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Common Plumbing Problems and Fixes

Updated: Jul 29, 2021

As a homeowner, you depend on your plumbing equipment to be at the ready when you need it, but when problems arise, it puts you in a jam. In this month’s blog, the home comfort specialists at Main Stream Mechanical discuss the most common plumbing problems and what to do when you see one.

1. Leaky Toilet

A leaking toilet may be a minor nuisance, but it can also be a major financial strain, causing high water bills and costly repairs.

If you see water around the edge of the water bowl or if you hear the sound of flowing water, your toilet bowl could be leaking. You can confirm this by performing a color test:

  • Remove the toilet tank lid.

  • Drop 10 drops of food coloring into the tank water.

  • Put the lid back on.

  • Do not flush.

  • Wait 10-15 minutes, and then look in the bowl. If you see colored water, you have a leak. If the water is clear, your toilet bowl isn’t leaking.

If you discover a toilet leak, the home comfort specialists at Main Stream Mechanical can locate the problem and provide a solution.

2. Smelly Drains

If your nose catches a whiff of foul odors coming from your sink drain, you’re most likely experiencing an invasion of sewer gas infiltrating your home. These unpleasant and unwanted smells are a common plumbing problem yet they can be eliminated by:

Checking the Traps - The u-shaped pipe underneath your sink is called a water trap. A water trap uses water to create a barrier between your home and any smells from down the pipe. If left unused, the water can evaporate and the trap can run dry, causing the smells to enter your home. If you suspect the trap is empty, run the water to refill the trap, then wait to see if the odor goes away. For floor drains, you can fill the trap by slowly pouring in a bucket of water.

Cleaning the Drain Pipes - A sticky biofilm can build up inside the drain pipe. This is most common in a kitchen sink pipe when food debris can build up inside your drain pipes and cause a smelly situation. Scrubbing away the debris is the only way to remove the smells. If accessible, you may be able to clean the inside of the drain pipe with a pipe brush. If it’s a complex drain configuration, you may need need to contact a home comfort specialist, like Main Stream Mechanical, for a more thorough cleaning.

If you notice sewer smells coming from more than one drain, there could be a problem further down your sewer system. Your local sewer utility can determine if the problem is outside your home.

3. Hard Water

The surplus of minerals found in hard water creates scale deposits that build up inside your pipes, restricting water flow, and inevitably leading to backups. If you have hard waterand notice weakened water pressure, a plumber can help clean and replace pipes that have been badly damaged.

Hard water also creates other household problems including:

  • Film and scale buildup on fixtures

  • Scale deposits shortening the lifespan of water heaters

  • Spots on glasses and dishes

  • Dry skin

Fortunately, water-conditioning products are available to treat moderate hard water. For a more stubborn hard water problem, a whole-house water softener system offers a complete solution.

4. Sump Pump

If left unattended, your sump pump could break down, causing problems such as basement flooding. By following these preventative maintenance steps, you can save yourself from the headaches and high expense from water damage clean up:

Quick Checks - During winter melt and spring rains, check your sump pump weekly to confirm it is working. During drier seasons, decrease the frequency to every few weeks. If the sump pump is empty, you may need to test your pump by slowly pouring water into the sump pump pit. If the pump starts up, you can be assured your pump is still working.

Keep it Clean - Regular sump pump cleaning can help prevent clogs, which can cause premature shutoff of the pump or standing water in your basement. Remove any debris, such as mud or leaves from the filter screen and the pit by wiping it periodically. Disconnect the sump pump to bring it outside, separate the drain line from the unit, and use a water hose to clear any blockage from the drain line.

Plumbing Maintenance and Repair in Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire

If you suspect you have one of these common plumbing problems, contact the home comfort specialists at Main Stream Mechanical. We install, maintain, service, and repair residential and commercial heating, cooling, and plumbing systems in Haverhill, Amesbury,Newburyport, Rowley, Topsfield, Boxford, and other Massachusetts locations and throughout Southern New Hampshire.


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