You know there is a problem when your kitchen sink drains slowly. You know there is a problem if flushing the toilet causes it to overflow (yikes!). And you really know there’s a problem if it seems like the whole bathroom is flooding after taking a shower. Before calling the plumber to address the issue, why not try plumbing troubleshooting?
You either want to DIY by finding the cause of the plumbing problems in your home before actually repairing it. Or, maybe you just want to assess the problem first before contacting your friendly plumber (you know, so that he will have an idea what he’s up against). Whatever the problem may be, be it low water pressure, excessive water usage, or slow drains, it will all point to a specific element in your plumbing system. Plumbing troubleshooting is an essential first step to making successful repairs. If you haven’t identified the correct cause, you might spend time and money on efforts that will go nowhere.
Look, listen, and feel. The first step is to look for evidence of a leak along the base board of walls near the location of your plumbing fixtures. Also check under the sink or vanities for drips. These areas may be hidden from plain sight and can easily be missed. These areas are also usually dark so use a flashlight and take some time to check if there really are drips. You should then check to see the number of slow draining pipes. If all drains are slow, then there is most likely a problem with the main line. If only one drain is slow, let’s say the kitchen sink only, then its the individual line which is most likely clogged.
Listen to your home. Most important of all sounds are the drips faucets make. Some may argue that a dripping faucet does not really waste that much water, but it definitely will over the course of the day. Each individual drop adds up to thousands and thousands of drops, or gallons and gallons of water. We suggest listening to drips early in the morning or at night when everyone is already asleep and list down the faucets that do. Listen also to the sounds that your toilets make. Take note of the intervals between the sounds, especially when no one has recently used to flush them. An unusual interval definitely spells P-R-O-B-L-E-M.
Run your fingers on each pipe that you suspect is clogged. Feel for wetness or moisture as pipes also may sweat when cold water passes through them in warmer interior air-spaces in the home. This water condensing on the surface of pipes may drip too.
After your initial assessment, you may more likely be able to identify what is wrong. Being able to point to the right direction is a good start. At least now you know which part of the drainage system you may need help with.