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Home /  Home Maintenance / Plumbing 101-The Ultimate Guide for Homeowners
last_updated_date Last updated: May 26th, 2024

Plumbing 101 – The Ultimate Guide for Homeowners

PUBLISHED: Dec , 21 2022 • 6 MINS READ

Nobody likes to hear dripping noises at night. Whether it’s in your bathroom or kitchen, you know it’s a plumbing problem that’s soon to be a nightmare. Leaks or breaks in plumbing pipes, clogging of toilets or drainage, low water pressure, etc. are some common problems faced by homeowners. If you’re in the same boat, you’ve come to the right place. This article will give you the plumbing tips and tricks to eliminate all these issues without breaking a sweat. Continue reading for the Plumbing 101 solutions.

Plumbing 101 - The Ultimate Guide for Homeowners

What are the Common Plumbing problems?

Homeowners face several plumbing problems, whether it’s a new or old home. We have listed a few here and their causes:

Low water pressure

Low water pressure is one of the common issues faced by homeowners. The problem is usually seen in faucets and showers, and it’s mostly due to sediments or mineral deposits.

This problem can be resolved by just opening these items and cleaning them. However, if the issue is at the valve or pipe level, you will need a plumber.

Toilet issues

When it comes to toilet issues, we can categorize them into three categories: wobbling problems, clogging, and running toilets.

  • Wobbling: It happens when the seat or the whole base/bowl moves while in use. It’s because of loose screws or a failed wax seal, which can be fixed easily by you or a plumber.
  • Clogging: Clogging of toilets happens due to toilet paper, human waste, or other materials getting stuck in the passage. It can be unclogged using a plunger. If it doesn’t work, you can try a sewer snake or an auger.
  • Running toilet: Homeowners lose around 200 to 300 gallons of water every day because of this problem. The failure of the flapper valve is the main reason for the leakage. This valve lets water pass from the tank to the bowl. This issue could also be caused by a faulty fill valve or a leaking flush, with sediments being the most likely culprit. Calling a plumber is the best idea in this case.

Faulty faucets

Hearing a dripping sound in the middle of the night is irritating, and you immediately know it’s either from the bathroom or kitchen faucet. Water leakage from faucets is typically caused by cartridge failure (faulty valve), a stuck or worn washer/o-ring. Improper installation is another common reason for it. Furthermore, faulty faucets waste hundreds of gallons of water from a single residence. To correct this issue, you should remove the o-ring and clean the faucet where you can reach.

Leaky pipes

Pipes are a major part of plumbing problems. The old-style copper pipes found in older homes are the most problematic. It breaks under extreme weather conditions due to corrosion and wear and tear. Issues are common at the joints, and they break when there’s excessive water pressure.

Incorrect pipe laying can also result in leaky pipes, and the best way to solve this problem is to use tape and fillers. If the problem is more complex than this, you must call a professional plumber.

Slow drain

What are the Common Plumbing problems?

This issue can cause serious health risks and a major plumbing problem. Slow draining is the result of clogging in common areas like the bathroom or kitchen sink drain. Hair, soap, and other chemical items cause slow draining in the bathroom. Whereas, in the kitchen sink, food residue, hair, and other foreign objects can cause this issue.

If the problem is in a particular area, then you can clean that drain with a plunger or sewer snake. And if the problem is in multiple areas, then it’s a sewer line issue. The situation will only escalate if you don’t call a professional plumber, as the real issue is in the lowest area of your house, where only an expert can assess and resolve the issue.

Lack of water during the winter

You will face two major problems in the winter:

  • No hot water: This is usually a problem with the water heater. You may need to reignite the pilot light, which goes out during extreme cold. It may cause a complete failure of the system. Your water heater can also face issues for the following reasons:
    • Heating element failure
    • Loose or broken electrical connections
    • Unit tripped
    • Improper installation
  • Frozen pipelines: During winter, water pressure goes down as water turns into ice. It is because the pipes run through the attic or other unheated places. One technique to keep the pipes working is to keep the house heated all the time.

Jammed garbage disposal

It is a common issue in households with lots of organic waste, such as liquid/solid food, chemicals, and other elements.

It can be solved by using the tool kit you get with the disposal unit. You can use vinegar and hot water to unclog the garbage disposal. If the problem is serious, you will need a professional plumber.

