Everyday we hear from our readers about their plumbing problems and the list of odd, unusual, frustrating, and potentially costly plumbing snafus continue to mount. In some cases, we are familiar with the nature of the problem and have provided plumbing advice, fixes, or solutions. Sometimes the problem that is laid out by the visitor is not so clear. And in some cases, the difficulty the person is having borders on the strange, unusual and odd.
Plumbing matters that arise in the home can take the shape of commonplace annoyances, but they can also rise to the strange, weird, and downright peculiar. So while we may not have a definitive answer to every person’s plumbing question, chances are that a solution is available and if we do not offer it, then by golly we will get you a lot closer to bringing some plumbing sanity to the chaos you may be experiencing.
Let us take a walk down the path of those plumbing problems that you may not be familiar with. These can also be odd and unusual and certainly frustrating to many a homeowner. The list is long because many plumbing difficulties almost always stem from multiple causes and uncertainties. At the end of this, we will give you a primer from which you can do some problem solving in the form of the Top 10 Solutions To Your Plumbing Headaches. So here we go…here is a taste from our actual readers of some plumbing headaches that may at first glance defy understanding and solution.
1. Correct installation of a Wye strainer in a drip system irrigation line? Does the filter need to be placed in such a way as the filter portion is below the plane of the water line. IE horizontal install with the filter facing below the water line ???? I put on in with filer facing up and it does not catch the particles.
2. We moved our trailer on our land 3 years ago and it doesn’t have good cold water pressure. The hot water comes out fine all over the trailer but the cold water don’t come out hardly at all. We have PVC pipes.
3. I have a bathroom that had a 60 inch double sink vanity. I was wanting to replace with 55 inch double sink vanity. Is it possible to do this with current plumbing or would I have to change plumbing?
4 .Is it possible that a blocked vent pipe can cause a blocked toilet? The toilet will typically flush properly, but if you flush it a second time right away the bowl will fill but not drain. If I turn on the sink faucet then I get bubbles back flowing into the toilet bowl, but the water does not drain. It can takes several minutes for the water to eventually drain out. I’ve tried to use a plunger but it has no effect.
5. have 2 water tanks in my loft 1 large 1 small, my grinding water pump stopped working i could not afford a plumber so i replaced it myself.pump works fine, heating,hot water,all fine, but now the smaller water tank is filling up and over flowing but not from the ballcock it seems to be coming from the pipe on the bottom of the tank. it started a drip and now its running.but not when the boiler is working then it stops dripping.please help
6. Every time I wash my clothes in the washer, nasty brown stuff like cardboard comes out of the tub. The tub fills with water and it has a filter for water attached that my husband installed but he recently passed on. If the filter gets dirty could that be the problem? The toilet also has over flowed but lately its only when I wash clothes!
7. Question: Dishwasher is 10 years old. Works fine. EXCEPTING there is too much water in the bottom after a wash cycle. I know a little is needed to remain to keep the gasket moist. But I am talking about over an inch of water. (1) can I fix this myself by maybe clearing out a drain? (2) Am I looking at a new pump? (3) Is it cheaper to get a new dishwasher?
8. would like to move existing air vent at kitchen sink that is on a half wall pass threw. The pipe currently follows sideways U formation behind corner cabinet up in a 6 inch wide space vented out to roof. The wasted space beneath is impossible to retrieve from. Would love to cut through bottom portion of wall install cabinet & counter along adjacent wall in next room. What can be done to reroute air vent not move any other water pipes or sink.
9. We have a lot of air in our water lines. Our water is milky because of the air content. We have a well and submersible pump. Have changed the filter, pressure tank and switch with no change. We’re not losing pressure, so there’s no leaks. We put softener on bypass and the water cleared up with no air. Does that mean our water softener is malfunctioning?
10. turned on both the hot and cold water for a shower. When I turned the knob that makes the water flow from the shower, I heard a moaning, shuddering sound, and no water was coming from the shower head. I turned it all off, and tried again. Same result. Water will flow from the spout but not the shower head. Ideas?
