7 Types of Plumbing Issues in a Home: When to DIY and When to Call a Professional

Craig Plumbing Blog Posts-DIY or No

Plumbing issues are a frequent concern for homeowners, often requiring timely identification and resolution to prevent costly damage and inconvenience. Picture this: you wake up on a Saturday morning, ready to enjoy a relaxing weekend, only to find a puddle of water under your sink or a toilet that won't stop running. Such unexpected plumbing problems can quickly turn your plans upside down, causing stress and frustration.

Whether it's a leaky faucet, a clogged drain, or a more serious issue like burst pipes or a malfunctioning water heater, knowing how to effectively manage these situations is crucial. This guide will help you recognize common plumbing problems, understand their causes, and decide whether you can address them yourself or if you need to call in a professional.

With the right knowledge and approach, you can handle minor plumbing mishaps with confidence and discern when professional intervention is necessary, ensuring peace of mind and safeguarding your home from significant damage.

1. Leaky Faucets (DIY Possible)

Signs to Look Out For:

  • Persistent dripping from the faucet.
  • Water stains or puddles around the faucet area.
  • Higher water bills without increased usage.

Potential Causes:

  • Worn-out washers or O-rings.
  • Corroded valve seat.
  • Loose or damaged parts.

DIY Solution:

Addressing a leaky faucet is often a manageable DIY task that can save you money on professional repair costs. With a few basic tools and some replacement parts, many homeowners can easily fix this common problem, restoring proper function and preventing water wastage.

  1. Turn Off Water Supply: Make sure to turn off the water supply to the faucet.
  2. Disassemble the Faucet: Use appropriate tools to carefully remove the faucet handle.
  3. Replace Worn Parts: Identify and replace any worn washers or O-rings.
  4. Reassemble and Test: Put the faucet back together and restore the water supply to check for any remaining leaks.

2. Clogged Drains (DIY Possible)

Signs to Look Out For:

  • Slow drainage in sinks, bathtubs, or showers.
  • Foul odors emanating from the drain.
  • Water backing up from the affected drain.

Potential Causes:

  • Accumulation of hair, soap scum, or food particles.
  • Foreign objects lodged in the drain.
  • Tree root intrusion in outdoor drains.

DIY Solution:

Clogged drains are a common yet frustrating plumbing issue that can often be resolved with a few simple tools and techniques. Understanding the causes of drain clogs and employing basic DIY methods can save time and money before considering professional intervention.

  1. Boiling Water: Pour boiling water down the drain to help dissolve minor clogs.
  2. Plunger: Use a plunger to create suction and dislodge the clog.
  3. Drain Snake: Insert a drain snake to physically remove the blockage.

3. Running Toilets (DIY Possible)

Signs to Look Out For:

  • Continuous sound of running water.
  • Water flowing into the toilet bowl even when not in use.
  • Higher water bills without increased usage.

Potential Causes:

  • Faulty flapper valve.
  • Malfunctioning fill valve.
  • Issues with the float mechanism.

DIY Solution:

Running toilets are a common yet often overlooked plumbing issue that can lead to significant water wastage and increased utility bills. Fortunately, with a few simple tools and basic knowledge, many running toilet problems can be resolved by homeowners themselves, making it an ideal candidate for a DIY fix.

  1. Inspect the Flapper: Ensure the flapper valve is sealing correctly. Replace if necessary.
  2. Adjust the Float: Make sure the float mechanism is properly adjusted to control the water level in the tank.
  3. Check the Fill Valve: Replace the fill valve if it's not functioning correctly.

4. Low Water Pressure (Call a Professional)

Signs to Look Out For:

  • Weak water flow from faucets and showerheads.
  • Difficulty in washing or rinsing items.
  • Uneven water pressure in different areas of the home.

Potential Causes:

  • Mineral deposits in pipes or fixtures.
  • Leaks in the plumbing system.
  • Problems with the municipal water supply.

Professional Solution:

Low water pressure often indicates more complex issues within the plumbing system. It's not just about unclogging a pipe or fixing a leaky faucet. The underlying causes can require specialized knowledge and tools to diagnose and resolve effectively.

