10 common plumbing hassles and fixes

Water is a powerful force that can cause chaos if the plumbing isn’t air tight. Leave a running toilet unattended for the day and by the time you get home from work, you could have a nasty little flood on your hands.

That’s one of the reasons why plumbers are amongst the most highly-trained tradespeople of all building professionals. Generally, plumbers do four years of classroom and on-the-job training involving about 6,000 hours of apprenticeship, and have to pass tough exams.

Plumbers also ensure that current municipal and provincial building and safety codes are applied to their projects; many are gas-fitters too.

So plumbers are generally well paid for their skills and have higher-than-average rates compared to other tradespeople. 

If you have a plumbing problem, it can be a mystery as to where that clog or leak is located since most pipes are behind walls, underground or inside the ceiling. It’s also difficult to determine how far along the problem is within the network of connecting pipes.

A professional plumber knows how to investigate the problem without doing further damage to the pipes, flooring, walls, fixtures, cabinetry or appliances — ranging from washing machines to hot water tanks. They have specialized plumbing tools and detection methods, along with the training and experience to recognize what the symptoms of a problem indicates.

Here are 10 common plumbing problems and what needs to be done to fix them:

1. Dripping faucet

A plumber will determine whether it’s the hot or cold water line that’s dripping, and depending on that, will remove the handle and replace the cartridge. The rubber washer may also be part of the problem if it’s old, torn and not creating a tight seal, so it will be replaced too.

2. No hot water

Not having any hot water water can be the result of the water tank pilot light going out and needs relighting. Or, there could be sediment such as rust building up in the tank. A faulty thermostat is another culprit of not getting hot water.

3. Low water pressure 

Low water pressure may be the result of a leaking pipe or the aerator is coated with mineral deposits and needs cleaning or replacing.

4. Leaking pipes

Most water leaks occur at pipe joints and are common in winter when water can freeze and expand, so a new pipe and fittings is usually necessary.

5. Clogged drain

In a kitchen, a clogged sink drain is usually blocked by food. In a shower or bathtub, it’s often caused by hair or soap pieces. A liquid dissolver might clear it but can be damaging to the drains, so plunger or snake could be a better option.

6. Clogged or leaking toilet

Toilet paper, wipes and other items are usually the problem of a clogged toilet. It will need plunging, an auger or snake to clear it. If the toilet is leaking at the base, the seal may need replacing. Or the water supply line might be leaking and needs to be replaced.

7. Running toilet

If your toilet water is running all day, this can be a costly water bill if not fixed. The flapper at the bottom of the toilet tank may not be closing properly and so the tank never fills up. So the water keeps running until this is replaced with one that provides a tight seal.

8. Burst water pipe

When water freezes, it expands in volume by about nine per cent. The pressure inside a frozen pipe may go from 40 pounds per square inch (PSI) to 40,000 PSI so it could burst under this pressure. If this happens, turn off the main water valve and call a plumber because this can cause damage to the pipes, walls, flooring, electrical lines and more.

9. Sump pump failure

It’s very common for debris such as leaves to clog a sump pump outside your home. So keep the area clear where the water line exits your house. Also, since sump pumps rely on electricity, install a battery backup system in case your power goes out.

10. Leaking washing machine

With all the shake, rattle and roll that your washing machine does to clean your clothes, water hookups can eventually leak. Even a small leak can cause a small drip and water could be pooling underneath your machine for a while before you realize it. Call a plumber when you see a puddle to fix the hookup.

Can an apprentice plumber do these repairs?

You may be able to save some money by using an apprentice plumber if the job is relatively simple. The apprentice will have lower rates based on whether he’s a first, second, third or fourth year student.

Since an apprentice works for a professional plumbing company as part of their program, their work should be checked by a licensed plumber after the job is done. Apprenticeship programs vary by province with different regulations, so this will depend on where you live so be sure to check.

It might be tempting to use a general handyman to do a plumbing project but this is risky depending on the job. If you don’t use a licensed plumber and something goes wrong, your home insurance may not cover the repair.

The safe bet is to book a Plumbing Expert through the HeyBryan app   plumber from the HeyBryan app for repair projects like these because each Expert has been vetted and approved by the Bryan Baeumler team for their training, skills and experience.

Here’s how easy it is to find and book a plumber:

  • Download the app if you haven’t already
  • Sign-in to your HeyBryan account
  • Tap Book a Task and select Plumber
  • Confirm your address, select the date/time you’d like the Expert out, and describe your task (add photos if you can)
  • Select your Expert and confirm – that’s it!

And if you happen to be a plumber looking for more work or side gigs to supplement your income, apply to become a HeyBryan Plumbing Expert today. It’s free. The verification process is fast and simple, and you could be reviewing job requests within 48 hours of applying. Start earning extra money, on your own schedule, doing what you’re good at!

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