Common Plumbing Problems

Whether you’re a homeowner looking to tackle minor plumbing repairs or seeking knowledge to communicate effectively with a professional plumber, this guide empowers you with the information you need. At Professional Plumbing, we aim to make plumbing issues less daunting by offering clear explanations and practical advice that will enable you to manage them promptly and effectively.

Dripping Faucet

A dripping faucet refers to a faucet that consistently releases water drops even when it is supposed to be turned off. This common plumbing issue is typically caused by worn-out or damaged components within the faucet, such as washers, O-rings, or seals. The persistent dripping not only wastes water but can also lead to increased water bills, potential water damage, and the growth of mold and mildew.

Dripping faucets, if left unaddressed, can result in water damage to surrounding fixtures and surfaces. Iowa homeowners may want to prevent potential damage to their homes, especially during periods of heavy rainfall or snowmelt. Additionally, by promptly fixing dripping faucets, Iowa residents can play a part in the collective effort to conserve water resources and maintain the integrity of their homes.

When to Seek Professional Help

Persistent or Complex LeaksOld or Outdated Plumbing SystemsHidden LeaksWater Pressure IssuesFrequent Recurrence
If the dripping persists after attempting basic DIY troubleshooting, or if the issue is complex and involves multiple components, it’s time to call a professional. A plumber can assess the situation more thoroughly and identify underlying problems.
Homes with older plumbing systems may have faucets with components that are challenging to find or require specialized knowledge for repair. A professional plumber can navigate such systems effectively.
Dripping faucets can sometimes be a symptom of hidden leaks within the plumbing system. If there are signs of water damage, mold, or mildew that suggest a more significant issue, a professional plumber can conduct a thorough inspection.
If the dripping is accompanied by water pressure problems or other plumbing issues throughout the home, it could indicate a more extensive plumbing system problem. A professional plumber can assess and address these issues comprehensively.
If the dripping faucet issue keeps recurring despite multiple attempts at repair, it may be a sign of an underlying problem that requires professional attention. A plumber can conduct a thorough diagnosis to identify the root cause.
Leaky Pipes
A leaky pipe refers to a situation where water escapes from a pipe due to cracks, holes, loose joints, or other forms of damage. Leaky pipes can result in water damage to walls, ceilings, and other structures. In Iowa, where heavy rainfall and snowmelt are common, preventing water damage is essential to maintain the integrity of homes.

Pipe leaks in a home can occur due to several factors, which can contribute to the deterioration or damage of plumbing systems. From pipe corrosion to excessive water pressure, Eastern Iowa residents must take preventative measures to avoid such issues. To address leaky pipes, Iowa homeowners must identify and repair problems as soon as they arise. Regular inspections, particularly before winter sets in, can help detect potential problems early and prevent more significant damage.

When to Seek Professional Help

Persistent LeaksMajor Pipe DamageHidden LeaksLack of DIY ExperienceOlder Plumbing Systems
If a leak persists despite your attempts to fix it, it’s a sign that there may be an underlying issue. A professional plumber can conduct a thorough inspection to identify and address the root cause of the leak.
If the leak is significant, such as a burst pipe, it’s crucial to seek professional assistance immediately. A burst pipe can cause extensive water damage and requires prompt attention to minimize the impact.
Leaks hidden behind walls, ceilings, or floors may not be immediately visible. If you notice water stains, mold, or a musty smell without a clear source, a professional plumber can use specialized tools to detect and locate hidden leaks.
If you are unfamiliar with plumbing systems or lack experience in repairing pipes, it’s advisable to call a professional. Attempting complex repairs without the necessary expertise can lead to further damage.
Homes with aging plumbing systems, especially those with outdated materials like galvanized steel or polybutylene pipes, may require professional attention. Older pipes are more susceptible to corrosion and deterioration.
Toilet Won't Stop Running
If you notice that your toilet keeps running continuously, it may result in water wastage and higher utility bills if left untreated. To fix this issue, follow these general steps:

1. Identify the Issue

Determine if the toilet is continuously running, with water flowing into the bowl even when not in use. This may indicate a problem with the flush mechanism or the fill valve.

