What common signs could point to a plumbing problem?

Plumbing problems are not always obvious, but they could cost you a lot of money if not spotted right away.
Plumbing problems are not always obvious, but they could cost you a lot of money in long-term damage to your home if not spotted right away.

For example, that little drip below the kitchen sink could lead to a mold or rot problem.

Look for these signs that you might have a plumbing problem on your hands. Then call a professional plumber if you think you'll need some help fixing them.
  • Faucets make a screeching sound when turned on. This happens when there is air in the pipes, which could possibly indicate that the air "bleed-off" system is not working correctly.

  • You notice low water pressure. This can be caused by factors such as clogged pipes, a leak elsewhere in the plumbing or incorrectly sized pipes that are inadequate to provide sufficient water pressure.

  • Pinging, rattling or other noises from the plumbing can indicate that air has become trapped in the pipes.

  • Enclosed spaces in your home such as crawl spaces should be inspected for wet spots or mold, which can indicate a leak.

  • Poke your head under the sinks in your kitchen and bath. Look for wet spots either along the pipes or underneath them.

  • If a sink has not been used for a while, you may notice the drain smells bad. The P-trap (the portion of the pipes under the sink that prevents smells from coming back up the drain) may have dried up. Simply run the sink for a minute to refill the P-trap with water and see if that eliminates the smell.

  • If your drains gurgle, this is a sign that there is a blockage in the pipe that is trapping air. Once the blockage is removed, the gurgling should stop.

  • If the toilet frequently backs up and you need to plunge it, this may be a sign that the septic tank needs to be emptied or that tree roots have grown into the pipes and are causing a blockage.

  • The water heater should be inspected for any signs of rust or corrosion on the tank or the pipes. If you have a gas-powered water heater, check the gas lines by putting soapy water on them and watching for bubbles, which could indicate a gas leak.

  • If you notice brown or discolored water coming out of your faucets, you may have an old water heater that needs to be replaced.

  • When the faucets are turned on, they leak water. This generally indicates that the O-rings or washers need to be replaced. If the faucets drip when not turned on, they may have a mineral build-up or need to be replaced altogether.

  • A drain that is slow is generally a sign of a blockage in the pipe. You might be able to remedy this by using a commercially available drain cleaning solution to dissolve the blockage, or you can try using a plumber's "snake" tool to break up and dislodge the blockage.

  • If possible, locate your main water shut-off valve and turn off the water to your home. When the water is turned off, check the meter to see if it is still running. If it is running with the water turned off, this may indicate a leak.

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