Home Plumbing Repair Tips - Do It Yourself
Home plumbing problems can be a headache, and many people think the do it yourself repairs are just as hard. Surprisingly, most plumbing issues are fairly easy to repair. This article will give you tips and tricks to help you make all sorts of DIY home plumbing repairs. From garbage disposal and toilet problems to faucet and shower head leaks, this is your go-to guide for home plumbing repair tips.
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Generic Home Plumbing StructureClick thumbnail to view full-size
Tools needed for this repair job
This is very similar to the tool shown in the video
Garbage Disposal Home Repair Tips
In order to troubleshoot your garbage disposal, you'll need to attempt to turn it on. Locate the switch you would normally use to grind food in your garbage disposal and turn it on. Is it making any noise at all (possibly a humming noise)? Or is it completely silent?
My garbage disposal makes a humming noise when it's on but it doesn't work.
Congratulations, you probably have one of the easiest problems a garbage disposal can have! Not to worry, the fix is usually pretty easy. Follow these steps to attempt to fix your garbage disposal:
- MAKE SURE THE SWITCH IS OFF!
- Look down into your garbage disposal to see if there is debris stuck in there. Try using a flashlight and/or a tool that has some reach (like needle nose pliers) and probe around to see if there is anything stuck there. If there is, get it out.
- Get under your sink and locate your disposal. Using the allen wrench (also called a hex key), manually turn your garbage disposal. To do this, you'll insert the allen wrench into the bottom of your disposal and turn it. This should free up debris or at least help you locate it from above again.
Fixing Your Garbage Disposal Video
There's lots in here, and you can't go wrong with the "for dummies" series. Use it to learn how to replace a garbage disposal.
A picture says 1000 words, and this book is jam packed with them. A ton of plumbing jobs are covered in this extensive book.
My garbage disposal doesn't make a noise when I turn it on.
Again this is probably not a hard fix to make. More than likely there is a power issue; either your garbage disposal's motor burned out (worst scenario) or a breaker was tripped (more likely scenario). Follow these steps to fix this problem:
- MAKE SURE THE SWITCH IS OFF!
- Check underneath your disposal and reset the breaker on the unit (see the training video to learn how to do this).
- Check the main circuit breaker in your house and flip it back on (again, see the video on how to do this).
And that's how you fix a garbage disposal.
More Garbage Disposal Repair Resources
- How to fix your garbage disposal
Garbage disposals can be very problematic creatures, and are prone to breaking down regularly without so much as a telephone call or an email to give you proper warning of their malign intentions. When a...
- Garbage Disposal Troubleshooting - Fixing a Garbage Disposer
How to troubleshoot common garbage disposal problems and how to repair the disposer.
- How to Repair a Garbage Disposal
A garbage disposal comes in handy when you don't want unused food filling up your trash can. Just put the food down the drain, turn the switch and listen as your garbage disposal grinds away until...
Toilet Plumbing Home Repair Tips
Toilets don't generally require any electrical tampering, unlike the garbage disposal. Therefore, the fix should be easier, right? Well, although toilet plumbing isn't rocket science, if you have problem then you are more than likely experiencing water leakage in your bathroom and this is a BAD thing. You'll want to fix it asap.
My toilet sounds like it is constantly running
It's easy to fix a running toilet. First, try jingling the handle. Often this loosens the chain and stops the water from leaving the tank.
If that doesn't work, take the lid off your tank and inspect everything inside. There should be a rubber seal (toilet flapper valve) on the inside at the bottom of the tank that blocks the water from entering the actual toilet. If that seal is old, cracking or damaged, you'll have to replace it (this is easy to do- take a look at the following video).
Parts you might need for your toilet repairs
This standard toilet handle is a solid one. If you have a plastic arm in your toilet tank, I'd recommend replacing it with one like this that has a solid metal arm.
Never do any toilet repairs without a good set of rubber gloves!
This contains most of the internal parts you might need to replace on the inside of your toilet.
My toilet is leaking and I can see the water building up (or dripping) onto the floor behind the toilet.
To stop the leaking is easy, and I would suggest doing this immediately. Turn off the toilet shut off valve found below the tank (see picture).
If you still have water accumulation behind your toilet, you will probably want to call a professional plumber. More than likely you have a crack in your ceramic toilet or (even worse) your plumbing pipes are leaking. Both fixes are fairly involved and time-consuming, so you're best bet is to have a professional take a look.
If the toilet stops dripping after you shut the toilet shut off valve off, great! At that point you'll have to do some investigating. Since the tank won't get refilled with water at this point, flush your toilet and let all the water drain out of your tank. Once that's done, take a good look at everything. Use these questions to help you figure out where the plumbing problem lies:
- Are the rubber seals intact or are they in poor shape?
- Do I have any visible cracks in the ceramic tank?
- Do I have any cracks in the plastic or metal pieces in the tank?
- Where is the leak coming from? Is it coming from the bottom of the tank or the toilet valve itself?
If you see issues with #1-3 above, go to your local home supplies store, purchase the appropriate parts and replace them. Most of those installations should take a fairly handy person less than an hour and a less handy person a couple of hours. Simply follow the directions that came with the items you bought.
Over 500 pages with over 2000 photos!
You can never go wrong with the "for dummies" books, and this one is no exception. There is a TON of information in it specifically about toilets.
If you have an issue with #4 above and your leaks are coming from the bottom of the tank or the toilet valve itself, I would recommend contacting a professional for your plumbing needs. You could potentially need to replace your toilet flange which involves taking your entire toilet off the floor, or you could have serious issues with your pipes.
