Top Common Plumbing Issues and How to Fix It

A well-functioning plumbing system ensures your water flows in the right direction. Connected to the sink, shower, toilet, bath, and other faucets in your home, the plumbing system supports your home’s basic water needs. With that said, when common plumbing issues occur such as low water pressure, leaky pipes, or clogged toilets, this can become problematic for both bringing you clean water and sending dirty water away. The plumbing experts at Summit Drain have compiled a list of the top 10 most common plumbing issues and how to solve each problem.

Top 10 Common Plumbing Issues

Faulty Water Heater

A failed water heater can be because of several different issues. The thermostat, a build-up of sediment in the tank, or the pilot light going out may all be the cause of this plumbing problem.

To be safe, it’s best to contact a professional to inspect, maintain, and fix your water heater for the most accurate and effective course of action.

Low Water Pressure

A common problem often found in older homes is low water pressure. If your water does not gush, but rather it trickles out of the tap, this may be a symptom. Leaking pipes that have become worn, corroded, or broken over time is one of the many potential causes of low water pressure.

Mineral deposits on aerators and a build-up of sediment may also be a cause. In this case, soaking the aerator in vinegar will clean it. If the low water pressure is coming from the shower, then you need to either soak the showerhead in vinegar or replace the piece altogether.

Dripping Faucets

We have all experienced a drippy faucet at some point before. The irritating sound of falling water can also be costly with every wasted drop. Dripping faucets are often caused when an internal washer has become torn, stiff, dislodged, or worn over time.

If this is the case, luckily, this issue is a quick fix with basic tools and DIY skills. First, switch off the water supply to the dripping faucet. Then, disassemble the faucet and replace the faulty washer. Lastly, reassemble the faucet.

Slow Draining Sink

Typically, this issue occurs because some sort of blockage is restricting water flow. In a bathroom sink for example, soap or knotted hair may be the likely cause of the blockage, whereas a kitchen sink drain may be stuck due to food remnants or congealed fat being in the way.

Preventing a clogged sink drain can be solved by either using a plumber’s snake, pouring down a chemical clog remover or baking soda and vinegar, or using a plunger. It’s important to tackle the problem quickly to prevent it from worsening over time and the drain completely becoming blocked.

Jammed Garbage Disposal

Running a garbage disposal without water can cause plumbing problems, especially when disposing of certain food substances such as potato peels or cornhusks or allowing silverware to get inside.

To fix a jammed garbage disposal, simply hit the reset button. If that doesn’t work, then you will need to open the garbage disposal up and use a 1/4” Allen wrench to free up the motor.

Leaky Pipes

In addition to the nuisance of leaky pipes, this plumbing failure can cause damage to floors and furniture, and the dampness can invite cockroaches and other bugs to infiltrate the area. Leaky pipes are almost always linked back to the pipe joints.

A temporary fix can be found by using compounds, tape, and filters. For something more permanent, however, replacing the pipe, a piece of the pipe, or the related fittings would be necessary. In this situation, requesting a plumber’s expertise is best suited.

Shower plumbing rough in Ottawa by Summit Drain

Clogged Bath or Shower Drain

Generally, bath and shower drain problems occur by getting blocked up by clogs of soap and knotted hair. If not dealt with, this issue will continue to get worse. The use of a plumber’s snake or a plunger can be helpful in clearing the blockage, as well as vinegar and baking soda can sometimes dissolve the clog too.

To prevent a clogged shower drain or a backed-up bath, or at least minimize the chances of this issue reoccurring, buying a drain guard can help catch the hair.

Clogged Toilet

A blockage, normally caused by a mixture of human waste and toilet paper, will cause a clogged toilet to not drain away what it needs to when the toilet bowl fills up after flushing.

A plunger can normally unclear the blockage and fix the clogged toilet. If that tool doesn’t work, a drain auger or a sewer snake may just be the solution you need to use to loosen up the blockage.

toilet plumbing rough in

Running Toilet

Each day you experience a running toilet, up to 200 gallons of water may be lost. When a flapper valve, the piece that controls the water that passes from the tank to the bowl, is faulty, this is a common culprit of a running toilet. Fortunately, a toilet repair kit available at most hardware stores is the solution here.

In other, less common cases, sediment affecting the flushing and filling will cause your toilet to run. If you notice an uptick in your monthly water bill, check for silent leaks. To do this, put some food coloring in the upper tank and without flushing, see if the dye makes its way to the bowl.

