Common Plumbing Problems You Can Fix Yourself

If you are having plumbing problems, there are several things you can do on your own to fix them before calling a plumber.  Plumbers can be expensive, especially when we need them.  Many plumbers charge overtime rates for nights and weekends, but this is when most people experience their problems.  Many of these issues are relatively simple to fix with a typical household tool box, if you know how.

Most household plumbing problems involve the toilet.  Running toilets are annoying and waste water.  The issue is usually caused by a faulty flapper or ball assembly.  These are easily replaced by following the instructions in the parts package.  If a build-up of mineral deposits is causing the flap not to close, you can solve that with boiling water, vinegar, and baking soda.  Of all plumbing problems backed up toilets are the most common and easiest to fix.  If the sink is backing up too, then you need a plumber.  When other drains in the house are backing up too, then you have a problem in the sewer line that needs to be addressed right away.  

If it is just the toilet, then a plunger and a bucket of water will almost always do the trick. Most toilet clogs are caused by plastic items that get into the toilet like toys and sanitary products.  If the item was just dropped into the toilet, then you might be able to retrieve it with a coat hanger.  If it is further along the drain path, then you will need to flush it all the way through with a plunger.  Another tool you can use is a closet auger.  Insert the padded end into the hole at the bottom of the bowl and shove it down.  Crank the handle and you should be able to clear any clogs for 5 feet. 

Among some other plumbing problems noisy pipes can be a real headache.  Water pipes can make a cacophony of sound.  If you have easy access to the pipes in your home, then fixing this problem can be a cinch.  Pipes are anchored every 6 to 8 feet when horizontal, or every 8 to 10 feet when vertical.  If you hear banging, that means the anchors are coming loose.  Often, you will be able to tighten the anchors using an electric drill/screwdriver.  If the anchors are broken, you can get replacement parts at your hardware store.  In the meantime, anchor the pipes with straps and cushion them with a blanket or two to stop the banging until you can fix the anchors.  If you are hearing a squeaking sound, the problem is with your hot water pipes.  Placing a rubber cushion between the pipe and the anchor will fix this.  If you hear a hammering sound when you turn the water off, then the air chambers in the pipes are empty.  You can fix this by turning off the water at the main shutoff, and then open all the faucets to drain the entire system.  Then turn off the faucets and turn on the water supply.  The chambers should refill with air and fix the problem.

Plumbing problems are common.  Plumbers make an easy living off of people who call them to fix issues they could address themselves.  Many new homeowners are shocked at the cost of maintaining a home.  When people who are used to calling a landlord or superintendent experience issues, they often do not stray from that habit and pick up the phone to call a plumber.  Investigating the issues first and asking questions at your local hardware store can save you a great deal of money.

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