Bathroom Plumbing Basics

There are certain plumbing issues that don’t require any professional help and that you can take care of by yourself. Still, you have to be aware of the difference between a minor plumbing issue and something that requires you to call a plumber as soon as possible. Among the most common plumbing problems that you can fix by yourself are a clogged drain, a clogged toilet, low water pressure in the shower, or a bathtub that is draining too slow. Because we want to help you save some money and teach you some plumbing basics, we are going to talk about bathroom plumbing and how to solve some of the most common issues you can encounter there.

man fixing a bathroom sink and smiling

How to Solve the 5 Most Common Bathroom Plumbing Issues

1. Clogged Sink Drain

Probably one of the most common bathroom sink plumbing issues that we have to deal with is a clogged sink. Luckily, unclogging a sink is not at all a difficult task. If you notice that the water in your bathroom sink is not flowing down the drain anymore, it means the drain is completely clogged. As soap scum and debris build inside the drain, the opening slowly closes letting less and less water escape. That is usually a slow draining sink.

In order to fix a clogged sink, all you really need is a plunger. The air pressure created by the plunger dislodges any clogs. However, it doesn’t completely remove them, which is why you may have to use a chemical drain cleaner. You can also try to point a flashlight down the drain. Then, look for any blockages that are close enough for you to remove using a pair of pliers.

The best way to remove any local blockages is to get your hands dirty a bit. Open up your cabinet, take a bucket and put it under the p-trap. Using a pair of channel locks or a pipe wrench loosen the slip nuts and remove the U-bend. You’ll probably get some water in the bucket. Most clog are in the U-bend somewhere or just after the U-Bend. If there is no blockage in the tailpiece or U-bend/P-trap you may need a small cable auger to remove the blockage. In any case this can usually be done by the homeowner with little effort.

someone unclogging a sink with a plunger

2. Low Water Pressure

We can commonly encounter low water pressure when it comes to sinks and showers. Before trying to fix this issue, you should check if the water pressure is still low when you switch from cold water to hot water. If this is the case, it means that there is some sort of mineral deposit in your faucet aerator or your faucet cartridge that is blocking the water flow.

If you have a removable aerator, the solution is quite simple. All you have to do is take it out and place it in vinegar overnight. However, if your aerator doesn’t detach easily or you don’t have one, what you can do is soak the faucet or shower head in a bag of vinegar. If this doesn’t solve the issue, you should call a professional plumber who can pull your cartridges and check water pressure at the water meter. As I’ve said in other posts, if you have old galvanized water lines you may have rust and oxidation build up in the lines. This rust and scale chokes off water flow and all of the lines may need to be replaced.

If you have a situation where the water is very hard or you have a ton of dissolved minerals finding a water softener and filter is the way to go. Check out Charger Water for all of your water softening and filtration needs.

3. Dripping Bathroom Faucet

It can happen that a bathroom faucet starts dripping all of a sudden. This doesn’t only increase your water bill, but it can also be extremely unpleasant to hear. One of the most common causes of leaking or dripping faucets is a worn-out washer or seat. The washer is that rubber material that usually forms a seal when you turn off the faucet in order to prevent water from coming out of it. In time all rubber washers will wear out with exposure to water in fact if a faucet is used very little the washers are more prone to drying out, cracking and leaking.

picture of a faucet that is dripping water

In order to check if this is the case in your bathroom, you have to unscrew the faucet handles remove the cartridge and look for any signs of damage. Most times cartridges can be removed with relative ease but in some cases scale can make them almost impossible to remove without a special tool. If you find yourself struggling you may have to call your local plumbing professional.

4. Running Toilet

There is more than one reason for a running toilet. Which is why the first step to fixing one is to find out where the problem is coming from. Usually, the flapper valve, which is that part that allows water to flow from the tank into the bowl, is the one that breaks more often. Consequently, this is the one you should check first. The fill valve can also become loose, or you may have a leaky flush valve. No matter which one of these three issues you’re dealing with, you can purchase a toilet repair kit. This is a pretty straightforward solution that can help you take care of the problem by yourself.

However, if none of the issues mentioned above are causing your toilet to run, sediment might be affecting the filling and flushing. In this case, you should call a plumber who can tell you more about the problem and ultimately fix it.

5. Clogged Toilet

Finally, another rather common bathroom plumbing issue is a clogged toilet. In some cases, a clogged toilet can cause a real mess in your house. It might even flood the apartments below if you live in an apartment building. The two most common tools you can use to clear a clogged toilet are a plunger and a closet auger.

someone attempting to unclog a toilet with a plunger

You should start by using the plunger, as we’ve advised you in the case of a clogged sink. Most often than not, the air pressure will take care of the clog. However, in more severe cases, you will have to intervene with a closet auger. A closet auger is a flexible coil of steel with a handle on the end so you can turn the auger head. They come in two sizes 3ft and 6ft. (Please buy the 6ft auger. It may be a few dollars more but it so much more effective.) You can use it to dislodge clogs that a plunger can’t reach.

Finally, if either of the above don’t work your blockage is most likely not local meaning it’s not in the toilet or in the waste arm servicing the toilet. When this happens an auger doesn’t reach far enough into the waste line to dislodge the blockage so the toilet should be removed and a sewer rod should be used to clear the line.

Summing It All Up

Whether you are dealing with a clogged drain, a leaking faucet, or a clogged toilet, we hope these bathroom plumbing tips and tricks can help you fix the issue in no time. Most of the bathroom plumbing problems above are minor and you can fix them without professional help. Still, if you’re dealing with more complicated situations, or you’re simply not sure you can fix a plumbing issue by yourself, you should always call a plumber to avoid putting yourself at risk or damaging your home in any way. BTW you can leave a question in the comments section of this page and

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