Common Plumbing Problems – Which One’s Can You Fix Yourself?


If you’re like most homeowners, you most likely have a handy set of tools waiting to be used in the right plumbing emergency. If you’re happy to be one of the handy ones, you can generally take care of easier repairs such as changing out a worn washer or replacing a drain cover. Most minor issues don’t take more than a plunger or some vinegar, but when do you get to the line where home remedied just aren’t going to do the job? Sadly, bigger plumbing repair jobs need professional attention, and that means money. Trying to repair some common issues such as slow drains or leaking toilets could lead to bigger problems later, so depending on your skills and the problem at hand let’s find out if you should fix the plumbing problem on your own.


Plumbing Maintenance

One quick side-note before we dive into common plumbing problems: use proper maintenance techniques! It goes a long ways and will save you tons of money. Regular inspections and hidden leak detection can often find plumbing issues before they blow past your skill level. Hidden leaks in sink drains or below water heaters are more than just a can cause serious structural damage if unattended to in time. Not to mention water that seeps into sheet rock or plaster contributes to mold growth and porous tile or wood flooring can discolor or warp when wet.

So let’s dive into the common plumbing issues that most homeowners will most certainly face at some point:

  • Clogged toilets and showers slow draining sink

    • Plumbing pipes are designed to allow water and waste to flow through freely, but over time, built up hair, soap scum and other debris can form a clog in your drain that prevents water from passing.
    • Plungers are a go-to when you notice a clog.
    • Issues can happen when minerals build up in the drains due to hard water.
    • Any grease in the drain can also cause clogs.
    • Don’t be so quick to use drain cleaners, as they can kill helpful Bactria.
    • If the clog is too deep or far, it may require a snake.
    • If the toilet clog is the only plumbing issue, chances are you’ll be able to fix the issue yourself.
    • Slow draining showers and sinks often mean a partial clog.
    • If your floor drains are flooding, the problem might be a clog in the main line.
    • Unclogging drains is as easy as removing debris.
    • If plunging, snaking, and drain chemicals aren’t working, you might need to call in a pro.



  • Clogged garbage disposal

    • Garbage disposals make our lives so much easier, except for when they don’t.
    • Bones, melon rinds, corns, and stones from fruits such as nectarines and apricots shouldn’t be in a garbage disposal unit. Also, fat, oil, and grease from cooking can cause clogs in your disposal system.
    • Using your disposal as a second trash can is a bad idea. Peels can get wrapped up in the blades, fruit pits can dull blades, pasta or rice can expand and clog pipes, and grease is always a no go down the disposal.
    • Make sure to run water before and after disposing of items to avoid clogging and build up.
    • Some disposals have openings to help unclog common jams. Allen wrenches can be used to get to these areas and spot the blockage.
    • If you are facing a jam, sometimes dumping down a little baking soda and vinegar can unjam it. It works magic on most blockages of junk.
    • You can also send ice into the shoot with the water and disposal running. The ice will sharpen the blades, and then finish up the process by sending in a lemon to keep it smelling fresh.
    • When the disposal is acting up, you’re often hit with all sorts of nasty odors. The inner workings of the disposal are dangerous and complicated though. If the above tips don’t fix your issue, it’s probably one of the plumbing problems that definitely call for a professional.




  • Leaky faucets

    • A single faucet can send hundreds of liters of water per year down the drain.
    • Depending on the severity of the drip, a dripping faucet can raise your water bill and waste a significant amount of water.
    • If you have more than one drip per second, enough water is being wasted to seriously affect your bills.
    • It’s a sign that your tap or tap fittings have worn out or need repair—not to mention how annoying it can be. Luckily, fixing a dripping faucet is usually as simple as replacing seats and springs or a washer in the faucet.
    • Since it’s a common issue, it is surprising how many home owners don’t know where to start on the repairs. Some just choose to ignore both the dripping sound and water bill spike.
    • If you want to fix it, find out what kind of faucet you own. There are four different types of faucets and each requires a different fix. Use Google search to figure it out.
    • One of the most common failures s the O-ring seal, these will need to be replaced to stop the leak. If the original faucet is inexpensive, why not just upgrade to a newer or better looking faucet while you’re at it?



  • Running toilets

    • You may never know your toilet is leaking until you see your water bill sky rocket. When water is constantly leaking down into the bowl it wastes a lot of water.
    • What’s the source of the problem? A toilet leak is usually the result of a broken flush valve, commonly known as the flapper.
    • You can find it at the bottom of the toilet tank. Its job is to keep water from flowing into the bowl.
    • When the toilet is flushed, is what adds fresh water to the bowl, but if it is not sealed properly it will do this continually. That’s essentially throwing money down the drain.
    • To find the issue:
      • Remove the lid from the tank on the back of your toilet.
      • Add several drops of food coloring to the water in the tank. Choose a color that is easy to see such as red or blue.
      • Wait a few minutes for the food coloring to spread through the water in the tank
      • After waiting for several minutes, check the bowl. If any of the colored water seeps into the toilet bowl, you’ll be certain you have a toilet leak from a constant water flow into the bowl.
      • If you find that your toilet bowl is leaking, it’s smart to turn off the water at the shutoff valve to stop any water from being wasted until you can get a permanent fix.
    • If you don’t feel uncomfortable doing the repair yourself, this is something plumbers are known to fix.
    • If you check for a leak and don’t find it in the toilet, but still have a high water bill, call us to recommend a professional plumber to diagnose the problem.


