Some plumbing problems look like a quick fix, but you end up waist deep in water that’s coming from who knows where. We all like to tackle projects ourselves when we can, but toilets and sinks have the potential to do significant harm because leaks can spread or go undetected in walls until it’s too late.
The average American family uses roughly 300 gallons of water each day at home. Leaks and other piping problems mean there’s a lot of potential harm lurking in your walls.
When DIY turns into disaster, it’s time to call a plumber.
1. You Have No Water at All
Nothing turns a Friday into a Monday like not having any water at all. If you wake up and don’t get anything beyond a drip, you should call your neighbors and a plumber. If your neighbors have the same problem, a plumber can help you figure out who to call for your property.
If it’s only your home, you’ll want a plumber to immediately solve the problem. Having no water can be a major warning sign that something has gone terribly wrong.
About 10% of all American homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons of water or more each day, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Frozen pipes, major leaks, backups, problems with the water main and more can cause you to lose water. You should call a plumber quickly because either the water was turned off or the water that should be going into your home is leaking somewhere else.
Those leaks can cause significant structural damage to your home and its foundation, plus you may accrue a big water bill if it is running consistently. Fixing a leak can reduce your water bill by as much as 10%, according to the EPA.
You should also be aware of a few special cases. If you have cold water but no hot water, it may be a heater issue. If water works on one floor of your home but not another, you could be experiencing a pressure problem that is easy to remedy with the right equipment.
2. You Have No Hot Water
It’s normal not to have any hot water after the kids take an hour-long shower, but it’s not okay if it takes a few hours for water to warm up no matter what. You know it’s time to call a plumber about your water heater if you experience repeat problems and there never seems to be enough hot water.
Your plumbing partner can help you troubleshoot the issue. It could be a serious concern or a small issue that’s easy to fix. Pilot lights go out all the time, but you may have a drip or other flaw if it goes out continuously.
Sometimes your hot water may not last if your tank isn’t big enough. A professional plumber can help you determine what tank size you’ll need and install it when you’ve made your choice, and also can walk you through checking the breaker and many other small issues that can cause concern.
A good plumber can also determine the cause of significant temperature fluctuations. When something isn’t working properly and the temperature swings wildly, you could be badly burned after making adjustments to a shower that jumps from ice cold to blazingly hot.
If you’re facing a serious risk, have a professional check your igniters, fuses, thermostats, heating elements, pipes and much more.
3. Your Water Heater Is Sweating
A water heater that’s sweating or “weeping” is often a sign of a slow but steady leak. Many of us will first discover it when we need to check the pilot light or have to go near the water heater and notice the ground is a little damp.
Small leaks come from cracks in piping or the casing and will eventually lead to bigger issues. It’s great to catch these as early as possible because it means the repairs can be affordable and limited.
Other danger signs to watch for include:
- Rusty spots on your water heater or the surrounding piping
- Corrosion on the water heater
- An unusually large pool of water in the drip pan or nearby
Call your plumber if you notice any of these signs. You can protect your home at an affordable cost by fixing or replacing your water heater.
When you call a plumber for this type of inspection, they should also do a thorough check for gas leaks or other electrical problems. You can detect a leak on your own by spraying soapy water on the line and looking for bubbles when the gas is off, but you can easily miss the signs of a leak until it’s too late.
Professionals can resolve these concerns and prevent major headaches if you know when to call a plumber.
4. You Have Low Water Pressure
When your water doesn’t flow forcefully, it’s usually time to call a plumber to look at the internal workings of your plumbing.
When it is a faucet in one bathroom, it could be something as simple as a clogged aerator. You can address this by unscrewing the aerator and cleaning out the sediment. This is usually done with a little scrubbing or a vinegar soak.
If cleaning out an aerator doesn’t do the trick or if the low pressure is in more than one sink, you may have a much more significant problem lurking beneath the surface. Low pressure is often related to cracked or broken pipes either in the walls or under the foundation of your home. These areas will leak every time you use any water in your home, creating a growing problem that can do major damage to your home.
If you’re experiencing low pressure that’s not located in a singular fixture, it’s time to call a plumber and ask for immediate service.
5. Your Drains Won’t Drain
Clogs are common in plumbing, from tubs and toilets to faucets indoor and out. Some of these clogs can be undone with a plunger and a little muscle. But if you can’t unclog them after a little plunger work, or if there’s a clog that consistently backs up, you should call a plumber.