Sump pump

Failure of this unit can happen for several reasons, such as:

  • Improper installation
  • Heavy rainfall
  • Stuck switches
  • Clogged discharge pipes

Regular checkups and maintenance of sump pumps are necessary to keep them running smoothly.

DIY Tips and Tricks to avoid Plumbing disasters

DIY Tips and Tricks to avoid Plumbing disasters

In the above section, you learned about the common plumbing problems faced by homeowners. You must have faced those issues at some point as well. Hence, in this section, we’ll help you fix these problems by yourself when calling a professional plumber is not an option. Remember that, when you are doing the plumbing work, in some cases, you need to turn off the water supply and drain out the water.

Below is the list of DIY tips and tricks for common plumbing issues:

Low water pressure

When the pressure is low, you need to check whether the water pressure is low only for the shower, a particular part of your house, or the whole house. You can check the pressure using a water-pressure gauge.

If the pressure is lower than the required range of 40 to 60 psi, you should do the following:

For low-pressure showers: If the problem is low pressure in the shower, remove the showerhead and let the water run. If the pressure is appropriate, the showerhead is clogged. You can clean the showerhead and remove the mineral and dirt deposits. A vinegar solution is what many people prefer cleaning with.

For low pressure in the entire house: The issue is with the main valve. The pressure-reducing valve gets turned during repair or maintenance. To increase the pressure, you need to turn the bolt clockwise after loosening the locknut. Keep the pressure between 40 and 60 psi and tighten the locknut afterward.

If this fails, the issue is a lack of municipal pressure. Confirm this issue with your neighbors. A water-pressure booster pump is also a good idea for people staying far away from the municipal water source or at higher altitudes.

Toilet issues

As explained in the earlier section, you can categorize the problem into 3 categories: wobbling of the toilet base, clogging, and a running toilet.

Follow the below-given methods to correct these problems:

Wobbling base: This problem arises when the round flange at the base gets dislocated or moves up. It usually moves higher and the toilet wobbles. You can fix it by placing some shims under the flange.

Sometimes the wobbling is caused by a loose fit. You can use a wrench to tighten the nuts on the toilet bolts.

Clogging: A clogged toilet can be unclogged by using a plunger. Most people opt for this method whenever there is clogging. If this doesn’t solve the issue, you can also use a sewer snake or an auger. Both pieces of equipment are easy to use.

There are a few more methods by which you can solve this issue. Whether the clogging is in the bowl, flush tank, or sewer lines, you can use these solutions to unclog it.

  • Baked soda & vinegar
  • Boiling water
  • Soda (soft drink)
  • Other solutions in the market

Running toilet: This problem occurs due to the failure of the flapper seal or the fill valve. You can correct this issue by opening the flush tank and observing the mechanism while flushing. You can figure out the malfunctioning part and adjust it. Replacing the part is the last option if nothing works.

Faulty faucets

The malfunctioning of the faucet is due to the following reasons:

  • Cartridge failure (faulty valve)
  • Broken or worn washer/o-ring
  • Clogged aerator

Cartridge valves can be fixed with the plumbing tool kit. You need to open the faucet and check whether the valve is dislocated or broken. If it’s broken, you need to replace it.

In the case of a worn-out or broken washer/o-ring, you have to replace it with a new one. Leakage cannot be stopped without a proper washer.

If the water coming from the faucet has low pressure, it could be the clogged aerator. You can remove the aerator and clean it with a solution like baking soda or vinegar.

Leaky pipes

This is a common issue in many households. Older copper pipes are more prone to breakage and loose fittings. PVC pipes also get leakage issues at the joints or because of improper alignment. You can solve these issues with a few tools and easy steps. Most of the time, during the plumbing work, you will have to turn off the water supply. You can use the following methods to solve the leakage issue:

In the case of breaks in pipes

Use epoxy putty to cover the leaking area by wrapping it around. Make sure the putty is at least 1.3 cm thick. It works well on straight pipes and joints.

Use a rubber gasket to seal the leak and tighten it with a small clamp. The clamp can be tightened further with a wrench. Though this is an efficient way of stopping the leakage, this is a temporary and quick solution.

