Life is full of responsibilities. One of those is taking care of your home and making sure that everything functions as it should. Because of the complexities of plumbing, many homeowners avoid DIYing out of fear of messing something up. Others make beginner mistakes that worsen the problem instead of fixing it.
If you want to save yourself some trouble—and money—then you should pick up a few tricks for plumbing that come straight from the pros. Although you may be reluctant, you will be tackling small problems in no time with these tips:
Check the Showerhead
Showerhead dripping? It probably wasn’t tightened enough. You can unscrew the showerhead, apply some thread tape, and then tighten it back up. The head should stop dripping.
If the showerhead is blocked up, you can soak it for an hour or so in a bowl of vinegar. Make sure it is warmed. After the hour has passed, grab a brush to loosen the minerals trapped in the head.
You Can Remove Clogs Without Chemicals
Most professional plumbers will tell you this right from the start: never use chemicals to remove clogs in the drains. The chemicals do more harm than good. Instead, grab a drain snake to manually unclog the drain. Simply insert the snake then push and pull, in and out.
Hopefully, after a few strokes, you will remove the clog. Another option is to bring in a wet/dry shop vac to draw out whatever is blocking the drain.
Don’t Worry Over Replacing Faucet and Toilet Parts
Yes, taking apart a sink or toilet can be stressful and messy. That said, with a little organization, you can easily check to see if the flapper in the toilet or the cartridge in the faucet has been damaged and needs replacing. Flappers get worn down over time and can cause leakages between the bowl and water tank. Check them once in a while. Similarly, most faucets can be easily repaired by installing a new cartridge. To do that, you only need to remove a few screws.
In other words, repairing a leaky sink or toilet is not as hard as it seems!
Use Thread Tape Over Sealing Compounds
There are a couple of ways to seal connection points between pipes, such as pipe dope and thread tape. Pipe dope can smear and drip, making it less effective around the house. You can use threading tape instead. It is a kind of multipurpose tape that is either thinner and white or thick and pink colored (designating water).
When you go to wrap the pipe, make sure you are going counterclockwise along the threads. Wrap around three times for better results.
Loosen Tight Fittings With Heat
Struggling to get a fitting loose? Sometimes, no matter how hard to turn the pipe wrench, the fittings may have hardened, making it near impossible to twist fittings with strength alone. One of the best ways to loosen the solidified pipe dope is to warm it.
If the pipes you are trying to loosen are metal, you can use a small propane torch to heat the pipe. That will soften the pipe dope enough to release the fitting. Obviously, this can only be done with plumbing pipes made of metal. Never try this on plastic pipes or those transporting gas.
Set Your Water Heater for More Efficiency
Want to save some money? Check the thermostat on the water heater. You can reduce the temperature to around 46 degrees C (115 degrees F). That will be hot enough for all your needs. Also, consider insulating the hot water tank to help it retain more heat throughout the day. Just don’t cover the thermostat.
Next, consider where you live. Some locations have sediment in the water line that will settle. You will need to rid the water heater of the grit once every 3 months or so. To do that, turn off the water heater then open the drain, letting the water pour into a bucket. This removes most of the sediment and will help the water heater run better.
Now that you know these beginner tips, put them to use! Simple and effective, with these plumbing hacks, you can tackle common struggles with your household plumbing in no time. But, if you are still having problems, it may be time to call up a professional plumber instead of attempting to DIY.