In the mean time, locate your main supply line and shut it off. This will shut off all water in your house, but it's better to have no water than to have water leaking through your walls and ceilings.
Your standard toilet plunger
A good toilet auger for more difficult toilet jams
My toilet is clogged.
A toilet can get clogged with unusually large or solid feces or when things are flushed down the toilet that shouldn't be (paper towels, condoms, trash, etc).
If you have a clogged toilet, purchase a plunger and plunge your toilet. Or if it's a more difficult toilet jam, get a toilet auger and unclog your toilet. A toilet auger works like a snake and is carefully pushed down the pipes of your toilet. It's fairly easy to use and can extend 5+ feet through your pipes making it easy to unclog that toilet jam.
How to use a toilet plunger
More Toilet Repair Resources
- Toilet Repair Instructions for 10 Common Problems
A toilet gets a lot of hard use. Toilets are simple mechanisms, as are many toilet repairs. Learn do it yourself toilet repair here.
- How To Repair a Toilet
Repairing a toilet doesn't have to be hard. From tough clogs to strange noises in the night, if you've got the do-it-yourself attitude, you'll find everything you need to know about toilet repair in the following pages.
Leaky faucets are inevitable
Leaky Faucet Home Repair Tips
Similar to leaky toilet problems, a leaky faucet will involve some inspection of seals and parts. Most leaky faucets are caused by a de-threaded screw/washer, a bad valve seal, a missing o-ring or things of that sort.
In many cases, it's less expensive to simply replace your faucet outright, rather than spend hours investigating or replacing parts to an outdated faucet. Why? Because if you replace one part on an old faucet system, it's only a matter of time before another part of the faucet breaks down. If you have an older faucet, save yourself the time and energy by replacing the whole thing.
Installing a New Faucet
Eight inch crescent wrench
All inclusive screw driver set
Should you choose to attempt a repair rather than a new install, use the following resources to help you do that:
- Faucet Repair Tips - Loud and Leaky Faucet & Sink Problems - Popular Mechanics
A leaky faucet, you can handle. But bathroom and kitchen faucets present so many more challenges. Here's how to fix cranky faucets without a plumber. Comes complete with a ton of helpful illustrations.
- repair leaky faucet by type
Great guide on how to repair a wide variety of leaky faucets, organized by faucet type.
- Repair a leaky faucet in six easy steps
Repair a leaky faucet with a few plumbing tips. Dripping water faucets are not only aggravating, but also costly. Learn how to repair a leaky faucet using six, easy-to-follow steps.
Leaking Shower Head Home Repairs
Similar to a leaking faucet, a leaking shower head can really run up a high water bill f-a-s-t. It is surprisingly simple to repair a variety of leaky shower head problems, whereas other issues might not be easy do it yourself projects.
My showerhead leaks by the base of the showerhead.
This is a simple fix that will require teflon tape and a cresent wrench.
Once you have your tape and your wrench, use your wrench to unscrew your shower head from the wall.
After that is done, wrap some tape around the threads of the shower stem and screw your shower head on again. This should fix your problem!
If it still leaks, repeat the process adding or taking away some tape (the tape acts as a buffer zone just like a washer or plumber's putty).
This set contains every screwdriver bit type you'll need for this job.
My shower head leaks at the head, not the base.
If this is the case then your problem is a little more complicated. The problem lies in the shower valve which is near your on/off knob. In that assembly, you could have a problem with a water cartridge or worn rubber o-rings. If you wanted to tackle this problem on your own, here are your steps:
- Disassemble your shower valve, typically with the use of an allen wrench.
- Locate and replace your problem parts. Again the problem could be a worn o-ring, a busted water cartridge or collar, etc. You might do well at this point to replace your entire water cartridge assembly, including all the o-rings and collar. This will probably only cost you around $20 and will save you some serious time in the future.
- Reassemble your shower valve.
For complete coverage of this repair, watch the following videos in order. Not to worry, each video is under 2 1/2 minutes
Repairing Your Shower Valve (PART 1)
Repairing Your Shower Valve (PART 2)
Repairing Your Shower Valve (PART 3)
Putting the Shower Valve Back On
Need More Help With Your Home Plumbing?
If you still need more help with your home plumbing but didn't find help here, check out the resources below. You are bound to find help to all your plumbing needs there.
- Home Repair Stuff, Home Improvement and Do It Yourself
Home improvement, do it yourself, repair tips advice and help on painting, plumbing, maintenance, water heaters, etc. DIY or find the right professional. Check out the section called "Plumbing Stuff" to learn about toilets, water pressure, etc.
- Plumbing | Do It Yourself
A *ton* of information to help you with almost any plumbing repair job. You can find help on clogged drains, installing faucets and shower heads, major plumbing projects, etc.
Home Plumbing Repair Tips - A Final Note
Don't be intimidated by your home plumbing system- it's not as complicated as it might initially seem. Most home plumbing repairs make easy DIY fixes. Here are some final pointers to help you with your plumbing repair jobs:
- Do your best to shut off the power and water supply to whatever you're working on so you don't get wet and/or electrocuted during the job.
- Most home plumbing DIY repairs are easy and can be done in around an hour.
- When in doubt, call a professional plumber.
If you have any questions or issues, feel free to leave a comment below. Also, if you found this article useful, I'd appreciate it if you shared it with friends and bookmarked it for later.
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