Why This Requires a Professional Solution:

  1. Identifying Mineral Buildup: Mineral deposits can accumulate over time within the pipes, particularly in areas with hard water. Professionals have the tools and expertise to pinpoint the exact locations of buildup and remove these deposits without damaging the pipes.
  2. Leak Detection: Leaks can occur in various parts of the plumbing system and may not be immediately visible. Professional plumbers use advanced leak detection equipment, such as pressure testing, thermal imaging, and acoustic devices, to locate hidden leaks accurately.
  3. Systematic Diagnostics: Low water pressure may be symptomatic of a combination of issues within the plumbing system. Professionals perform a systematic analysis, inspecting both the internal plumbing and the municipal water supply connections to identify all potential problems.
  4. Comprehensive Repairs: Addressing low water pressure often requires multiple simultaneous repairs, such as replacing corroded sections of pipes, cleaning or replacing fixtures, and ensuring the municipal water supply is free from obstructions. Professional plumbers bring comprehensive solutions that ensure long-term effectiveness.
  5. Safety Considerations: Some changes to the plumbing system, like altering water pressure, can have unintended consequences if not done correctly. Professionals ensure that all adjustments comply with local building codes and safety standards, preventing potential hazards.

By addressing low water pressure with professional solutions, homeowners can ensure their plumbing system functions efficiently, with consistent water pressure and minimal risk of recurring issues. This approach prioritizes long-term stability and safety, offering peace of mind.

5. Water Heater Issues (Call a Professional)

Signs to Look Out For:

  • Inconsistent water temperature.
  • Strange noises from the water heater.
  • Discolored or foul-smelling hot water.

Potential Causes:

  • Sediment buildup in the tank.
  • Faulty thermostat or heating element.
  • Corrosion of the tank or its components.

Professional Solution:

Water heater issues are complex and often require professional attention due to several critical factors. Firstly, water heaters operate using either gas or electrical components, both of which present significant safety risks if not handled correctly. For example, improper handling of gas lines can lead to gas leaks, which pose a risk of explosion or poisoning, while electrical repairs carry the danger of shock or fire hazards.

Secondly, diagnosing and repairing water heaters requires specialized knowledge of the appliance's internal workings. Sediment buildup in the tank, for instance, often necessitates complete flushing of the system, a process that can be labor-intensive and requires precise execution to avoid damage to the unit or personal injury. Similarly, replacement of faulty thermostats or heating elements demands careful verification of components, ensuring compatibility and proper installation to restore efficient functionality.

Finally, professional plumbers bring the benefit of experience and the right tools to identify and fix less obvious issues such as tank corrosion or compromised components that might not be immediately visible. Their expertise ensures that repairs are done correctly the first time, preventing potential recurrence and further damage. Moreover, many professional repairs come with warranties or guarantees, offering homeowners peace of mind and financial security against the risk of future problems. Given these considerations, entrusting water heater repairs to a professional is the safest and most reliable approach.

6. Burst Pipes (Call a Professional)

Signs to Look Out For:

  • Water pooling in unexpected areas.
  • Sudden drop in water pressure.
  • Damp walls, ceilings, or floors.

Potential Causes:

  • Freezing and thawing cycles.
  • Corrosion of old pipes.
  • Physical damage or high water pressure.

Professional Solution:

Burst pipes can cause significant water damage and often require immediate attention by a professional plumber to repair the damage and prevent further issues. The process typically involves several critical steps that ensure both the immediate repair and long-term reliability of the plumbing system.

  1. Rapid Response and Initial Assessment: Professional plumbers are trained to respond quickly to emergencies. They begin by shutting off the main water supply to prevent further water damage and then conduct a thorough assessment to identify the exact location and cause of the burst pipe.
  2. Precise Diagnosis: A professional will use specialized tools such as moisture meters, pipe inspection cameras, and infrared thermometers to pinpoint the extent of the damage. This precise diagnosis is crucial for effective repairs and to identify any hidden issues that could potentially cause future bursts, such as weakened pipe sections or underlying problems with water pressure.
  3. Quality Repairs: Professional plumbers have access to high-quality materials and are knowledgeable about the best techniques for repairing different types of pipes, including copper, PVC, and PEX. They will either patch the burst section or replace the entire length of damaged pipe, ensuring a durable and long-lasting repair.
  4. Preventative Measures: Beyond fixing the immediate issue, professionals can implement preventative measures to help avoid future bursts. This might include insulating pipes in areas prone to freezing, installing pressure regulators to control high water pressure, or recommending upgrades to outdated piping systems.
  5. Cleanup and Restoration: Water from burst pipes can cause extensive damage, including mold growth and structural issues. Professionals not only repair the pipes but also offer water damage restoration services. They will ensure thorough drying, dehumidification, and proper sanitization of the affected areas, reducing the risk of mold and further structural damage.

