Plumbing Pipe Troubleshooting: 3 Common Problems and Their Fix

a metal water tap

Even though faucets, sinks, and toilets represent a familiar territory for weekend plumbers. Plumbing leaks are an entirely different story, not only are plumbing leaks difficult to find at times but they can be buried in walls or in crawl spaces making them difficult to reach. Even though newer homes use PEX or some sort of plastic water pipe and fittings, older homes have water lines made of copper or galvanized. Most homeowners don’t have tools and material sitting in their tool bench or shed to fix these types of leaks properly.  Luckily your licensed plumbing contractor has trained service technicians to deal with every kind of leak regardless of the piping material. This guide will go through those common problems and their characteristics. Immediately after, it will provide a simple solution.

3 Common Plumbing Pipe Problems and Their Fix

1. Plumbing Pipe Leakage

leaking water pipe outdoors

Even though its basic concept is always the same, pipe leakage can be hidden or exposed. While an exposed or visible leak is easy to detect, hidden ones can manifest themselves through water damage on walls and ceilings. In that case, it’s very important to follow the dampness until the source leak is found. This can be a difficult task that sometimes requires tearing down the damaged walls and ceilings. Once the precise location of the leak is found, it’s all about finding its cause.

The Fix

Quite often the pipe or fitting leakage is due to a loosened threaded joint if the piping is galvanized or some kind of screwed fittings. If that is the case, getting rid of the leak is just a matter of finding the joint and tightening it. If for some reason the thread joint is damaged through age or maybe the fitting or piping has been cross threaded the section of pipe or fittings may have to be removed and replaced. If the system is old galvanized pipe most plumbing contractors will try to sell you on a more modern system like copper or PEX. They aren’t wrong in their recommendation. Once a galvanized water piping system begins to break down you can find yourself chasing down leaks until all of the pipe is replaced.

Temporary Fix: If you find yourself in a pinch and you need to stop a leak right now and wait for a plumbing professional to come in a fix permanently you can find epoxy paste or tape that does work in stopped leaks TEMPORARILY. In some rare cases, a small hole or crack may have been created somewhere on the pipe. Often, this can be fixed using a wrap-around pipe clamp. This useful type of clamp can be found at any home center or local hardware store. If that does not work, the section will have to be cut and replaced.

2. Frozen Plumbing Pipes

a small amount of snow on a faucet

Pipe freezing usually happens when homeowners leave their house unheated for long periods of time. Apart from preventing water from flowing efficiently, frozen pipes can cause another problem. Because freezing water expands, it can sometimes crack pipes or fittings from the inside. This often happens with exterior piping because it’s more vulnerable to freezing temperatures.

The Fix

The first thing that a homeowner with frozen pipes should do is checking the piping for cracks and ruptures. If there aren’t any, it’s time to move on to the next step. It is advisable to begin by opening the faucet slightly. Immediately after, heat should be applied to the pipe over the frozen section. Often, bath towels soaked in hot water are enough to do the trick. However, in extreme cases, a blowtorch will be necessary. If that is the case, it is incredibly important to ensure that the heated pipe is not touching anything that is highly flammable.

3. Plumbing Pipe Clogging

white plumbing pipe

Pipe clogging can happen for various reasons. The most natural and inevitable one is the accumulation of mineral of various types. Deposited within the main supply pipe, they form a barrier that prevents normal water flow. Mineral deposits are slow-forming and relatively easy to get rid of, making them less troublesome than other types of clogs. Most clogs are caused by people trying to flush down things that aren’t supposed to be discarded in such a way. Among other objects, this includes cotton-tipped swabs, dental floss, feminine hygiene products and premoistened diaper wipes.

The Fix

There are three main ways to unclog a plumbing pipe. Although some of these methods work better with certain types of clogs, if used appropriately, they are all capable of getting the job done.

#1. Using Chemical Solutions

Surely the least tiresome way to unclog a plumbing pipe, using a chemical solution can be both quick and incredibly effective. While it is possible to buy chemical liquid cleaners to get it done, it’s not the only way. It is also possible to make your own unclogging mixture using household supplies. Start out by pouring some boiling water down the drain. After about 30 seconds, pour half a cup of baking soda down it, letting it sit for five minutes. After that time has passed, pour down the drain a half-and-half mixture of vinegar and water. Let the mixture work for around 10 minutes. After that, simply pour down another pot of boiling water in order to wash down any remaining matter.

#2. Using an Unclogging Tool

There are a few different tools that were created specifically for unclogging plumbing pipes. Perhaps the most common one is the plunger. A good tip is to pour some water down the drain before using it. Another very useful tool for unclogging plumbing pipes is a drain snake. It’s a long, thin and flexible piece of metal that’s attached to an auger.

#3. Cleaning the Pipe Directly

When everything else has failed, it is usually possible to resolve the situation by cleaning the clogged pipe directly. In order to do this, a person will need to disconnect the section of pipe known as the p-trap. After disconnecting it, the clogging matter can be easily removed using a hanger, a piece of metallic wire or something similar.

Plumbing is one of those things everyone should know the basics of. It is not only much cheaper to fix your own plumbing, but it’s also much more satisfying. Additionally, it is very useful during emergencies when professionals can’t be reached. Using these tips, you will be able to take charge and control the situation. They are also a great way for plumbing beginners to become familiar with the basic concepts of this trade. Do you have any other useful plumbing pipe troubleshooting tips? Do you know other ways to take care of the problems just described? Let us know!

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