A few basic tips on how to do plumbing yourself and make fixes on the three major types of problemsóleaks, clogs and dripsócan save you a ton of money over the life of your home. It's worth it to learn how to do plumbing yourself, as plumbers will charge you more in a half hour than all the basic plumbing tools needed for all three problems. Plumbers are valuable resources for remodels and emergencies, but not so much for saving you money on simple things.
The most frustrating of the three problems is leaks, as they happen in both incoming pipes and outgoing drains. When you see a leak, or the evidence of one, such as a discolored area or mushy wallboard, trace it to its source. You can do this by listening, looking for water stains or by searching with your flashlight. Find the source and it may be apparent what's needed to fix it. It will either be a malfunctioning fitting or a small hole or split in the pipe. Tightening joints can stop some leaks, as can replacing a section of the pipe. Also, patch kits are available at hardware and home improvement stores. These work great for drain pipes, but with incoming pressurized pipes, may only be temporary fixes.
Usually it's relatively easy to fix a plumbing problem like a clog, as they are only found in the unpressurized drain system. Most of the common clogs are close to the appliance (sink or bathtub) and in toilets. The first tool to try is a plunger, a rubber bowl-shaped device with a long handle, which often will take care of the clog. If not, you may need a plumbing snake, a flexible metal rope-like tool which can be inserted into the drain and turned and twisted to dislodge the clog. Both are reasonably priced and simple to use. Talk to someone in plumbing if you're unsure of how to properly use these or the patch kit.
Probably the first thing you'll need in order to learn how to do plumbing yourself, however, is how to fix drips. Drips happen inside fixtures (spigots or faucets) and the fix is almost always a small rubber washer, "o" ring or gasket. Drips are annoying and send gallons and gallons of water down the drain! You must first turn off the incoming water and take out the valve cartridge to get to the small rubber piece. Faucets are made in four types of valve systems and each has its own method of removal. So, if you've never done this, start by taking a photo of your faucet, then go talk to someone in the plumbing department of a big box. If you know the make (Delta, Moen, etc.) and model, all the better. The fix is usually easy, once you know what you have.
For more information on how to do plumbing yourself, search "fix plumbing leak", "open clogged drain", "repair dripping faucet" or simply "fix plumbing" using Google search. Your search will return articles, photos and videos showing details of your specific issue.
Durand Demlow is a commercial designer, home remodeler and website developer. His knowledge and career has given him the experience to create a website focused on helping do-it-yourselfers and homeowners with free remodeling and decorating tips and ideas. His website, RemodelQuickTips.com is an ever-expanding resource of DIY concepts and advice.
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