32 Plumbing Tricks and Tips
By Steven De Nazareth
Updated: May 17th, 2019
If you are one that is good with your hands then you should be able to handle your own repairs and save money in the process. But you should learn these plumbing tricks that you could use when you are getting your hands dirty.
Being hands-on has its certain advantages because when you work on something, you would take utmost care to ensure that you do not damage anything when you are working on it. This is true for plumbing too as even though you use a lot of brute force, you should be gentle not to use too much force otherwise you might break something.
For those that are set to take on plumbing with their own two hands, here are some amazing pro-tips to help you be successful and make your life a little easier.
Simple Yet Amazing Plumbings Pro-tips
1. Faulty Shut Off Valves
In case there is a faulty shut off valve that is leaking then you should shut it off properly and purchase a piggyback shut off valve instead of replacing the entire shutoff valve. The piggyback shut off valve connects to the existing shut off. While in the original configuration, the original shut off valve can be left open while the piggyback shut off valve handles the shutting off function. You can save a lot with this trick in terms of time and money.
2. Loosen Stuck Pipes With Heat
If you should have threaded connections that are stuck together then you should try to loosen them by heating it. In order to do this, you need to let the heat work the connections for a few minutes but it could be even longer for older pipers. Remember, only loosen stuck waste pipes with heat.
3. Reheat Solder When Pipes Cannot Seem To Be Cut
There are some pipes that you simply cannot cut but the best solution is to heat the joint and pull off the fittings of the pipe when the solder starts to melt off. It is very important to have a wet rag readily available to wipe away the molten solder before it starts to harden. You should have to scour off the excess solder with sandpaper before you slip on the new fittings onto the pipe.
4. Replace Metal Drain Lines With Plastic
You should know that at times plastic is better than metal drain lines. This is because its cheaper, quick to install and simpler to work with. The good thing is that plastic will not corrode. This is why if you have a metal drain that leaks then you should replace it with plastic. This will save you from future repair problems.
5. Fixing Clogs
You should plunge pipes to unclog it before using a drain snake. Plunging could fix the problem but you should clear the clog. For this, you should pick up a flexible shaft pick-up tool for about $12 and use it to clear out the clog. Another way of doing this is using the wet/dry vacuum using the suction to loosen the clog.
6. Do Not Tighten Supply Lines Too Much
In case there is a tighter connection then this does not necessarily mean a good one. If you tighten a connection too much then it may ruin the rubber seals. By loosening the threaded nuts, it may crack. You should therefore try to tighten lines just one notch past where it stops leaking.
7. Do Not Reuse Supply Lines
Despite what you may think about supply lines, you should not reuse it. You might feel that it would save you a few dollars here and there but in the long run it will degrade in time. This is why you should buy new supply lines that are encased in stainless steel.
8. Thread Tape
In order to thread tape, you can use cheap tape in place of expensive tape. But the thicker the tape, the easier it will be to handle wear and tear. Tape should be used for pipe threads only and not for compression and other connections. Therefore, it’s best to wrap the tape three times around the piping and wrap it clockwise around the threads.
9. Cut Stubborn Parts
Get rid of all those corroded and mineral deposits that are going to lock parts together as it is impossible to disconnect them. Use a hacksaw blade or a rotary tool to disconnect them and cut the stubborn part. Also, look into plumbing problems that recur in summer.
10. Use Caulk instead of Plumber’s Putty
Make sure that you do not use plumber’s putty since it will damage some types of plastic and stain surfaces. This will also dry out and crack and allow leaks to happen. Silicone caulk is the best to use as it is safer and will last longer.
11. Use Thread Sealant
Since there are machining and differences in finishes, pipe connections will never be a 100% watertight seal. For this reason, it is a good idea to use a thread sealant. Sealants come in different varieties and they are made of different materials and different properties.These are used on compression fittings, ground fittings and rubber seals.
12. Fixing Leaks in Copper Pipes
If you happen to find a leak in a copper pipe, a simple alternative to soldering is to cut out the damaged section (but not at a fitting) and put in a compression repair coupling. You can use a tubing cutter. Cut the pipe at the leak, and use a coupling to make the needed repair
13. Fix a Clogged Showerhead
You should fix a clogged showerhead when you get the time. First put it into a plastic bag that is filled with white distilled vinegar and tie it up with a twist tie or an elastic band. Then you should allow it to soak for a day or two and the vinegar should break down the mineral deposits. Then you should run the shower at full force and repeat it if needed.
