9 Secret Brilliant Plumbing Hacks

hands applying plumber's tape to a metal fixture

Plumbing is one of those skills that you know if you know it...and if you don't, you're basically lost. But anyone can learn a few secret brilliant plumbing hacks that can solve small problems that plumbers would charge you a lot to fix.

Use secret brilliant plumbing hacks to deal with common, everyday plumbing issues like leaky faucets, clogged drains, running toilets, and the little things that plumbers will charge a whole lot to fix. These hacks can help you avoid big plumbing costs, save money on your water bills, and solve problems, which is what DIY is all about.

Plumbing Hacks

Use little tricks and repairs that plumbers know to fix common plumbing problems around the house that raise your water bill and can potentially cause bigger problems later on. With standard household products and a little bit of insider knowledge, you can fix a myriad of plumbing issues that you will commonly run into.

As long as you have a few ordinary handheld tools and some pretty common items, you can tackle a bunch of different plumbing issues without the aid of a pro.

1. Unclog Faucets

Faucet heads can get clogged over time, which compromises the water flow. Sometimes, low water pressure issues are because of this junk that builds up in faucet heads and not because of a problem in the pipes.

Unclog faucet heads by filling a glass with vinegar. Hold it over the drain, under the faucet, with the faucet head in the vinegar.

Turn the water on and let it run for a few minutes, even after the glass overflows and spills. The faucet head will be getting cleaned during this process.

You can do the same thing with a slow shower drain by filling a bag with half vinegar and half water and tying it onto the shower head so that the head is down in the solution. Let this soak for about an hour, or even overnight, and this should clear out a lot of gunk around the shower head that could be negatively affecting water flow.

2. Sluggish Drain

If you have a drain that's getting a little sluggish, add a few drops of ordinary dish soap right to the drain and run hot water. This will help to remove grease, which is a common problem in kitchen sink drains.

Let the water run for several minutes and see if the drain time improves.

If your drain is both slow and smelly, start by running hot water in the drain. Pour one cup of baking soda and one cup of lemon juice down the drain while the water is running and this will help unclog the pipes and eliminate smells at the same time.

You can also use these solutions for a smell or clogged kitchen sink disposal. If a smell persists in the disposal, run hot water and pour a cup of lemon juice down the drain.

The lemon is acidic and it has a nice citrus smell, so this will usually take care of garbage disposal odor.

3. Leak Quick Fix

If you have a small leak on a pipe that you can locate, use self-sealing tape made out of silicone. It's waterproof, it is very sticky, and when you stretch it over a pipe it is airtight.

Wrap the tape around the leaky spot several times and this will work as a simple patch to stop the leak.

This is just a temporary fix but it is a temporary fix that can last weeks or even months if necessary. However, you will need to get a plumber to fix this or learn how to properly fix this at some point.

Over time, leaks get bigger and when a pipe is developing a leak, it may also develop another soon. It’s best to cut out the bad section of pipe and install a new one, though a patch can buy you a little extra time.

4. Loosen Faucet Handles

If you have a squeaky, tight, or stuck faucet handle, spray a little WD-40 on the handle and let it sit for a few minutes. Now try turning the handle—this may solve the problem.

Faucets are exposed to water, clearly, which can create rust that makes faucet handles harder to turn over time. A little lubricant can loosen up the handle and get it working again for a while, but this is a sign that the entire faucet is ready to be replaced so start preparing for this.

5. Faucet Leak Fix

If you have a dripping faucet, you can always try tightening the handle. Place a rubber band around the base of the handle and tighten it to see if this stops the leak.

Sometimes, this simple fix is enough to stop a drippy faucet.

6. Fix Your Fill Valve

Is your toilet running? No, it's not a joke, it's a pretty fixable plumbing problem that will cause your water bill to go up until you get this fixed.

It’s also super annoying to have a running toilet because you will hear it all the time, which is distracting. Fortunately, there are two really simple plumbing repairs that anyone can perform that will fix a running toilet almost all of the time.