Sewer System Backup

Sewer system backups can be nasty, unhygienic, smelly, inconvenient, and expensive plumbing nightmares. To identify whether sewer system backup is your problem, check for a bad odor of human waste and multiple drains and toilets not working. The three most common causes of sewer system backup are if the main sewer is clogged if the tree roots have invaded the pipes, or if the old sewer lines have broken or collapsed.

If the blockage is on your property, then it is your responsibility to fix it. On the contrary, if the blockage is out on the public road, then the onus is on your water company to resolve the problem. Unfortunately, just locating the blockage may cost you the price of paying for a plumber to come in and assess the situation. If you do however suspect that the blockage is not on your property, then you may want to call your water company first.

Sewer pipe repair Ottawa

Get Professional Help!

Plumbing issues are no joke, despite how small some may seem. It’s imperative to quickly identify plumbing issues in the house before they can lead to costly expenses in the future and cause serious damage to your property over time. If you are experiencing any of these common plumbing problems or want to learn more from our team of professional plumbers, contact Summit Drain today.


A main sewer line blockage can cause water to backup in random places. For instance, you run your washing machine and notice your sink overflowing – this can be a clear sign that you have a clogged drain line.

If you have ruled out a potential sewer drain clog, you can rinse your sewer drain by flushing it with water. When you flush your lines, try adding a bit of drain cleaner to the water. A great place to flush your sewer line is the toilet – a larger amount of water and drain cleaner can enter your system quickly and easily. Unfortunately, if you do this when you have a clog, it can cause backup and potential flooding – if this is the case, clear the clog first.

You should generally know if your sewer line is blocked with slow drainage. The purpose of the sewer line is to take all the water drainage away from your house via sinks, bathtubs or toilets – if you find that there is slower drainage in one drain then you can essentially clear that yourself using a drain snake or a plunger.

There is confusion regarding when you are responsible for sewer line repair. While some may believe that the homeowner is only responsible for repairing the part of the line that’s on their property, this is not the case. Sewer lines consist of multiple sections, the upper lateral, lower lateral and the main line. The city is only responsible for repairing the main sewer line.

If issues with the main sewer line cause damage to your lower lateral, which is most likely where the damage would generally first start – the city would repair this damage when they work on the main sewer line. Unfortunately, if there is backup and flooding on your property from the main sewer line, then the city would not be responsible. It is best to follow up with the city to see if they will repair any damage in these cases.

Unpleasant smells coming from your drains is indicative of sewer line issues and damage. You should always take these types of smells seriously as it could be toxic fumes slowly releasing from the sewer below into your home.

There are a number of ways to clear a slow drain using products found around the home:

Bent Wire – If you do not have a drain snake, you can try using a stiff wire – like one from a clothes hanger, leaving the hook to enter pipes and pull out any clogs. Try to make sure you don’t push debris further into the pipe.

Homemade Flush – Mixing baking soda and vinegar can dissolve any materials that are potentially clogging your drain pipes. This is a good and much safer alternative to store-bought chemical cleaners.

Toilet Plunger – Like plunging a toilet, you can try using this on your drains. Using a plunger on your drains can help get things moving by using suction. This should be enough to fix any mild blockages.

Aged drain pipes are at risk for corrosion which can lead to breaks. Summit Drain has both the technology and expertise to fix this if necessary.

Yes. Drain pipes are durable, but not meant to last forever. If you live in an older home in Ottawa, most likely the pipes are made from copper and can collapse in this day and age.

When it comes to a collapsed drain, call Summit Drain. We use trenchless technology to replace sewer pipes made from original materials without ruining your property.

Rock salt
Rock salt helps by removing moisture from the roots, which in turn kills them. Two lbs should do the trick, pour 1 down the toilet. Flush until gone. And repeat with the next. Then leave for 12 hours and don’t run any water.

Foaming root killers
Another effective way to treat roots in pipes is with foaming root killers. Pour powder into toilet and flush. It will foam upon contact with water. Not only does it help dissolve current roots, but also helps to protect against future ones.

Copper sulfate
Copper sulfate is another good option. Available at most hardware stores, pour roughly half a cup into toilet and flush until gone. Leave the home and take all pets and family members along. This is a toxic substance and banned in some places.

Should I replace old pipes?
There does come a time where it makes sense to replace your pipes. Over time they crack and corrode. It is recommended to begin routine inspections once your home reaches 50 years in age. For plumbing Services in and around the Ottawa area, nobody does it like Summit Drain.

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