Are you a new homeowner with no idea of standard household maintenance and repairs? We’re not judging–it can be a lot to take on! You may run across problems with your air conditioning and weird electrical problems, but more than likely, the first issue you will face will be concerning your plumbing.
We’re going to give you a quick rundown of plumbing basics 101, how to identify these problems, and a few DIY solutions. Keep reading for more information!
When a drain is clear, it should allow water to pass quickly without collecting in the sink or tub. However, when there is some type of blockage or clog, you will begin to notice that water doesn’t drain. You may also begin to smell mildew or stale odors.
Typically, a clog forms with the collection of hair and soap. When this happens, you can attempt to dissolve the soap by pouring hot water into the drain. If there is hair or other solid obstructions, you may need to use a drain snake or a wire coat hanger.
While there are chemical drain cleaners available, these aren’t the best option. These cleaners are made with lye, which has a heat reaction with water and can cause burns or damage to your plumbing. If the clog is stubborn and you cannot remove it yourself, it may be worth a call to a plumbing service and repair company.
There is only so much solid matter a toilet can handle before it backs up. Whatever the cause of the overflow, a toilet plunger is usually all you need. Be sure that you are using a plunger for toilets (and not sinks) because there is a difference! After you’ve worked up a sweat trying to clear the blockage, you may feel like giving up. Turn the water to your toilet off–the valve can usually be found behind the toilet–and pour a bucket of hot, soapy water from waist height.
The force from the water should make the toilet flush itself. If you see that the bowl simply fills and doesn’t flush, wait until the water dissipates and try again. Usually, after 2-3 buckets of water, your toilet will function normally. The other common problem with toilets is that older ones will ‘run.’ You’ve probably heard older toilets do this, but it can happen to newer ones as well. This is usually because of the flapper not sealing correctly.
Constant dripping noise is enough to drive anyone crazy but a leaky faucet can also make your water bill rise. There are two main types of sink hardware–double and single handle. Although the drip is coming from the mouth of the faucet, it is the handle that is responsible. You will need to determine which handle is responsible for the leak by turning the hot and cold valves off, one at a time.
Once you’ve determined which handle is leaking, begin to disassemble the parts. Thoroughly clean each piece, and replace the cartridges and o-rings as necessary. Cleaning the parts will ensure a proper seal which may solve the problem without having to replace anything at all.
No Water Pressure
Attempting to wash dishes without the proper water pressure will make the chore take far longer than you’d like. When this is the case, it is typically a simple task of cleaning the aerator. As water flows through your faucet, sediment and minerals can build up which slows the pressure. To remove the aerator, try using your fingers to unscrew it. If this doesn’t work, use a rag to protect your hardware and pliers to help loosen it.
Sometimes pliers won’t work either, in which case you can use heat from a match or blow dryer. This will help loosen the metal and make removal easier. Once you have the aerator in your hands, check for rust. Replace any rusted parts. Clean the aerator by using a brush or soaking it in white vinegar overnight. Finally, place the aerator back on the faucet, tightening it by hand and then using tools if necessary.
Cold Water (That Should Be Hot)
Have you ever jumped into a shower thinking the water was the perfect temperature only to realize that it was ice cold? It can be a real shocker and also mean that your water heater has called it quits. A lack of hot water can also mean that your pilot light needs to be relit or that the boiler needs to be reset (turn the power off and back on.)
The thermostat on the water heater may have been changed to the coldest setting, in which case you can simply change it back to previous settings. This is especially true if there has been a power outage–your water heater may have reset to the factory settings.
Plumbing Basics 101: Know When to Call a Professional!
While knowing plumbing basics 101 is helpful, it is not a replacement for a professional plumber. If you find that the above DIY solutions aren’t enough to fix your problem or if the issue is overwhelming, don’t risk damaging your home by attempting repairs.
A perfect example of this would be a burst pipe or sewage backup. These are issues that are best left to an expert and can result in hefty repair bills if not fixed properly. If you found this article helpful, check out the rest of our website for other great tips and tricks!