Do you have a leaky faucet, low pressure or clogged pipes? With good reason, you’re likely to be tempted to hire a plumber. Plumbing is the most difficult home improvement project for a DIYer. The frustration and problems multiply as the projects expand. Most homeowners lack the skills to do a plumbing project themselves. In the end, they can make things worse by causing a lot more money in damage to property and people. Even professionals are not immune. To avoid frustration and complete a plumbing project successfully, you should allow yourself at least twice the time that you expect the job to take. A smart move is to become familiar with some of the tricks of trade. Here are some of our favorites.
Locate the Shut-Off Valve
Note the location of your main shutoff valve (in some cases the shutoff may be outside the home). It is also important to become familiar with the access points for sewer lines in case you have to perform periodic cleanings. Apartments and condos might not have dedicated shut-offs.
Do not puncture pipes
Do you plan to drill holes in your walls, ceilings, floors or other surfaces? You don’t wish to puncture any drainage or supply pipes that are behind your working area. A stud finder can help you locate pipes hidden behind walls. You could also invest in an endoscopic video camera that can be snagged into walls.
Find out what’s flushable
The toilet should not be used as a garbage can. Flushing anything other than toilet paper will cause nasty clogs. Even “flushable baby wipes” can cause a clog!
Do not flush garbage down the drain
What can you put in the garbage disposal? You should never pour coffee grounds, food residue, bacon grease or vegetable peelings down your kitchen sink. They will clog up your pipes. You should also read the manual of your garbage disposal so you know exactly what it can handle.
Take the plunge
Invest in high-quality plungers to unclog drains, toilets and sinks. When cleaning sink traps, you can use a plunger. This will force the majority of water out. This will make the task much less messy and wet.
Remove the vacuum cleaner
Use a wet/dry vacuum to remove a clog that is caused by a hard, small object, such as a toothbrush or toy for a child. The object is more easily removed by sucking it out. The plunger will push the object deeper into your drain, making it harder to remove.
Leaks are not to be ignored
This constant drip, drip drip of a fixture is money down the drain. A leaky tap can waste up to 8 gallons of drinking water each day. Meanwhile, a toilet that runs continuously can waste as much as 200 gallons. Small leaks should be repaired immediately before they grow into larger, more expensive problems.
Never Over-Tighten Fittings
Over-tightening connections and fittings is a common DIY plumbing error that leads to broken bolts or stripped screws. This adage is a good reminder: “Hand tight is perfect.”
Plumber’s tape is a friend.
Plumber’s tape, also known as Teflon Tape, is used to seal threads on pipes to prevent leaks at joints and fittings. Plumber’s tape should be wrapped around pipe threads three times before sealing. Note that yellow tape is used for gas lines, and white for plumbing.
Use Thread Tape to Make Your Home Look Beautiful:
Both tape and dope work equally well to seal pipe threads. Tape is the best option because it doesn’t stick to your hands, tools or carpet. Here are some tips for using tape:
- The cheaper tape is fine but the thicker material (often yellow for gas, pink for water) is easier and more tearing.
- The tape can only be used on pipe threads. Do not use on compression connections or any other type of connection.
- How many times do you need to wrap the pipe around? Plumbers have no set rules but most of them say that three times is the maximum.
- Wrap the tape in a clockwise direction around the threads. The tape will come off as you tighten the joint.
Always check for leaks
Check for leaks after every plumbing job by running water and then closing and opening all drains and valves. Even the most experienced plumbers can miss a small leak.