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How to Fix Simple Plumbing Issues: Home Improvement and Home Maintenance

Updated on August 30, 2013

Addressing Common Plumbing Issues

Next time your sink gets clogged or your toilet won't flush, don't panic. You might not need to call the plumber if you know how to fix simple plumbing issues.

What do you need? There are some basic plumbing tools you'll need and the information in this hub. Don't call the plumber! Save your money and your time. Instead of waiting around all day for a professional to arrive, you can use some of these do-it-yourself home improvement solutions.

Time is money, right? Don't waste half your day waiting for the repair person to arrive. Save your hard-earned money from service-call fees. Take care of simple plumbing tasks yourself.

With a relatively small investment in ordinary plumbing tools, you can be ready the next time you have a clogged drain or stopped-up toilet. Anyone can perform these easy DIY plumbing fixes without the need for a professional.

Simple plumbing issues can be fixed at home
Simple plumbing issues can be fixed at home | Source

Plumbing Tools You Need

To avoid plumbing service calls, you'll need to have these common plumbing tools:

  • Toilet auger (can unplug almost any blockage)
  • Crescent wrench (use to take off a faucet or hose)
  • Water shut-off key
  • Plumber's grease
  • Teflon tape (use to seal threads on a shower head or other fixtures)
  • Drain cleaner (think Liquid-Plumr)
  • Zip-it Drain Cleaner (use this to unclog sinks, showers or bathtubs without removing the fixture)
  • Channel lock pliers

Guide to Must-Have Plumbing Tools

How to Fix a Clogged Toilet

To avoid calling a professional plumber, you'll need to know how to fix clogged drains. From sinks to toilets and showers, there are a number of tools you can use to open up the drains and get things flowing. Let's start with the most commonly clogged drain - the toilet.

For the toilet, the best known plumber's tool is the simple plunger. With a wood handle and a rubber head, just about any person can unclog a toilet with this tool.

If a plunger does not work, try a toilet auger, or toilet snake. This tool is a 4 or 5 foot long flexible line with a crank on one end and a set of hooks on the opposite side. Insert the end with the hooks down the commode drain. Once you reach the clog, twist the tool with the crank. You'll either grab hold of the clogging item, or break up the material causing the water to back-up.

Save yourself at least $85 for a plumber call by investing a fraction of that amount on a toilet auger. Did you know that the tool is usually the first item a professional will reach for to fix a clogged toilet?

Get an auger for yourself and enjoy the peace of mind knowing that you can easily fix a clogged toilet without the cost of a professional plumber, and without having to waste 1/2 day (or more) waiting for them to show up at your home or apartment.

How to unclog a toilet
How to unclog a toilet | Source

How to Fix a Clogged Drain

If you have a clogged drain in your home, the first plumbing tool you'll want to reach for is a Zip-it Drain Cleaner. Whether your sink, bathtub or shower P-trap needs to be unclogged, you can accomplish the task without having to remove the fixture. The Zip-It easily removes hair or other blockages from showers and sinks without the hassle of dis-assembly.

If you need to remove the P-trap, you will have to remove a section of the pipe under the drain by loosening and removing the connectors. You will need channel lock pliers or a pipe wrench to help you here. Perform this task with care so as not to spill water out of the pipe when it is opened up.

The best news is that many clogged drains can be easily resolved with drain cleaner, like Drano or Liquid-Plumbr. The agents in these cleaners can often break up a clog or stoppage within minutes. Don't reuse too often, however, because the cleaners use toxic chemicals.

Have you ever dropped a wedding ring or earring down the drain? Fortunately, you can retrieve it yourself. Unfortunately, however, you will have to remove the P-trap to do so!

How to Fix a Clogged Drain

How to Loosen Faucets and Fixtures

Plumbing repairs get slightly more complicated when you need to know how to loosen faucets and fixtures. There are a number of tools that can help you get the job done at home.

Vice grips or a crescent wrench will help you take off a faucet or hose. You can also use vice grips to clamp down on a faucet stem or copper pipe to shut it off.

Two other helpful items are plumber's grease and Teflon tape. Use the grease to lubricate faucets that are tight and/or hard to operate. If the faucet squeaks when water runs, this is another time to try plumber's grease! Teflon tape is useful to seal threads on shower heads or other fixtures. How many times have you dealt with stripped threads?

Don't forget the good-old Phillips screwdriver to loosen faucets and fixtures. This handy tool, in most ordinary garages and sheds, is a necessity since many fixtures are attached with a Phillips head bolt.

Fix faucets and more with these tools
Fix faucets and more with these tools | Source

How to Fix a Leaky Faucet

Know How to Turn off the Water

If you are dealing with an overflowing faucet, sink, tub, shower or toilet, you might have to turn off the water to minimize damage and cost.

A water shut-off key is necessary in case a water pipe breaks. This tool will turn off water from the main line to the home, preventing a deluge of water. If this happens, use the key as soon as possible, then call a plumber!

How to Turn Off Water Main

What Plumbing Issues Have You Dealt With Most Often?

See results

© 2011 Stephanie Hicks


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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      how to fix a shower so the water comes only out the shower when turned on that way .the water comes out both [places

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Steph, Great, practical hub, especially appreciated by the squeamish! Plungers have proven to be a great invention! I hate to think what we'd do without them --- ugh!

      Well done.

    • stephhicks68 profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Hicks 

      8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Thanks kashmir! Always helpful to have DIY tips before calling the expensive professionals. :)

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 

      8 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks for sharing all this useful and well explained information it well help a lot of people save money .Great videos !

    • maddot profile image


      8 years ago from Northern NSW, Australia

      Can't get through life without a good plunge!

    • anglnwu profile image


      8 years ago

      Clogged toilet is one of the most common problems and you're right, the plunger almost always does the job. Useful information and rating it up.

    • Dexter Yarbrough profile image

      Dexter Yarbrough 

      8 years ago from United States

      Hi Steph! Great hub. Will is right about the plunger. I have used these techniques and they work. Voted, up, up and away!

    • Dexter Yarbrough profile image

      Dexter Yarbrough 

      8 years ago from United States

      Hi Steph! Great hub. Will is right about the plunger. I have used these techniques and they work. Voted, up, up and away!

    • WillStarr profile image


      8 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      If you believe the lodged obstruction will pass on through the drain (like a wad of toilet paper), then apply sharp force down on your plunger. But if it's an obstruction that needs to be removed (like a child's toy) then pull up sharply on your plunger to suck it back out.

      The plunger is the best of all drain clearing tools and the least dangerous to your plumbing, so always try it first.

    • stephhicks68 profile imageAUTHOR

      Stephanie Hicks 

      8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Thanks xcubist! I'm with you on the toilets. I'll have my husband tackle the job first, and then make a phone call if necessary later. But seriously, we have successfully addressed a number of plumbing issues ourselves at home - sinks, showers and yes, even toilets! Best, Steph

    • xcubist profile image


      8 years ago

      Great info, I never like calling a professional plumber and will do the job myself (with a some helpful tidbits of info) instead. Unless it's dealing with the toilets, then I'll pass.


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