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  • Leaky pipes

    • Since the kitchen has some of the most water sources in the home, it’s often the area most affected by water issues. Leaky pipes can be a more serious problem than a leaky faucet, because water that gets behind walls or into your home’s insulation can cause extensive damage.
    • Most leaks start at pipe joints, so keep an eye out for wet spots. It goes without saying, water leaks of this nature need plumbing repairs to replace a pipe or fittings. After all, no one wants a leaky pipe to turn into a busted pipe. If that happens, you can add expensive water damage and mold issues to the list as well.
    • If you see or smell water where it shouldn’t be call the plumber right away.
    • Leaks aren’t just an annoyance; they will seriously increase your water bill and water damage can happen quickly before you know it.
    • Depending on the amount of water leaking, there might be a chance of mold or structural damage to your home so call an emergency water cleanup company to finish the problem as quickly as possible.
    • Leaking pipes need to be replaced as soon as possible, and that takes expertise.
    • If you find that your water bill spiked for apparently no reason, the hardest part of this plumbing problem is the hidden leak detection. Backtracking to the source of the leak takes special tools and skills.
    • Leaky pipes can do a lot of damage to walls, floors and personal belongings. Pipes tend to leak around joints or areas where rust has eroded through the wall of the pipe. Call a professional for issues like this.


  • Burst pipes

    • Freezing weather can bust water pipes like it’s nobody’s business. Pipes burst when water freezes and expands. You can tell your pipes are frozen if you turn on a faucet and there is no water released.
    • If this happens, turn off the main supply of water and call a plumber. You can avoid freezing pipes by keeping a trickle of hot water flowing when the temperature drops below freezing or proper pipe isolation.


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  • Low water pressure

    • Proper water pressure is necessary for washing your hands, cleaning dishes, and taking a shower. Having low water pressure in your shower or faucets is another common plumbing problem that can be very frustrating. There could be a few reasons for this though:
      • If your faucets or showerhead aerator screens need to be cleaned
      • If your showerhead needs to be changed altogether
      • If there’s a leak somewhere in your home
      • If there’s corrosion or a clog inside your pipes.
      • Shut off valve isn’t fully open
    • If the water pressure throughout your home is uniformly low, you should look to a licensed plumber to find the source of the issue or simply check your home’s water supply main shut off valve. Troubleshooting low water pressure is a little trickier than other common household plumbing problems.
    • If you see low water pressure from only one faucet but the others are acting normally, it may be a problem with the faucet or showerhead itself. Most of the time it can be clogged with mineral buildup.
      • Unscrew the nozzle of the faucet or showerhead and check for buildup.
      • If you see some grime, soak the showerhead in vinegar overnight to break up the minerals.
      • If it still doesn’t look great in the morning you can buy a new piece or upgrade the showerhead; an inexpensive fix.


  • Over working washer machines

    • Washing machines use quite a lot of water. Keep it simple and try to use small amounts of detergent to avoid blockages that can lead to messy overflows. You should check the hoses from and to the machine for leaks and kinks on a regular basis. If your washing machine starts to leak, or just stop working, it would be a good idea to contact a plumber to get an expert opinion before larger problems arise.


  • Inconsistent or no hot water

    • Hot water from your faucet that’s gets too hot or switches between hot and cold is a common plumbing problem that can be caused by many factors, including an insufficient hot water tank size and competing appliances like a toilet or dishwasher.
    • Your hot water heater is responsible for supplying the hot water required for showering and other cleaning processes in your home. When that equipment malfunctions or has been improperly adjusted you could find yourself being scolded or frozen by differing water temperatures.
    • There are few things worse than waking up to a cold shower. There are several culprits behind a loss of hot water, including a broken down hot water heater, a plumbing leak or an electrical problem. The first thing to check is the circuit breaker. If there are no trips in the breaker, then you will need to inspect the water heater. The solution could be as simple as changing the thermostat, though you might be dealing with a broken heating element.


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  • Main valve shutoff issue

    • What if you have a water problem AND an issue with your main shut off valve? What do you do when there is a problem with that valve? Your only option is to call in a local professional. They will have access to a special key used to shut off the exterior water.


  • Septic tank backup

    • If your slow drains become stopped drains and then sewage starts backing up into your tubs and sinks, you’ve got major home plumbing issues.
    • If you have a septic tank you know this could be a major disaster. Call a plumber right away. They will be able to determine whether a simple snaking of the line will clear the block or if they need to dig up your yard.


  • Sump pump trouble

    • For homes in areas prone to flooding your basement probably has a sump pump in it. This is the home plumbing fixture that will drain your basement in case of a flood. Chances are you’ve never checked it out. Unfortunately, a lot of sump pump problems are caused by lack of routine maintenance.
    • I mean, it’s pretty easy to miss after all. It just sits there in the corner quietly twiddling its thumbs waiting for some water to invade its domain. But, once the 8 feet of snow that got dumped in the last winter storm starts to melt and trickle into your basement you’ll be pretty upset if it remains idle without kicking into action.
    • Make sure to refer to the manual for your sump pump and find a good source for proper maintenance of the pump. Before rainy seasons in your area and before the first thaw of the year make sure to run through your maintenance list.


  • Sprinkler line

    • You should take the time to inspect your sprinkler heads every once in a while to guarantee that there are no cracks or leaks.
    • Repairing broken water lines or re-routing existing lines to a better location.
    • A leak in the sprinkler line can increase your water bill, but they can also result in a more severe plumbing issue


If you’re like most people, you may not have the tools to fix the bigger water issues that happen from time to time. Trying to repair some common issues such as slow drains or leaking toilets could lead to bigger problems later, so depending on your skills and the problem at hand let’s find out if you should fix the plumbing problem on your own. Sadly, bigger plumbing repair jobs need professional attention. To find the best plumber for your specific water issue, contact the pros here at The Arizona Plumber Network!



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