2. Open the Tank Lid

Carefully remove the tank lid to access the internal components. Set the lid aside in a safe place.

3. Check the Flapper

Inspect the flapper, a rubber or plastic component at the bottom of the tank. Ensure it forms a proper seal over the flush valve. If it’s warped or damaged, it may need replacement.

4. Adjust the Chain

Check the chain connecting the flush lever to the flapper. If it’s too long or tangled, it might prevent the flapper from closing properly. Adjust the chain length as needed.

5. Inspect the Fill Valve

Examine the fill valve, typically located on the left side of the tank. Ensure it is functioning correctly and is not obstructed. If there are issues, it may need cleaning or replacement.

6. Adjust the Water Level

Check the water level in the tank. Adjust the float to set the desired water level. A water level that is too high can lead to continuous running.

7. Clean or Replace Components

If mineral buildup or debris is affecting the components, clean them thoroughly. In some cases, worn-out parts like the flapper or fill valve may need replacement.

8. Check for Leaks

Look for any signs of water leaks around the base of the toilet, in the tank, or on the floor. Addressing leaks promptly can prevent further damage.

9. Turn Off the Water Supply

If the toilet continues to run after attempting adjustments, locate the shut-off valve near the base of the toilet and turn it off. This will stop water flow to the toilet until the issue is resolved.

10. Seek Professional Help

If DIY efforts do not resolve the issue or if there are underlying problems with the toilet’s internal mechanisms, consider seeking assistance from a professional plumber.

Remember, safety is paramount when dealing with plumbing issues. If you’re unsure or uncomfortable handling the situation, it’s always a good idea to consult with a plumbing professional. By addressing a running toilet promptly, you can conserve water, prevent potential damage, and maintain the functionality of your bathroom plumbing.

Low Water Pressure
Experiencing low water pressure in your home can be inconvenient, but there are steps you can take to identify and address the issue. Here’s a guide on what to do if your home has low water pressure:

1. Check the Whole House

Determine if the low water pressure is affecting the entire house or specific fixtures. Turn on multiple faucets and showers to assess whether the issue is widespread.

2. Inspect the Water Meter Valve

Ensure that the main water meter valve, often located near the water meter itself, is fully open. If it’s partially closed, it can restrict water flow into your home.

3. Examine Pressure-Reducing Valve

If your home has a pressure-reducing valve (PRV), check its setting. Adjusting the valve may increase water pressure. Consult the manufacturer’s instructions for proper adjustments.

4. Inspect Shut-Off Valves

Check the individual shut-off valves near faucets and appliances. Ensure they are fully open. Partially closed valves can limit water flow.

5. Clean Aerator Screens

Remove and clean the aerator screens on faucets and showerheads. Sediment or mineral deposits can accumulate and restrict water flow. Soak them in vinegar to dissolve any build-up.

6. Check for Leaks

Inspect for any visible leaks in your plumbing system, both indoors and outdoors. Leaks can contribute to low water pressure. Fixing leaks can often improve water pressure.

7. Inspect Water Softener

If your home has a water softener, check it for issues. A build-up in water softeners can also affect water pressure. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for maintenance.

8. Test Pressure at Outdoor Spigots

Connect a pressure gauge to an outdoor spigot and turn it on. Compare the pressure reading to the recommended pressure for your area (typically around 40-60 psi). If it’s significantly lower, there may be an issue.

9. Contact Your Water Provider

Reach out to your local water utility to inquire about any issues with the municipal water supply. There might be maintenance or repairs affecting water pressure.

10. Consult a Professional Plumber

If the low water pressure persists or if you are unable to identify the cause, consider hiring a professional plumber. They can perform a more in-depth assessment and recommend solutions.

11. Consider Upgrading Plumbing

If your home has older pipes that are deteriorating, consider upgrading to modern plumbing. Older pipes may have build-ups or corrosion that can significantly impact water pressure.

Addressing low water pressure may involve a combination of these steps. It’s essential to identify the specific cause of the issue to implement the most effective solution. If you’re unsure or unable to resolve the problem, seeking assistance from a professional plumber is advisable.