Use a slip coupling if the leaky spot is large and cannot be patched using the above methods. You can cut the whole pipe where the leakage is and join the gap with a slip coupling.

In the case of loose-fitting joints

Open the joints and use glue and thread seal tape to fix them. This is the best way to fix the leaks at the joints.

Slow drain

This issue is common in a kitchen or bathroom drain. In the kitchen sink, the drain is clogged because of food residue, dishwasher liquid, and other foreign items. Your bathroom drain is clogged because of the hair, soap, and other skincare items.

In both cases, you should use a plunger as the first step. If it doesn’t work, you can try the following methods:

  • Pour baking soda & vinegar directly into the drain
  • Use a plumber’s snake
  • Chemicals/liquids solutions available in the market

Note: Don’t mix the chemicals in the open as they could form a poisonous gas. And its frequent usage can damage your drain pipe, so use it only when necessary.

Lack of water and pipeline damage during the winter

Pipeline issues are common during the winter. And two of the major problems are leaky pipes and frozen pipelines. If you don’t take care of the problem, the pipes will freeze and burst during the winter. When the season changes, you will see damage from wear and tear in several places, causing severe leaking issues.

Outside pipes do tear or burst during the winter. Irrespective of the quality or age of the pipe, frozen water, and extreme cold will cause tears in the pipe. And sometimes the pipes expand and burst, making them leaky after the winter. The best way to prevent these issues is by letting the water drain out of the outside pipeline by opening the valves and keeping the pipes inside warm all the time. For more protection, you can wrap insulation tape around the pipe; it’ll keep the temperature normal during the cold.

For the pipes inside, which are not used most of the time, you should let some water drip from them 24/7. This will keep the water from freezing, and if you keep the thermostat at the same temperature throughout the day and night, the warm temperature will prevent freezing too.

Jammed garbage disposal

This is a tricky situation, and a plunger may not work here. The disposal drains are usually clogged because of food residue, chemicals, skin care products, soap, tissues, etc. The garbage disposal drain is for food and similar things to be disposed of, but you need to make sure that the pieces are smaller. Bigger food or other waste may pass through the drain but may get stuck in the sewer line later.

The first thing to try is something simple and straightforward. Pour the vinegar, hot water, or the chemical available on the market for this purpose. If not, you can try the next method.To resolve this issue, you can press the reset button and use the key to open up the bottom area to check the motor. Use a 1/4-inch Allen wrench to turn the motor in both directions and check for issues.

Sump pump

Heavy rain or snow could cause severe issues with your sump pump. Improper installation is one of the main reasons for sump pumps to malfunction. Plus, you need to do routine checks and maintenance to keep it running.In the case of sump pumps, it is better to prevent issues than to let an incident happen and then try to solve it. The steps that you can take to prevent sump pump malfunctions are:

  • Realign the gutter to drain the water away
  • Sloping your surrounding foundation will also help.
  • Releveling your patio, concrete surfaces, and the decking is also a good way to channel the water away quickly

How Much Does a Plumbing Repair Cost?

How Much Does a Plumbing Repair Cost?

Hiring a plumber could cost you around $50 to $250. Then there is the service call ($50-$150), the travel tip ($1-$2/mile), and many more. The total charge will depend on many factors, but we have listed the estimated cost of repairing the important systems in your home.

Plumbing Repair Type

Average Cost

Faucet repair $123 – $350
Garbage disposal repair $130 – $492
Cleaning clogs in drains $125 – $400
Leaky pipes repair $150 – $666
Main water line leak $433 – $2250
Sump pump repair $370 – $725
Water heater repair $150 – $750
Septic tank repair $570 – $2270
Toilet repair $150 – $400
Gas Line repair $150 – $500
Well pump repair $775 – $1650

Listed below are some of the factors that may affect your final bill for the repair:

  • Emergency repair at late hours
  • Permit requirements
  • Your location
  • Plumber’s expertise
  • Materials bought for repair & tools required

When Do You Need Professional Plumbing Service?

When Do You Need Professional Plumbing Service?

There are some plumbing jobs you can do yourself to save some money. But there are problems that you must leave to the professionals. Plumbing problems beyond your understanding or expertise should be left to the professionals; otherwise, instead of saving money, you will end up losing some.

