We tend to look at plumbing woes like a stopped drain a little bit differently than electrical malfunctions or other household glitches. It seems pretty intuitive: there’s something stuck in the pipes and once we get rid of it everything will be fine.
Anyone with a little bit of a DIY bent (and that includes a lot of us) can pick up a plunger, a snake and some Drain-0 at the supermarket and go to town, chalking one up for self-sufficiency.
It’s a tempting approach that can be effective in some cases, but there are scenarios in which you really need to let a professional take the lead:
- Banging noise in the pipes — That noise is likely rooted in a water flow or pressure issue. Your pipes should have air pockets within them that help to prevent the hammering, but sometimes they’re breached by water and don’t function the way they should.
Draining all the water from your pipes via faucets and showerheads to allow them to get those pockets to re-form will sometimes resolve the issue, but if not then you’ll need to get a plumber on the line.
- Leaking at the base of the toilet — This points to a failure of the wax seal around the toilet and may be tied to other problems like a cracked tank, a faulty shutoff valve or other hidden malfunctions that also require somebody with the proper training to repair.
- Leaky water heater — Leaks can surface from valves or pipes that you might be able to tighten, but once you see water coming from the tank there’s probably been significant corrosion within it, and the hole will probably grow quickly, leaving few options but to buy a new one and have it professionally installed.
- Mold growth — If you can see it growing in the bathroom, kitchen or anywhere else in the house, it’s indicative of a hidden leak that could be causing major damage while spreading the mold.
- Spiking water bills — If there’s no obvious cause, you’ll need to hire a plumber who can bring leak detection equipment.