11. Hi.. I’m trying to build a dog wash system that will allow up to 6 shampoos and or conditioners to feed into the water to allow it to mix the shampoo with the water so I can clean the dogs with continuous soapy water.. Then have a valve to turn it off and rinse with clear water.. I have one built but it won’t feed the soap into the water line.. What kind of gizmo would I need to allow the water pressure ( which is high) to suck the soap into the feed?
12. just replaced my hot water heater. Everything works great… no leaks… knock on wood… except one thing. Oddly enough, the problem is with the kitchen faucet. It doesn’t turn on as quickly or shut off as quickly as it did before we drained the lines to change the hot water heater. When I turn it on, water comes out, but it’s like it has to build up to its full stream. When I shut it off, it doesn’t immediately go off either… kinda slows down for a second, then stops. ??? Not sure if this is a pressure problem… is there a bubble in the line? Did some gunk get pushed into the faucet that is somehow creating this problem?
13. Our water pressure relief valve near the main shutoff is dripping most of the day. Several time I’ve heard the pipes “singing”. I bought a gauge and the static read is 140psi!! when I open a faucet in the house, it goes down, but jumps right back to 140 within 5-10 minutes. Our city says the pressure in my area is anywhere from 117 – 187. I tried turing the screw on the regulator so that when faucet is on, the psi is just over 40, but 5-10 min. after turning it off, the gauge reads 140. Is the regulator broke just brought a 70 year old home and it is fully electric. When we take a shower the bathroom light s will flicker every couple minutes and at the same time the water in the shower will stall. What could possibly cause this?
14. Okay, this one may be a bit weird. We have two full baths in our house, upstairs and downstairs, and a tank less hot water heater ~7-9 years old. The upstairs shower works fine. Downstairs, however, the hot water lasts about 3 minutes then runs cold in the shower. However, if I simply turn it off and back on again, we get another roughly 3 minutes of water. What is going on? Hot water elsewhere stays on as usual, although everywhere there is some fluctuation. The house pipes are old, galvanized steel for many of them
15. The master drain in a 50 year old slab has failed causing sewage to back up in all drains,fixtures and depositing waste under the house. Apparently the sewage never reaches the street connection. Is there a smaller diameter flexible replacement pipe that can be inserted as a repair?
16. I’m on city water and sewer in a small town. We have had brownish water come from our garage spigot when we run the outside sprinkler hooked up to a hose. We do not have a sprinkler system. It will eventually run clear. What could this be from?
17. I have just moved into a new house and when I turn on the outside faucet to water the yard, etc. then hot water comes out when I turn on the cold water at the inside faucets. Other information that may be important is the hot water heater is in the attic. I have two hot water heaters and it doesn’t happen on the other side of the house. This is not just warm water but very hot water. I think the water from the hot water heater is being sucked back through the cold water pipes.
18. Dropped a pair of scissors in the toilet, about 3 inches in length and 2 inches wide at the handle. It got through the toilet after awhile and into the rest of the plumbing, what is the likely hood that this could cause a problem with the pipes later on?
19. have an indirect hot water heater that now sounds like a running toilet. Like the water is constantly running and its been happening ever since we ran out of oil. The oil furnace has been primed and is operating just fine now but this running water sound is constant like a running toilet sounds after its been flushed and the toilet tank is filling. That’s the sound in which i am looking to trouble shoot. Any help would be much appreciated. Thank you in advance.
20. So here is what happened. I flush the toilet and nothing happens. Then I come back and the water has overflowed. It is weird. How does the water run over the toilet bowl?
21. I have two back-to-back toilets. When one toilet it flushed, it drains the water out of the opposite toilet as well as itself and leaves no water in the second toilet then the sewer smell comes up through that toilet. Why does this happen The toilets have been in position for the last 30 years and this is a new problem.
22. We live in a new condo and have noticed that the holes cut around the pipes under sinks and the back of cabinets are very large. We recently noticed mice droppings in one of these cabinets and wonder what the industry standard is for plumbers when they run pipes through flooring and cabinets.
PS Or kin is coming today to address the mouse/ant issue.
