The 10 most common plumbing problems every homeowner should know how to fix

Guru Plumber
Guru Plumber
May 10, 2024
6 min read
The 10 most common plumbing problems every homeowner should know how to fix

Knowing basic plumbing fixes is essential for every homeowner. Common plumbing issues can often be easily resolved with some basic knowledge and tools, saving both time and money. DIY plumbing repairs not only cut down on service costs but also provide immediate solutions, preventing minor issues from becoming major problems.

1. Leaky Faucets

Problem Description:

A leaky faucet is a frequent plumbing issue, often caused by worn-out washers, O-rings, or corrosion.

Step-by-Step Guide to Fixing a Leaky Faucet:

  1. Turn Off the Water Supply: Switch off the water supply under the sink.
  2. Remove the Faucet Handle: Use a screwdriver to remove the handle screw, then take off the handle.
  3. Detach the Cartridge or Valve Stem: Remove the valve stem or cartridge with a wrench.
  4. Inspect and Replace Damaged Parts: Check washers and O-rings for damage. Replace any worn-out parts.
  5. Reassemble the Faucet: Put the cartridge or valve stem back, secure the handle, and tighten the screw.
  6. Turn On the Water Supply: Turn the shut-off valves back on and test the faucet to ensure the leak is fixed.

Tools Needed:

  • Wrench
  • Screwdriver
  • Replacement parts (washers, O-rings, etc.)

2. Running Toilets


A continuously running toilet is usually due to a faulty flapper or issues with the fill valve.

Instructions to Fix:

  1. Inspect the Flapper: Check the flapper for wear and damage by lifting the toilet tank lid.
  2. Replace the Flapper:
  • Turn off the water supply.
  • Drain the tank by flushing the toilet.
  • Remove the old flapper and install a new one.
  1. Check the Fill Valve: If the flapper is not the issue, inspect the fill valve.
  2. Replace the Fill Valve:
  • Turn off the water supply.
  • Drain the tank by flushing the toilet.
  • Install a new fill valve according to the manufacturer’s instructions after removing the old one.

Tools Needed:

  • Pliers
  • Replacement flapper
  • Fill valve kit

3. Clogged Drains

Common Causes:

The most common cause of drain clogs is grease, hair, and food particles.

DIY Methods to Unclog:

  1. Plunger:
  • Push down firmly on the plunger several times to dislodge the clog.
  1. Drain Snake:
  • Break up or pull out the clog by inserting the drain snake into the drain.
  1. Baking Soda and Vinegar:
  • After pouring baking soda down the drain, pour vinegar down it.
  • After waiting 15-30 minutes, flush the toilet with hot water.

Preventive Tips:

  • Use drain covers to catch hair and food particles.
  • Avoid pouring grease down the drain.
  • Keep drains flushed with hot water regularly to prevent buildup.

4. Low Water Pressure

Potential Reasons:

  • Mineral build-up in pipes or fixtures
  • Leaks in the plumbing system
  • Faulty pressure regulator

Steps to Troubleshoot and Fix:

  1. Check All Faucets: Determine if the problem is isolated or house-wide.
  2. Inspect for Leaks: Look for damp spots or dripping pipes.
  3. Test the Pressure Regulator:
  • Attach a pressure gauge to an outside faucet.
  • If pressure is low, adjust or replace the pressure regulator.
  1. Clean Fixtures:
  • Soak aerators and showerheads in descaling solution to remove mineral build-up.
  1. Examine Pipes: If pressure is still low, inspect and clean internal plumbing pipes.

Tools Needed:

  • Pressure gauge
  • Pipe wrench
  • Descaling solution

5. Water Heater Issues

Common Problems:

  • No hot water
  • Leaking tank
  • Strange noises (rumbling, popping)

How to Check and Fix:

  1. No Hot Water:
  • Check the thermostat setting.
  • Inspect and replace the heating element if faulty.
  1. Leaking Tank:
  • Inspect connections and valves for leaks.
  • Replace the tank if the leak is from the tank body.
  1. Strange Noises:
  • Flush the tank to remove sediment build-up.

