03:52PM | 01/11/06
Member Since: 01/10/06
2 lifetime posts
I recently moved in with my boyfriend and have begun to notice some problems with his plumbing. We do not have the money to call a plumber so I am hoping I can do most of the fixing up.

First-I've notice that our kitchen sink gurgles and backs up sometimes. He told me that tree roots have begun to grow through the outdoor pipes. When we take showers or wash clothes the water backs up into the sink.

Second-I've noticed a puddle by the water heater. I inspected and the pilot light went out (what a way to start the day!). Water was dripping down the heater and I've noticed some water on the pipes leading to (or from) the heater itself. I'm at wits end. I have no clue what to do. I just know that I do not want to clean up any more water from around the tank.

Third-Our bathroom sink has extremely low pressure. I'm wondering if there is a clog in the pipes leading to the sink (the tub seems to have good pressure). I don't know how to tackle this either.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. I can supply pictures of our plumbing if it would help. I just need to figure this all out!

Thanks for any help you can offer.

you can contact me directly at:

Jim D

10:51PM | 01/11/06
Member Since: 01/06/01
345 lifetime posts
Carrie61682 - hi, I'm not a plumber but I've worked a few of these problems myself. Here's my suggestions/thoughts:

1. Pipe Blockage - if your boyfriend's pretty certain it's roots affecting the pipes, the temporary fix is to rent a pipe auger (a big plumber's snake with cutter blades on the end) and run it from the cleanout port towards the septic/sewer lines. It's only a temporary fix, as once the roots have breached the drainpipes, they'll grow back until you replace the drainpipes with new ones or until you remove the source of the roots. Is he certain it's not a blockage in the vent system for the plumbing? Those vents are typically on the roof - the round pipes with no caps. Birds building nests, heavy rains, etc., can partially block the vents and create similar problems. You can normally take a strong flashlight up on the roof and look down the pipe (remember, it'll have a sewer smell to it!) to see a blockage. A regular plumber's snake can also be run down the vent pipe and be used to clean out suspected blockages (just don't left the snake's cable fall out and down into the vent pipe!).

2. Water heater - you need to determine where the water is leaking from. If you're noticing water dripping down the tank, is it coming from the hot water line leaving the tank? It'd be on top of the tank and would be connected to the pressure relief valve (PRV). Maybe the valve is going bad, or maybe the solder joints where the pipes have been joined are going bad and need re-sweated (re-soldered). Once you know where the water's actually coming from, you can better determine what it'll take to fix it. The big-box home improvement stores (H-D and L-owes) sell decent DIY-level books on plumbing basics that include instructions on these types of repairs.

3. Low pressure - that could be either the water valves for the sink not being opened all the way or a clogged aerator (has a screen in it) on the end of the faucet spout. Is the pressure low for both hot and cold? Is it a single-handle faucet or does hot and cold each have their own handle? These kinds of details help us help you as the mechanics of the faucets can vary widely. The aerator should unscrew from the faucet spout - it might take a pair of pliers on it to get it started. You'd probably turn it in a clockwise direction as you look down at the top of the faucet spout which would turn the aerator left (left to loosen, right to tighten is the rule when working with most bolts or threaded connectors). Once it's out, test your faucet's pressure to see if you have an actual increase in the pressure! If not - then it's possibly the faucet's inner workings that need examined/repaired.

Again, a DIY book on plumbing is a reasonable investment (under $20) and will help you diagnose and fix many routine things. It can also help you avoid getting into a repair that's over your head and will cost a great deal to ultimately get fixed by a professional plumber. I hope this helps - good luck! Jim D/West Point, VA


12:06PM | 01/14/06
Member Since: 01/10/06
2 lifetime posts
Thank you for your help. I have fixed the water heater. I am going to start the rest soon.
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