Maintain Your Pipes and Your Business

Tips For 3 Of The Most Common Home Plumbing Problems

by Sheila Vasquez

Whether you have a new home or an older one, plumbing problems can strike anytime. Some minor plumbing problems are pretty easy to fix; however, others are definitely best left to a plumbing service. Here are three of the most common home plumbing problems -- along with some tips on how to fix them:

1. A Slow-Draining Bathtub or Sink

This common plumbing problem is typically caused by the pop-up used to plug the drain collecting debris and hair. Try cleaning the pop-up first; remove it and cleanse it thoroughly by first loosening the drain's pop-up nut under the sink either with pliers or by hand. A tool called a Zip-it can also assist in clearing a slow-draining tub or sink.

2. Lowered Water Pressure

Low water pressure can have a few different causes. If your home plumbing has lowered water pressure, start by checking if both the cold and hot water streams are affected. If both have reduced pressure, aerator calcium buildup is probably at play. You can take care of this problem by unscrewing the aerator (at the end of your faucet) and cleaning away accumulated build-up or debris; re-install by screwing it back on, or buy a replacement aerator.

3. Leaky Faucet

If you have a leaky faucet that needs help, start by determining if it's a ball, compression or ceramic disk-type faucet. Compression faucets rely on rubber washers for a valve seat seal, and this rubber can eventually wear and require replacement. "Washerless" faucets can also drip, but these are most often addressed by replacing the neoprene seal or O-ring. For some faucet issues, the whole assembly will have to be replaced.

Before you begin, reach under your sink and turn off the water supply. Close your drain and block it with a rag or towel. Lay out another towel so that you can place all your faucet parts there in the order in which you remove them.

A leaky compression faucet probably requires new seat washers. You can replace faucet seat washers by first removing the cap and screw, then the handle; loosen the packing nut with a crescent wrench. Next, unscrew the stem, remove the seat washer, then replace it. (The seat washer is typically held by a screw that's made of brass.)

Coat replacement washers using a heat-proof plumber's grease; take off the stem from the packing nut, cover the replacement O-ring with a generous amount of plumber's grease, then replace it. When finished, reassemble your faucet.

While some plumbing issues are DIY, others require professional help. When in doubt, contact a reputable plumber like for all your home plumbing needs.