Handy Plumbing Tips and Tricks

Handy Plumbing Tips and Tricks

Are you a homeowner struggling with DIY plumbing repairs? Fear not! Learn essential tips and tricks from this article to ensure that your home’s plumbing gets the care it needs without any hassle. You can easily solve common plumbing problems in no time and with no stress!

Knowing the Location of Your Main Water Shutoff Valve

For most homeowners, locating the main water shutoff valve of your home’s plumbing system can be a daunting task. Knowing where this valve is located can help save time and money should a plumbing emergency arise.

In most cases, the shutoff valve is located near the point at which the main water line enters your home. This is usually in an unfinished area, such as a basement or an upstairs crawl space, or in a utility room near the washing machine or hot water heater. If you cannot locate it there, it may be outside along the base of an external wall next to an outdoor spigot.

If you suspect your home may have more than one main water shutoff valve, check with your local municipality or fire department to find out what exact valves are present in your house and how to use them properly. In some cases, you may need to contact a licensed plumber if you cannot locate any valves.

Making sure that you are familiar with how and where your main shutoff valves are located and understand how to use them properly can help prevent serious damage due to leaking pipes or flooding from broken pipes elsewhere in your home’s plumbing system should such emergencies occur.

Using Plumbers Tape

Plumbers tape, also referred to as thread seal tape or “PTFE tape” (polytetrafluoroethylene) is primarily used for sealing pipe threads. It helps to keep a tight seal between two connected parts, and prevents air and water from leaking out. It’s easy to use and can be wrapped around any threaded connection with a few simple steps.

  1. Start by cleaning out the area around the threads of each connection until it is clean and dry. This will help ensure that there are no obstructions in between them and increase the likelihood of a secure connection.
  2. Cut off an appropriate length of plumber’s tape (about 10-13 inches) and begin to wrap it around the threaded portion. Start wrapping at the end nearest you, then move up slowly in a clockwise direction. Make sure that the tape is snug against each thread so that there is no excess overlap or slack at any point while you wrap it around.
  3. Once you have finished wrapping it once, give the entire assembly one more turn in a clockwise direction before finishing up with a short counterclockwise wrap near its beginning point. This will help ensure that everything stays in place during construction and act as an extra precaution against anything coming undone due to vibrations or pressure changes later on down the line.
  4. Finally, use your thumb and make sure every single coil is pressed firmly into place with no gaps or bubbles remaining behind (as this could cause leaks). Tighten all components by hand before using tools like wrenches if applicable – this should create an even tighter fit without risking damage from over-tightening! Now your installation work should be complete and ready for use!

Keeping an Emergency Plumbing Kit

It is important to be prepared for any possible plumbing emergency. An emergency plumbing kit can come in handy if you ever experience a burst pipe, leaking faucet, clogged drain, stopped-up toilets, and other plumbing related mishaps. A basic kit should contain the following items:

  • Plunger: This will be your go-to tool for clearing out clogs in drains and sinks.
  • Adjustable wrench: This handy tool will help you to make repairs on the spot.
  • Flange pliers: Used for loosening and tightening nuts and bolts.
  • Pipe wrench: A must have for turning or levering off fittings such as flanges or plugs.
  • Basin wrench: Used when space is tight such as underneath a sink or lavatory basin.
  • Teflon tape: Popularly known as “plumber’s tape,” it can be used for anything that involves wrapping pipe threads with a watertight seal.
  • Bucket/towels/sponge: For catching dripping water from pipes or hose connections when replacing items in the bathroom or kitchen, these waterproof items are essential.

It is also recommended that you keep vinegar, baking soda, drain cleaners (such as Drano), pipe fittings (elbows corners and tees), copper hangers, tubing cutters and soldering materials in case of more severe emergencies involving broken pipes or more extensive repairs beyond what an emergency repair kit can provide. Having all of these supplies at hand may help to save time and money when emergencies strike!

Unclogging Drains Naturally

If you’re looking for an alternative to chemical-based drain cleaners, there are a few natural solutions you can try to effectively unclog your drains.

