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

With the right tools and skills, you can save yourself time—and money—by fixing these issues yourself. Plus, knowing how to take care of common problems will help you tell when the issue is more involved and best solved by a professional.

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

1. Why Is My Sink Gurgling?

If you’re concerned by a gurgling sound coming out of your sink, it may be a sign of air or water trapped in the pipes. This can occur if there is a blockage in the pipes, or if a plumbing vent has become plugged or disconnected.

Fortunately, this problem is not too difficult to solve:

  • First, try using a plunger to remove any blockages that may be creating the gurgling sound.
  • If a plunger isn't effective, you can try using a drain snake to clean out buildup from the pipe. Last of all, if your plumbing vent is blocked or disconnected, make sure to reconnect it and search for any other blockages.

If you’re still having difficulties, it may be best to contact an experienced plumber in Lansing. They can help diagnose the reason you are having the issue and provide you with skilled repair service.

2. Why Is My Sink Clogged?

If a sink isn't draining, in most cases that’s due to something blocking the drainpipe. However, it also can be an indicator of a bigger problem with your plumbing system.

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

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

To unblock a pipe, try using a plunger to force the obstruction through the line. If that doesn’t work, think about using a plumbing snake to clear away hair or other debris and allow the water to flow through. Other strategies are to use baking soda and vinegar or a drain-cleaning product to disintegrate the clog.

Depending on your plumbing setup, you may also look for a blockage in the P-trap, which is a bend in the pipe below your sink. This is done by taking apart the pipe and removing blockages from the line. To do this, first switch the faucet off and set a bucket below the bend. Then, take the pipe apart and extract any debris. Once it’s clean, put the pipe back together and wash it out with hot water.

If trying to clear the line and P-trap doesn't clear the blockage, check 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 household pest. If this also doesn’t work, you may want to get a hold of a knowledgeable professional for plumbing repair in Lansing to make sure there isn’t a bigger problem with your plumbing.

3. Why Is the Water from My Sink So Cloudy?

Quite often, cloudy or white-looking water is a result of air bubbles in the water. Normally, this is innocuous and can often clear up on its own. It may be because of a water company doing work on the lines, or a close-by construction project.

One way to check 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 dissipate and the water will eventually go back to being clear. If the water is still cloudy after 24 hours, you may have another predicament and will want to consult a professional for assistance.

The off-colored water also could be caused by high levels of minerals in the water in your home. Excessive minerals collect until they impact the water’s appearance and taste, in which case a water softener may help resolve the issue. It can counter hard-water buildup from ruining your pipes and producing the distasteful cloudy water.

If cloudy water becomes a stubborn problem, consider clearing out the aerator, which is a screen at the end of your faucet. Use a water and vinegar mixture to eliminate any debris or blockages. If that doesn’t work either, you probably will want to seek advice from a skilled plumber and let them work toward a solution.

4. Why Won't My Sink Stop Leaking?

The reason for a leak or water drip directly below a sink is usually because a plumbing fixture has broken down or malfunctioned. Occasionally, it’s caused by a clog blocking the line.

Here are a few of the more typical causes of sink leaks and how you can repair them:

  • Loose Connections: One of the most frequent causes of a drip underneath the sink is a result of loose connections between pipes, fixtures and hoses. If any fixture has not been securely tightened, or if it was not sealed adequately in its fitting, water can simply 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 see water seeping from the sides of the handle or base of the faucet, it’s very likely that a new washer is necessary.
  • Corroded Pipes: The pipes underneath a sink can corrode over time, leading to weak spots and cracks. Corrosion is particularly common when working with older or inexpensive materials, so it's important to keep an eye out for any signs of degradation in order to avoid a major leak.
  • Plugged Drains: A clogged drain can cause water to back up and start leaking from the seal. It's crucial to look for any indications of blockage and to clear away any debris that may be inhibiting water flow.

5. Why Is My Sink Water Brown?

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

In some cases, the water can be discolored from silt or clay particles that have been stirred up from service on the water line or your plumbing. If you buy your water from a municipal utility company, be sure to contact them to inform them of the discoloration. They should be able to tell you if there has been any recent activity on the water lines.

A knowledgeable plumber in Lansing can help you establish if the discoloration is coming from a rusting pipe that needs to be replaced, or if a filtration system may improve the unsightly problem.

6. Why Is My Sink Draining Slow?

The most common reason for a sink to drain slow is a partial clog in the pipes. Hair and soap scum are likely suspects 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 clear away a partial clog is with a plunger. If there’s no standing water in the sink, allow it to fill 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 get the job done, you may have to use a plumbing snake—a long, thin chunk of plastic—to put down your pipe to attach to the clog so you can pull it out. Sometimes, these are known as plumbing weasels.
  • Chemical Clog Remover: Multiple chemical clog removers are available to break down blockages in sink pipes. Be certain to follow all directions, and that any brand you buy won’t damage your home’s pipes or the basin in your sink.