DIY home improvement has become more and more popular over the past few years, thanks to TV shows and online how-to videos. But not everyone wants to tackle projects on their own – which is perfectly OK. That being said, there are a few plumbing basics that every homeowner should know to prevent a problem or delay the issue until a professional arrives.
A few essential plumbing skills for homeowners include finding the main water shut-off valve, plunging a clogged drain, repairing a leaking pipe joint, patching cracked porcelain, and maintaining a tank water heater.
Five important basic plumbing tips for homeowners
- Finding the main water shut-off valve. If there’s one takeaway from this article, it’s the importance of knowing where the main water shut-off valve is in your home. If you ever experience a major plumbing issue, whether a burst pipe or malfunctioning water heater, you’ll want to cut off the water supply to avoid devastating water damage.There may be many shut-off valves on your water pipes throughout your home, but the main shut-off valve is usually within a few feet of the water main where it enters your home. Start by looking near the front foundation wall but also check by the water heater, furnace, or in a mechanical room if you have one. To cut off the water supply to the home, simply turn the valve clockwise.
- Plunging a clogged drain. Clogs are one of the most common plumbing issues you’ll likely encounter. The good news is that most clogs are fairly easy to fix with a trusty plunger.Pro tip: there are actually a few different types of plungers, so it helps to use the right one for the drain you’re trying to clear. Cup plungers are best suited for sinks and tubs since the flat opening creates a good seal around the drain. For toilets, you’re better off using a flange plunger with a tapered rubber flap under the cup to fit the shape of the toilet drain.When it’s time to plunge, make sure the plunger is submerged in water (for sinks/tubs), create a good seal, then give a few smooth thrusts to force water through the drain and dislodge the blockage.
- Repairing a leaking pipe joint. A pipe joint is where two pieces of pipe are connected and where most leaks occur. Some joints can be easily fixed by hand-tightening, such as the PVC drain pipe underneath the sink. For soldered or glued joints, you can apply a temporary fix by wrapping the pipe in a rubber repair sleeve that will hopefully plug the leak until you or a plumber can replace the pipe.
- Fixing a cracked porcelain fixture. Porcelain can be a very durable material – but it’s also prone to cracking when too much pressure or stress is applied. If porcelain cracks on a toilet, sink, or tub, you’ll likely need to replace the entire fixture. But in the meantime, you can often prevent short-term leaks by filling the crack with plumber’s putting followed by caulk. This isn’t a permanent solution and you should still avoid using or filling the damaged fixture with water.
- Draining and flushing a tank water heater. This tip is a bit more advanced than the previous ones, but it’s still important. Over time, minerals and sediment can collect on the bottom of tank water heaters, interfering with the heating and forcing the unit to work harder. If ignored, this build-up can cause the water heater to spring a leak or break down prematurely. The solution is draining the tank and flushing it with clean water to remove the sediment. This process should be done at least once a year, or more frequently if you have hard water.
Call a plumber on Oahu and Hawaii Island
You don’t have to be a master plumber, but it’s a good idea to know the basics covered in this article. The last tip we’ll leave you with is this: never go past your comfort level. If you run into any plumbing issue that you don’t feel comfortable fixing yourself, don’t hesitate to call the expert team at Emergency Plumbing & Solar. We’re here for you 24/7 at (808) 691-9309.