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Simple Plumbing Fixes You Can Do

December 12th, 2012

Woman Mopping Up Leaking

Simple Plumbing Fixes You Can Do

Wouldn’t it help to know what plumbing fixes you could do yourself?  Some plumbing jobs, such as repiping the home, should be left to a professional plumber.  Others only seem like a lot of work, such as replacing the wax seal ring on a toilet, but can be completed in less than an hour.

What Needs a Plumber?

If it requires a permit, it will need a professional. You will need to check with your municipality as to whether you need one, but a good rule of thumb is that the following would require a permit:

  • Replacing a water heater
  • Replacing underground piping
  • Altering piping inside a ceiling or beneath a floor
  • Any plumbing in a new installation such as an addition
  • Any plumbing in a remodel when existing plumbing is to be relocated

Is the item needing repair under warranty?  If you had a hot water heater installed, and it’s still under warranty, ,you need them to send out a plumber.  If you attempt to do the work, you will void the warranty.

What Can You Repair?

With a simple tool kit, you can repair a lot.  What you need is a plunger, a pipe wrench, a sewer snake, and one of those little thin tools that either has a plunger handle on one side, and three pronged claw on the other.  The last tool will allow you to get things out of the sink drain without having to remove the pipe.

  • Unclogging a toilet – The plunger is usually your friend unless someone dropped their favorite toy truck down, and then flushed. There is a great resource at WikiHow showing various methods including using a wire coat hanger.
  • Unclogging a sink – Not everyone likes the idea of pouring harsh chemicals down.  For some natural methods, check out eHow that tells you how to use baking soda to quickly unclog a sink drain.
  • Repairing the garbage disposer – Most disposers came with a special hexagonal wrench.  Clean as much of the gunk out as possible, use the wrench in the special hole at the bottom of the disposer.  You then turn it like a crank.  Turn the water on and start back up the disposer.  Sometimes, there’s also a fuse button that you need to reset before it will power on.
  • Dripping sink – You will probably need a new washer.  There’s a great video at HGTV on fixing leaking faucets.
  • Rocking toilet  or Leaking toilet- you will need to go to the local hardware store and get a new wax seal.  Turn off the water, flush the toilet.  Loosen the bolts.  Get some really fluffy towels.  Have a friend help you lift the toilet straight up, and place down on the towels.  Remove the old wax seal, scraping as much as you can off of the floor.  Put down the new wax seal following the directions on the package (some request that you warm up the wax with a hair dryer first).  Put the toilet straight back down.  Tighten the bolts.  Now, the seal may take a few days to a week to properly seal.
  • Replace a sink faucet – Want to do a quick update to your kitchen or bath?  Go buy the fixture that you like.  Make certain you turn off the water to the house.  And then follow these detailed steps on HowStuffWorks.  Replacing a tub or shower faucet may be more work then you choose to do.

Keeping the Plumbing Happy

  1. Keep an eye out for trouble.  If something smells musty, take a closer look.  If the toilet rocks, it’s time to make a quick repair.
  2. Repair sooner rather than later.  Don’t wait until the minor problem becomes large and expensive.  A musty smell can turn into a squishy wall which can turn into a complete home repipe.
  3. Know where your water shut off is, and make certain you can turn it off.  If a pipe bursts and you have water flooding, you want to turn it off before major damage is done to other areas.
  4. Similarly, know how to turn off water to toilets, sinks, washing machines, refrigerators (if you have an ice maker built in), etc.
  5. Use strainers in your showers and tubs, and clean the hair out of them regularly.  This will save you from having to clean out these drains frequently.

If you have the time and the inclination, there are a number of simple plumbing fixes you can do.  If it’s not your thing, just have extra money in the budget for a plumber to come out. That’s what they’re there for.

What plumbing repairs do you do?

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