Not every job is DIY – some should be left to professionals. But there are some easy plumbing fixes any DIY homeowner can do, and knowing about them will save you money.
These simple do-it-yourself methods allow you to fix common plumbing problems in your home without calling an expensive plumber.
Fixing a Leaky Faucet
A leaky faucet can be annoying and wasteful, but you can fix it easily. Here’s what you need to do:
- Turn off the water supply: Before you start working on the faucet, make sure to turn off the water supply either under the sink or at the main valve.
- Take apart the faucet: Use a screwdriver or adjustable wrench to remove the handle and expose the cartridge or stem assembly.
- Check the parts: Look for any worn-out or damaged O-rings and washers.
- Replace worn-out parts: If you find any worn-out or damaged parts, replace them with new ones. Take the old parts with you to the store to make sure you buy the right parts.
- Reassemble the faucet: Put the faucet back together in the reverse order of disassembly. Tighten all the screws or nuts securely, but be careful not to overtighten.
- Turn on the water supply: Once you’ve reassembled the faucet, turn on the water supply and check for any leaks. If there are no leaks, you’re all done!
Clearing a Clogged Drain
A clogged drain is a common plumbing issue that you can usually easily fix yourself. Follow these steps to clear a clogged drain:
- Use a plunger: Start by using a plunger designed for sinks or drains. Place the plunger over the drain and create a tight seal. Push and pull the plunger vigorously to create suction and dislodge the clog. Repeat this process several times if needed.
- Try a drain snake: If the plunger doesn’t work, you can use a drain snake or auger. Insert the snake into the drain and rotate it clockwise while pushing it forward. This will help break up and remove any clogs in the pipe.
- Use baking soda and vinegar: For minor clogs, you can try a natural solution. Pour a cup of baking soda followed by a cup of vinegar down the drain. Let it sit for about 30 minutes, then flush it with hot water. This combination can help dissolve organic materials and clear minor clogs.
- Clean the P-trap: If the clog is in the P-trap under the sink, place a bucket beneath it to catch any water. Unscrew the nuts connecting the P-trap to the pipes and remove any debris or clogs causing the blockage. Reassemble the P-trap and test the drain.
- Prevent future clogs: To avoid future clogs, don’t pour grease, coffee grounds, or large food scraps down the drain. Use drain covers or strainers to catch hair and other debris before they enter the pipes.
Fixing a Running Toilet
A running toilet can waste water and increase your water bill. You can fix most causes of a running toilet easily. Here’s how to do it:
- Check the flapper: Lift the lid of the toilet tank and check the rubber flapper at the bottom. If the flapper is worn, it may not be creating a proper seal, causing water to continuously flow into the bowl. Replace the flapper if necessary.
- Adjust the float: The float is a small device that controls the water level in the tank. If the float is set too high, it can cause the water to constantly run. Adjust the float by bending the float arm or adjusting the screw or clip holding it in place.
- Clean or replace the fill valve: The fill valve refills the tank after each flush. If it becomes clogged or worn, it may not function properly and cause a running toilet. Remove the fill valve from the tank and clean it thoroughly. If cleaning doesn’t solve the problem, consider replacing the fill valve.
- Check the overflow tube: The overflow tube prevents water from overflowing into the floor if the tank fills too high. If the water level in the tank is too high, adjust the height of the overflow tube by bending it slightly downwards. This will help prevent continuous running.
- Test for leaks: Once you have made the necessary repairs, turn on the water supply and let the tank fill. Check for any leaks around the flapper, fill valve, or other connections. Adjust as needed until everything is working properly.
Repairing a Dripping Showerhead
A dripping showerhead can waste water and be annoying. Fortunately, fixing it is pretty simple and you don’t need a lot of tools. Follow these steps:
- Turn off the water supply: Before you begin, turn off the water supply to the shower either by closing the water shut-off valve near the shower or by turning off the main water supply.
- Remove the showerhead: Use an adjustable wrench or pliers to unscrew the showerhead from the shower arm. Wrap a cloth around the showerhead to avoid scratching it.
- Inspect the washer and O-ring: Check the washer and O-ring inside the showerhead for signs of wear or damage.
- Replace worn-out parts: If you find any worn-out or damaged parts, replace them with new ones. Most hardware stores carry replacement washers and O-rings that are compatible with standard showerheads.
- Reassemble and test: Once you’ve replaced any necessary parts, reassemble the showerhead by screwing it back onto the shower arm. Make sure it is tightened securely, but be careful not to overtighten. Turn on the water supply and check for any leaks. If there are no leaks, your dripping showerhead should now be fixed.
Dealing with Low Water Pressure
Low water pressure can be frustrating, but there are a few steps you can take to troubleshoot and potentially fix it:
- Check the aerators: A clogged or dirty aerator on faucets can cause low water pressure. Remove the aerator from the affected faucets and clean it to remove any mineral deposits or debris that may be restricting water flow.
- Inspect the pressure regulator: A faulty pressure regulator can also cause low water pressure throughout your home. Locate the pressure regulator near the main water shut-off valve or where the main water line enters your house. If you suspect it is malfunctioning, consider calling a professional plumber to replace it.
- Check for leaks: Hidden leaks in your plumbing system can contribute to low water pressure. Inspect visible pipes for signs of leaks, such as water stains or puddles. If you suspect a hidden leak, call a professional plumber to locate and repair it.
- Contact your water provider: If you have ruled out any issues within your home, low water pressure may be a result of a problem with the municipal water supply. Contact your water provider to inquire about any known issues or scheduled maintenance that may be affecting water pressure in your area.