Easy Hacks to Fix Common Plumbing Problems
Plumbing problems are an unfortunate but unavoidable part of owning a home. Our pipes and fixtures are under constant pressure to perform, so it’s no surprise that they break down over time, leak on occasion, and need repair. Calling in a plumber for more severe plumbing problems is crucial, but you stand to save quite a bit in labor costs if you opt to fix some of the smaller, common problems yourself.
Below, plumbing experts from Mr. Blue Plumbing will discuss four of the most common plumbing issues, from dealing with a dripping faucet to unclogging a toilet. They’ll also provide some hacks for solving the issues yourself instead of laying out hundreds of dollars for a plumber.
A dripping faucet is a prevalent issue, especially in homes with older fixtures or in areas with hard water. Even a faucet that drips just once per second can waste thousands of gallons of water per year and end up costing you quite a bit on your utility bills.
The most common issue causing a leaky faucet is a damaged or worn-out o-ring. An o-ring is a standard rubber seal used at the joint between your faucet cartridge and tap, and replacing it will very often solve your issue.
To get started, shut off the speedy valve on the connection hose beneath your sink. Next, remove the faucet. The process for doing this depends on the faucet type. Some faucets have a set screw in the back, while others are held with a locking nut from underneath. Unscrew the connection, and then pull off the tap.
What you’ll see beneath the faucet is the faucet cartridge, which should have a thin rubber o-ring around it. Pry this ring off with a screwdriver, dry the area, and then place your new o-ring. Reconnect the faucet, and then slowly turn on the speedy valve to confirm the problem is solved.
Nearly every homeowner has dealt with a clogged toilet at some time in their life. Toilets can clog from a collection of toilet paper or human waste, but other flushed materials — like “flushable” wipes or feminine products — are more likely to cause the clog. Most people turn to a toilet plunger to correct the issue, but if that doesn’t work, you’ll need another solution to help along the clogged material.
One of the best and easiest ways to unclog your toilet is to use hair conditioner. Add about a half cup of conditioner directly to the toilet bowl and let it sit for two to five minutes before flushing. The conditioner is slick and can lubricate the pipes, helping the clogged material to slip downward toward the larger sewer main where it’s less likely to get stuck.
By far, one of the most frustrating plumbing issues is running out of hot water. If you or others in your home have been using hot water, this probably isn’t a problem. However, if you turn the shower on after no hot water has been used to find that the water is already cold, you may have an issue with your water heater.
Most water heater issues require help from a professional plumber, but if you notice strange noises coming from the equipment like clanging, flushing the heater to get rid of mineral buildup may solve your problem.
First, turn the indicator knob on your water heater’s thermostat to the off position. Next, remove the energy source from your water heater. If you have an electric water heater, shut the breaker to the utility room; if you have a gas water heater, temporarily close the gas supply valve. Next, turn off the water supply valve to your water heater and head to a sink to turn the hot water on.
There will be a spigot on the exterior of your water heater. You’ll need to connect a hose to the spigot and route it to the outside or to some area for drainage, like a sink or bathtub. Open the spigot and let the water flow out of the water heater through the hose. Once the water flow stops, turn on the water supply to the water heater and wait until the water runs clear.
Finally, shut the spigot, disconnect the hose, turn on the gas or electric supply to the heater, and turn the thermostat back to the on position. Double-check that your hot water has been reinstated after about 10 minutes.
Low water pressure from a single fixture is a prevalent issue and a frustrating one. Luckily, it’s usually a straightforward DIY fix, as the aerator on the faucet is usually the problem.
To replace your aerator, you’ll first want to make sure you buy a new one that will fit your faucet. You can check with the manufacturer for the size that will fit into your faucet model.
Reach under your faucet where the water comes out and begin to unscrew the aerator. If you can’t get a good enough grip, you can use pliers, but make sure to protect the aerator from marring by placing a cloth or rubber grip over the surface before unscrewing.
Once the aerator is off, pull off the rubber o-ring from the faucet and replace both the gasket and the aerator with new ones.
It’s important to note that if you have low water pressure in multiple faucets and fixtures, you should enlist the help of a professional plumber. A whole-house problem with water pressure can indicate a much more severe problem that requires expert assistance.
Plumbing systems can seem complicated and a little intimidating, but it’s possible to fix some of the more common issues yourself with the right strategies and tools. More severe or persistent problems might require expert help. However, the above hacks should help you avoid calling in a plumber and paying excessive labor fees when the issue is minor.