Home maintenance and improvement can eat up a huge portion of your budget, so it makes sense to do whatever you can for yourself and save the heavy projects for the professionals. When it comes to plumbing, you may think that you can’t do any of it yourself. In fact, there are several common plumbing issues you can resolve yourself.
1. Fix a Leaky Faucet
Most drippy faucets are caused by a worn-out washer in the housing assembly. Cut off the water supply and carefully unscrew the knobs from the faucet. Inside, you will see washers that rest under the knob. Take these to a hardware store, where replacements can be found for pennies. If you want to replace the entire faucet, this too is rather easy. Instructions for doing it yourself will come in the box, and there are additional resources available online.
2. Unclog a Sink
Whether it’s in the bathroom or the kitchen, you can unclog it by blocking the overflow outlets with a damp cloth and using a toilet plunger. While this may seem disgusting, a plumber will likely do the same thing. Make sure to create a seal and work up and down. Never add caustic chemicals to a clogged sink, as this can be hazardous if you decide to plunge.
As you plunge, check the pipe fittings underneath the sink periodically, as the plunging can loosen the fittings and create a mess. Once you’ve cleared the clog, sanitize the sink with bleach and check the pipe fittings a final time before using it again.
3. Clearing the Garbage Disposal
If one of your kids has dropped a spoon in there, a plumber will charge you to pluck it out. The idea of reaching into a garbage disposal can be scary, but it doesn’t need to be. Cut the power to the kitchen, loosen the blades with a wrench and carefully reach inside. If you can see the offending object, you can also use a pair of kitchen tongs to reach inside. Once it’s out, tighten the blades and restore the power. It should work properly now.
4. Make the Toilet Stop Running
The inner workings of a toilet are not complicated at all. If you can hear it running constantly or you have to jiggle the handle to make it stop, the assembly inside likely needs replaced. Buy a kit at a home store and replace the entire assembly. It’s cheap and takes about half an hour. There are detailed instructions included in the box and you can get additional help online, including video tutorials with step-by-step instructions. This will save you a ton in water costs.
5. Clear the Grease Trap in the Kitchen
If your kitchen sink is running slowly, the grease trap likely needs emptied and cleaned. Remove the fittings underneath the sink over a bucket using a wrench, clean out the trap and then reassemble the pieces. The gunk from the trap can be thrown in the trash and should not be washed down the drain or flushed down the toilet. Run some water to make sure the seals are tight. Your sink should drain quickly now.
Do-it-yourself plumbing can be a intimidating, and not every project is cut out for beginners. These projects, however, are simple and doing them yourself can save you plenty of money.
Charlie Teschner started MESA Plumbing, Heating, and Cooling in 1982. Charlie has a journeyman and master plumber’s license. He was raised with a strong work ethic and he now applies those values to tasks such as Longmont, CO heating repair.