Slow Draining Sink

A slow-draining sink can be caused by various factors, and identifying the specific issue is crucial for effective resolution. Here are common reasons why a sink may drain slowly:

Hair and Soap Scum Build-Up
In bathroom sinks, hair and soap scum can accumulate over time, forming clogs that impede water flow.
Food Debris
In kitchen sinks, food particles, and grease can contribute to clogs, especially if a garbage disposal is not used properly.
Foreign Objects
Items such as jewelry, small toys, or other objects may accidentally find their way into the drain, causing blockages.
Mineral Build-Up
Hard water can lead to mineral deposits, particularly in areas with high mineral content. Over time, this build-up can restrict water flow in pipes.
Pipe Corrosion
Corrosion within pipes, especially in older plumbing systems, can lead to a rough interior surface that traps debris and contributes to slow drainage.
Venting Issues
Vent pipes on the roof allow air into the plumbing system, preventing airlock and ensuring smooth drainage. If these vents are clogged or blocked, it can result in slow draining.
P-Trap Issues
The P-trap, a curved pipe beneath the sink, is designed to trap debris to prevent sewer gases from entering the home. If the P-trap is clogged or improperly installed, it can lead to slow drainage.
Collapsed or Damaged Pipes
Physical damage to pipes, such as collapses or misalignments, can impede water flow and cause slow draining.
Plumbing System Design
Poorly designed plumbing systems may have inadequate pipe sizes or improper configurations, leading to slow drainage.

Identifying the specific cause of a slow-draining sink may require a combination of visual inspection, DIY methods, and, in some cases, professional assistance. Regular preventive maintenance, such as using drain screens and being mindful of what goes down the sink, can help minimize the risk of slow drainage issues. If the problem persists or is beyond your expertise, consulting with a professional plumber is advisable for a thorough assessment and effective resolution.

Sump Pump Failure

A sump pump failure can lead to potential water damage and flooding in basements or crawl spaces. Iowa homeowners should be vigilant and take prompt action when they suspect or experience sump pump issues. Here are situations in which a homeowner should seek assistance for sump pump failure:

Unusual Sounds or Vibrations
If your sump pump starts making unusual sounds or vibrations, it may indicate a mechanical issue or malfunction. Seek professional assistance to inspect and address the problem.
Continuous Running or Cycling
A sump pump that runs continuously or cycles too frequently might be struggling to keep up with the water volume. This could be due to a malfunctioning float switch, check valve, or other components. A professional inspection is warranted to determine the cause.
Visible Leaks or Pooling Water
If you notice water around the sump pump area, it may be a sign of leaks or pump failure. A professional can identify the source of the problem and recommend necessary repairs or replacements.
Lack of Pump Activation
If your sump pump fails to activate during heavy rain or flooding, it poses a significant risk of water damage. A professional can diagnose the issue, whether it’s electrical, mechanical, or related to the float switch.
Backup System Activation
If you have a backup sump pump system, and it activates frequently or runs for extended periods, it may signal a problem with the primary pump. Professional assistance is needed to assess both systems and ensure reliable operation.
Foul Odors
Strange odors around the sump pump area could indicate a problem with the pump or the presence of stagnant water. A professional can inspect and address any issues to prevent further damage.
Loss of Power
If your sump pump relies on electrical power and there’s a power outage, it’s essential to have a backup power source. If the backup system fails to activate during a power outage, seek professional help to assess and rectify the issue.
Visible Rust or Corrosion
Rust or corrosion on the sump pump components may compromise its efficiency. Professional inspection can determine the extent of the damage and whether repairs or replacements are necessary.
Sump Pump Age
If your sump pump is nearing the end of its expected lifespan (typically around 10 years), consider proactive replacement to prevent failure during critical moments. A professional can assess the pump’s condition and recommend a suitable replacement.
Periodic Maintenance Needs
Regular maintenance is crucial for the optimal performance of a sump pump. If you’re unsure about the maintenance tasks or haven’t performed them recently, seek professional assistance to ensure the pump is in good working condition.

