You don’t have to have a lot of mechanical ability to do minor repairs on some plumbing items around the house. Knowing what may be wrong or attempting to make a minor repair yourself will save you hundreds of dollars during your life time.
As a renter of an apartment or house knowing what to do in case of a plumbing emergency issue will help you in the future when you become a homeowner some day.
Lets start with owning three very important items. See picture.
Shown above is a small plunger for lavatory sinks, a medium plunger for bathtubs, and a closet plunger.
Having these three plungers will take care of 98% of all clogged drains. Most drains plug up because of hair or soap build up in your bathtub and lavatory sink drains. The plungers can be purchased well under $50.00 but will last a life time.
Having a set of hand tools to do any kind of repairs not only plumbing is very important. Take a look at the next picture. You may not need all the tools in this picture but having at least half of the tools you will be able to hang pictures on the wall, put together toys, repair bicycles, tighten loose nuts on furniture, etc.
Other plumbing issues come up at times not just plugged drains. By knowing what to do is very important.
Shower heads that spray all over or lose pressure is normally caused by hard water. Removing the shower head and soaking the head in vinegar will remove the calcium build up.
Knowing where your main water valve is located and trying it out once will help prevent a potential flood from worsening.
If you have a garbage disposal that gives off a bad odor you can mix 1/2 cup of baking soda with white vinegar, and flush with boiling water.
I recommend you never use restricted chemicals down any drain. As I said earlier 98% of all plugged drains are caused by hair and soap. Using your plungers properly with good suction will unplug most drains.
The only type of non-restricted chemical I would recommend would be enzymes which would be put down your kitchen sink to help reduce fatty oils, grease, and odors. Follow the instructions on the label and your kitchen sink will smell fresh and drain better.
Another plumbing problem is drippy faucets. Most of the time you can remove the hot and cold stems and change the bottom washer which sits on the faucet seat. Take a look at some pictures.
You may need to replace the entire stem or repair more than just the bottom washer. See pictures.
There are many styles of faucets on the market and making repairs is a little different with each one of them. If you have a faucet that you cannot even get the handles off to repair, you need to find the operating manual that came with the faucet. You could try the internet for a manual to see how the faucet parts all come together or call a plumber.
Jammed garbage disposals is another problem that can be repaired by using the opposite side of one of your plungers you now have. See my article on jammed garbage disposals for more detailed information.
One other item to know a little about is your water heater. If the water heater is losing water at the bottom of the pan or draining to a floor drain this could be an indication of a rusted out water heater tank and will need to be replaced. If water is coming from the T & P valve this is an indication that the T & P valve is bad, or your water is too hot and needs to be turned down. See pictures.
T & P valve location on some water heaters.
Copper pipe shown is coming from the T & P valve. If it is draining into the floor drain it is an indication that either the T & P valve is bad or your getting too much pressure from the water heater or the temperature in the tank is too hot. You will need to check this out (ASAP) as soon as possible or call a plumber if your not comfortable solving this problem. Knowing something is wrong is the first step.
I hope I discussed the main problems you would encounter and I hope you got a better understanding that you can some minor plumbing around the house which will save you hundreds of dollars over a life time.
I have a new book available on Amazon.com called “Flush Your Plumbing Troubles Down The Toilet”. Check it out online.