23. We just came home from a short vacation. In a bathroom upstairs, one of the sinks had overflowed from water coming up through the drain. We shut the water off but water keeps rising and not draining. But the sink right next to it drains fine and is having no issues
24. My problem is kind of odd to me. When we wash dishes in our kitchen sink and then let the water out of the sink. The water runs out the sink an later comes up through the bath tub. It also brings up debris and a copper like color, it’s disgusting. It happens with the bathroom sink,when it drains out the water comes through the bath tub. Is their anything we can do before we call a plumber. we have tried unstopping it with a plunger, liquid plumber, even liquid fire. What could be the problem?
25. I’ve been a do-it-yourself kind of guy for home repairs for over 30 years. Two days a go I replaced a leaky pressure tank. The removal and installation went as expected, but I have an issue I can’t figure out. The well pump kicks on much more frequently to keep the tank pressurized than before when water is being used, maybe 3 or 4 times per minute. When I watch the pressure gauge while water is running, there is a sudden drop in pressure shortly after the tank hits its high set point after the well pump kicks off, which makes the well pump kick back on. Even more strange is that when no water is running in the house the system continues to cycle as pressure is not maintained. There is no apparent leak anywhere in the house. It makes me wonder if there is a leak somewhere outside the house or if mater is flowing back into the well.
26. we just replaced a pre-charged water tank, i installed nipple, reducer, nipple and union nut, thread seal was used, we started pump, let tank fill to about 80 lbs pressure, there was a leak, looked like it was coming from the threads at nipple and tank elbow connection. we uninstalled, bought all new nipples reducers put back together and it started leaking at same connection even before it was under any pressure. Company is trading out tanks, is there any tricks to the trade i can look for while installing
27. Hello. I am attempting to solder some copper pipes in place. It is a new installation I put in for a new bathroom counter. Mistake One: I now know to solder joints that are close together all at once. I one soldered one side of a T joint and some of the solder stuck the lower part of the T and the pipes stuck together. They were not cleaned and flux had not been applied. After trying to get them apart for a while, I just finished soldering the joint. Again, it had not been cleaned and flux had not been applied. In your experience, will such a joint be OK? Or should I do the whole joint over with new pipes done properly?
28. We just built a new home. Our daughter’s bedroom smells of urine every night between the hours of 7:00 and 10:00, and then the smell goes away. This does not happen to any other room in our house. What is it and how do we get rid of it? Someone told us there may be a problem with a p-trap in the master bath. The master bath shares a wall with my daughter’s room.
29. I have on old home (~1961) with black iron pipe. The kitchen sink p-trap has chrome pipe, which is rusted out. To replace it I found that the pipe from the trap to the black iron pipe is soldered (sweat ed on) to a brass ring (collar which is in turn threaded into the black iron pipe. I have the chrome pipe out but need a way to remove the brass collar so I can thread galvanized or PVC pipe back into the black iron pipe. How does one remove the collar. It is flush in the black iron so it can not be grabbed by a wrench, Is there a tool, comparable to a nipple extractor large enough (~1 1/4 diameter) to do the job?
30. own a Mansfield porcelain toilet with a ‘Sloan Flushmate’ 503 series 1.28gpf, model no. m-101526-f3. My Mansfield tank has a number 119OCT1800. Each time I flush the toilet the water jet seems to flush back on itself. I plunged, replaced the ‘Flushmate’, even poured a vinegar/baking solution down the drain, but still have the same problem. I tried to sneak from the top, but that did not help either. The water reseeds when the bowl fills, but the actual flush seems to have some sort of resistance. I was thinking of replacing the bowl assembly, but not the tank. Is that possible? Also, after reading some of your articles I found that replacing the whole toilet might be what needs to be done. Can you help solve this issue?
Top Ten Solutions To Your Plumbing Headaches
So now that you have a nice sampling of plumbing problems than many a homeowner experiences…and trust that is just the tip of the iceberg….let move to some tried and true practices you can adopt to help you when you are dealing with your very own plumbing headache. While everyone’s specific situation my require its very action plan, the following plumbing principles will help you immensely and addressing many of the common problems as well as assist you in avoiding some of the very issues outlined above.
