Home Plumbing Tips For Homeowners
Your toilet won’t stop running. The garbage disposal is jammed. A pipe sprung a leak.
What do you do??
Home plumbing emergencies can and will happen to everyone at some point in time. While professional plumbers like Mister Quik are here to help, you can repair many of the problems yourself, or at least stop them until the pros arrive. A little know-how goes a long way for homeowners.
Here are some tips and tricks for all you DIY plumbers:
Tools you need
If you have a toilet, you need a plunger. Just like toilet paper, it is something no home should be without. Add these other plumbing tools to your utility closet:
- Pipe wrench
- Crescent wrench
- Socket wrench & socket set
- Allen wrench set
- Channel-lock pliers
- Multi-bit screwdriver
- Putty knife
- 5-gallon bucket
- Old rags, washcloths & towels
- Rubber gloves
- Safety glasses
- Leak-stopping tapes (like duct tape and Teflon tape)
Now that your plumber’s kit is stocked, you are ready to take on any basic plumbing emergency. Water leaks are always messy, but they can also permanently damage a home. For this reason, make sure you know where your main water shut-off valve is located and how to turn the water on and off.
Taking a look in the bathroom, use these techniques to respond to common plumbing emergencies:
- Compression and isolation valves turn off water to components like sinks and toilets, without blocking supplies to the rest of the home. Open and close valve knobs on a regular basis to make sure they still work properly.
- Plungers can be used to unclog shower, tub and sink drains. Consider keeping a spare plunger on hand so you don’t have to use the toilet plunger on other components.
- If you have a double bowl sink that’s clogged, cover and seal the other drain to help increase a plunger’s pressure effect on the clog.
- Remove the drain stopper on a clogged tub to get a better look at what’s causing the clog.
- Water leaking from under a toilet may be a sign that you need to replace the wax seal. After cutting off the water supply, flush the toilet several times to remove excess water before detaching the bowl to reach the seal.
- Faucet leaks are caused by a number of issues. Knowing what type of faucet you have will make troubleshooting leaks and shopping for replacement parts easier.
- If a faucet is leaking hot water, shut off the main water supply and address the problem immediately. Hot water leaks can drain a home’s water heater and cause expensive damage to heating components.
- If you need to remove the trap underneath your kitchen sink to clear a clog, place a 5-gallon bucket or other container under the trap to catch water and debris.
- Know where the reset button is on the bottom of your garbage disposal. Also know how to use an Allen wrench to loosen a disposal jam.
- Dishwasher leaks often are caused by worn out drain hoses, float switches or gaskets. Identify these and other individual components inside your dishwasher to make locating leaks easier.
- New plumbing pipes rarely fail. If a pipe bursts in your basement, chances are it is old and/or corroded. Depending on the size of the damage, you can repair leaks with duct tape, pipe clamps, putty or new sections of pipe.
- If you have a sump pump installed, check the screen regularly for build-up. Clogged sump pumps can cause major flooding in basements.
- Water heaters do fail, so it’s important to learn how to inspect your system and know how to spot issues before they turn into problems.
- Locate the cause(s) of a damp or wet basement. Moisture can lead to mold and potential health problems. Moisture seeps in through cracks in walls and foundations, but also from gutter downspouts installed too close to the home.
- Regularly inspect clothes washer hoses, gaskets and other fittings to help prevent leaks. Make sure the washer is still level. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to replace that dryer duct every year.
- Most pipe failures occur in winter due to freezing temperatures. Allow a slow trickle of cold water from your faucets during winter nights to keep pipes from freezing.
- If your home has a septic system, make sure to have it pumped out and inspected regularly. Also limit the amounts of solids and food wastes that flow into the tank.
- Have Mister Quik’s contact information handy, just in case you can’t handle the emergency alone and need a professional plumber to come help!