Do you need to become a plumbing expert to fix minor plumbing issues around the house? Of course not. You should know a few things as a homeowner though. Some issues, like repairing damaged sewer lines, should definitely be left to the pros. But others, fortunately, like checking hidden water leaks and turning the water on and off, are certainly simple DIY fixes you can do. To fix them, skills or tools are not necessary.
So, undoubtedly, understanding a few plumbing secrets can only be good for you and your home.
After years in property management business, Dave from State Property Management in Central Florida learned what things he can do on his own and what things he has to call professionals for. Here are some of his basic plumbing tips you should know.
Fixing low water pressure.
It is frustrating to get trickles out of the faucet. Luckily, there is something you can do to bring back the strong, powerful stream of water you once enjoyed.
First, you need to check what pressure each faucet has. If only one faucet has the problem, the culprit is likely to be mineral deposits. At the very end of the spigot, most faucets have either a water-saving filter or a small screen that twists off.
Remove the screen by twisting it off counterclockwise. If the screen is clogged, rinse it first and then reattach it.
Hard water deposits are especially common in showerheads. They can turn from a refreshing spray into a disappointing dribble. If only the shower is affected, use a set of locking pliers to remove the showerhead. Leave it overnight to soak in vinegar, then rinse and reattach.
However, if the low water pressure affects all faucets, call a plumber immediately.
Flushing out your water heater
The buildup of mineral deposits in your water heater can lower the efficiency of the unit. By flushing your water heater out twice every year, you’ll not only enjoy more hot water but you’ll also extend its life.
Flushing your water heater is simple. Although not all models are created the same, usually you’ll need to:
- Turn the knob on your hot water heater’s thermostat to “Off”.
- Turn off the power to the water heater. If it’s gas, turn the gas off at the shut-off valve. If it’s electric, shut off the breaker.
- Turn off the cold water supply to hot water heater.
- Turn on the hot water in a tub or sink. This helps prevent the forming of a vacuum during the entire flushing process.
- Attach a garden hose to the drainage spigot.
- Turn on the spigot and drain. At first, you may notice the water is a bit brown. But it’ll begin to get clearer.
Re-caulk a vanity sink
Caulking helps prevent water from seeping between the countertop and the basin. However, over time, caulking deteriorates, hardens, or crumbles. When this happens, water begins to seep into the cabinet beneath. This can lead to the growth of mold as well as cause damage to stored items.
To re-caulk a vanity sink, here is what you need to do:
- Use a plastic putty knife to scrape away old caulk.
- Use a clean rag dampened with denatured alcohol to wipe down the seam between the countertop and the sink.
- Leave the area to dry fully.
- Apply a 1/8” bead of caulk all the way around the sink.
- Smoothen the applied caulk by dampening a fingertip and running it along the caulk bead.
- The caulk bead should take an average of 12-24 hours to dry.
Remove a sink trap
Sink traps are prone to clogging. If someone drops, say, a ring, you’ll likely find it in the trap.
To unclog a sink trap, you need to:
- Detach the trap from the sink. For this purpose, you’ll need to loosen both nuts that secure the trap by twisting counterclockwise.
- Position a pan beneath the plumbing pipes to catch residual water that will drain out.
- Use an old butter knife to scrape out any stuck debris you notice. Then, remove any sludge coating the inside by spraying the trap with water thoroughly.
- Reattach the clean trap by sliding it back into place and twisting the nuts that secure it clockwise with your fingers.
Turning off all the water inside your house
To do this, you’ll need to locate the main water shutoff valve – this is usually found at the water meter. Some water meters are mounted on the side of the house while others are buried in the ground near the street.
If you are unable to locate it, ask for help from your local utility company. Once you’ve located it, remove the cover and use a cutoff key to shut it off. If you can’t find the cutoff key, you’ll need an adjustable wrench.
In some houses, the secondary shut off valve may be located where the water main enters the house. Or, it may be located in the basement.
By following these 5 basic plumbing tips, you can help you and your home avoid a plumbing nightmare. However, if the problem is a bit complicated, leave it to the plumbing pros.