The kitchen is the most widely used space within a home, serving as the ideal location for meals, gatherings and chores. But when a problem arises in the kitchen — whether it be from a clog below the kitchen sink or a malfunctioning dishwasher — major frustration (not to mention a foul odor) are likely to result.

Problems that go unaddressed too long could cause structural damage so it is important to remedy kitchen plumbing problems as soon as they are detected. This guide outlines the most common kitchen plumbing problems as well as actionable steps to help correct them.

Water under the kitchen sink  

Clogged kitchen sink drain: Rather than using chemical drain cleaners which can be corrosive and dangerous to touch, try plunging your clogged sink instead. Begin by filling your sink with a few inches of water to ensure your plunger get a good seal, hold a wet towel firmly over the unused drain to prevent it from splashing, then have at it. You can use a plumbing snake, too, if the plunger doesn’t work.

If the clog is unable to dislodge using a plunger or snake, then the clog might be in the P-trap or trap arm (this is especially likely if grease or coffee grounds are disposed of down the drain). To remove this clog, you’ll have to disassemble the unit after soaking up any standing water in the sink to avoid an additional mess.

Leaky kitchen sink faucet: To pinpoint the location of a faucet leak, begin by drying all supply pipes with a dry cloth or paper towel. Next, affix a dry paper towel to each fitting then briefly turn the water on. Doing this will show you exactly where the leak is occurring so that fittings can be tightened or replaced.

Corroded pipe fittings: If you’ve tried to loosen pipe fittings under your kitchen sink and have failed, you may have an issue with corroded pipes. Though this may complicate your plumbing procedure, you might be still be able to fix the problem on your own using pipe lubricant (or heat and a plumber’s candle) and a few solid wrenches. If you are still unable to dismantle your pipes after this, it may be time to call a professional plumberto assist you.

Malfunctioning garbage disposal  

Garbage disposal is jammed or won’t turn on: There are many things that can cause a garbage disposal to jam including avocado skin, bones or pieces of glass. If this is the case with your disposal, then you will have to dislodge the jam from the motor using an Allen wrench to manually turn the blades. If your unit does not have an Allen wrench socket, you can use a broom handle or other tool, but never use your hands to avoid injury.

Some garbage disposals also have a reset button that will need to be pressed before the unit will function again (usually located toward the bottom of the unit). If your garbage disposal still won’t turn on after the reset button has been pressed, it may be time to replace the unit as the motor is likely burnt out.

Garbage disposal leaks: Sometimes, a garbage disposal will leak, especially if the gaskets are worn or out of alignment. Though these leaks are fairly easy to locate and remedy, leaks from within the garbage disposal would require replacement of the entire unit.

Garbage disposal is excessively noisy: Noisy garbage disposals are often the result of loose mounting screws or other damaged components.  Though you can do your best to tighten up the mounting screws, many other components cannot be tightened or replaced. If the noise is caused by worn-out blades or flyweights, it may be time to replace your garbage disposal.

Dishwasher plumbing problems   

Dishwasher won’t fill or won’t stop filling: If your dishwasher is getting power but won’t fill, there could be a problem with the water supply system or a malfunctioning float (thus making it drain too quickly).

First, check that the hot water supply is connected (located under your kitchen sink). Unless there has been a recent kitchen remodel, then this is unlikely to be the case. More likely, it is a problem with your machine’s float or the part of your dishwasher that regulates water level. Check the float (typically located toward the front of the machine in the base of the unit) by lifting it up and down. You should hear a clicking noise by lifting the float which indicates that the piece is functional. Clean the float and the tube then replace all parts to see if the problem has been resolved.  A faulty float could also prevent your dishwasher from ceasing the fill cycle. It could also be a problem with the timer or the water inlet valve. You can use an inexpensive multimeter to check these electrical problems.

Dishwasher won’t drain or dishes come out dirty: If there’s an abundance of water left in the dishwasher base after the wash cycle has finished, there is likely a clog somewhere in the system. This can cause problems with the cleanliness of the dishes and should therefore be fixed as soon as possible.

Begin by removing the air gap cover from the back of the unit and the strainer from the base, then clean thoroughly. If this doesn’t fix the problem, then there may be a clog in the drain line (which can be cleared by moving the dishwasher out of the cabinet and dismantling the drain pipe just behind the unit) or the drain line valve may need replacing.

Whether designing a new kitchen or repairing problems with an existing system, knowing your way around your kitchen’s plumbing is vital to its functionality.

If you’ve been experiencing kitchen plumbing problems and need a little help getting through them, contact Bill Fenwick Plumbing. We’ve been serving Jacksonville for 45 years and look forward to helping you, too.