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How to Tell if Your Bathroom Plumbing Needs Repair

Written by Doug Bonderud, Angie's List contributor
Updated August 30, 2021
A plumber fixing a bathroom sink
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Signs your plumbing might need repair include rattling pipes and low water pressure

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From cold bathwater to noisy pipes, plumbing issues happen to every homeowner at some point. However, early identification is important to ensure a minor issue never turns into something major. Learn the top eight signs your bathroom plumbing needs repair so you can call in a pro right away.

1. Slow-Draining Sinks and Tubs

Slow-draining or clogged bathroom sinks and showers can be a common occurrence since both are subject to frequent influxes of hair, soap residue, toothpaste, and makeup muck. This build-up can get stuck in the drain, stopper, or P-trap.

You can try using a pipe snake to release a clog or try a homemade mix of baking soda and vinegar. But if all of the sinks in your house are slow to drain, this might be a sign of a larger issue like a pipe leak, a hidden clog, or even tree roots that are clogging the main sewer line.

2. Rattling Pipes

Also known by the off-putting term ‘water hammer,’ the sound of knocking pipes when you turn off a faucet happens when the flow of water suddenly stops and a ‘shock wave’ rattles through the pipes. 

Poorly secured pipes or the plumbing system in older homes can also be a cause of rattling pipes. Rattling pipes are more annoying than anything else, however, it can get worse over time.

3. Leaky Faucets

All those drips from leaky faucets add up to dollars down the drain. Thankfully, diagnosing the cause of dripping faucets is fairly straightforward. The cause could be something as simple as replacing a loose washer (metal) or o-ring (rubber or plastic), or a corroded valve. If these simple fixes don’t solve the issue, the entire faucet may have to be replaced.

4. Offensive Aromas

If distinctly rotten smells are seeping up from your drains, it could mean you have a cracked or clogged sewer line or a loose connection joint behind a wall. Contact a plumbing professional in your area to hunt down cracks or leaks, but you can also try a baking soda and white vinegar mix to try to reduce smells in the meantime.

5. Low Water Pressure

The interior of a sunny modern bathroom
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If your once-invigorating shower has become a lackluster rinse, it could indicate a variety of issues. Check the faucet or showerhead to see if either is clogged with water calcification. Soak the heads for a few hours (or overnight) in plastic bags filled with vinegar. If that doesn’t help, contact a plumbing professional and have them check for a clogged or burst pipe.

6. High Water Bills

If you’re filling a swimming pool or constantly watering a summer garden, you’d expect a couple of hefty water bills. But, if the water meter is spinning away, and there’s no warning signs in the functionality of your plumbing, call a plumbing professional to help you determine the cause. There could be a leak you can’t easily detect.

7. Discolored Water

Another sign your bathroom plumbing needs repair is discolored water. Your water should always be clear and free of any cloudiness, color, or sediment. Yellow or orange-tinged water may mean that rust is leaching from the pipes.

Eroding copper pipes will emit a green tint, and actual soil or other sediment means there is a leak or break somewhere. If the water flowing from your bathroom, shower, or in the toilet is less than clear, contact a plumber right away.

8. Cold or Lukewarm Water

Are those hot showers not so hot anymore? Does the hot water turn cold within minutes, even if it’s the first thing in the morning? It could be that the water heater element is faulty or it’s time it was replaced. Residual hot water will be used up but the tank can’t maintain a steady temperature if the element is damaged or broken. In this case, contact your professional plumber for a repair.

What to Do if Your Bathroom Plumbing Needs Repair

Now that you know the signs your bathroom plumbing needs repair, it’s time to do something about it. With a little sleuthing and some basic know-how, some temporary plumbing fixes can solve the problem momentarily, like a leaking pipe or faucet. Either way, the key to avoiding extensive and potentially expensive repairs is early detection.

Calling in a professional will be necessary in most cases so they can properly identify and fix the issue before it can cause additional damage.

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