Backed-up sinks. Discolored water. Leaks. These things may sound intimidating, but the truth is they’re typical problems in many homes. In fact, many of them can be fixed with just a few easy steps.

With the proper tools and skills, you can save yourself time—and money—by tackling these issues yourself. Plus, learning more about how to remedy common problems will help you realize when the issue is more complicated and best solved by a professional.

So, don't let a clogged drain or a leaky faucet get you down—with the right expertise, it's easy to sort out ordinary plumbing problems all by yourself. We’ll take a look at a couple of frequent plumbing issues and how you can take care of them.

1. Why Won't My Sink Stop Gurgling?

If you’re hearing a gurgling sound emanating from your sink, it may be the result of of air or water trapped in the pipes. This can happen if there is a blockage in the pipes, or if a plumbing vent has become blocked or disconnected.

Fortunately, this issue is relatively easy to solve:

  • First, try using a plunger to eliminate any blockages that may be causing the gurgling sound.
  • If a plunger doesn’t work, you can try using a drain snake to clean out particles from the pipe. Last of all, if your plumbing vent is blocked or disconnected, make sure to reconnect it and search for any other obstructions.

If you’re still having problems, it may be best to contact an experienced plumber in Pella. They can help identify the root of the issue and provide you with answers.

2. Why Won't My Sink Drain?

If a sink isn't draining, in most cases that’s a result of something obstructing the drainpipe. However, it also can be a result of a much larger issue with your plumbing system.

Common reasons why the water in your sink won’t drain:

  • Blocked or clogged pipes: Gradually, hair, food scraps, grease, animal fats and other junk can collect in the pipes, creating a blockage that prevents the water from draining.
  • Broken seals: If the sink’s rubber seals are cracked or broken, they may not be making an effective seal around the drain to keep out air and permit the water to drain.
  • Debris in the trap: The curved pipe beneath the sink, called a P-trap, can become blocked with debris or form leaks which stop it from draining properly.
  • Blocked vent pipe: A clog in a vent pipe, which allows gas to leave your plumbing system, might keep your sink from draining. Vents can be blocked by debris where they come out of your house.

To clear a pipe, try using a plunger to force the obstruction through the line. If that doesn’t work, give some thought to using a plumbing snake to clear away hair or other debris and allow the water to move through. Other methods are to use baking soda and vinegar or a drain-cleaning product to dissolve the clog.

Depending on your plumbing setup, you may have the ability to search for a blockage in the P-trap, which is a bend in the pipe below your sink. This is achieved by disassembling the pipe and cleaning out the line. To do this, first turn the faucet off and set a bucket underneath the bend. Then, disassemble the pipe and pull out any debris. Once it’s clean, put the pipe back together and rinse out with hot water.

If trying to clear the line and P-trap isn't effective, look at where your drain vent extrudes from your house to make sure it isn’t blocked by debris such as leaves, dirt or even a nest by an overly ambitious bird or other animal. If this also doesn’t work, you may want to get in touch with an experienced professional for plumbing repair in Pella to make sure there isn’t a bigger problem with your plumbing.

3. Why Is Cloudy Water Coming from the Sink?

Quite often, cloudy or white-looking water is caused by air bubbles in the water. This is usually harmless and can often clear up on its own. It could be caused by a water company doing work on the lines, or a neighborhood construction project.

One way to determine if cloudy water was made by air bubbles is to fill a glass of water and then leave it on the counter. Odds are the air bubbles will escape and the water will eventually clear. If the water is still cloudy after 24 hours, you may have another issue and will want to consult a professional for assistance.

The discolored water also could be the result of high levels of minerals in the water in your home. Excessive minerals accumulate until they affect the water’s appearance and taste, in which case a water softener may help. It can stop hard-water buildup from damaging your pipes and creating the distasteful cloudy water.

If cloudy water ends up being a persistent problem, consider clearing out the aerator, which is a screen at the end of your faucet. Use a water and vinegar solution to eliminate any debris or buildup. If that doesn’t work either, you might want to contact a skilled plumber and let them work toward a solution.

4. Why Is My Sink Leaking/Dripping?

The reason for a leak or water drip underneath a sink is frequently because a plumbing fixture has worn out or malfunctioned. Occasionally, it’s caused by a clog stopping the line.

Here are several of the more commonly seen causes of sink leaks and how you can repair them:

  • Loose Connections: One of the most common causes of a leak underneath the sink is because of loose connections between pipes, fixtures and hoses. If any part has not been properly tightened, or if it was not sealed right in its fitting, water can quickly escape from these weak spots.
  • Worn-Out Washers: Over the years, the washer in a sink fixture can become worn out and fail to create a sufficient seal. If you observe water seeping from the sides of the handle or base of the faucet, it’s very likely that a new washer is needed.
  • Corroded Pipes: The pipes underneath a sink can corrode over time, causing deterioration and cracks. Corrosion is particularly common when working with older or discounted materials, so it's important to check for any indications of degradation in order to avoid a major leak.
  • Clogged Drains: A clogged drain can make water back up and start seeping from the seal. It's essential to always check for any evidence of blockage and to clear away any debris that may be restricting water flow.

5. Why Is the Water from My Sink Discolored?

The most commonly encountered factor that leads to brown tap water is rust. Rust in most cases comes from excess iron in the water, which could be the result of corroded pipes or worn-out fixtures. Rust may also show up when sediment accumulates. Buildup may appear if the filtration system is declining or there are high levels of minerals like manganese.

In some cases, the water can be stained from silt or clay particles that have been stirred up from repairs on the water line or your plumbing. If you get your water from a municipal utility company, reach out to them to let them know about the discoloration. They should be able to tell you if there has been any recent construction on the water lines.

An expert plumber in Pella can help you establish if the discoloration is coming from a rusting pipe that needs to be replaced, or if a filtration system may get rid of the unsightly problem.

6. Why Is My Sink Draining Slow?

The most widespread explanation for a sink to drain slow is a partial obstruction in the pipes. Hair and soap residue are likely culprits for a clogged bathroom sink, while food particles and grease—along with soap scum—often are blamed for kitchen sink clogs.

Three ways you can fix a clogged sink include:

  • Plunger: One way to eliminate a partial clog is with a plunger. If you don't see any standing water in the sink, fill it with enough water to cover the drain. Then, use the plunger to loosen the blockage and dislodge the clog.
  • Plumbing snake/weasel: If a plunger doesn’t work, you may need a plumbing snake—a long, thin section of plastic—to put down your pipe to attach to the clog so you can extract it manually. Sometimes, these are known as plumbing weasels.
  • Chemical Clog Remover: Many chemical clog removers on the market break down blockages in sink pipes. Make sure to follow all directions, and that any brand you buy won’t damage your home’s pipes or the basin in your sink.