Before You Call for Help: Quick Tips for Plumbing Repairs
Following are some common household plumbing issues that you might be able to repair, instead of paying for a plumber to handle the job.
If you hear water running constantly inside your toilet tank, the problem could be a leaky fill valve. These parts are inexpensive and easy to replace, so try to make your own repair before calling a plumber.
If you see water around the base of the toilet, you may have a leaky water supply valve, which is the knob on the wall that controls the water flowing through a small hose to the toilet tank. You may need to replace the water valve — again, an inexpensive fix. Just make sure to turn off your home’s main water supply before disconnecting the hose that leads to the tank.
A clogged kitchen or bathroom sink can really disrupt your day. But there are plenty of methods you can try for clearing your drain before you call a professional.
In the kitchen or bathroom, always start by plunging the clog. In dual sinks, put a stopper in the second sink before you plunge the clogged sink, and in a bathroom, block the water overflow hole before plunging.
If plunging doesn’t work, try using a drain snake. And if that doesn’t get the clog, you can try detaching the pipes under your sink; you may be able to find the clog there, or at least be able to feed the drain snake directly into the wall, allowing it to reach further down the pipes hidden in your walls.
Persistent or recurring clogs could be a sign of tree root intrusion in your main plumbing drain or a collapsing drain pipe. In that case, it’s a good idea to have a professional plumber assess the problem.
Most homes have a one-handled faucet in the kitchen, but your bath may have a two-handled faucet. In either case, if the faucet handle is leaking, you will probably need to disassemble it to find the source of the problem (remember to turn off the water supply valves before tinkering with your faucet).
Faucets have several parts — in a single-handled model, there’s a cartridge, retaining clip and O-rings. A double-handled faucet will have a packing nut, stem, O-ring and seat washer. O-rings and washers are susceptible to corrosion and are most often the source of leaky handles. Replace any worn parts and reassemble the faucet. Turn the water supply back on to see if the leak has stopped. In some cases, you may need to replace the faucet, which is relatively easy to do.
Only tackle the tasks you feel comfortable with — if you have an old home and worry about damaging brittle pipes, by all means, call a professional. While hiring a plumber is expensive, it can at least alleviate any concerns you have about doing something incorrectly.