The plumbing system in the average home is far more complex than most people realize, and naturally, the more rooms that have water supplied to them the more piping there is, which in turn means the more opportunities there are for plumbing issues to arise. Some simple plumbing issues can be rectified easily by the homeowner, but it is important to recognize when the problem is major and it is time to call in a professional.
Bathtub/Sink Caulking –
It is imperative to do periodic spot checks on caulking around sinks and tubs. By checking regularly, any cracks can be discovered quickly and remedied before water can seep through and cause damage. Re-caulking is a task that most people can undertake themselves.
Begin by removing all of the old caulking. Be sure to leave no traces of the old caulking and wipe down the surface with rubbing alcohol to remove any residue. The cleaner the surface, the better the new caulking will be able to adhere. Using a caulking gun neatly apply a continuous line of caulk. Use your dampened fingers to smooth out any unevenness and give you a professional finish. Caulk dries rapidly, so you must work quickly and efficiently. If you are not happy with the finish, you can remove the caulking and do it again. If after re-caulking you are still experiencing a leak, call a plumber to inspect the piping.
Replacing an old showerhead is a straightforward task and usually involves unscrewing the old one and screwing on the new. Occasionally the old showerhead may be difficult to remove, and you may have to resort to using a set of tongue and groove pliers to get a good grip on it. If you don’t own a set you can rent them from a local hardware store’s tool rental section, or if you are concerned that you may cause damage to the piping by wrenching on the showerhead too hard call a professional plumber. This is a job that can be tacked onto another plumbing job if the replacement of the showerhead is not urgent.
Faucet Leaks –
Typically a leaking faucet is a result of wear and tear and often may only require the replacement of a washer. This largely depends on the style of faucet. Rotary ball faucets are usually an easy fix, with your local hardware store stocking replacement parts. Cartridge and ceramic disc faucets can be more difficult to find replacement parts for, however.
As with most plumbing repairs, the first step is to turn off the water supply to the house. The main water supply shut-off is usually located on the outside of the house. If you are not familiar with its location now is a good time to explore to discover where it is. This is information that will serve you well should you ever suffer a serious water leak.
Replacing a Faucet –
This is another job that is quite easy for a homeowner to undertake. First, shut off the water supply. Now remove the old faucet, taking note of where the connections are located. Unless you are very confident in being able to relocate pipes it is best to replace the old faucet with one that will fit the existing connection points. Most new faucet packaging includes directions to follow that show how to install your new faucet.
More extensive remodeling that requires a number of plumbing replacements and upgrades should be undertaken by a professional plumber. He or she can also advise you on the best products currently on the market, with his or her recommendations for your specific circumstances.
Continually Running Toilet –
As well as it being a waste of water (and therefore money), a toilet that runs continuously can be irritating. Jiggling the handle will work in many cases, but this can become a tedious task every time the toilet is used. Eventually, a repair is going to be required, usually involving replacement of either the stop valve or floater valve. Both replacements can be undertaken by the homeowner. Shut the water off and replace the failed part by following the instructions on the packaging of the replacement part. Parts are readily available from most hardware stores.
If, on the other hand, your toilet will not flush this could be as a result of blockage either in the trap or the drain. You can try using a plunger to loosen the blockage. If this doesn’t work try snaking it. If you are still unable to get the blockage to clear this could be an indication of a more serious problem, and you should call in a professional plumber to investigate the cause.
Water Pressure Issues –
Hard water buildup is a common problem and will affect water pressure over time. The most noticeable place for this is in the shower. Check the showerhead for signs of lime buildup. If it clearly shows a problem, remove it and soak it in a descaling solution. Once clean you can rinse it off and replace it.
If you are regularly running into plumbing issues, ask your preferred plumber if he or she offers a plumbing maintenance program or plumbing protection plan. Plumbing repair costs can quickly mount up, and a plumbing maintenance program can save you money and provide peace of mind.
Washing Machine Hose Replacement –
You should inspect your washing machine hoses regularly for leaks. If one or both needs replacement, shut off the water supply and the electricity supply. Unhook the hoses from the washing machine. Replace the hoses and then turn the electricity and water supplies back on. Test to ensure that there are no leaks and that water flows freely through the hoses.
Having a good understanding of how your plumbing system works and where pipes are located is helpful should a plumbing emergency arise. At the very least a homeowner should know where the main water supply shut off valve is located so that it can be turned off quickly. If you feel that plumbing is something you are not willing to tackle, hire a professional to undertake repairs for you.
Blocked Drains –
Periodically, drains become clogged. While prevention is best when a drain becomes clogged, it can be tempting to resort to using chemicals to clear the blockage, but these should be avoided as they cause erosion to the pipes over time. Call a plumber to investigate and clear any clogged drains.
Preventative measures will substantially reduce the opportunity for drains to become blocked. Using a hair filter over the shower drain is the best way to prevent a buildup in the pipe. The filter should be emptied of hair every time the shower is used. Being careful not to put food particles down your kitchen sink will help prevent blockages, and fat and grease should never be poured down the drain. Be aware of the things your garbage disposal can handle and use it as infrequently as possible.