1. Being forewarned about the plumbing gremlins that can create havoc is being for-armed. Their are some basic plumbing tools that you will want to either have in your home or be prepared to borrow if the occasion arises. And trust that the plumbing system in every home, including new homes is going to be subject to problems, small and sometimes large. Here is your plumbing tool set:
- Plungers (always have a few of these near your trouble toilets)
- Drain and Trap auger (also referred to as a snake)
- Closet auger
- Pipe wrench
- Smooth jaw adjustable wrenches
- Trouble light (this is essentially a light bulb surrounded/covered by a wire cage that can get into dark places and be hung. It has a long extension cord)
- Valve Seat Tool (useful for older homes to repair damaged valve seats on faucets)
- Valve Seat Wrench
- Wire Brush
- Measuring Tape
2. Make sure you have an emergency plumbing kit. It should consist minimally of:
- Sheets of old rubber such as an inner tube
- Kitchen gloves
- Water bottle
- A length of old garden hose
- A piece of sheet metal. A coffee can would be OK
- A roll of duct tape
- Various screws, nuts, bolts, washers of different sizes
- Hose clamps such as automotive clamps
- An assortment of faucet washers. A lot of hardware stores will have a small kit including washers, screws, and other small items
- Some O-rings
- A couple of old wire coat hangers
- Pipe Joint Compound
3. Familiarize yourself with some common plumbing language such as:
- Pipes and Fittings
- T Fittings
- Side outlet ells
4. Leaky Valves and Faucets seem to be a common complaint. Often the solution is a whole lot easier than you realize. Here are some things you can do that will often remedy your leak. If its a compression type of faucet that is leaking, then it can be as simple as replacing the washer or replacing the clogged aerator or both. Sometimes the problem is leaking spouts when the water is turned off. The repair is made through the handle. You need only to remove the handle, pope the assembly to get to the washer and replace the washer and re-assemble. Non-compression faucet repairs are usually more difficult and there are various types such as cartridge faucets, valve faucets, and ball faucets….each have their own unique peculiarities.
5. Certain fixtures and appliances in your home see a lot more activity than others. Take for example the toilet. It seems there is always something going with that appliance. So for a detailed breakdown of how to manage toilet problems, please review the several articles we have provided to our readers on that topic.
6. When there is freezing weather, your plumbing systems are at risk. So take these precautions to avoid costly repairs:
- Wrap and insulate your pipes (outside and exposed water pipes in the attic)
- Cover Outdoor Spigots and Faucets with insulated covers
- Drain any water you may have in your garden hose
- Invest in a water heater blanket
- Turn off your irrigation system
- Open up cabinets in home to expose pipes to warmer air
- Turn off your main water supply if you will be away from home for an extended period of time during winter (such as vacation, trip)
7. When leaving home for a vacation or extended period, take the following measures:
- Turn off main water supply
- Check all your toilets and make sure they have all completed their flush cycle
- Check all faucets to be sure no valves are stuck open or leaking
- Check your outdoor faucets and be sure water is not turned on
- Make sure dishwasher has run through its full cycle and dishes have been removed from unit
- Have a neighbor check your home and property
8. Replace washer, dryer, dishwasher with newer, more efficient units when your old model has run its course. Do so before trouble ensues. This also applies to your water heater. Depending on the manufacturer, these units have a certain degree of reliability up to a point. Is it 10 years, 15 years…..it really depends on your unit and you can do some basic research to gain some insight. But the point is to get ahead of the problem curve
9. While this may sound rather basic, you will be surprised at the number of people that don’t know which plumber or plumbing service to call when a problem occurs. It is best to be proactive and do some research as to which plumber you would like to work with. With the information age we live in, where reviews of services rendered is quite common, be sure to perform your due diligence on those plumbers your are considering. Usually, referrals from people you know can be helpful if they have utilized the services.
10. Do not call a plumber at the first sign of trouble. Some of you are probably already do it your selfers…and that is good. Like a good detective, investigate the probable cause of the problem. Use websites such as this and others, gain more insight into what might be practical solutions to the problem. Call a plumber is often what you do if you cannot crack the nut yourself or if the plumbing problem is quite significant.