In the way that flat tires and oil changes are a fact of life of vehicle ownership, plumbing problems are a side effect of having running water. The fact that major problems can be so damaging, expensive and time-consuming to fix leads people to either panic and call a plumber for every little thing or to stick their heads in the sand and hope the problem goes away. A little education can go a long way towards restoring peace of mind.
Here are a few common problems you may encounter:
Low Water Pressure in a Shower Or Sink
Low water pressure is probably the single most common plumbing complaint. When it only affects a single fixture like a sink, it can be a relatively simple fix, like a corroded aerator. If it’s a whole house problem (and your water supplier has good pressure otherwise) then the issue can be more complex, like corroded pipes restricting flow.
Loud or Banging Pipes
This is caused by “air hammering”– air bubbles getting in the line with a microscopic leak. This should not be ignored. Small leaks turn into big leaks and replacing moldy drywall is never fun. Soft ticking or tapping noises are more benign, usually caused by the temperature differential between the water and the pipe. Sometimes this will even cause the pipe to vibrate, and it you see this happening you can wrap it up or clamp it down to prevent it.
High Water Bill
If your water bill suddenly spikes (and it’s not due to your teenager taking too long in the shower) you may have a slab leak– a leak in the supply line to your house. If you catch it at this stage, be happy that you haven’t yet noticed any of the secondary side effects of a slab leak: wet or ruined flooring, shifting or cracking foundation, or mold in the walls. You can also have a leak in the septic lines, although normally the smell will be the first indicator.
This is definitely something to call a plumber in on, because the damage a slab leak can cause is enormous, and it’s rarely covered by insurance. If you’re not certain whether your water bill spike is cause for concern, call and ask. A reputable plumber is there to help you.