Knowledge of basic plumbing skills can save you a lot of money as well as prevent serious water damage. Some jobs require professional help, but these five basic plumbing tips can help out just about anyone in case of a sudden plumbing emergency:
1. How to turn off the water in the house. A burst pipe or a similar plumbing emergency can do a lot of damage to your property. As a rule, the quicker you can get the water turned off, the less extensive the damage will be. Make a note of where the water shut-off valve is located in your home, and practice turning it off. In some homes, the valve is located in the garage. Share this basic skill with everyone in the house – even children can manage the task. Turning off the water should be the first step any time you have water leaking.
2. How to fix a leaky faucet. Many leaky faucets can be fixed by replacing the washer – a simple part from your local hardware store that will only cost you a few cents. Try tightening the faucet at the base with a wrench first. If that doesn’t work, you can try replacing the washer inside the faucet. Sometimes these fixes won’t work, and you will find that installing a new faucet could be the best thing. Most new faucets come with installation kits that will guide you through the process of faucet replacement. This can also happen to kitchen faucets.
3. How to stop a running toilet. A running toilet is usually the result of the flapper inside the tank failing to close or seal properly. First, turn off the water to the toilet with the shut-off valve located on the pipe behind the bowl. Check to see if the chain is broken or needs to be adjusted to the right length. If the chain isn’t the culprit, check the arm holding it up. You may need to replace the flapper and arm. Again, this is a relatively easy and inexpensive fix.
4. How to unclog a plugged toilet. You should always have a plunger on hand in case a toilet becomes plugged. Use the plunger carefully when the water level inside the toilet has gone down as much as possible. Keep old towels on hand in case of an overflow during the fix. Flush carefully after plunging – you may need to repeat the process a few times to clear it fully.
5. How to clear a slow or stopped drain. Drain cleaning chemicals such as Drano can be used to help clear most slow-running or blocked drains. If there is no standing water in your tub or sink, you can try a more natural approach: pour some baking soda down the drain followed by vinegar and then boiling water. In some cases you may need to pull clogs such as hair out of the drain – special tools are available to help you accomplish this task. If a garbage disposal is involved, use extra caution. First, turn off the power to the disposal, and then use tongs or another tool to reach inside and feel around for clogs. In some cases, the disposal may need to be replaced.
These basic plumbing tips can help you avoid water damage in case of a plumbing emergency, as well as save you a lot of wasted money on your water bill. Take a few moments to familiarize yourself with the way your toilet and faucet work. If you need to do a repair quickly, later on, you’ll already know what to look for.