  • Baking Soda and Vinegar: This classic combination can be used to tackle any clog – large or small. Start by pouring 1/2 cup of baking soda down the drain followed by 1 cup of distilled white vinegar. Cover the drain and let it sit for 30 minutes so the mixture can break down the clog. Then flush with hot water.
  • Boiling Water: Boiling water won’t dissolve everything, but it will help loosen greasy clogs or move more stubborn blockages further down the drain line where they’ll be easier to clear out later. Pour at least 1 gallon of boiling hot water directly into the drain and wait until all of it has shifted through before flushing with cold water.
  • Coat Hanger: If your drain is sluggish, you may have an accumulation of gunk caught deep in your pipes or even a foreign object blocking your path. Use a coat hanger wire (or stiff plumber’s snake) to manually dislodge any obstructions from your pipes by creating a hook at one end and cutting off any excess material from the other end with wire cutters. Simply feed this hook into your pipe as far as possible and start fishing! Be careful not to push too hard if you feel resistance – this could cause more damage than good.

Protecting Pipes From Freezing

Protecting your pipes from freezing temperatures can prevent major damage and costly repairs. Here are some easy tips on protecting your pipes against frozen temperatures and eliminating the need for a professional plumber:

  1. Seal and insulate exposed pipes: If you have exposed pipes running through your house, consider adding insulation and taking advantage of products like heat tape, foam covers or pipe sleeves to protect them from the elements.
  2. Insulate unheated areas of your home: You may not think about insulating crawl spaces, attics or basements but these unheated areas may be vulnerable during cold months. Consider adding insulation or using space heaters where possible to protect those areas.
  3. Allow a trickle of cold water to run through faucets: This is especially important when temperatures drop below freezing as it helps keep water flowing slowly through the pipes, preventing icy blocks which could increase pressure build-up and cause burst pipes.
  4. Let warm air in: If you have any drafts into your basement, make sure to close them off or use a dehumidifier if necessary to keep warm air circulating throughout the home. Even allowing natural sunlight in will help keep warm our exposed pipes, helping prevent freezing temperatures from infiltrating them.

Maintaining Your Garbage Disposal

Garbage disposals are a great way to keep your kitchen clean and free from unpleasant odors, but they require regular maintenance to ensure they stay in top condition. Here are some tips for keeping your garbage disposal running smoothly:

  • Every month, pour a generous amount of dish soap down the disposal, then let hot water run for a full minute afterwards. This will help remove odor-causing bacteria.
  • Be sure that only soft food items such as pasta, rice, oatmeal and eggs are put through the appliance; avoid tough scraps like animal bones or fruit pits that can cause jams or clogs.
  • To sharpen the blades of your disposal and maintain its proper functioning, freeze several ice cubes in vinegar, then grind them in the disposal while running cold water continuously.
  • If you notice an unpleasant odor emanating from your garbage disposal despite proper care, try placing half an orange or lemon under the grinding plates once every few weeks; this will help get rid of particularly stubborn odors by degreasing them.

Following these steps will help keep your garbage disposal clean and effective for years to come!

Cleaning Your Showerhead

Regular maintenance of your showerhead is key to maintaining a strong, steady stream of water and preventing clogs and mineral build up. This guide will explain the steps necessary to properly clean your showerhead so you can enjoy consistent pressure without having to call in a professional.

  1. Remove the showerhead from the wall by unscrewing it with a wrench or an adjustable-mouth stretcher pliers. (If it won’t easily come off, you may need to use some WD-40 or a similar product.)
  2. Place the shower head in a bowl or tub filled with a vinegar solution and leave it overnight. This should help dissolve any mineral deposits that have built up in the head over time or as part of regular wear and tear.
  3. Rinse the showerhead under running water for at least one minute before returning it to its original position on the wall.
  4. If you find that there is still significant blockage due to built-up minerals, fill the bowl again with vinegar solution and let stand for several minutes before repeating step 3. You may need to do this several times before all of the minerals are dissolved enough that they don’t clog your showerhead anymore! Remember, never mix chemicals when trying to clean something!
  5. Check on your showerhead every few weeks going forward, and if you find more build up, repeat steps 2-4 until all debris has been removed completely!

