Approximately 1 trillion gallons of water are wasted due to plumbing leaks every year. That’s enough to fill around 40 million full size swimming pools, and many of these leaks are easy to fix with a wrench. Developing DIY plumbing skills is a great idea to save money in your home. But, there are times when you need to call professional plumbers. We identified some of the home plumbing problems to help you make informed decisions.
Are Home Plumbing Systems Complex?
A casual glance at the network of pipes and valves under a sink or other fixture may seem overwhelming. But, home plumbing can be broadly divided into the water supply system and the drain-water vent system. The former brings fresh water into the home, and the latter removes wastewater. This system operates on water pressure, and the water contained in these pipes is from private wells and municipality water suppliers.
City water has been disinfected to a basic standard, and it’s delivered to the home via a large “main pipe” that is parallel to the street outside. Any damage to the main line can lead to large fines and civil lawsuits. So, if there is a problem with the connection to the main line, it’s important to contact your local plumber.
Private wells are supplied from underground aquifers, and a pump is used to bring the freshwater to the surface under pressure. If the water pressure is too low, it will not reach the outer areas of the home. This water is not cleaned at all, and the homeowner is responsible for the safety and cleanliness of their own drinking water.
Low Water Pressure Problems
If the water pressure drops, this is usually noticed when a faucet is run or when showering. There are a number of factors that can alter the water pressure, including water leaks, pipe blockages, loose connections, and more. Simple problems can be solved with a DIY approach, but corroded pipes and blockages should be left to professional plumbers. If you attempt a repair, there is a main shut-off valve located before or after your water meter. This should be closed when repairs are attempted to prevent water damage.
5 Basic Plumbing Tips
If the plumbing system is professionally installed, it should be leak-proof for a long time. But, any system can develop weak points, and materials degrade with the passage of time. In some cases, it will be necessary to contact your local plumber to find the source of the problem and fix it for you. But, there are other tasks that you carry out yourself to save money and develop your DIY plumbing skills. Let’s take a look at five basic plumbing tips in more detail.
1. High Water Pressure Issues
Most people love high water pressure, the showers are powerful, and plenty of water is available quickly to fill pots, coffee makers, and filter jugs. But, there is a downside to high water pressure, it places the plumbing pipes and fixtures under a lot of pressure. So, the plumbing system becomes prone to damage, and water leaks can release a lot of water in a short period of time. If you have high water pressure, contact your plumber and ask them about a pressure regulator to lower the water pressure a little. It is possible to have good water pressure without placing the system under strain and wasting large volumes of water.
2. Low Water Pressure Problems
Low water pressure problems are annoying, the showers are not powerful enough, and it can be difficult to run water using appliances. In extreme cases, it’s virtually impossible to flush a toilet! The cause of low water pressure may be a water leak that’s hard to detect without professional help.
3. Drain Water Vent (DWV) Systems
The aforementioned home plumbing systems are not designed to overlap to prevent contamination. But, there are points in the home where these systems meet, and these are known as bridges. Most people would know these bridges by other names, such as faucets, sinks, dishwashers, washing machines, and more. These are fixtures that require clean water, but they have a point where wastewater can leave. These bridges rely on gravity to move wastewater out of the home.
4. DMV System Components
There are three main DMV components; drain pipes, drain traps and drain vents.
Drain Pipes: These angle downwards; they use gravity to move water from a fixture to the sewer line. These pipes are easy to identify because they are bigger than the other water supply lines. This larger size is necessary to remove the wastewater and any solid waste without clogging issues.
Drain Traps: These are also known as P-traps, they are U-shaped, and they are designed to prevent backflow issues. The pipes will always contain water in the bend, and the purpose is to prevent sewer gasses from coming back into the home. Drain traps are a common location of clogs caused by grease, sediment, food scraps, hair, and other debris. The P-trap can be removed to clear a clog and sanitize the component.
Drain Vent: The drain vent runs from the roof to the drain pipe, and its purpose is to release air into the system to make the drainage smoother.
If either of these three DWV systems is damaged, the efficiency of the entire system will be degraded. Buying certified plumbing pipes and components and investing in a professional installation will mitigate these risks. But, the best way to care for the DWV system is to invest in regular essential maintenance for your entire plumbing system.
5. Unclogging Slow Drains
When the drains are running slow, it’s tempting to reach for a store bought chemical cleaner to dissolve the drain clog. But, this is the wrong approach because these products contain caustic chemicals that can damage your plumbing pipes and fixtures. The best way to tackle this problem is to use a cup plunger and water to change the pressure in the pipe. This may shake the clog loose and restore normal operations. If this doesn’t work, insert a plumbing auger (snake) in the drain until it bumps up against the clog, and crank the handle to break the clog apart. If this is not successful, you can make your own cleaner, pour a cup of baking soda into the drain and follow that with a cup of white vinegar. The mixture will fizz, and it should be left to work for at least 15 minutes. To finish, rinse the drain with a jug of hot (not boiling) water, and this process can be repeated. If the drain is still clogged, it’s time to contact your local plumber because there could be an underlying problem to fix.
If you have a complex plumbing problem that you cannot fix yourself, contact your local professional plumber today.