Plumbing: Easy Repairs and Prevention Tips
Don't Call the Plumber Yet!
It happens all the time. A drain clogs, the toilet overflows or the pipes freeze up. Many homeowners spend a fortune on plumbing. A typical plumber can charge up to $80.00 an hour! Minor plumbing issues can be easily prevented or fixed and will save you time and a lot of money.
Most calls made to the plumber are about clogged drains. Clogged drains are actually one of the easiest plumbing problems to fix.
To prevent clogs, keep drains clean by pouring boiling hot, soapy water down your drain once every few months. If your drain is already clogged, pouring boiling water down the drain may help to unclog it. If your drain is still clogged, try a plunger or a plumbing snake. You can also try a sink auger for stubborn clogs.
Liquid drain cleaners and bleach ruin your pipes. Never pour chemicals or bleach down your drain.
Just like with drains, never pour harsh chemicals in your toilet. Keeping your toilet clean will prevent clogging. Clean once a week with some mild soap and a toilet brush. Never throw sanitary napkins, paper towels or baby wipes down the toilet.
To check for leaks in your toilet place a few drops of food coloring or kool-aid in the tank. Check the toilet bowl in thirty minutes. If there is coloring in the bowl, you have a leak. The flapper may need replacing.
You can replace the flapper easily. First shut off the water supply. Remove tank and flush toilet until there is no water left in the tank. Wearing gloves, unlatch clip that attaches the flapper to the handle. Gently pull on flapper to remove it. Next, take down the manufacturer and model numbers. The model number can be found inside the tank and the manufacturer number is stamped ouside of the bowl near the hinges. You will need to take the numbers and the old flapper to a home improvement store in order to find the right replacement. A toilet flapper is relatively inexpensive and will cost under $10.
Fixing a Leaking Faucet
Ignoring a leaking faucet will result in high water bills and should be taken care of immediately. About nintey percent of all faucet leaks are due to a worn or damaged washer. This is actually pretty easy to replace and you will only need a few tools to do this.
To check, turn off water. If there is a shut off valve under the fixture, turn the water off at that point. Wearing gloves, open the knob with a tony knife. Loosen and remove the nut from the fixture using a Phillips screwdriver. The washer will be under the nut. If it's damaged or worn, simply replace with a new one. Clean off any residue with an abrasive pad before reassembling. Use a bit of plumber's putty on the threads of the screw and tighten back on. If your faucet is still leaking at this point, you will need to contact a plumber.
During extremely cold weather, let the water from your faucet drip to prevent your pipes from freezing.
A hair dryer can work to unfreeze pipes during winter seasons. If that doesn't work, you may need something stronger. Heat tape and heat guns can be purchased at your local hardware store.
Warning: Do not use a flame torch to unthaw a frozen pipe. This is extremely dangerous and is a common cause of house fires.
Garbage Disposal Care
Follow these tips to prevent future problems with the garbage disposal and extend its life.
- Use cold water only when operating the disposal.
- To sharpen blades, run the disposal and put ice cubes in it.
- Do not pack too much in the garbage disposal at once. This can jam the disposal.
- Grind lemon and orange peels in your garbage disposal to get rid of fowl smells.
- Rice and pasta will expand in a garbage disposal and potatoes will actually turn into a pasty substance that can destroy the disposal's blades. Never throw bones, animal fat and non food items in the disposal.
Calling the Plumber
If nothing else helped and you are still having plumbing problems, you will need to contact a plumber. Call more than one and get rates. Make sure the plumber is certified. Ask friends and family members to recommend a plumber for you. Check the Better Business Bureau for complaints.
Sometimes, paying more for a plumber is better if they have an excellent reputation. An experienced plumber may charge a bit more but will do a better job than someone less experienced. That will save you money in the long run.