by Sean Hansen
Every house has plumbing issues here and there, but calling a plumber isn’t always the best bang for your buck. Here are 7 ways to eliminate plumbing problems that anyone can accomplish.
1. Keep the areas under your sink clean.
In order to fix leaks and the damage they can do to your home, you have to notice them first. This is almost impossible if the space under your kitchen sink is home to a hardware store’s worth of cleaners, sponges, and plastic bags from grocery stores. This also applies to your bathroom sinks and towels. Stop treating sink cabinets as long term storage, and start treating them like they’re designated maintenance space. I promise that you’ll be able to find convenient and dedicated storage for all of the odds and ends kept under your sink.
2. Be Vigilant.
If an area under your sink feels damp then check it out. Ignoring what could be a major leak won’t do you any favors in the long run and could seriously damage other parts of your house.
3. Treat your equipment with respect.
A Garbage disposal isn’t a trash can, and sinks aren’t stray hair and grease storage bins. When at all possible, put those items where they belong - in the trash. If you have to use your garbage disposal (no-one’s going to throw away 20 grains of rice or half an ounce of gristle), be sure to run hot water over it before, during, and after you turn it on.
4. Fixing clogged sink drains.
It isn’t normal for your bathroom sink to take 10 minutes to clear after having the stopper removed.
The most likely culprit here is your P-trap. Under your sink, there’s a vertical pipe that runs to a U-shaped Pipe. That U-pipe is your P-trap, and that’s what you’ll most likely have to clean. Place a bucket under the drain and remove the P-trap. Clean the interior of the P-trap with a wire brush and run some hot water through it. Check the drain itself and other pipes to see if there’s any easy to clean debris there as well, while also taking care not to remove said pipes. When you’re finished, reconnect the P-trap, tighten both ends, and run some water through it to make sure there aren’t any leaks.
After you’re done cleaning out the traps, consider buying some drain filters. They’re cheap, catch a lot more junk, and will save you some time. As an added bonus, you can also use these for showers and bathtubs. Just be sure to replace them as needed.
5. Running Toilet.
A toilet that keeps running long after it’s been flushed isn’t just annoying, it’s expensive and can waste in excess of 100 gallons a day. Typically, there are three common culprits: the tank flap, faulty float position, or a defective refill valve. You can check for online tutorials to diagnose and fix any of these problems. The parts are cheap and the process itself is easy. I had literally just fixed a faulty float not five minutes before writing this article.
6. Dripping Faucets.
Fixing a dripping faucet is a little bit more delicate work than turning a screw on a float assembly, but it’s still within the realm of most DIYers. The main issue here is that the assemblies themselves are a bit smaller and more intricate than a simple toilet mechanism. Delta and other manufacturers have all published diagnostic and repair guides on their respective websites. Take a look and decide if you think you can pull it off. If not, call a professional.
7. When to leave it to the experts.
A majority of the things we’ve listed are things that most people can do with a little bit of time, research, and effort. That being said, the majority of your plumbing system is under the house or in the walls, and as a result, it’s invisible to you. While the fixes we’ve talked about here are fairly simple, there’s a reason calling a plumber can be expensive - they know what they’re doing. Scheduling an inspection of your plumbing system can’t hurt anything, and if you’re uncomfortable about a diagnosis or feel like the guy might be trying to rip you off, then shop around. Be sure to also check consumer services to make sure you’re not being taken for a ride.