Skip to main content

What Could Go Wrong With My Plumbing?

man fixing plumbing problems under sink

Essential know-how for keeping your home’s pipes flowing smoothly

Let's face it. Your plumbing system is probably one of the least glamorous things to invest in. But if you’ve ever experienced water heater problems, leaky pipes, or poor water pressure, you understand how essential indoor plumbing is to make everyday life comfortable.

Pipes, fixtures, and parts of your plumbing can degrade with age and can become damaged in a variety of unexpected ways. Even small things like having additional guests in your home can put an extra strain on an already struggling toilet. In fact, many plumbers cheekily refer to the day after Thanksgiving as “Brown Friday” in their industry.

While you may not find yourself facing a holiday clog anytime soon, plumbing emergencies have a nasty habit of popping up when you least expect them. So, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most common plumbing problems you may encounter as a homeowner, as well as a few handy tips to help prevent them.

Dripping faucets and showerheads.

A steadily dripping faucet can waste more water than you think. This is usually caused when a washer inside the faucet or showerhead becomes damaged or dislodged.

What to do: If you have some basic tools and DIY know-how, you might want to try replacing this washer yourself – just be sure to shut off the water supply to the faucet first. When in doubt, trust this job to a licensed plumber.

Clogged drains.

Slow or clogged drains in your kitchen or bathroom are often caused by a buildup of residue.

What to do: Your first solution should be to dislodge the clog with a plunger, plumbing snake, or other manual clog removal tool. If that doesn't work, try a combination of baking soda and white vinegar. Avoid clogs by refraining from pouring fatty liquids down kitchen sinks and using a mesh drain guard on bathroom drains to catch hair and other debris.

Running toilets.

Much like a dripping faucet, a running toilet can lead to significant water waste. This is often caused by a cracked or worn flapper, which is the rubber plug at the bottom of your toilet tank. If that’s not it, check to see if the flapper chain is long enough, as it could be holding the flapper slightly open.

What to do: If you suspect your toilet is running, try adding a few drops of food coloring to the water in the tank. If the water in the bowl turns the color of the water in the tank in a short amount of time, it means your toilet is running and you're wasting water. Luckily, flappers are easy to replace and can be found at any hardware store.

Corroded and leaking water heaters.

 If you spot visible rust on your water heater tank or see water pooling around it, there's a good chance your water heater has rusted from the inside out. The average lifespan of a water heater is eight to 10 years and the odds of corrosion increase with time.

What to do: A rusty and leaky water heater should be replaced, not repaired. To help prevent this issue, drain and flush your water heater annually to remove the sediment that often causes corrosion.

Hard water.

This is less of a problem with your plumbing and more of an issue with your water supply. If you live in an area rich in certain mineral deposits, those minerals are likely present in your water. This can give water an unusual taste, make clothes feel stiff and scratchy after washing, and even damage your pipes and fixtures over time.

What to do: You can check the quality of your water with hard water test strips found in many plumbing supply and hardware stores. The best solution for hard water problems is installing a water-softening system, which neutralizes the minerals that cause these issues.

Jammed garbage disposal.

When a garbage disposal's blades encounter resistance that strains the motor, it will usually shut down to prevent damage. A piece of silverware, a bone, fibrous vegetables like asparagus, or even starchy foods like potatoes or pasta can gum up the blades.

What to do: Most garbage disposals are designed to allow you to manually turn the blades from the bottom of the unit with a screwdriver or hex wrench; try turning the blades this way while running hot water to loosen the clog. Never stick your hand into the garbage disposal from above. Once the clog is cleared, you may need to press the reset button on the bottom of the unit before it works again.

Terms and conditions contained in the protection plans may limit our contract obligations due to coverage caps, coverage exclusions, and our cash back offer. View plan details for more information.

About the Author

NRG Protects is committed to making home care less stressful. Our focus is on our customers and helping them protect the household systems, appliances, and devices they rely on every day. We also believe in empowering customers and giving them the tools to make choices that are best for them. With educational resources, à la carte protection plans, and simple, robust coverage, we’re focused on taking the worry out of normal wear and tear repairs, and our 97.2%* claim approval rate gives our customers the peace-of-mind they need to get back to the things that really matter. Like our Fortune 500 parent company, NRG Energy, Inc., we’re always looking for innovative ways to make life easier. *Based on claims filed and served in 2022. Each claim will be independently evaluated on its own merits. Your experience may vary.

Profile Photo of NRG Protects