Prompt attention to sump pump issues can prevent extensive water damage and protect your home from flooding. If you encounter any of the above signs of sump pump failure, it’s advisable to consult with a professional plumber or sump pump specialist to assess the situation and implement necessary repairs or replacements.

Water Heater Problems

Homeowners may encounter various issues with their water heaters. Knowing how to troubleshoot common problems can help. Here are some potential solutions to common water heater issues:

No Hot Water

Possible Causes

– Thermostat issues.
– Faulty heating element.
– Power supply problems.


– Check thermostat settings.
– Reset the high-temperature limit switch.
– Replace faulty heating elements.
– Verify power supply to the water heater.

Inadequate Hot Water

Possible Causes

– Undersized water heater.
– Sediment buildup in the tank.
– Issues with the thermostat or heating elements.


– Consider upgrading to a larger capacity water heater.
– Flush the tank to remove sediment.
– Adjust thermostat settings or replace faulty components.

Discolored or Smelly Water

Possible Causes

– Corrosion inside the tank.
– Sediment buildup.
– Bacterial growth.


– Flush the tank to remove sediment.
– Consider installing a water softener.
– If bacterial growth is suspected, consult a professional for water testing and treatment.

Leaking Water Heater

Possible Causes

– Corrosion or rust.
– Loose or damaged connections.
– Faulty temperature and pressure relief valve.


– Replace a corroded tank.
– Tighten or replace loose connections.
– Replace a faulty relief valve.

Strange Noises (Rumbling or Popping)

Possible Causes

– Sediment buildup in the tank.
– Overheating of water due to high thermostat settings.


– Flush the tank to remove sediment.
– Adjust thermostat settings to a lower temperature.

Water Heater Pilot Light Issues

Possible Causes

– Pilot light goes out.
– Faulty thermocouple or gas valve.


– Relight the pilot light according to manufacturer instructions.
– Replace a faulty thermocouple or gas valve.

Pressure Relief Valve Dripping

Possible Causes

– High water pressure.
– Faulty pressure relief valve.


– Test and adjust water pressure (typically not exceeding 80 psi).
– Replace a faulty pressure relief valve.

Water Heater Age

Possible Causes

– Natural wear and tear.
– Reduced efficiency over time.


– If the water heater is beyond its expected lifespan (typically 10-15 years), consider replacement to improve efficiency and prevent future issues.

When to Seek Professional Help

Gas LeaksMajor Leaks or FloodsElectrical IssuesComplex Repairs or Replacements
Gas leaks pose a serious safety risk. If you smell gas around the water heater, evacuate the area immediately and contact a professional plumber or gas company.
If there’s a significant water leak or flooding around the water heater, it requires immediate attention from a professional to assess and address the issue.
If you suspect electrical problems with the water heater, such as faulty wiring or issues with the circuit breaker, seek assistance from a qualified electrician.
For complex issues, such as a malfunctioning control board or a cracked tank, it’s advisable to consult a professional plumber or water heater specialist who can perform intricate repairs or recommend a suitable replacement.

It is important to prioritize safety, and if you are uncertain about how to troubleshoot or handle certain issues regarding your water heater, seeking professional help is the best approach to take. Regular maintenance and timely repairs can help prolong the life of your water heater and ensure it functions optimally.

Request a Quote

At Professional Plumbing, we understand that every plumbing project is unique. Whether you’re planning a small repair or a major installation, we’re here to provide you with the expertise and personalized service you deserve. Get started on your plumbing project by requesting a free, no-obligation quote.

Contact Us

No matter what your plumbing needs are, we are here to help. Our team of skilled plumbers is equipped with the knowledge, tools, and experience necessary to tackle any plumbing problem, big or small. So, if you’re located in Eastern Iowa and need plumbing services, give us a call today, and let us take care of the rest!

Our reputation in the plumbing industry is proven by our work and relationships with our past customers. At Professional Plumbing, we are reliable, trustworthy, and dedicated to providing excellent customer service in Eastern Iowa.