For most people, their home is their single most expensive investment. As such, it’s important to quickly address any repairs that pop up, and there will inevitably be some. This is particularly true of plumbing issues since water damage can cause some expensive and invasive repairs, if left unattended. Of course, certain major repairs will be beyond the typical homeowner’s DIY capabilities, but that still leaves a lot of jobs that don’t require special skills, tools, or knowledge to get them done. Today we’d like to offer you five of the most common DIY plumbing repairs:
1. Clogged Sink Trap
Open your cabinet. The sink trap is the S, P, or J pipe connecting to two other pipes underneath the sink basin. It’s where most clogs and dropped items settle and lodge. Let’s tell you how to remove, clean, and replace it:
• Place a pan underneath the plumbing to catch any water in the pipes, and you’ll want to ensure the faucet is off.
• Locate the trap, which is the S-shaped, J-shaped, or P-shaped piece of pipe that’s threaded on both ends and held in place by nuts.
• Turn clockwise with your hands or pliers to loosen the nuts.
• You’ll now be able wiggle and pull the trap downward to detach it. Residual water may run in your pan.
• An old baby bottle brush works great here, but you can use any type of long brush, butter knife, or such to push the debris out into the trash. While you have your trap off, go ahead and clean any sludge or buildup with your brush and outdoor garden hose.
• Work in reverse to reattach the trap.
2. Sweaty Toilet Tank
The water in a toilet tank stays around 50 to 60 degrees F. After long baths/showers or even on hot, humid days, you may have noticed that your toilet tank has condensation running off of it onto your floor. It’s akin to a cold soda coming out of the fridge to meet warm air – it sweats condensation. No one wants wet, slippery floors, right? An easy fix is a anti-condensation tank liner, which serves as a barrier between the cold water and outside temperature. Here are the steps:
• At a cost of about $20, purchase a DIY anti-condensation tank liner kit from your local hardware or plumbing store.
• Drain and thoroughly dry your toilet tank.
• Follow the specific kit brand’s instructions, which will include either an adhesive foundation or peel-and-stick backing for the liner.
• Depending on the brand, you may need to wait up to 24 hours for the adhesive to set. So, be prepared to do without a toilet for a bit.
• Refill the tank, and you’re good to go.
3. Flushing Your Hot Water Heater
Efficiency, volume, and the life of your hot water heater are drastically reduced when it gets mineral deposit buildups. The fix? Flush it twice a year. Flushing varies model to model, but you’ll find precise instructions in the water heater’s manual. Here are the basic steps:
• Turn the gas or breaker off to stop power to the water heater.
• Turn all hot water faucets in the home on, allowing them to run until the water runs cool.
• Locate the drain outlet near the bottom of the heater.
• Place one end of a standard garden hose inside of a bucket. Attach the other end to the drain outlet.
• Locate the shut-off valve near the cold water supply pipe at the top of the heater. Turn it off.
• You’ll need a flat-head screwdriver to open the drain valve that’s next to the drain outlet. Hot water and any sludge and mineral deposits will begin flowing through the hose.
• When flow ceases, work in reverse to close the drain valve, remove the hose, and turn water supply and power back on.
4. Sink Caulking
With age and wear and tear, the caulking around your sinks may crack, pull away, or just get nasty. Caulking is what keeps the water from seeping between the basin and countertop. Left unattended, faulty caulking can create mold, mildew, and wood rot. The fix is simple – re-caulk it. Here’s how:
• Purchase a plastic putty knife, denatured alcohol, and a tube of 100 percent silicone caulking.
• Use the putty knife to carefully scrape away all the old caulking.
• Clean the areas with alcohol; dry it thoroughly.
• Place the tip of the caulk tube on the surface between the basin and countertop, and apply steady pressure as you make your way around the diameter. The bead diameter should be about 1/8” inch.
• Use your finger or a specialty tool if you have one to smooth the caulk. For your finger, you’ll want to dampen it before running it around the diameter.
• Avoid using the sink for 12-24 hours to allow caulk to dry.
5. Improve Water Pressure
If water is trickling out of your facets, showers, and tubs, then you likely have a low water pressure issue. It’s possibly a simple fix. Here’s how:
• Identify where you have the problem by evaluating each water outlet.
• If only one faucet has trickling water, then it’s likely mineral deposits around the screen or filter attached to the spigot. You’ll simply twist it off to clean it with vinegar. Rinse thoroughly before reattaching the screen/filter.
• If your shower-head is trickling, you’ll need some locking pliers to loosen the bolts holding it in place. Soak it in vinegar overnight. Rinse it off, and work backwards to reattach it.
• Unfortunately, you might have a problem that’s beyond DIY measures if all your water outlets are trickling. Ensure that all water-using sources are turned off. Don’t forget about washers and dishwashers. Now, check your outside water meter to see if it’s turning. If so, you likely have a water leak somewhere on your property that’s causing the low water pressure… and your water bill to be higher. Of course, this means calling in the pros.
If you have questions about simple plumbing techniques, or need more extensive or complicated work performed in your home, please contact us!
You can call us directly at: 828-253-4269 or fill out this CONTACT form, and we’ll reach out to you as soon as possible!