Like so many of modern life’s conveniences, we tend to take our plumbing entirely for granted… until it goes wrong.
If the toilet suddenly backs up, or a tap continues to leak, or a sink won’t drain, there are several relatively simple self-fixes you can try. In this easy-to-digest overview, we’ll look at those three common plumbing problems, give advice on how to deal with them, and refer you to other blog posts that deal with plumbing questions in greater detail.
How to Unblock A Toilet
Immediately stop flushing the toilet. Dumping more water into the bowl isn’t extremely likely to result in a miraculous clearance; rather, you’ll just make matters worse by flooding the floor with overflowing water. In fact, turn off the valve which serves the toilet, then wait for the trapped water to seep away.
Put on a pair of sturdy rubber gloves, reach in and try to remove any obvious blockages. If that doesn’t work, add a little dish soap to a half-bucket of hot (not boiling) water, then pour the mixture into the toilet from a couple of feet above the top of the bowl. If the pressure and agitation caused by the falling water doesn’t work, the detergent may loosen the blockage.
Use a heavy-duty rubber plunger, or attempt to push out the obstruction with a plumbing snake (a flexible coil of wire on a spool). You can buy a manual version, or rent one that works on an electric drill.
This and other plumbing questions are more fully explored here.
Fixing a Leaky Faucet
Dripping is annoying, costly and environmentally unsound. Start your DIY repair by identifying where exactly the leak is coming from (under the handle, from the aerator and from the base of the spout are the most common culprits).
Check the faucet manufacturer’s website, and learn the disassembly process they recommend. Shut off water to the sink, or to the whole house if the sink doesn’t have a dedicated shut-off valve, and block the drain to ensure no parts use it as an untimely exit.
Per the manufacturer’s instructions, remove the handle(s) and the nut that holds all the valve parts together, then remove the valve stem and parts. Visually check for the broken or worn parts that may be causing the leak. Rubber and plastic components are the most vulnerable, especially washers, seals, and O-rings.
Learn more here.
Three Tips to Unclog a Sink
Perhaps more annoying than water entering a sink without invitation is when it refuses to leave. The advice here applies equally to both kitchen sinks and those in the bathroom.
Try the toilet plunger first. Minor blockages will very often evaporate after a couple of hard pops, because they’re commonly caused by hair and soap binding together (or food scraps and grease in the kitchen). If that doesn’t work, try pouring boiling water into the drain; it, too, is great at breaking up clogs.
The last DIY fix to try is removing the “U”-shaped trap below the sink itself. Wear your heavy rubber gloves, use a wrench to loosen both retaining nuts, then unscrew them completely while holding a bucket beneath where you’re working. Slop the blockage into the bucket, then replace the assembly.
There’s more on similar plumbing questions here.
If answering your own plumbing questions doesn’t sounds like a lot of fun, simply call ExpressRooter Plumbing to arrange a visit from a professional plumber.