Preserving the Life of Your Water Heater

Water heaters are an essential component of many homes and proper maintenance can help ensure they last longer and operate reliably. Especially in hard water areas, corroding sediment buildup can reduce the efficiency of the heater. To help preserve the life of your water heater, here are a few tips you can follow:

  1. Flush your tank every six months to avoid sediment buildup. If you live in a hard water area, or if you notice that sediment has built up over time, flush your tank every three months.
  2. Have your temperature setting at or below 120F/50C. Setting it too high may cause damage to pipes due to overheating and increase energy use unnecessarily.
  3. Insulate the hot water pipes leading from the water heater to conserve energy used for hot showers and baths by reducing heat loss through the walls of uninsulated piping.
  4. Replacing any malfunctioning parts on your water heater such as heating elements or thermostats which can be done safely with some basic knowledge of plumbing systems and following instructions found in manuals available online or supplied with the appliance when purchased new.
  5. Check back on all seals regularly and anywhere else where there might be leakage around connections (e.g flexible hose connections). Leaking water can contribute to corrosion as well as unnecessary energy waste due to inefficient usage caused by leaks so it’s important to stay up on these regularly while doing preventative maintenance checks on all appliances which involve pressurized fluids or gases.

Properly Insulating Pipes

To effectively prevent your pipes from freezing and other potential plumbing issues, proper insulation of your pipes is essential. It is important to measure the length of the pipe and buy enough insulation, as cutting it down can make it less effective. The most common types of insulation are made from foam or rubber and come in either a split or pre-slit form.

In order to install the pre-slit insulation, you will need to slide the two pieces into place around your pipe with a gap between each piece, being sure to ensure a snug fit so that no cold air can escape. To do this correctly, start by wrapping one end of the pipe and then tape it tightly before you start to wrap around and secure it with additional tape every 5–10 inches.

When working with split type foam or rubber insulation, measure the size of your pipes so that you purchase enough material for both sides of them. Make sure you:

  • Cut proper sized sections for wrapping each side (with at least an extra inch on either end).
  • Get rid of any excess adhesive off the ends.
  • Press firmly together for a tight fit.
  • Tape up both ends securely.

Be sure not to leave any gaps between the two pieces; this will reduce its effectiveness in keeping out cold air and cause potential plumbing issues down the road.

Understanding Basic Plumbing Principles for Diy Repairs

Learning about basic plumbing principles is an important first step for any do-it-yourself repair project. Many common plumbing problems can be avoided by understanding the components and how they work together to maintain a safe and proper water flow in your home.

The three main components of a plumbing system are pipes, fixtures and valves. Pipes are typically made from copper or plastic, each of which has pros and cons associated with it. Fixtures like sinks, toilets and showers carry water in or out of the pipes, while valves regulate the flow of water through the system.

Apart from understanding the basics of a plumbing system, it’s also important to know what kind of tool you’ll need for specific tasks such as soldering pipes, unclogging a drain or replacing a faulty faucet. In most cases, items such as adjustable wrenches (or crescent), Allen wrenches (or hex keys), pliers and various types of screwdrivers come in handy when doing simple repairs on your own.

Knowing where to locate shutoff valves around your home is another essential skill for DIYers who wish to tackle repairs on their own. These are often placed near main appliances like sinks, toilets, showers etc., allowing you to quickly shut off the water supply when minor leaks occur without having to resort to calling a professional plumber.

Lastly, before starting any project make sure to read up on safety guidelines regarding protective wear such as gloves or glasses as well as other precautions you should observe inside your home before embarking on DIY plumbing repairs.


Finally, always remember the importance of taking out insurance for any plumbing job you may be doing. The cost of repair or replacement of pipes and appliances can be very high, and having insurance to cover these costs is essential. Even if you’re doing the work yourself, unexpected issues may arise down the line that require costly repairs which could put your home budget under pressure. Speak with a qualified insurance provider today to make sure you are covered for any eventuality.

In conclusion, there are many benefits to knowing more about DIY plumbing and having reliable tips and tricks at your disposal. By brushing up on some basic skills now, you can save money in future repairs and really get to grips with all the components of your home plumbing system.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some common plumbing problems?

Some of the most common plumbing problems include clogged drains, leaking pipes, running toilets, and low water pressure.

What is the most effective way to unclog a drain?

The most effective way to unclog a drain is to use a plunger. If that doesn’t work, you can try using a chemical drain cleaner.

How often should I check for leaking pipes?

You should check for leaking pipes at least once a year. It’s also a good idea to inspect your plumbing system for any signs of damage after any major storms or floods.