Sometimes life can get busy. You have a thousand things to worry about an you don’t need one more thing to add to your to-do list. It’s easy to ignore plumbing problems, especially when there’s no immediate issue. But here are a few things you shouldn’t ignore to prevent future headaches.

Shower and Toilet Are Slow to Drain

Shower DrainIf you’ve noticed that the water in your shower is draining slower than usual, or if your tub is holding a lot of water whenever you take a shower, the first thing you want to think is “obstruction”. Obstructions in a shower drain are usually the result of an excessive amount of hair building up within the drain. It is usually a very easy fix and a licensed plumber should be able to clear it in no time.

But if both your shower and you toilet are slow to drain, you may be looking at a partial obstruction within your main sewer line. With partial obstructions, water is still able to drain, but it is not certain for how long. Hair and toilet tissue can continue to accumulate at the site of the partial obstruction, and could completely occlude the sewer line.  When this happens, water flushed from the toilet can return into the tub of the shower and may stay there until the obstruction is cleared.

At the first sign of a partial obstruction, it is important to call a plumber. They can clear it safely with a mechanical rodder instead of using dangerous drain cleaning chemicals. Once the obstruction is cleared, you should no longer experience slow draining and you no longer run the risk of having your sewer backup.

Rust With Hot Water

If you’ve ever turned on your tub to run yourself a hot bath and you noticed rust in the tub, this is a sign you’ll need a new hot water heater soon. Hot water heaters work by a flame heating a metal tank filled with water. Over time, the expanding and contracting of the metal from heat causes wear on the tank and the constant presence of water can cause rust to develop. When you begin to see it in your hot water, it is a sign that the wear has become significant.

You may begin to notice other issues with your hot water heater as it begins to age. You may notice you’re getting less and less hot water and it takes longer to heat the water up. You may begin to hear popping sounds from the heating element of your heater. This is a sign that sediment within the heater is reacting to the heat. You may also notice water around the base of the heater. You may notice a little moisture or a small puddle. This indicates that there is in fact a leak within your heater and it will need to be replaced.

A quality water heater can last 8-10 years or longer. It is important to regularly have your heater serviced to expand its lifespan.

A Toilet the Constantly Runs

A toilet that is constantly running can be costing you money. On average, a running toilet can use about 26 gallons of water a day. That’s nearly 9,500 gallons a year, just from a toilet! Not only is that not good for your wallet, it’s not good for the environment either.

The most common cause of a running toilet is a leaky flapper valve. The flapper valve is a piece of rubber that creates a seal in the tank of your toilet. When you flush the toilet , the flapper valve is pulled up, allowing water to escape. When all the water has drained, the flapper valve will return to its original position, creating a seal.

When a toilet is constantly running, there is not a complete seal. Sometimes sediment can build up near the flapper valve and prevent it from closing properly. But much more commonly, the rubber of the seal begins to wear down. As it wears down, the seal will be released and the toilet will being to run. Thankfully, replacing a flapper valve is a relatively simple task and a new valve will only cost about $10.

Banging Pipes

When you turn on a faucet in your home, have you ever hear a loud banging noise in your pipes? This banging is the result of something called “water hammer” or “hydraulic shock”. Water hammer occurs when a valve in the plumbing system is opened or closed too quickly. The changing in the direction of the water causes the water to deflect and reverse direction, causing strong vibrations within the pipe. And these strong vibrations are the loud banging noises that are heard when turning on or off a valve.

Not only is this loud noise annoying, it can cause damage to your plumbing system. The strong vibrations can potentially lead to leaks and ultimately property damage. Thankfully, you won’t need all need plumbing to fix this problem.

A short term fix is to open valve slowly. This means being patient and slowly turning on the hot and cold water at the sink. By slowly opening the valve, you decrease the amount of water that is reversed, which minimizes the amount of the hydraulic shock. For a more long term solution, you can have a plumber install an arrestor in your home. When an arrestor is installed in your plumbing system, it is deliberately kept full of air. The air acts as a cushion against water hammer because air compresses much more easily than water. This air cushion helps to minimize the shock to the plumbing system and vibrations on your pipes.

Sudden Loss of Water Pressure

This issue should always raise a big red flag. If suddenly you don’t have enough water pressure, you’re almost certainly going to need to call a plumber. The fact that the loss of water pressure is sudden could indicate a new leak, which could be significant. Look for signs of a leak within your plumbing system. If there is a significant active leak, turn off your water and call a plumber.

If you can’t find any sign of a leak, your issue may be related to your water pressure regulator. The water pressure regulator limits the water pressure from the supplier to a safe level that does not cause damage to your appliances and faucets. Obstructions can occur within the regulator which can cause the regulator to fail to deliver the desired amount of water pressure. Repairing the water pressure regulator should be left to an experienced professional.