As the seasons begin to change from winter to our beautiful South Carolina spring, it’s a good time to consider your plumbing and learn some basic plumbing fixes that every homeowner should know. Learning how to repair plumbing on your own will save you money, time, and worry by giving you the skills you need to fix some basic plumbing issues and boost your confidence as a homeowner. And of course, your friendly experts at Kay Plumbing are ready to help when your plumbing repairs need a professional.
Home Plumbing Repair 1: How to free a clogged or slow drain?
As detailed in our “5 Steps To Unclog a Drain” post, before you call your trusty friends at Kay Plumbing, there are a few steps you can take to unclog a drain in your home or business.
To unclog your sink drain, first remove and check the sink strainer. Hair is often the culprit, wrapping itself around the strainer and clogging the drain. Clear away any obstructions, run hot water to check the flow, and replace the strainer. You may need to remove a pivot rod to get the stopper out. If so, look under the sink and unscrew the nut on the tailpiece coming directly down from the sink drain, remove the rod, and pull up the sink stopper above. When putting the pivot rod back in, remember that “hand tight is just right.” There’s no need to crank down on the nut.
You may also find your obstruction further down in the sink’s “p-trap” under the counter. Your p-trap is the curved section of pipe below your sink that attaches the sink’s tailpiece to the drain pipe through your wall. The p-trap works as a barrier to keep harmful sewer gasses out of your home and is a critical component of your plumbing.
To remove and unclog your p-trap:
- Place a bucket or bowl under the p-trap to catch water when you remove the trap.
- Turn the fixtures shutoffs under the sink to make sure no water will come out of the tap as you work.
- Using your hands, or an adjustable wrench if necessary, unscrew the slip-nut collars at either side of the p-trap, one under the sink and one closer to the wall.
- Remove the trap. Water may come out.
- Now, inspect the trap for clogs and remove them by hand or with a flex brush
- Rinse and replace the p-trap under the sink by hand tightening the slip-nuts on either side.
- Turn the under-sink shutoff valves to the left to turn the sink water back on.
- Run the water and check for leaks around the trap. You may put a paper towel under the trap to monitor for slow drips.
Home Plumbing Repair 2: How to stop a running toilet?
Right after you flush a toilet, you’ll hear water refilling the tank. You should only hear the water running for a few seconds after each flush. If your toilet continues to fill after a flush, or if you hear water running sporadically, you can take action to stop your running toilet before getting a huge water bill.
The source of most running toilet problems can be found in the tank. The gasket that sits between the tank and the bowl could have become loose or degraded and let the water slowly leak from the tank. Your bobber may not be properly set, leaving a small gap between the rubber plunger and gasket that allows water to run into the bowl.
If the tank constantly runs, then it’s sometimes a simple matter of adjusting the floater chain or plastic connection to make sure that the tank will stop running once it hits a specific height. If there is degraded rubber, a crack, or failure in the tank machinery itself, then you could be better off buying a new toilet kit and replacing the parts. At that point, however, you may ask yourself if the trouble is worth it and call the professional plumbers at Kay.
Home Plumbing Repair 3: How to turn off the water?
While not technically a “repair,” the ability to turn off the water at the source or into your home is critical in making any basic plumbing repairs. It’s difficult to fix a leak while the water is running!
Your home plumbing appliances have shut-off valves to turn off the water at that sink, toilet, or machine. You can also shut off water to your entire home by turning the valve off where the water line enters outside your home or in the crawlspace. There’s another water shutoff valve near your water meter, likely on the street.
The water shutoff valves for your sinks are usually in the cabinet underneath. They are oval-shaped and located on the pipes connected to your sink faucets. Toilet shutoff valves are behind and below the tank where the water line comes from the wall. There are also valves under or near your water heater, dishwasher, and washing machines. These valves can be turned by hand to start or stop the water flow. Turn the valve handles to the right to stop the water, and left to turn the water on.
You can also turn off the water to your entire home by turning off the water meter, generally found near the street where your municipal service connects to your home water line. These shutoff valves may not have a handle and require a “T-handle wrench” or “water shutoff key” to turn the valve to the right and shut off your water.
Home Plumbing Repair 4: How to fix leaks and drips?
Faucet leaks and drips are some of the most common plumbing problems and depending on the specific issue could be caused by a few different things.
If you have water running from a valve or connection underneath the faucet, it could be that a connection from the main water connection to the faucet has come loose or rusted through. It may be possible to fix this plumbing leak by grabbing a wrench and giving a tightening turn to the visible nuts. We don’t always recommend this method as you might overtighten the nut or forget to reapply thread sealant or plumber’s and damage the mechanism that keeps water from getting in. Don’t forget that the kitchen faucet may also have connections directly underneath the faucet.
If the water constantly drips from the faucet or its housing, then a washer or gasket inside the faucet itself may have failed due to age or rust and can no longer properly stop water from coming through.
If your problem is a leaking pipe, these can cause a lot of damage and are often the most difficult to repair. For example, you may have a leaking pipe under the sink, which means there are a couple of places needing repairs. If the pipe is leaking at a valve, it could be an easy fix to tighten or replace the valve. If the valve is bad, or if there are leaks elsewhere in the pipe, you’ll probably need to replace the pipe. Replacing water pipes is typically beyond the DIY plumber. If you do choose to replace a pipe on your own, be sure to turn off the water and use the plumber’s tape or sealant at joints, hand tighten everything, and inspect for leaks after turning the water back on.
Home Plumbing Repair 5: How to fix low water pressure?
If water is just trickling out of your faucets, it may be a leaky pipe somewhere in your home plumbing. There may also be water pressure problems in your neighborhood, especially if there’s a sudden drop in pressure. Peak hours or heavy water use in your home or neighborhood may also have a negative effect on water pressure.
There are a few basic remedies for low water pressure:
- Avoid using water during peak times. Using water at times different from your neighbors will give you the best pressure possible from the main.
- Periodically check your water pressure, inspect pressure, and shut off valves to ensure they function properly.
- Keep your fixtures clean by using chemical cleaners that break up deposits left by hard water.
- If you consistently get low pressure coming into your home from the water main, you can purchase and install a water pressure booster pump.
If you notice a drop in pressure, take these steps first to try and diagnose the problem:
- Check the pressure and shut off valves to ensure they are set correctly.
- Isolate the issue by testing different faucets and appliances in different parts of the house.
- If your entire home is affected and the decrease in water pressure was sudden, check with your water utility provider to determine if there is a water main break or other issues.
These five basic plumbing repairs will help as you try to troubleshoot your own plumbing problems at home. While some of these are easily done on your own, contacting our experienced and professional plumbers gets the job done right as quickly as possible, saving you headaches and time.