If you live in a rural area or have just moved into an old house, you will know how frustrating plumbing problems can be. Leaks can cause major water damage and can give dangerous mold a chance to grow. Clogged drains and toilets are anyone’s worst nightmare. And even something as small as a rusted tap that can’t open will give you endless headaches. Here are some easy do-it-yourself ways to make plumbing less of a mission. Firstly, there is a list of useful tools and gadgets that any home should have in case of a plumbing emergency, and then a couple of tips and pointers on how to prevent damage to your pipes and drains. Lastly, there will be some tricks on how to react in those emergency instances – you will usually need a plumber to sort these out, but you can do a couple of things to reduce the damage.
A list of useful plumbing tools
Monkeywrench (gas grips) – This is probably the most versatile tool out there. The wrench can be adjusted to fit around any pipe and is useful when loosening or tightening connections on a pipe.
Tongue-and-groove pliers – These grip pliers come in handy when working in tight spots with round pipes. The grooves can catch the most slippery pipe and hold it still while you cut, bend, or screw something on or off the pipe.
Plumber’s tape – You might need the professionals to take care of a major leak, but by sticking on this plumber’s tape, you can at least lessen the leak until the plumbers arrive to save the day. The tape is also handy when dealing with small leaks.
Plungers – Plungers are cheap to buy. There are two different types of plungers: a cup plunger is perfect for clogged drains in sinks and bathtubs but you need a flange plunger that is perfectly shaped to get rid of toilet clogs. You also don’t really want to use the same plunger in your kitchen sink and toilet, so buy a couple.
Drain or toilet auger – If your drains and toilets often get blocked, invest in augers. You get a sink auger that looks like a drill, and then you get the plumber’s snake auger designed to take care of clogged toilets easily.
– Clogged Drains
Toilet clogs – Do not flush anything weird down the toilet. For the sake of pollution, and to save you money on plumber bills, only flush toilet paper and the stuff that belongs in toilets down the drain. You can also regularly empty a bucket of hot water down your toilet to prevent any clogs.
Showers and baths – Get a hair strainer to prevent long hair from getting trapped in the drain. Also, try to rinse any shampoo or soap down with water because this can become a frizzy mess later on.
Sinks – Avoid rinsing oily substances down your kitchen sink’s drain, and invest in a strainer to catch any loose food bits before it starts clogging. If you see the water starting to drain slowly, throw in a cup of bicarbonate of soda followed by a cup of white vinegar and rinse it out with scolding hot water. There are acidic drain cleaners you can buy if the problem persists, but these are very corrosive, and they are bad for the environment.
– Locating leaky pipes, faucets, and toilets
Locating leaky pipes can be tricky. Write down the number on your water meter before you go to bed. If the reading is significantly higher in the morning, you know you’ve got a leak. Now you need to start looking for wet patches, grass that grows taller in some spots, or for mold in dark places and on the inside of walls (use a mirror and a torch if you struggle to see).
Pipes can burst due to water freezing in the pipes. Prevent this by shutting off any water flow to pipes outside the house and then empty the pipes before the first cold hits. Hard water, water with many minerals, can also lead to corrosion which can lead to leaks. Make sure to flush your water boiler and any pipes as often as possible to get rid of the minerals that can corrode the pipes.
It’s easy to see and hear if a faucet is leaking, but a toilet is deceptive. Throw some light food coloring in the top of the cistern and check the toilet water after a couple of hours. If the water in the toilet changed colors, you know there is a leak.
– Replace worn washers
It might seem like a daunting task, but with a monkey wrench and tongue-and-groove pliers, it is child’s play. Make sure to switch off the main valve and empty the pipes before you open the faucet or toilet. You can take out the old washer and take it to the hardware store if you do not know what to replace it with. Remember to close the faucet or toilet pipe tightly before you open the valves again. Keep a close eye on the connection for a couple of days to make sure there are no leaks.
In emergencies, it is best to call professionals for help. In the meanwhile, you can do a couple of things to prevent massive destruction and damage.
Clogged toilet – Do not try to flush the mess away, this will just lead to a bigger mess. If neither the plunger or the auger works, phone the professionals and rather use another toilet in the house or ask a friend.
Burst pipes – Some pipes do not just leak; they burst and spray your whole house, basement, bathroom or kitchen with water which can damage expensive furniture and result in mold growth. The first thing to do is locate and turn off the main water valve to your house. If there is a smaller valve close to the pipe, close it. Use a bucket to catch some of the water, and open the taps to drain the pipe into a drain, rather than onto your carpet or wooden flooring.
Leaking pipe – After locating the leak, bind it with plumber’s tape and shut off the valve for a temporary fix. Leaks are hard to fix, and a plumber can do it a lot easier and faster than you can.
There are many things that can go wrong with the plumbing. With the pipes behind walls or under the ground it is sometimes impossible to fix the problem yourself, and you will need professional assistance like the guys at plumbingforce.co.uk can offer you. The most important thing you can do when moving into a new house is locating the main valve and any other valves so you can switch off the water before disaster strikes. Other than the few preventions mentioned above, rather leave big messes to the professionals. It will save you a lot of time and effort in the long run.