Steps to Flush the Water Heater:

  1. Turn Off the Power and Water Supply.
  2. Attach a Hose to the Drain Valve:
  • Place the other end of the hose in a suitable drainage area.
  1. Open the Drain Valve:
  • Let the tank drain completely.
  1. Close the Valve and Refill the Tank:
  • Turn the water supply back on and power up the heater.

Safety Precautions:

  • Turn off electricity or gas before performing maintenance.
  • Let the tank cool before working on it.
  • Handle hot water carefully to avoid burns.

6. Leaky Pipes

Signs of Leaky Pipes:

  • Water stains on walls or ceilings
  • Damp spots on floors or carpets
  • Presence of mold or mildew

Temporary Fixes:

  1. Pipe Clamps:
  • Place the clamp over the leak and tighten.
  1. Epoxy Putty:
  • Apply putty to the leak, molding it to cover the area.

Permanent Solutions:

  1. Pipe Replacement:
  • Turn off the water supply.
  • Cut out the damaged section with a pipe cutter.
  • Fit and secure a new pipe section with appropriate connectors.

Tools Needed:

  • Pipe cutter
  • Wrench
  • Pipe clamp
  • Epoxy putty

7. Garbage Disposal Jams


  • Inappropriate items (bones, fibrous vegetables) causing blockages
  • Build-up of food particles

How to Safely Dislodge a Jam:

  1. Turn Off the Disposal: Ensure it is completely off to prevent accidents.
  2. Insert Hex Key (Allen Wrench): Insert the hex key into the disposal’s bottom hole.
  3. Manually Turn the Disposal: Rotate the hex key back and forth to free the jam.
  4. Use Tongs: Remove any visible obstructions from the disposal.

Step-by-Step Guide to Reset:

  1. Click the Reset Button: Found on the bottom of the device.
  2. Test the Disposal: Turn it on to check if it operates correctly.

Tools Needed:

  • Hex key (Allen wrench)
  • Tongs
  • Flashlight

8. Faulty Showerheads


  • Mineral deposits clogging the nozzles
  • Wear and tear over time

How to Clean, Repair, or Replace:

  1. Clean:
  • Remove the showerhead.
  • Soak in vinegar overnight to dissolve mineral deposits.
  • Scrub with a brush and rinse.
  1. Repair:
  • Disassemble the showerhead.
  • Replace worn-out parts like O-rings or seals.
  1. Replace:
  • Remove the old showerhead with a wrench.
  • Wrap the pipe threads with plumber’s tape.
  • Screw on the new showerhead and tighten with a wrench.

Tools Needed:

  • Wrench
  • Plumber’s tape
  • Vinegar

9. Sump Pump Failures


  • Prevents basement flooding
  • Protects property from water damage

How to Test and Maintain:

  1. Test the Pump:
  • To activate the pump, fill the sump pit with water.
  1. Inspect for Common Issues:
  • Ensure that the pump is plugged into a power source.
  • Examine the discharge pipe for blockages.
  1. Maintain:
  • Clean the sump pit and pump screen regularly.
  • Ensure the float switch moves freely without obstructions.

Tools Needed:

  • Screwdriver
  • Bucket
  • Garden hose

10. Frozen Pipes


  • Burst pipes leading to water damage
  • Interrupted water supply

Steps to Thaw Safely:

  1. Open Faucets: Let water flow to help melt the ice.
  2. Apply Heat:
  • Use a hairdryer to warm the pipe, starting from the faucet end.
  • Alternatively, wrap the pipe with heat tape.
  1. Prevent Future Freezing:
  • Insulate exposed pipes with insulation materials.
  • Keep the thermostat set to a consistent temperature during cold weather.

Tools Needed:

  • Hairdryer
  • Heat tape
  • Insulation materials

Final Words

Handling basic plumbing repairs is crucial for every homeowner. It saves money, prevents small issues from escalating, and ensures a functional home. Equip yourself with a basic plumbing toolkit and take time to learn more about home maintenance. However, for complex issues or when in doubt, it’s best to call a professional plumber to avoid further damage. Guru Plumbers is here to help when you need expert assistance.

We’d love to hear your plumbing repair experiences or tips—share them in the comments below. Don’t forget to subscribe to our blog for more home maintenance and repair tips. For further reading, check out our related blog posts.

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