For many of us, the plumbing in our houses is a daunting and intimidating thing to solve, with its maze of pipes and plethora of available tools.
Though it’s difficult to fully understand the inner workings of all these systems, there are plenty of simple, easy to understand fixes that you can do yourself -– these will save you a fair chunk of change when you next call the plumber.
The small fixes and pieces of advice shown below come from experienced plumbers such as Victoria plumbing, as well as many home fixers who have been saved from spending more money than they had to.
Old showerheads not working as they used to years ago? Thankfully, it is pretty easy to get back that lovely water pressure you forgot you needed. Oftentimes, low pressure in old showerheads come from clogging caused by scales or lime buildup.
Using a toothbrush, some soap and a little elbow grease, scrub off the nozzle and use your fingers to remove the loosened debris. Once that is done, soak the showerhead in vinegar by either removing the showerhead or tying a vinegar-filled bag around the showerhead.
After leaving it soaking for a couple of hours, remove the filter screen from the pivot ball with a pair of nose pliers. Washing the filter under running water, you can also use a brush to remove the more difficult hard deposits on the filter.
If you realize all your drains are draining unnaturally slow, that could indicate a huge buildup and it would be better to leave such cleaning to the professionals. You might need to have your drains cleaned. Drain cleaning is the process of removing obstructions from a drain or sewage system. This is ideally done at least once a year to prevent clogs from forming.
However, if it’s just one drain out of place, it is still possible for you to unclog it yourself. Here are some ways to remove it:
Using half a cup of table salt and another half a cup of baking soda, pour the contents into the slow drain, follow up with another half a cup of vinegar down the same drain and leave it for about half an hour. The chemical reaction will help loosen up the debris that blocks up the drain.
After which, pour some hot water into the drain for 3 minutes. Keep repeating these steps until the drain is cleared.
Alternatively, a tool called a drain snake helps to pull the clog out. A drain snake, also known as a plumbing auger, is a flexible rod with a small auger or corkscrew on the end. It can be inserted into the drain to break up and remove blockages
Plunging the drain snake up and down a couple of times will usually do the trick. Do know that it’s a messy process, so be prepared to see some gunk.
Dishwasher and washing machine hoses lose their integrity over time, hence it’s important to check their condition if you realize flooding or leaking is occurring. Swapping these hoses every 3 years ensures that the hoses are always in good condition.
It is important to note that when buying new hoses, take note of the size and type of fitting you need for your replacement hoses. You don’t want to have to go back when you realize that you have the wrong diameter or fitting!
The house water shut off valve is an integral part of your plumbing system, and it is important to know where it is should you need to perform works on your plumbing system. It connects your house plumbing to the external water supply from your home.
You should be able to find your water shut off valve located in the basement or ground floor of your house. If it has a round handle, rotate the valve several times to close; if it has a straight handle, close it shut at 90 degrees.
If you’re still unable to locate the main water shut-off valve, you may need to call a plumber or your local water utility company for assistance. They’ll be able to help you locate the valve and provide further instructions on how to shut off the water supply to your home.
There are many fittings and connections in your plumbing system, and it is important to look out for leaks in these areas in particular. Fittings that rely solely on rotating knobs to seal are oftentimes the sources of many leaks, as they are either under or over tightened.
When tightening, remember to only tighten as far as the grooves allow. Additionally, you may consider wrapping fittings in Teflon tape –– also known as plumbers tape –– to create a tighter fit on the connections.
Leaky connections can be a nuisance and can lead to water damage if not repaired promptly. If the leak is more significant or the pipe is damaged, you may need to replace the entire section of pipe. This will require cutting out the damaged section and installing a new piece of pipe using fittings and connectors.
The garbage disposal in your sink clears the food waste you dispose of down the sink drain by dicing up the waste into smaller, fine particles so it can pass through the drain into the sewer system.
A telltale sign that your garbage disposal is clogged or not working as it should is a putrid smell coming from the sink.
When performing works on the garbage disposal, it is vital that you turn off the power or unplug the garbage disposal and make sure any residue current has left the system.
This is to prevent accidental activation of the garbage disposal which could result in injuries. Next, check the drain from the sink and the garbage disposal system if there are any utensils trapped within the system.
Everyone in the family should know what should never be thrown in the garbage disposal. These items are grease, oil, bones, and fibrous foods (such as celery). These items can clog the disposal and cause damage. Grind up a few ice cubes to help sharpen the blades and remove any stuck-on food particles.
Planning to do a plumbing job to save a bit of money, and looking for a day to set aside for it? Any day is fine, except for Sunday. Try and avoid Saturdays too, unless you’re confident in your abilities and that you have all the right fittings.
Plumbing fitting and supply stores often close early (or not even open!) on Sundays, and the last thing you need is to go to the plumbing store to fix a fitting on your water heater and realize the store is closed,
leaving you with a disassembled water heater instead of a functional but badly working one. You can never tell when you realize you’re missing a part that you need or you got the wrong fitting, and you should give yourself as much leeway as possible to make sure you can get the job done.
There are quite a few things that even you can do to fix some of the common plumbing issues –– all you need is a couple of tools and a willingness to get your hands a little dirty.
Just remember that doing plumbing yourself comes with risks of injury (and possibly even death, at worst), and thus you need to take all the proper measures to ensure your safety. Remember to switch off any electricity before doing any works.