Do you remember the day when you purchased your first home? Besides your wedding day and the birth of your children, it was one of
the most exciting days of your life. The honeymoon period lasted for a while as you ate pizza by candlelight, slept on the floor and unpacked boxes. All seemed to be going well when all of sudden you were faced with your first plumbing issue. Maybe it was a leaky shower head, loss of water pressure or a cracked pipe. You knew that calling a professional plumber was expensive and figured the problem was something you could fix yourself. But there was only one problem, you didn’t know anything about plumbing. While that first experience was forgettable, the good news is that there are some basic skills that can save you the hassle in the future.
You Don’t Need Chemicals to Remove Clogs
Clogs are something every homeowner is bound to deal with at some point. Whether it’s hair in the
bathroom sink or food
scraps caught in your garbage disposal, clogs are annoying. When they happen you’re probably tempted to reach for that bottle of Drano, but using it can actually do more harm than good to your plumbing system.
More often than not, you can remove a clog with a small drain
snake. Hand held drain snakes are easy to use and highly effective at removing clogs. All you have to do is insert the pliable end and crank it down your drain. Once you’ve found and pushed through the clog, just retract the snake and the clog should be attached at the end.
If the shower or tub is clogged, it's usually hair that over time has accumulated in the drain or attached to the strainer. You will
need to roll up your sleeves, take the strainer off the shower or the overflow plate off the tub, and clean out the hair. Using a mini hand snake can help you with this project. It's not a fun job and definitely not for people with weak stomachs, but can save you a lot of money by doing it yourself.
Take Care of Leaks Right Away
When you turn off a faucet and a steady drip,
drip, drip continues, it’s all too easy to not think much of it. The reality is however, it could be a sign of a larger issue and you’re literally flowing money down the drain. Leaky faucets and pipes can waste up to ten gallons of water a day. That’s 300 gallons of water a month and you’re sure to notice it when you water bill shows up.
Speaking of Leaks
The truth is that most of your plumbing isn’t visible to the naked eye. Most of your pipes are tucked behind walls, under floors or
even underground. As a result, it’s possible for you to have leaks and not even know it. The good news is if you know what to look for and make checking for leaks a regular habit, they’re easier to detect.
If you notice damp spots around your hot
water heater, connective lines, on the floor or in your walls, it’s a good sign you might have a leak somewhere in the vicinity. With a little research and knowhow, fixing these leaks is something you can do yourself in most instances.
Don’t Over-Tighten Fittings
Whenever you’re doing a project that involves connecting pipes or fittings, the tendency is make sure that everything is ratcheted down tight. After all, the last thing you want is a seal that
isn’t watertight, right? Sort of. While it’s important to make sure all your fittings are secure, you need to be careful not to overdo it. Even though you might be tempted to see the whites of your knuckles while you’re twisting that wrench, doing so can lead to stripped screws and broken bolts. So, just how tight is tight enough? As a general rule of thumb, you should tighten down your fittings by hand and finish it off with a couple of cranks with your wrench. Of course, using the right pipe thread sealant for the right pipe material can help.
Know Where Your Shutoff Valves Are
Plumbing emergencies can pop up out of nowhere. Pipes can burst, drains can clog and you’ll need to get the
water shut off as quickly as possible to prevent catastrophic damage inside your home. Since accidents can happen at any time, make sure you know where your main shutoff valve is for your water and your gas.
Invest in a Plunger
If you have just one plumbing tool in your home, it should be a
high-quality plunger. Good ones don’t cost very much money and they can get you out of all sorts of jams. Whether you end up with a clogged toilet, sink or need to clean your trap, a simple plunger can work wonders in displacing water from problem areas and freeing blockages within your plumbing system. There’s no question that plumbing problems come up that require the work of a professional. If this weren’t the case, plumbers would be out of business. With that being said, the majority of common plumbing issues that occur are ones you can take care of yourself. So, before you spend hundreds or thousands of dollars fixing a minor problem, do a little research see if it’s something you can tackle on your own. You just might be surprised.