You don’t need to be a licensed professional to fix all of the plumbing problems that crop up at home. All you need is know-how and the right tools for the situation. This can save you quite a bit of money in the long run and take care of some problems immediately instead of waiting for a professional to tell you it’s an easy fix. If you do need a pro, Ben Franklin is happy to rush over and get the job done, no matter what the size. But a lot of simply plumbing tasks can be completed cheaply and easily by doing it yourself.
Perhaps the most effective tools for stopping big problems while they’re still small are simple preventative checks on your plumbing. Make a yearly checklist of all of your plumbing fixtures, drains and water-using appliances, and make note of the condition and operation of each item. Some simple things, like a faucet aerator or water supply line, may need to be replaced, but the cost will be a lot lower now for a small part, then after a huge accident when you need major repairs or remodeling due to water damage.
Here are a few items to add to your plumbing preventative maintenance checklist:
- Find out where your main water supply valves are should you need to shut off the water in a hurry.
- Look for any lime scale buildup or damage and remove it by rubbing half a lemon over them or using stronger cleaners.
- Don’t ignore what you think are “small problems.” Slow water, bad smells or constantly dripping taps are easier to take care of now rather than later.
- Stay away from using the cheapest materials/tools. If you can’t afford the best quality, then at least use middle of the road materials. This includes any washing soaps or cleaners you currently use. Even using a cheap toilet paper that isn’t as biodegradable as others can affect your plumbing.
- Own a plunger. As simple as that might sound, a good plunger can be quite useful in various plumbing problems. Most clogging or blockage can be sucked up and/or pushed through with a few pumps.
- Take caution with which items you put down your sink or flush in your toilets; you’re less likely to have a blockage that way. Never pour leftover cooking oils down your drains. Sanitary wipes, cotton swabs and other cotton-based toiletries should be thrown away and not flushed.
Have a leaky faucet? You don’t necessarily need a new one. More than likely you will only need a new seat washer or O-ring to restore the seal that has broken down in the fixture. O-rings are pretty cheap and easy to install with basic tools, depending on your faucet.
Leaks are no small thing, either. Even with a small drip, you would be surprised how much water that adds up to at the end of the day. As always, check all the parts of the faucet (even under the cabinet) to discover what may be the true cause of the leak.
If you’re tired of your faucet spraying you in the face rather than your hands, the best place to start would be with the aerator. Located at the tip of the faucet, the aerator diffuses the flow of water into droplets, creating a more steady flow to your water. Hard water can build up there, sending the stream anywhere but down. Most of these are easy to remove, clean and/or replace.
Leaking or Cracked Pipes
Pipes and joints that leak can be an even bigger issue, seeping into different areas and causing water damage or even mold growth. If you spot a small leak, use duct or leak-sealing tape to wrap it up until you can get a permanent fix. It’s quick and easy to solve. Use epoxy on leaky joints, making sure the area is clean and dry before you apply. Larger leaks can be stopped by attaching a pipe clamp over a piece of rubber covering the area until you can get a professional in to do repairs.
In the end, if disaster truly strikes, never hesitate to call a trusted plumber. Unless you really know what you are doing, some things are better left to the professionals. Have our number in a place where it’s easily attainable should anything happen.
Amanda Peters knows exactly where her home water shutoff valve is, and always has a five-gallon bucket on-hand for unexpected leaks. When she isn’t writing, she’s working on projects around her house and giving plumbing advice to her less handy friends and family.