Although we highly recommend hiring a licensed plumber to handle most plumbing issues, there are some common plumbing problems you can handle yourself. We walk you through some of these issues below. If you still have issues after trying our DIY steps, give Isley’s a call. Our plumbing experts are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Common Toilet Issues
The most common toilet issue that doesn’t require a professional response is the toilet not flushing properly. You see this when the cistern (aka tank) hasn’t finished filling before you attempt to flush or when the flushing mechanism is defective or broken.
Start by opening the cistern lid and looking for obstructions that interfere with the tank filling, removing whatever you find (assuming it’s easy to remove). Often, the problem is simply that the chain has broken loose from the flushing mechanism. If this is the case, just reattach it. The mechanism itself may need to be replaced, especially if the toilet is over five years old. You may also need to replace the complete valve or the entire cistern, particularly if it’s an older toilet.
If you can’t find the source of the problem, or if you’ve fixed the issue repeatedly but it keeps recurring, it’s probably time to call in a plumber. There’s likely a crack or a leak and the more you tinker with it, the more likely you are to exacerbate the problem.
For toilet leaks with visible evidence, i.e. a puddle on the floor, call a plumber. And, if you ever have sewage in the house, call us immediately.
Jammed Garbage Disposal
Sometimes, small items get jammed in the garbage disposal. One common culprit is the pop top off of a soda can. If you take care and have the right tools, you can fix this. First, turn off the power. If the disposal turns on while you’re working on it, you can be seriously injured. Next, look for an Allen wrench. You’ll probably find one attached to the disposal’s motor. You can manually turn the disposal blades by inserting the Allen wrench into the bottom of the unit. This should free the item. Then it’s just a matter of removing it and restoring power to see if that solved your problem. If not, it may be time to call in a professional.
Clearing a Drain Blockage
To clarify, the following is how to clear a blockage on a single drain, not within your plumbing system. For that, it’s best to call a plumber.
You know you have a blocked drain when water drains slowly, or if it makes a gurgling noise as it drains. You may also notice an unpleasant odor. Start by looking for the blockage. If you can see it, you should be able to remove it. Solid items, such as clumped hair and soap in the shower drain, can be removed with a long, thin item, such as a wire hanger. For softer items, such as fat in the kitchen sink, very hot water and a small amount of detergent should liquefy it.
Our blog post on drain health walks you through multiple methods for clearing clogged drains when you can’t determine the source of the blockage, such as a solution of baking soda and vinegar.
If you can’t clear the blockage, or if it keeps occurring or you notice the symptoms of a blocked drain in other areas, you may have a main blockage. That’s when you need to call a plumber.
Repairing a Leaky Faucet
If you have a single leaking faucet, the repair is actually quite simple and shouldn’t take more than an hour.
Turn on the water to the faucet in question and then shut off the water supply (typically located under the sink). By turning on the faucet, you reduce pressure and then know for sure that the water was shut off properly.
Now you’re ready to tackle the faucet. Remove the handle. As you disassemble the faucet, keep the pieces in the same order that you removed them. When it’s time to put it back together, you’ll be glad you did. Look for mineral deposits and damaged gaskets inside the valve. A little vinegar loosens mineral deposits. Then, replace worn or damaged parts and reassemble the faucet.
Once you turn the water back on, allow it to run for a moment to remove all air from the pipes.
Fixing Low Water Pressure
When you get low water pressure from a faucet, such as a slow dribble, it may be the sign of a serious problem. But, it could also be a simple issue you can fix yourself.
First, check the shut-off valve, particularly if you store items under the sink. Remove everything and make sure the valve is in the ON position. If it is, there may be a blockage, particularly if it’s a low-flow model. Take the faucet apart and clean each chamber, which should remove any blockages or buildup.
If you put the faucet back together and still have low water pressure, call a professional plumber, as this is the sign of a more serious issue. And, if you have any plumbing questions, don’t be afraid to Ask Johnny D!