Below are the reasons you should call a professional plumber:

  • Experienced professionals will repair your system quickly and in a safe way, which guarantees you peace of mind
  • They assist and guide you in following the steps to avoid future problems.
  • Repair and restoration will be done in a controlled way so that it won’t affect nearby things
  • Appliances/systems repaired by experts last longer
  • You don’t need to buy expensive tools for the work, so you save money

Do Home Warranty Plans Cover Plumbing Systems?

Do Home Warranty Plans Cover Plumbing Systems?

Yes, home warranty plans do cover plumbing problems. The company will assign you a licensed plumber whenever you make the service call. These companies offer customer service 24/7 and emergency services within 24 hours.

The coverage cap per item will vary depending on your warranty provider and the coverage plan you choose. A typical home warranty company will offer coverage up to $3,000 per item for repair, replacement, and contractor or plumber’s charges. There are also some warranty providers that offer coverage up to $6,000 per item.

In the end, it’s up to the homeowner to choose the warranty provider and the coverage plan as per their requirements.

Further Reading

If you want to know more about the coverage of plumbing problems by home warranty companies, you can read that here.


Plumbing problems are common in every household. And there are many problems you can solve by following proper methods. Doing the repairs and restorations by yourself will be quick and pocket-friendly; however, there are some complex plumbing issues you should leave to professional and experienced plumbers. If you try to repair or adjust the system without enough knowledge or expertise, you may end up worsening the situation and damaging things nearby as well.

Calling a professional plumber might cost you some extra bucks, but in the end, you get long-lasting systems, security, and peace of mind.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Why is my toilet water brown in color?


Your water can turn brown for many reasons, such as:

  • Rusty pipes or rusted toilet components
  • Dirty municipal city water
  • Mineral buildup

Why does black stuff come out of the faucet?


There are some chemicals present in water that could cause this issue. These chemicals could come from your rusted pipes, be added by municipal city authorities to sterilize them or come from somewhere else. The black color coming from your faucet is oxidized magnesium.


Why is there no water in the bathroom but everywhere else?


If you are not getting any water in the bathroom or kitchen, it is possibly due to leakage or breakage in the pipes. Your pipes may have broken if they are old or got loose because of bad installation. The leaked water is spreading to other places in your house.


What are the signs of air in water pipes?


Air trapped in the water pipes is bad news. They make the pipes corrode from the inside, which weakens them. If air is trapped inside, you will hear pops, hisses, and gurgling noises when using the tap or faucet. Vibrations in the pipes are also a sign of trapped air.


How long should plumbing last in a house?


The life of plumbing work depends on the type and quality of the pipes.

  • Brass: 40-70 years
  • Copper: 50+ years
  • Galvanized steel: 20–50 years
  • Cast iron: 75-100 years
  • PVC pipes: indefinitely

What are the common plumbing accessories?


We can categorize the plumbing accessories/tools into 4 categories:

Tools For Pipe Work : Plumber’s torch,Tubing Cutter,Hole saw kit,Thread sealing tape,Pipe and tube benders,Hacksaw,Mole grips,Pliers,Press fitting systems,A bucket,Ratcheting pipe threader set,Flashlight

Plumber Wrenches : Pipe wrench,Torque wrench,Adjustable wrench,Faucet key,Internal pipe wrench,Basin wrench

Plumber Drain Cleaning Tools : Plungers,Hydro jetting ,Snake machine,machines,Drain inspection camera,Hand auger

Plumbing Safety Tools : Goggles,Gloves,Heat shields or pads


Can a washer and toilet share the same drain?


The washer and toilet sharing a common drain is not a new idea. Some households have this setup, and it works. However, it doesn’t mean everything works just fine all the time. Because of this setup, you may encounter some issues on a regular basis. Issues like clogging, toilet draining when the washer drains, toilet gurgling when the washer is in use, etc. Make sure you hire a professional plumber to fix these issues, or if that’s not possible, you can build separate drains for each.


What will dissolve a blocked drain?


You can use the following solutions to unclog the drain:

  • Hot water and salt
  • Baking or washing soda and salt
  • Vinegar
  • Hydrochloric acid

The use of strong chemicals must be minimal and only when necessary, as they could damage the system.

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