We’ve all been there: From a clogged sink to a leaking faucet, plumbing problems come in all shapes and sizes around your home (and appear when you least expect them). While it may be tempting to try and resolve the problem on your own, there’s a chance that you could make matters worse — especially if you do not have the proper training and experience.
However, some common, fundamental plumbing problems can be taken care of without a plumber's aid — just tender love and care. Here are a few helpful tips on how to tackle those problems in your home.
10 Simple Plumbing Tips for Homeowners
1. Not Everything is Meant to Be Flushed
This may come as a surprise to some, but your toilet bowl is not meant to be used as a garbage can. Your home’s “throne” should be used to dispose of toilet paper and human waste — that’s it. However, if you’re tempted to risk the “health” of your toilet bowl, you may encounter a pretty severe clog.
To help eliminate a problem before it occurs, take the time to learn which of the most common household items should never be flushed.
2. Become Familiar with Your Home’s Shut-Off Valve
Whether you’ve lived there for a few weeks or 20 years, it’s essential to know where the main shut-off valve is located in your home. The reason this is important is that just in case you need to shut the water off throughout your entire humble abode, this will be the magic valve that can make that happen.
Something to keep in mind: Not all main shut-off valves are located inside the house. Additionally, there’s a strong chance that if you live in an apartment, you may not have one that is designated solely for your pad.
3. Keep Drains Garbage-Free
Another plumbing feature that tends to be misused in many households (in addition to the toilet) is a nearby sink drain. While it may be tempting to “poke down” any loose garbage in hand, doing so can be detrimental to your drain’s health.
For example, you should never dispose of coffee grounds or vegetable shavings down your drain — they can cause a pretty severe blockage. Even if you have a garbage disposal installed, putting the wrong items down can snap the blades, break the device, and still cause a clog.
4. Avoid Unintentionally Puncturing Pipes
Just like you’d call 811 before a deep dig on your property, you should always check to see if there are any pipes behind a wall, ceiling, or floor before renovating your home. Doing so can help prevent a potential pipe puncture and save you from a major plumbing disaster.
Of course, one of the easiest ways to locate pipes in your home is to have a professional use an endoscopic camera to search behind those not-so-easy-to-see spaces.
5. A Wet-Dry Vacuum Can Help
We’ve all been there: Your kitchen sink seems to have suffered from a clog that can’t be fixed no matter what you do. Instead of trying to use a chemical drain cleaner — which we never recommend using — consider using a wet-dry vacuum to save the day!
Also known as a “shop vacuum,” this sturdy machine can help dislodge a severe clog in no time at all and is perfect for removing miscellaneous objects that may have caused an obstruction in the first place.
6. When in Doubt, Plunger Out
Now, if your sink clog seems to be salvageable, use a plunger to help restore “the flow of traffic.” Plungers are a great, non-invasive way to help push the water out — without an extensive array of work to be performed. Of course, when it comes to plungers, you’ll want a flat-shaped plunger for your sink while having a bell-shaped plunger for your toilet.
7. Have Leaks Repaired Right Away
No matter how big or small it may be, it’s important to have plumbing leaks repaired right away. Not only are they a nuisance to have present, but they can increase water waste in your home. For instance, up to eight gallons of H2O can be wasted, per day, thanks to a leaking faucet.
8. Check for Leaks After Plumbing Projects
While on the subject of leaks, you should make it your priority to check for plumbing leaks after completing a plumbing project. Whether it’s a small pipe repair or installing a plumbing fixture, run water through the plumbing system to see if you’re good to go or if a slight adjustment needs to be made.
9. Trust Plumber’s Tape
Also known as Teflon tape, this particular tape can help prevent leaks around fittings and joints. When tackling a plumbing project on your own, make sure to securely wrap the plumber’s tape (white tape for plumbing, yellow tape for gas lines) around threads (at least three times around) to help seal the deal.
10. Over-Tightening isn’t Ideal
When you’re securing connections and fittings, make sure not to over-tighten them. Sadly, this is a common plumbing problem that is seen too often and can result in botched plumbing jobs — specifically stripped screws, as well as broken bolts (to name a few).