7. Sewer Line Blockages (Call a Professional)

Signs to Look Out For:

  • Multiple drain backups.
  • Gurgling sounds from drains or toilets.
  • Foul odors in and around the house.

Potential Causes:

  • Tree root intrusion.
  • Grease buildup.
  • Collapsed or damaged sewer pipes.

Professional Solution:

Sewer line blockages necessitate specialized equipment and expertise to resolve effectively, making it essential to engage a professional for these issues. Professional plumbers employ advanced diagnostic tools such as video inspection cameras to accurately locate the blockage and assess the condition of the sewer line. This precise identification of the problem allows for targeted and efficient interventions, minimizing disruption and potential damage to the property.

Additionally, professionals utilize powerful equipment like hydro-jetters, which can emit high-pressure water streams to clear stubborn obstructions, including tree roots and accumulated debris. This approach is far more effective and long-lasting compared to traditional methods such as plungers or chemical drain cleaners, which might offer only temporary relief and cause further damage to the pipes.

Employing a professional ensures not only the immediate removal of blockages but also mitigates the risk of future issues. They can assess the overall health of the sewer line, identify potential weak points, and recommend preventive measures, such as routine maintenance and the installation of root barriers or grease traps. Moreover, professional plumbers adhere to safety standards and local regulations, ensuring that the repair work complies with all necessary guidelines.

Given the complexity and potential hazards associated with sewer line blockages, such as exposure to harmful bacteria and the risk of exacerbating the problem through incorrect handling, entrusting this task to a professional is the safest and most reliable option. Their expertise and advanced tools guarantee a comprehensive solution that safeguards both the property and the health of its occupants.

Why a Professional is the Best Option:

  1. Expertise and Experience: Professionals have years of training and experience, making them adept at handling the complexities of home plumbing repairs. They understand the intricacies of plumbing systems and can offer solutions that a DIY approach might miss.
  2. Safety: Repairing plumbing issues can be dangerous, particularly if electrical systems are involved or if hazardous mold has developed. Professionals have the necessary safety equipment and training to handle these risks effectively.
  3. Time and Efficiency: Professionals can complete repairs much more quickly than an untrained individual, minimizing water damage and reducing the disruption to your home. Their efficiency ensures that your plumbing system is back to normal as soon as possible.
  4. Long-term Solutions: A quick DIY fix may not address underlying issues, leading to repeated problems. Professionals aim to provide long-term solutions, ensuring that the entire plumbing system is sound and reducing the likelihood of future problems.
  5. Warranty and Guarantees: Many professional plumbing services come with warranties on their work. This provides peace of mind that if anything goes wrong with the repair within a certain period, it will be fixed at no additional cost.

By engaging a professional plumber to address any or all your home plumbing issues, homeowners can ensure the problem is resolved swiftly and effectively, with a reduced risk of future problems and potential safety issues.


Plumbing problems are an inevitable part of homeownership, but knowing when to tackle an issue yourself and when to call a professional can save you time, money, and stress. Simple issues like leaky faucets, clogged drains, and running toilets can often be resolved with DIY methods, while more complex problems, such as low water pressure, water heater issues, burst pipes, and sewer line blockages, require professional intervention. Regular maintenance and timely repairs can help keep your plumbing system in top condition and prevent minor issues from escalating into major headaches.

If you're experiencing any plumbing, heating, or cooling issues that need a professional touch, don't hesitate to contact Craig Plumbing, Heating, and Cooling. Our team of experienced professionals is ready to provide you with swift, reliable, and long-lasting solutions to ensure your home remains comfortable and safe. Whether it's a burst pipe, sewer line blockage, or water heater malfunction, we have the expertise to handle it all. Reach out to us today for a consultation or to schedule a service. Your home's well-being is our top priority — let us help you maintain it.