowing water to seep out, or if you are on municipal or city services, the city could be reducing the water supply.
Contact your local water department and ask if they have recently adjusted the flow. If a well supplies your water, the water table might be too low. Clogged pipes can reduce water pressure. Older plumbing pipes may be corroded and have other build-ups that slow the water down.
2. Signs of a Plumbing Problem: Stains Beneath a Sink
When you notice discoloration on a wall below a sink, it is probably a sign of a pipe that has been leaking long enough to cause damage and staining. If you push on the drywall and it feels soft and damp, it is a leak. Should you decide to investigate this, use caution when removing the drywall. Mold may be growing behind the wall and you do not want to breathe in the spores.
3. Clogged Bathroom Drain
A common plumbing problem is a slow shower or bathtub drain. The likely culprit is a hair clog that you can often clear yourself. If you are on city water services, try to dislodge the debris with a commercial drain-cleaning product.
If you have a septic system, do not put anything down the drain that is not septic-system safe. Use boiling water or make your own solution with baking soda and vinegar. Spoon a few tablespoons of baking soda into the drain then add about ½ cup of vinegar. The mixture will begin to foam. Let it sit for 20-30 minutes then pour boiling water down the drain.
4. Slow Drains are Signs of a Plumbing Problem
If all of your drains are slow, there could be a clog or a break in the mainline that carries wastewater away from the house. If the line is broken, grey water and untreated sewage will be emptying into the soil.
This problem can be identified by a plumber or home inspector who uses a special camera that is sent down the line. He or she will be able to see if there is a clog, break, or tree roots clogging the line. Tree roots that grow into the mainline crack open the pipe, in which case the pipe will need to be replaced.
5. Odors Coming From Sinks
If the kitchen sink has a bad smell, it could be a clog or the garbage disposal. To remove a clog, try the baking soda and vinegar mixture from above. If the odor still lingers after that treatment, refresh the garbage disposal by grinding up a few lemon rinds.
If you’re still unable to get rid of the smell, wastewater may be backing up. If you are on a septic tank, this plumbing problem needs to be addressed soon because the tank or leach field may be failing.
6. No Water
If you turn on the tap and no water flows, this is a more serious issue. Only one malfunctioning faucet means it is probably one broken pipe. If no water is coming into the house, it could be a broken main or service issue.
Contact the city service if they are your water provider. If you use well water, the pump may be broken, there could be an electrical problem at the pump, or there is a problem with the supply.
In case of a plumbing problem at home, call a professional. Your plumber can troubleshoot the issue and recommend a course of action to remedy the situation.