Homeowner Plumbing Tips

Image courtesy of Mister GC at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Mister GC at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Apartment living definitely has some perks, the biggest of which is the ability to simply call maintenance when something in your unit breaks.  However, once you buy a home, anything that breaks is yours to fix.  With some advanced planning, you can have everything you need to resolve minor plumbing problems at the ready when they happen to you.

Your first order of business is definitely to assemble a plumbing kit for your home.  It should contain a plunger to unclog drains, duct tape for fast triage on stubborn leaks, a screwdriver, and heavy duty paper rolls which can be sued to absorb leaks off of the floor.  Another thing you should have handy is a set of hex keys, also known as Allen keys.  These are essential for tightening small nuts and bolts in confined spaces.  You should also purchase and use strainers on your drains to keep soap, hair, and other items from entering and clogging your pipes.

Next, you should familiarize yourself with where the main shut off valves for gas and water are in your home.  Should you experience a leak of water or gas, it’s extremely important to be able to locate those valves and shut them off quickly.

Finally, here are a few tricks to have up your sleeve for later.

  • If your toilet won’t flush, you can fill a bucket halfway with water and dump it into the toilet bowl. This should serve to clear the toilet until you can have the issue fixed.
  • A plunger can be used to unclog a blocked drain or a sink. If the plunger does not work on the sink, you can remove the u-shaped pipe in the bottom to clear out the blockage.
  • Always have the information for a local licensed plumber at the ready in case you need help.

Pressure-Assisted Toilets

photo courtesy of reevesjournal.com
photo courtesy of reevesjournal.com

To understand the pressure-assisted toilet, you must first be aware of the fact that the toilets you mostly see on a daily basis are known as gravity-assisted toilets.  Gravity-assisted toilets are your standard home toilets.  They operate via a handle which triggers a valve inside the tank to open and suction the water down from the tank, through the toilet bowl, and into the pipes below.  On the other hand, pressure-assisted toilets are a newer technology. They consist of a sealed cylindrical tank inside of a larger ceramic tank. When these toilets are flushed, water displaces air inside the sealed tank, which generates a much more forceful flush than can be produced by gravity alone.  Below are some reasons you may want to consider purchasing pressure-assisted toilets for your home: [Read more…]

Water Pressure

photo courtesy of improvenet.com
photo courtesy of improvenet.com

If you are like most people, you probably don’t give much thought to the water pressure in your home.  However, this is one aspect of your home’s plumbing you should always be aware of in the back of your mind.  Water pressure is defined as the number of pounds per square inch (PSI) pushing through a water system.  In order for your home appliances, such as washing machines, dishwashers, toilets, showers, and sinks to work properly, your water pressure needs to be between 40 and 60 PSI. [Read more…]

Backups in your Shower/Tub Drain

Don’t damage your drains, prevent tub backup correctly

photo courtesy of Oahutub.com
photo courtesy of Oahutub.com

While all drains have the potential to back up, your shower/tub drain is perhaps the most vulnerable, due to the hair that naturally washes off of us when we shower.  In fact, 99 percent of all tub and shower clogs are caused by hair.  You can purchase metal strainers for your drain, and these are quite effective in blocking larger objects, such as rings, razors, and toothpaste caps.  Unfortunately, there is no strainer fine enough to block hair from going through. [Read more…]

How to Unclog Your Sink or Bathtub Drain

Not many people know how damaging drain-cleaning products can be over time. The chemicals in those products are designed to destroy and completely eliminate the blockage in your pipe, but, the more you use those chemicals, the more they can erode the metal of your pipes and cause serious water damage in your home.

Alternative Methods to Unclog Drains

You do not always have to resort to the drain cleaner you can pick up in the grocery store to clear a clogged pipe or drain. I have some alternative methods that should clear up the problem and make it so you can use your sink or bathtub regularly again.

The Wire Hanger Method

Oftentimes, particularly if there are a lot of people in your household who have long hair, the drains in the home can be clogged. Usually, the hair gets caught somewhere just below the surface of the drain and continues to accumulate over months of usage.

If you take a wire hanger and unwrap it so that it is mostly straight with a tip that acts as a hook, you can usually stick it down into the drain (once you have, of course, made the draining pipe accessible by removing anything designed to block it) and pull up several hairballs.

This can be a messy process, so I suggest that you get a garbage bag or a grocery bag to put the clogging substance into. That way it can be easily disposed of when you have cleared the drain.

The Baking Soda Method

If the wire hanger method did not work, or if you are not excited to see the nasty stuff that is in your clogged pipe, I suggest you move forward with the baking soda method.

You are going to need a half cup of baking soda, a cup of vinegar, a rag or hand towel, and some hot water. First, pour the baking soda down the drain. Next, have the hand towel in one hand while you pour the vinegar in. Clog the drain with the hand towel and let the mixture sit for 30 minutes. When the 30 minutes is up, remove the hand towel and pour the hot water down the drain. It should be unclogged, but, if it is not, you can repeat this process once more.

Resorting to the Plunger

As another alternative method, you can use the plunger, which is traditionally used for toilets. It works in a variety of situations, so you can definitely put it to work to clear your drain if the previous methods do not sound attractive to you.

If you are trying to unclog your sink, I suggest buying a smaller plunger that will fit better before you try this.

All right. Roll up your sleeves and make sure that there is some standing water in the bathtub or sink to help with suction. Now, quickly push the plunger down against the drain and pull up repeatedly until the drain is clear. If needed, add more water to the basin as it disappears down the drain.

If All Else Fails!

If you have tried everything and nothing works, I would suggest either taking apart the pipes below your sink yourself or calling a plumber to take care of it for you.

If you do decide to tackle unscrewing the pipes yourself, make sure you turn off the water and have some sort of bucket near you that you can use to catch the debris that comes out. You do not want that all over your bathroom.

Though Kassandra Konecny has only begun writing professionally about six months ago, she has been writing creatively for years. Recently, she has worked to become an expert at writing blogs for the plumbing industry, including blogs for salt lake plumber.