burst copper pipe

When it comes to the plumbing in your home, just think “water.” Plumbing in the simplest of terms accounts for water that enters and leaves a home or other building through a designated system. This system consists of a supply line where water comes from. A drain or waste line where water exits, and a vent where waste is maintained and sewer gases are eliminated. Each system works with the others to deliver water to your home, properly dispose of it, and control sewer gases for your safety.

There are many things that can go wrong with plumbing, from simple fixes to large messes. Clogs and leaks are common problems that can range from minor to serious- it just depends. The extent of the clog, area of the leak, and other factors influence the severity of these types of plumbing problems. Remember to contact a professional plumber in emergency situations and to handle repairs, big or small.

Common Plumbing Problems, Typical Causes, and Solutions

* Clogged Toilet

When your toilet clogs, chances are something is stuck in the trap through which waste exits. In most cases, plunging the toilet will help to clear the clog. Otherwise, using a toilet auger can help to reach further into the toilet trap to release the clog, but it must be done carefully to avoid any damage. For more serious clogs, a plumber can work his magic to clear them and will do so with necessary care.

Editor’s Note: For more on how to deal with clogged toilet, an article I wrote for The Home Depot’s Pro Referral NetworkHow to Fix a Clogged Toilet.

* Leaking Toilet

There are several areas from which a toilet can leak: the supply tube; the fill valve; mounting bolts within the tank; the tank-to-bowl gasket; and the at base of the toilet bowl. Oftentimes, a leak is the result of worn or broken parts, such as gaskets that keep mounting bolts in place. Mounting bolts connect the toilet tank to the toilet bowl. Leaks that come from the toilet base usually indicate deterioration or wearing of the wax ring that keep the toilet sealed to the floor. Replacing the damaged parts will usually fix the leak, but you could consult with a licensed plumber before the problem gets worse.

Editor’s Note: Leaky toilets are sometimes the perfect time to upgrade. Replacing a toilet is easy. For more, see also the guide How to Install a Toilet.

* Clogged Drain

man working on under sink plumbing

Drains in your bathroom and kitchen often become clogged due to the buildup of a common substance. For instance, hair is the most common in bathroom sinks and showers, and food residue or grease is the most common in kitchen sinks. In the kitchen, pouring boiling hot water down the drain may work to release the clog as well as eliminate bacteria and any odors. In the bathroom, getting into the pop-up mechanism or strainer to remove hair and other debris will usually do the trick. (A must-have tool is a sink clog remover.)  More serious clogs may indicate a problem with your sewer line. If so, contact a professional plumber to assess your drain situation.

Editor’s Note: For more on addressing a clogged drain, an article from The Family Handyman – How to Clear Clogged Drains.

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* Leaking Faucet

Similar to a toilet leak, faucet leaks are often the result of corroded parts. At the handle, a faucet leak may be due to a loose packing nut. The water will need to be shut off at the shutoff valve, the faucet opened, and the handle removed in order to tighten the packing nut, which may need replaced. A leak at the faucet spout could be from a worn washer or valve seat, which could also be replaced.

Editor’s Note: If repair is not an option, replacing a faucet is certainly a viable option. Here’s how – Installing a Bathroom Faucet.


When worse comes to worse, don’t try to guess at your plumbing problem. When water is involved, the situation can turn critical fast. From serious leaks to a sewage backup, leave it to the pros. Your plumbing is an essential part of your home that keeps things running smoothly, and it can continue that way when repairs and replacements are done correctly and securely.

Essential Home Improvement SkillKnow when to Call the Pros.


Editor’s Note: Gillece Services provides top quality service in Plumbing, Heating, Cooling, and Electrical, as well as Indoor Air Quality, Water Quality, and Waterproofing. Want to learn more about plumbing? Visit Gillece at http://gillece.com or stay right here and read on. Cheers. ~jb

*Photo Credit :: Eli – http://www.flickr.com/photos/elisfanclub/