Plumbing Tips for Homeowners

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

For the majority of home plumbing issues, it is best to contact a licensed plumber for investigation and repair.  However, there are some cases where you can safely attempt to repair a plumbing issue on your own before calling in the professionals.  Some examples are below.

If your shower head seems to be clogged, it could be because mineral deposits from hard water are blocking the holes the spray comes from.  Try removing the shower head and placing it in a bowl of warm vinegar for one hour.  You should find that most of the mineral deposits are dissolved, and anything remaining can be removed with an old toothbrush.

If your kitchen sink is backed up, the most likely culprit is the garbage disposal, as it can get clogged when grease or fibrous vegetables cling to the blades.  Before you attempt to unclog it, you need to turn off the power to the disposal via your circuit box.  Even with the power shut off, you should NEVER stick your hand into the disposal.  Instead, use a pair of tongs to pull out the debris, then flush the disposal thoroughly with warm water.  If your kitchen sink is clogged and you do not have a garbage disposal, you can try to loosen the material clogging the drain with a small plunger.

If your kitchen sink sprayer is getting stuck, it is a very simple fix.  The sprayer’s lengthy hose is likely getting wrapped around pipes and valves under the sink. Placing some half-inch foam pipe insulation around the pipes and valves should correct this problem.

If you discover a leaking pipe, it requires your immediate attention and triage.  You should first shut off the water supply to that pipe.  Then, wrap a sheet of rubber around the leaking area and clamp it down with either a sleeve clamp or an adjustable hose clamp.  Once you have the leak under control, call a licensed plumber for a full repair.

Signs You Might Need a New Sewer Line

sewer cover PixabyWhen thinking about household plumbing, your sewer line is likely not on the top of your list, and that is because it is largely invisible to you.  Your sewer line, which is buried completely underground, is the part of your plumbing system that carries the waste water out of your home.

Because of the location and function of your sewer line, there are a number of ways that it can malfunction.  For example, tree roots in your yard can break through the pipes, and shifting soil can cause a sewer line to completely collapse.  Both of the aforementioned reasons can also cause leaking and cracking in the pipes, if not total destruction.  Finally, with all of the drains in your home feeding into one main sewer line, it is subject to becoming severely clogged.  If a complete clog occurs, the resulting building water pressure will cause the pipe to burst.

You may wonder how you can possibly know if your sewer line is having issues since you can’t see it with your own eyes.  However, there are three distinct above-ground indicators that you might need to replace your sewer line.  The first, and most obvious, is an odor of sewage coming from your drains or your yard.  The second is patches in your yard that are unexplainably raised and soggy, which could represent the location of a leak in the sewer line.  The third would be if you notice your sinks, bathtubs, and showers are all draining more slowly than usual, as that could indicate a clog in the sewer line.

If you suspect your sewer line may need to be replaced, you should call a licensed plumber right away to request a camera inspection of your pipes.  They will run a waterproof camera through your pipes to accurately pinpoint any issues in your underground lines and let you know what needs to be corrected.