Frustrated by clogged sinks, leaking taps and other household plumbing problems? Don’t despair! In this blog by My Plumber, you can learn how to fix common plumbing issues yourself. Read on to learn simple steps to repair your home’s plumbing with ease.
Tools You’ll Need to Fix Your Plumbing Problems
When attempting to repair minor plumbing issues in your home, it is important to ensure that you have the correct tools available. Gather any necessary items ahead of time to make your plumbing repair work quick and easy.
The basic tools you will need for repairing common plumbing problems include:
- An adjustable wrench – Used for turning pipes and removing faucets.
- Plumbing pliers – Used to tighten or remove nuts, bolts, pipes and fittings.
- Pipe wrench – Used for disconnecting and connecting pipes of various sizes.
- Plunger – A plunger is used to create suction in the drain line and loosen a blockage in the pipe.
- Hand auger or snake – This tool is essential for clearing out clogged drains.
- Water pump pliers – These are especially helpful when working with narrow spaces as they can adjust from small fittings through larger fixtures with ease.
- Basin wrench – This tool is designed to reach around sinks from underneath so you can easily remove nuts on faucets without having an awkward angle.
Having these items readily available will make fixing minor issues in your home’s plumbing safer, quicker and easier.
Fixing a Leaky Faucet
A leaky faucet is not only annoying, but it can also cause a significant waste of water if not promptly fixed. Fortunately, most plumbing fixtures in the home are relatively easy to repair, and it may be possible to save yourself some money by doing the work yourself. Before attempting any repairs, however, you should take the following steps:
- Turn off the water supply to the fixture. This is usually located beneath the sink or at a shut-off valve near the fixture.
- Unscrew and remove any decorative pieces on the faucet and look for screws that are holding parts of the fixture in place. These must also be removed before you can begin repairs.
- Remove all of the parts from around and beneath your sink, such as drain traps, drain lines or knob covers before beginning repairs on your faucet.
- Check for any corrosion or blockage before performing any further work.
- Inspect all of your O-rings for signs of wear or damage – if necessary, replace these with identical parts from your local plumbing supply store prior to continuing with repairs.
Once these steps are completed you should be ready to begin repairing your faucet; depending on what kind of leaking problem you have will dictate how extensive (or minor) your repair job needs to be. While more extensive jobs require more extensive knowledge and understanding of home plumbing systems, basic leaks can generally be easily repaired without professional assistance by following manufacturer’s instructions included in most repair kits purchased from a hardware store or online retailer.
Repairing a Running Toilet
A running toilet is one of the most common plumbing problems homeowners run into. Fortunately, it’s often an easy repair and requires minimal tools to fix. The most likely culprit is a faulty flapper, which is the rubber seal inside the tank located in the center of where the flush lever connects to the chain holding up the flapper. With this kind of issue, you will hear a continuous flow of water coming from your toilet; this may not be very loud but can quickly become expensive if left unchecked.
To diagnose this issue, take off your tank lid and observe how water enters then leaves your tank; if it’s staying inside old or worn-out parts, then you know it’s time to replace them.
To fix a running toilet:
- Turn off your water at the shut-off valve (typically located behind your toilet)
- Remove your tank lid and use a towel or cup to catch excess water
- Disconnect chain from flush handle to remove flapper
- Scrub clean any sediment buildup around flapper area
- Place new flapper in same position as old one and reattach chain ensuring connecting rod has a slight upwards inclination
- Install new flush handle washer and spacer before reattaching flush handle
- Turn on valve behind toilet
- Test functionality
- Enjoy a quiet working toilet!
Unclogging a Drain
If a sink or toilet is slow to drain or completely clogged, it is likely caused by a buildup of debris such as hair, soap scum, grease, food particles, and other organic matter. In these cases, the first step in unclogging the drain would be to use a plunger.
For toilets with shallow-set drains, insert the plunger into the bowl and firmly pump up and down several times to force the blockage out. If this doesn’t work after several attempts, you can move on to chemical means and pour baking soda followed by white vinegar into the drain; let it sit for one hour before flushing with boiling water.
If these efforts are unsuccessful or if your shower or bathtub has a long vertical pipe (overflow pipe), then using a snake or auger may be necessary. Put on rubber gloves and first clear any visible clogs from inside the overflow pipe; then connect your snake/auger onto your drill and follow manufacturer instructions for inserting it into the drain. After carefully reaching past dirt and debris until you feel resistance that indicates you’ve reached whatever is causing your blockage, gently pull back and remove it. Finally inspect all parts of your drain for additional build up before flushing with hot water.
Dealing with Low Water Pressure
Low water pressure is a common plumbing issue that decreases the amount of water flowing from your faucets and causes the shower to run slowly and perform poorly. Identifying and diagnosing the cause of the flow restriction can be difficult. Generally, there are four potential causes that could be behind weak water pressure at home – sediment buildup in pipes, clogged aerators, frozen pipes or corroded pipes.
To diagnose this problem further, it’s a good idea to check each of these areas:
- Firstly, check if sediment has built up in your faucet or other household plumbing fixtures – these need to be flushed out as soon as possible in order to restore water pressure.
