Problems with your home’s plumbing system may seem relatively insignificant at first, but it’s very easy for them to quickly spiral beyond your control. For this reason, it is absolutely crucial that you are able to recognize some of the most common warning signs that your home may be indicating an issue with the plumbing.
With that said, here’s our list of the top 10 signs your home may have a plumbing problem and how to deal with it before a minor issue becomes a major plumbing emergency.
1. Slow drainage
As you might expect, when you have a drain that’s draining slowly, this is obviously a sign of a plumbing problem. Though, it could be something as simple as a clog caused by soap scum, hair, or food particles. Or, it could be a more complicated issue further down the line that may require substantial snaking to fix. Fortunately, there’s some investigating you can do to help narrow down the problem. Start by addressing the issue as if a simple clog in the drain is the cause. This blog post at anytimeplumbing.net did a great job of addressing this topic in detail.
However, if you have slow drainage in multiple drains or throughout all the pipes in your home, this often indicates a major issue. In this case, there is likely a clog in the main sewer line, which is considered a plumbing emergency. If you think that you have a clogged sewer line on your hands, your best course of action is to contact a licensed plumber to come take a look immediately.
2. Low water pressure
There’s nothing worse than being suddenly hit by low water pressure when you’re in the middle of a refreshing shower. While there may be a simple solution if the low water pressure is caused by scale buildup, it could indicate a clog in your pipes. However, if instead of just one location, you have low water pressure throughout your home, this may be a much deeper issue. In this case, you’re likely experiencing a problem in the hot water heater, at the water main, or there could potentially be an active leak in the supply line.
Ultimately, the best way to determine if you’re dealing with a simple clog, scale buildup or a major plumbing issue is to determine if the problem is isolated. If it’s not, and you’re experiencing low water pressure in several of your home’s water outlets, get in touch with a local plumber as soon as possible.
3. Discolored pipes
It’s beneficial to inspect the pipes under your sinks or in your basement from time to time to look out for signs of discoloration. Discoloration is particularly common around unions, which is a strong indication that there’s moisture. The moisture may be a result of dripping coming from a drain line or sink, but it could be a more concerning issue – like a slow leak in the supply line.
When the discolored pipes are caused by a slow leak in your supply line, you want to have it addressed immediately. These supply lines are pressurized, meaning even just a minor, slow leak can possibly turn into a huge mess very fast!
4. Foul odors
Another sign that your home may have a plumbing problem, and arguably the most common one, the presence of a foul odor. While it’s clear that bathrooms and kitchens harbor a ton of bacteria that can cause some curious smells, a stubborn unpleasant odor arising from your drains may be a sign of a break or clog in your sewer line. This is especially the case of the smell exists all throughout the home, rather than just one drain.
When you have sewer gas seeping into your home, this creates a harmful situation for all occupants and something that you don’t want to expose yourself to for an extended period of time. Contact a plumber to determine the source of the foul odor and find out what needs to be done to fix the problem.
5. Unusual water color
When the water coming out of your faucets or fixtures is discolored, this is never a good sign. Water that is uncharacteristically cloudy usually means there’s air in the pipes. Whereas, brown or yellow water is often a sign of rust in the pipes and green-tinted water could indicate excessive corrosion in copper piping.
It is possible for your home’s plumbing system to become contaminated by these materials. For instance, it’s very common for an onset of rust to get flushed into an older system when the fire department is clearing nearby hydrants. Regardless, any unusual water color should be inspected ASAP, as degraded pipes can cause significant leaks.
6. Discoloration and/or deteriorating wallpaper or paint
When water leaks occur in the home, they are more often slow leaks rather than a sudden gush of water. These slow leaks allow water to constantly drip onto neighboring surfaces. So, if you have black, yellow, or brown spots and/or rings on your ceiling or walls, you likely have a water leak.
Another tell-tale sign is when you have peeling, cracked, or bubbling wallpaper or paint. This is typically an indication of moisture and is often caused by either a leak in the plumbing system itself or the roof. Before you start to patch up your walls or paint over any discoloration on your ceiling, make sure you have a plumber come out to locate and eliminate the water leak.
7. Unexplained puddle in your yard
If you notice a sudden soft spot, sunken area, or puddle in your yard but haven’t had any rain showers recently, this is typically a sign that the sewer pipe that runs under your lawn has partially or totally collapsed. When this happens, you’ll need to have your sewer line completely replaced by a professional.
8. Increased water bills
Unless you’ve recently increased your water usage, a water bill that is suddenly higher than normal may be a silent sign of a plumbing problem in your home. An abrupt increase means that something has changed in your plumbing system. If you haven’t filled up a pool recently or been watering your yard more than usual, you need to do some troubleshooting to find out the cause.
In most cases, there’s a leak somewhere in the system. However, the most common cause of a sudden water bill spike is a running toilet. When this happens, your toilet valve is basically operating on full blast all the time, wasting hundreds of dollars of water in the process.
9. No water in the winter
In the winter, some homeowners report that their water pressure drops suddenly or completely stops. If this is happening to you, there’s a pretty good chance that your pipes have frozen. This is considered a major plumbing problem and should be addressed immediately.
In homes that have supply lines running through a basement, crawlspace, attic, or some other unheated location, frozen pipes present the biggest threat as they thaw. When frozen, the ice serves as a plug and prevents water from rushing through cracks that have likely also occurred. Since there’s such a huge risk that the frozen pipes could burst, it’s highly advised that you reach out to a professional plumber in this instance.
10. Rattling pipes
The pipes in your home should be relatively silent, apart from the sounds of flowing water. So, if you notice a strange rattling noise coming from your pipes, you may have what’s known as “water hammer.” The rattling sound is typically more prevalent after shutting off a valve.
“Water hammer” occurs when the water flow stops or changes direction abruptly. A shock wave results, which can cause banging noises and make any loose pipes in your home rattle. There are a number of potential origins of this issue, with the most notable being high water pressure. In older homes, this can also happen as a result of flooded air chambers in the system.
Keep in mind that, of course, rattling noises may also simply happen because your pipes are not secured properly.