Plumbers can use special tools like cameras that can look deeper into pipes for something that may be causing a long-term problem. Hair, grease build-up, roots getting into underground systems and problems with your septic tank are a few possible issues.
Any repeat drain problem is worth a call because you might be facing a serious issue. Even if it’s something small — such as a tub that clogs each time you give your dog a bath – it can turn into a bigger concern if it happens repeatedly. You can perform remedies at home, but many times you’re simply delaying a problem or treating a symptom and allowing an underlying problem to fester.
6. Your Faucets Won’t Stop Dripping
If your shower is dripping only 10 times a minute, you’re paying for an additional 500 gallons of water each year.
Maybe you’ve been planning to fix that dripping sink as soon as you have the time. Before you know it, months pass and the problem persists. Sometimes a drip can be a quick fix with a little tightening, some plumbers’ tape or a new bracket, but that’s not always the case. A steady drip may come from a crack in a pipe or an element that’s installed incorrectly. Pressure buildups or other concerns may also play a role.
For these small issues, it’s wise to call a plumber when you can’t fix it or when you have a few things on your to-do list. Most plumbers work by the hour, so you can pack in the savings by presenting your plumber with a comprehensive set of problems. Having a plumber check your leaks also gives you an opportunity to ask questions or receive suggestions for upcoming remodeling and other projects.
7. Your Toilet Keeps Overflowing
Toilets overflowing are a part of life, especially when young kids are in the house. Sometimes these issues are easy to address and other times the root cause is hidden — like when your toilet overflows but isn’t visibly clogged. A toilet that’s constantly running can often be fixed by replacing the flapper — and that can save you money too.
If your toilet is overflowing, turn off your water. If possible, keep the water off and use other facilities until someone is able to check out the toilet for you. The water shutoff for most toilets is beneath the bowl at the back or on the left-hand side.
If your toilet started to flow immediately after a flush, you’re probably experiencing a blockage. Clogs in the toilet can be solved with a plunger more often than not because they dislodge whatever is stuck. If a few plunges don’t do the trick, stop and call a plumber — keeping at it can do some damage to your toilet and potentially to your piping. A good, professional plumber should arrive quickly to unclog it, determine the problem, and help prevent it from happening again.
Sometimes toilets overflow for what feels like no reason at all. When water starts to back up on its own, you’re most likely experiencing a clog in the drain pipe itself — either in your main drainpipe or in the sewer line. Such clogs will send water through your toilet whenever you run anything, from the shower to the dishwasher.
Pipes typically find release for extra water in the toilet, because it is often physically the lowest point in the drainage system besides the pipe that’s clogged.
When your toilets or other fixtures overflow on their own, stop using water and call a plumber. They can assess the problem and let you know how it can be resolved. Sometimes this is a more intensive cleaning of pipes, and other times it can be a thorough check of your overall home and its connection to local sewer lines.
Homes with their own private septic systems can experience a backflow when the septic tank is full. This can cause a smelly mess as well, exposing your family to sewage and other wastewater. Always call a plumber if you find yourself in this type of situation, and be sure to have your septic tank cleaned out regularly.
It is recommended to have your septic tank cleaned out at least every 18 months, but consider cleaning it every 12 months if you have overflow and clog problems.
8. Your House Smells Like Sewage
Sometimes a backup or clog can create a smell that permeates through your home and makes it unbearable to stay in your space. Don’t try to power through the smell and tackle the problem, because this is a sign of major plumbing distress. You might end up making the problem worse, which means a stronger sewage smell that lasts longer.
There are many problems that may be causing a sewage smell in your home. Sometimes drainpipes aren’t properly ventilated, or they may clog over their lifetime. Damage to your property from storms or heavy rains may cause backups in your sewage systems and pumps. Clogs in a toilet or pipe may be out of reach or stronger than what a plunger can handle, so the backup is allowed to fester.
Whenever you smell that something is wrong, it’s time to call the plumber.
Where should you check if your property smells like sewage? It is recommended that you briefly walk your property to see if it is in your home, the drain near your backyard, or at other points of your property. Knowing this information can help a plumber narrow their focus and start treating your home immediately.
Request a Professional Plumber for Any Problem
If you’re experiencing a plumbing problem that you can’t handle alone, hire a respected local plumber. If you’re a resident in the Harrisburg-Lancaster, PA area, turn to Home Climates for your plumbing needs. Our plumbers are experts in plumbing repairs, maintenance, installation and remodels. You’ll receive a fair price for high-quality work, always from a friendly face. Don’t settle for less — contact us and experience the Home Climates difference today.