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Here's How You Can Diagnose Plumbing Problems

Plumbing problems such as leaky pipes, a faulty water heater, tree roots penetrating the sewer line, clogged pipes, rusty pipes, or even a running toilet don’t always produce clear and obvious signs. Without the correct tools and detailed knowledge of the plumbing system, a plumbing issue can go unnoticed for an extended time period, eventually creating a major plumbing problem in the home.

No matter the issue with the plumbing system, these things are rarely completely static. Plumbing issues concerning a sink drain, old sewer lines, water heater, water pressure, or water leakage tend to grow and change over time, producing more noticeable symptoms the longer these problems exist. Subtle changes around the home may be the only indicator you see exposing silent leaks, cracked pipes, frozen pipes, and more. Unfortunately, some of these problems may have caused severe damage to the home by the time they start to become somewhat visible.

If you ever suspect plumbing problems in your Indianapolis area home, it’s best to call a plumber such as Williams Comfort Air for plumbing service right away. Any professional plumber on our team has the proper tools needed to access water lines, the drain line, and other hidden areas of the plumbing system in search of defects. We can look down into the drain piping to search for pipe bellies, tree roots, and other complications responsible for sewer system backup, sewer gas, and sewer odor from multiple drains in the home or slow-draining pipes. Our plumbers search for failing galvanized pipes or copper pipes creating discolored water from your supply line or low water pressure. We look through walls and even under the home’s foundation to identify leaks responsible for high water bills.

Below, our plumbing team explains how we diagnose home plumbing problems using professional methods. The information gained from these diagnostics allows us to determine the appropriate plumbing repairs as well as the right tools needed to perform them, whether it be a pipe snake to clean out food substances causing a clogged drain or trenchless pipe bursting equipment to install a new sewer line leading to the septic system or municipal sewer.

Not every plumbing concern warrants you call a plumber. We also share how you can detect certain plumbing obstacles such as a running toilet. Often, these things can be easily fixed by handy homeowners without paying for professional services – or waiting for the appointment!

How Plumbers Diagnose Issues with the Plumbing System

When you call a plumber about plumbing issues in your Indianapolis area home, there are several steps a plumber will take upon arrival to determine what is causing the symptoms you experience.

  • Talking with the homeowner and other occupants who have observed the issue provides plumbing professionals with important details that can be used to diagnose the problem or the location it originates from.

  • Physical inspection allows the plumber to see conditions firsthand, which also provides important information helpful in diagnosing the issue. Limited water flow and low water pressure from a shower head or the faucets of the kitchen sink or bathroom sink can tell the plumber if improper installation or mineral deposits in the fixture are the cause, or if the symptoms are widespread, indicating a problem with water lines. Observing drainage in a clogged bathtub drains or a clogged sink as well as clogged toilets can help the plumber determine where a clog exists in the drain piping.

  • The use of professional tools allows plumbers to search for a deeper plumbing problem.

    • Infrared heat detection equipment can tell the plumber the temperature of cold water or hot water in pipes as well as temperatures behind walls to help detect a plumbing problem with the water heater, frozen pipes, or silent leaks.

    • Camera inspection equipment allows plumbers to look into the supply line or drain line for blockages causing slow drains, as well as a clog’s location.

    • A gas leak detector measures the level of gas in the air, which can be helpful when diagnosing plumbing problems affecting water heaters.

    • Water quality testing is helpful for identifying rusty pipes responsible for hot water or cold water discoloration, or the presence of minerals in the water supply that contribute to low water pressure and slowed water flow.

Plumbing Diagnostic Tips for Homeowners

Many Indianapolis area homeowners are perfectly capable of fixing minor plumbing issues like dripping faucets on the bathroom and kitchen sink, or replacing upper tank parts to stop a running toilet. It’s important that you know how to determine when certain plumbing problems are present, so you’ll know when plumbing repairs should be made. It’s also helpful to know how to detect larger plumbing issues in the home so you know when it is necessary to call a plumber.

Here are some helpful diagnostic tips that will tip you off to the presence of plumbing problems in your home.

Monitor Your Water Bill Each Month to Identify Inflated Utility Bills

If your household water bill suddenly increases yet there is no clear explanation for these inflated utility bills, it is highly likely you have a leak in the home. The water leakage is likely hidden in this case, seeing as the high water bill was the first sign to tip you off about a problem.

If you receive a water bill that seems too high for your household’s water consumption, the next thing you should do is turn off all faucets and water-using appliances in the home, then check your water meter. The meter will have some sort of leak indicator that shows you when water moves through the meter, or the number dials that track water consumption will continue to advance. If all sources of water use are cut off in your home and the meter is still moving, that means there is a leak somewhere in the house.

Start checking around the house for indicators of a leak, like a dripping faucet, water around your hot water heater, and wet spots on ceilings, walls, or floors. Toilet leaks between the upper tank and bowl can waste water while remaining hard to detect. Adding some food coloring to the tank and letting it sit for a half hour can show you if water escapes the tank into the bowl, indicating an issue with the flapper, flush valve, or fill valve.

Observe Slow Draining Pipes

A slow drain from time to time is completely normal in homes around Indianapolis. If you begin to notice your drainage has slowed, it’s time to check all drains. Check for a slow drain in each fixture. The location of a slow drain or multiple slow drains can tell you if a clog is affecting one fixture or many.

  • If only one fixture and drain are impacted, the clog may be in a location that you are able to reach and remove it. Remove bathroom drain covers or cut power to the garbage disposal on the kitchen sink and clean out debris.

  • If multiple plumbing fixtures in one room or area of the home have slow drains, the clog is likely in the branch line that carries wastewater and human waste from the area to the main drain line, then out to the sewer line. You may be able to reach and remove this clog with a pipe snake.

  • If fixtures and drains are slow throughout the home, the clog probably sits in the main drain line. Because this location is so deep within the drainage system, it’s best to have a plumber clear this type of clog.

  • If the drains throughout your home experience sewer system backup, sewage, and sewer gas come back up through the drains because the main sewer line is blocked or damaged. If you see sewage coming from any drain or smell sewer odor in your home, contact your plumber and request plumbing service right away – exposure to sewage and sewer gas can be hazardous.

Watch Water Flow in Winter

Frozen pipes are a common problem over Indiana winters. Exposed pipes are most likely to freeze, as well as those located along exterior walls. If you turn on a faucet and have little or no water coming out, pipes may be frozen somewhere in your home. Turn on each faucet to observe the flow of water, which will help you isolate the location of the frozen pipe so you can quickly get to work thawing it. If you are unable to thaw pipes yourself, contact your plumber for emergency plumbing services that can help prevent a major plumbing problem such as a burst pipe.

  • If only one faucet experiences poor water pressure and movement, the supply pipe feeding that fixture is likely the frozen line.

  • If all faucets in an area of the home have problems, the frozen section may sit along the branch that extends from the main water line to that part of the house.

  • If all faucets in your home have poor water pressure and flow, the main water line is likely frozen.

Indianapolis Plumbing Repairs

If you suspect plumbing problems in your Indianapolis area home, call Williams Comfort Air. Our licensed Indiana plumbers will diagnose any plumbing problem and perform repairs to correct the issue.

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