3 Plumbing Fixes Every Homeowner Should Know

The prospect of fixing your plumbing system can be confusing, and even daunting. After all, the network of pipes, fixtures, and appliances that keep everything running smoothly can seem like an endless maze. The good news is, you don’t need to be a handyman to execute basic plumbing fixes that can save you time, money, and prevent plumbing emergencies. Here are the top 3 plumbing fixes we believe every homeowner should know.

1.      How to shut off the water

It only takes a few minutes for water to cause costly damage to your home and plumbing fixtures. Even minor leaks can turn major in the blink of an eye, and burst pipes can strike when you least expect it. Knowing how to shut off your water quickly is an essential piece of knowledge for every homeowner.

Entire home

The location of your home’s main shut off valve can vary by the home’s design. Common locations include near the hot water heater, in the garage, or in a crawlspace. Your home’s shut off valve may be also located outdoors. If it is, it’s likely buried underground near the street or sidewalk outside of your home, with a metal cover over it. If you’re not sure where your main water shut off is, you have several options. One is to review the property inspection report you received when you purchased your home. Another option is to contact the city, or your home builder.

No matter the location, the main shutoff valve can be turned off by twisting clockwise with an adjustable wrench or by using specific tools such as a meter key. Old valves may be difficult to turn by hand, which is why it’s important to regularly test them to ensure they can still be operated.

Plumbing fixtures

For localized leaks or problems, shutting off the water to one fixture is easier than shutting off the water to the entire house. Toilets, sinks, and washing machines all come with their own shut off valves. These valves may be located behind, next to, or underneath the fixture, depending on its design. To shut off the water, simply turn the valve clockwise.

2.      How to fix a dripping faucet

Dripping faucets can be annoying, and they can also cost you money. The constant drip, drip, drip of water can add up quickly—in fact, a dripping faucet can waste up to five gallons of water per day. Fixing a dripping faucet is relatively easy, and requires only a few tools. The main varieties of faucets—compression, ball, and cartridge—each have their own process for repairs.

Compression faucets

Compression faucets are named after the action required to turn them on and off, as they require you to physically compress the handles. These two-handled faucets are usually found in older homes, generally mounted to the wall above the sink as opposed to on the countertop.

Compression faucets use a rubber washer, or seal, to stop the flow of water when the faucet is turned off. The rubber washer on the handle can wear out over time, causing leaks. To stop the leaks, you’ll need to buy a new washer, which can be found at a plumbing supply store, and then follow the steps below to replace it:

  1. Turn off the water
  2. Remove the decorative cap from the faucet handle
  3. Remove the screw underneath the cover on the faucet handle
  4. Remove the faucet handle, then use a deep socket wrench to remove the valve underneath
  5. Replace the old washer with a new one
  6. Tighten the valve back in place on the washer
  7. Screw the handle back onto the valve
  8. Put the decorative cover back on the handle

After replacing the washer, turn the faucet on and check for leaks. If the faucet is still leaking, make sure you tightened all the screws correctly.

Ball or cartridge faucets

You’re more likely to find a ball or cartridge faucet in newer homes. The main difference between these faucets and traditional compression faucets is that they don’t use the rubber washer component. Since they’re so widespread, repair kits for ball or cartridge faucets can be found at plumbing supply stores as well as online. Make sure you find a repair kit that matches your faucet, and then follow the simple instructions included in the kit.

3.      How to clear clogs without a plunger

A plunger is the best-case scenario tool for clearing clogs in your sink or toilet. However, if you find yourself in a situation without a plunger when you’re faced with a stubborn clog or a potential burst of overflowing water, these fixes can help you stay calm and address the problem easily.  If the water is already close to overflowing, it’s best to remove as much water as you can using a bucket or other means before attempting these fixes.

Say no to liquid drain cleaners

Liquid drain cleaners, like Drano, are harsh on your home’s plumbing and should never be used on standing water. The main ingredients in chemical drain cleaners include sodium hydroxide (lye), sodium hypochlorite (bleach), and sodium nitrate. These chemicals can eat away at your pipes, as well as the finishes on your sinks and toilets. They can also burn your skin, irritate your eyes, and hurt your lungs—along with posing serious health hazards if mixed with common household cleaning products, even accidentally. Bottom line, the dangers of liquid drain cleaners far outweigh the benefits.

Say yes to household alternatives

Instead of risking damage to your plumbing for a quick fix, there are other effective ways to unclog your sink or toilet without a plunger. These safe and proven clog-busting methods include products you likely already have in your home.

Baking soda and vinegar

The natural reaction of baking soda and vinegar dissolves clogs with ease. Simply add one cup of baking soda to the clogged toilet or sink, then wait a few minutes and follow with two cups of vinegar. The mixture will begin bubbling and sizzling. After the reaction subsides, flush the toilet or run water down the drain. If the clog hasn’t cleared completely, repeat the steps again.

Epsom salt

Similar to baking soda and vinegar, Epsom salt causes a fizzy chemical reaction that can dissolve clogs and clear drains. Pour some salt onto the clog, and wait about 15 minutes before attempting to flush or run water down the drain. If the salt didn’t dissolve the clog completely, you can repeat the steps and try leaving the salt on the clog for a longer period of time.

Hot water and soap

For this solution, you can use dish soap, shampoo, or even a bar of soap that’s been cut into small pieces. Heat up a gallon of water on the stove until it’s very hot, but not boiling. Put some of your chosen soap into the sink or toilet that’s clogged. Then, pour the water in. The soap and water should soften the clog, allowing it to pass. If it doesn’t, repeat the process again.

Trust the plumbing experts at Chas Roberts

When plumbing problems go beyond everyday fixes, it’s time to call in the experts. Our team of plumbers combine industry-leading technology with years of invaluable experience and expertise. No matter what plumbing issues may strike, you can rest easy when Chas Roberts is on the job. No matter if it’s day, night, after hours or weekends, we’re here to help. Contact us and experience what sets Chas Roberts apart.