14. Check for a Leaking Toilet
Simply put a few drops of food coloring into the tank. Give it about 20 minutes and then check the bowl. In case you see the water’s changed colors then you can suspect a leak.
15. Clean a Faucet Aerator
You should unscrew the aerator and soak it in white vinegar overnight. The vinegar will break down the mineral deposits that have built up. Once this process is done, you can reinstall and run water through it to ensure that it is cleared and repeat if necessary.
16. Prevent Buildup in Shower Drains
You should try pouring a few litres of hot water down the drain once a month to remove hair that gets clogged, followed by a few minutes of pouring down warm water to ensure that it all gets pushed down.
17. Invest in a Hair Catcher for the Shower
A hair catcher is a good idea if you or some using the shower has long hair. This will act as a strainer for your bathtub drain.
18. Clear a Mild Drain Clog
In order to get rid of a mild drain clog, you should mix baking soda with vinegar and pour it down the drain. Then you should run hot water through it in order to ensure that there is no buildup and this will help clear it.
19. Check for Leaks by Using the Water Meter
Find the water meter and check if before you call it a day and then again the next morning. If it has changed significantly then you might have a leak in your plumbing.
20. Buy Strainers for Your Kitchen Drains
If you buy strainers then this will prevent large food scraps from clogging the drain.
21. Use the Right Plunger for the Right Job
A cup plunger is not ideal for clearing toilet clogs. Instead, you should use a flange plunger or even an accordion plunger which provides the most suction for clearing tough clogs.
22. Run the Plunger Under Some Hot Water Before Using
By running the plunger under hot water, it will soften the rubber a bit and this would provide a better suction for the job.
23. Have a Checklist for Each Season
You should make a list of seasonal tasks that can be difficult unless your plumbing skills keep it smoothly running. Some of these tasks include:
- Checking your boiler or flushing out the water heater.
- Check the faucets and toilets that are not leaking.
- Also, check if there is a leak and check for mold.
- Look for cracks, fissures and corrosion on pipes.
- In case you have frozen pipes then you should learn to thaw it.
- Check for loose tiles as this would be an indication that there is a leak.
24. Turn Off Outside Taps Each Winter
As part of the winter checklist, you should disconnect hoses and ensure that taps are turned off before the cold sets in. In case you have a shut off valve that leads to the outdoor faucet then you should close and drain it.
25. Don’t Bother With Liquid Drain Cleaners
Do not use liquid drain cleaners as they can damage pipes in time and are made of toxic chemicals.
26. Don’t Clog Up the Garbage Disposal
If you have a garbage disposal then you should be picky about what goes down it with no grease and oily fats. Also you should avoid clogging it up with corn husks or onion skins.
27. Know the Signs of Hard Water
You should know about the signs about a calcium buildup on your fixtures and in places like shower heads. This would indicate that your water in your home is hard. Over time they can negatively affect the plumbing of your home.
28. Get a Plumbing Inspection
In case there are any issues that are lingering even after you have tried your best to fix them but haven’t sprung up yet. This is when you should call in a plumber to inspect your home.
29. Shut Off the Flow to Your Toilets and Sinks When Going on Vacation
There should be valves to turn off the water below the sink or just behind the toilet just before you go for your vacation.
30. Have Someone Trusted Come In To Check on the Plumbing While You’re Away
You should have a trusted friend or relative drop by your house every once in a while to ensure that everything is alright at home. In case you are going away for an extended time during winter then you should not completely turn off the heat to make sure the pipes don’t freeze.
31. Familiarize Yourself with the Shut off Valve
In case you have a plumbing problem then you should know exactly where to go to shut off the water supply and prevent further damage.
32. Connect With The Professionals
If you are not completely sure about what you’re doing then don’t make the plumbing problem worse by trying to fix it yourself. This would cost you more money in the long run.
Home Warranty and HomeWarrantyReviews.com
Now that you have a fair idea of plumbing techniques and tips then you would also want to know about how to better maintain your home. Home maintenance is all about how to better maintain your home and how to keep it functioning well like a well oiled machine. This means that you should keep a close eye on all the systems and appliances and replace and repair them whenever there is a breakdown.
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