- Secondly, inspect any clogged aerators which are designed to direct water but can block the flow when blocked with debris and mineral deposits.
- Then check any frozen pipes that may have burst due to a sudden drop in temperature overnight – if left undiscovered for too long, this could lead to serious damage throughout your whole plumbing system.
- Finally, inspect any corroded pipes inside walls or under floors – if rust is darkening the copper then replacement may need to take place before restoring full water pressure back into your home.
Once each of these areas has been addressed independently then you should find that water pressure returns without having any further work done!
Fixing a Garbage Disposal
Knowing how to repair a clogged, jammed, or noisy garbage disposal can help save time and money. A few simple steps can often help you diagnose and address any issues that may arise quickly.
The following are general steps to take when attempting to repair a garbage disposal:
- Unplug the power source. This is important for safety, as the wiring and/or motor may be damaged if power is left on while trying to diagnose or repair the issue yourself.
- Check for debris in the hopper. The hopper should be clear of all debris before you attempt to make repairs so that it doesn’t get stuck or jam again after repairs have been made.
- Test your switch or reset button. If your switch is faulty, you will need to replace it before attempting further repairs. Reset buttons with flip covers can sometimes be reset from under the sink; otherwise, disconnect it from the wall and replace it with an identical switch before restoring power back on.
- Check for clogs in pipes leading out of the sink drain or into other parts of the house plumbing system such as vent pipes leading away from your garbage disposal system etc.. Determine if blockages are present by changing water pressure via a plunger in various locations until the blockage is located and removed if needed manually with tweezers / wire etc..
- Check belts and sprockets of motor inside disposal unit itself – loosen set screws so these components can be pulled away/inspected/cleaned if needed as dirty/damaged belts & sprockets can cause a jammed appliance too! Replace any worn pieces then retighten screws back down once done inspecting them ensure they are fully secure inside unit before turning device back on again at wall so there’s no chance of foreign objects entering during use again later down road!
Addressing Frozen Pipes
When water inside a pipe freezes, it expands, putting pressure on any pipe that is nearby. Over time this pressure can cause the pipes to crack or burst. If left unchecked, frozen pipes can cause costly damage and disrupt your household’s water supply. To address frozen pipes quickly and prevent further damage, there are two main strategies: thawing the pipe using heat or by preventing the frozen area from expanding by using an external clamp.
Thawing with Heat: To thaw the pipe with heat, locate the frozen area of the pipe and apply heat to it using an electric heating pad wrapped around the section of pipe, an electric hair dryer (on a low setting), hot wet towels applied to the surface of the frozen area or even a space heater in a small enclosed space (like a closet). Do not use an open flame as this presents a fire hazard – especially in closed areas. Once you begin applying heat to freeze section of pipe, begin slowly moving along its length to ensure that all of the ice has melted and that you haven’t just created new blockage further down stream in your plumbing system.
Clamping: To prevent further loss in your piping system due to increased strain caused by expansion from freezing liquid within it, you can also wrap frozen areas with something like rope caulk – sometimes referred to as “pipe rescue tape“. This product wraps tightly around any given length within your plumbing system and is intended to prevent further expansion due to freezing temperatures outside or within your home. This should be done before attempting thawing your piping with any kind of method utilizing heat as trying to apply rope caulk after melting has already occurred is rendered useless since binding forces have already been lost due to overelaxation through expansion and contraction of your piping system’s materials based on cold temperatures outside or inside your home.
Learning how to fix common plumbing issues can save you time and money. From fixing a leaky faucet to unclogging a sink, these quick tips and tricks will enable you to make the necessary repairs yourself.
Thoroughly inspect your home’s water system and contact a professional if there are any complex or hazardous issues that require additional work or specialized equipment. Don’t forget to read the instructions carefully before making any repairs and make sure you are wearing protective gear while tackling plumbing tasks.
By properly equipping yourself with the right tools, materials, knowledge, and safety precautions, you will be able to tackle common home plumbing problems like a pro!
Frequently Asked Questions
What tools do I need to fix plumbing issues?
To repair common home plumbing issues yourself, you will need a few basic tools including a pipe wrench, adjustable wrench, pliers, adjustable pliers, a hacksaw, and a variety of screwdrivers. You may also need some additional supplies such as pipe sealant, plumbing putty, teflon tape, and a plumbing snake.
What are some common home plumbing issues?
Common home plumbing issues include a leaking sink, clogged drain, running toilet, and a broken water heater. Other common issues include a leaking pipe, low water pressure, and faucet leaks.
How do I prevent plumbing issues from happening?
To prevent plumbing issues from occurring, ensure that all of your plumbing fixtures are properly installed and maintained. Additionally, check your pipes and fixtures regularly for any signs of wear and tear and replace them as needed. Make sure to use non-corrosive cleaners on all of your plumbing fixtures and avoid pouring grease, oils, or fats down any drain. Finally, always check for any leaks or blockages in your pipes.
Andrew Lee is the founder of My Plumber. He has been in the industry for over 20 years and has extensive experience in all aspects of plumbing. He also enjoys sharing his knowledge with others and has written several articles and given talks on plumbing.