Take off the toilet tank lid and slowly lift the float valve to see if this makes the water stop running. If it does, you need to adjust the height of the float.

Do this by adjusting the fill valve.

There’s a screw on the valve. Turn it counterclockwise with a screwdriver to adjust the height of the float cup.

The water level should be below the overflow tube. Adjust the fill valve until the water stops running and pat yourself on the back for this fix that plumbers would charge a lot to perform.

7. Replace the Flapper

Sometimes, running toilets are caused by an extremely inexpensive little part that anyone can replace and plumbers will charge a lot of money to fix. The flapper is the little rubber-like plunger near the bottom of the toilet tank that releases water into the bowl after you flush.

When this rubber piece wears out and degrades over time, which it will absolutely do, your toilet starts to run. You can buy a new flapper at any home improvement store for less than $15.

Re-connect the chain to the handle level when you install the new flapper and you're in business. This entire repair will take you less than five minutes after you get the new flapper from the store.

It works best to take the old flapper with you when you go to the store, so you can be sure to get an exact match. If the size is off even a little bit, your toilet will keep running.

8. Leaky Bathtub

Do you notice a drop in the water level when you're taking a bath? You probably have a leaking bathroom stopper, which is a separate issue from a leaking bathroom drain.

To fix this, re-caulk the area around the drain to create a tight seal. Let the caulk dry for several hours, re-apply if needed, and let it dry for several hours more before you take a bath and get the caulk wet or it won’t set properly.

This easy fix should stop the little leaks that cause you to lose water while you bathe. Caulk is available at any home improvement store.

9. Fix a Leaky Pipe Joint

If you see a leak around the joint of a pipe, try a simple fix using tape. First, use the shut-off valve to turn off the water.

Use a wrench to disconnect the pipes. Wrap plumber's tape around the threads where the two pipes meet.

Reconnect the pipes, screwing them back together right over the taped threads. This fix should suffice for a little while to solve your leaky pipe joint issue and buy you some time before you have to get a plumber to replace the pipes to serve as a more permanent fix.

Plumbing Hacks FAQ

How can I make my drain flow better?

There are a couple of little hacks you can use to clean out drains when they are sluggish or clogged, even when they have a bad odor. Very hot water, plungers, and a mixture of vinegar and baking soda can all clean out clogged drains.

When these little tricks don't work, you can always try using a snake to clean out drains. This is the tool that professional plumbers use.

It’s easy enough to find a snake at a home improvement store, so avoid using coat hangers and other DIY implements because they can poke little holes in pipes that leave you with leaks. Snakes are designed to go into drains, so that’s what you should use.

Don't use formulated chemical drain cleaners on your pipes, as sometimes these formulas are so strong they actually eat through pipes and create pinhole leaks that lead to much bigger plumbing issues.

How can I increase water pressure and flow in my house?

If your water pressure is not so great in a certain faucet or showerhead, soak the bottom of the fixture in vinegar and turn on the water. This will clean out the faucet or showerhead, which can increase the water pressure because it's not gunked up anymore.

You can also adjust the pressure-reducing valve, which is a conical valve near the water meter. Turn the screw on the top with a screwdriver to adjust the pressure and turn it up.

There should be a reading on the meter that shows you the water pressure, which will be displayed in PSi units.

How do you stop a pipe from dripping?

If you have a drip on a pipe that you can see and reach, waterproof tape is a quick-fix solution. This won't last forever but it can get the issue under control until you can work on a more permanent fix.

Wrap the tape around the leaky spot several times and this should hold for a little while, but the problem will get worse so try to fix it as soon as you can.

Will a slow leak seal itself?

A leak, even a slow one, will not correct itself in time. There is no such thing as a self-sealing pipe, so don’t ever expect a leak to simply fix itself.

The only way a leak can seemingly correct itself is when the pipe swells and the leak is temporarily sealed. However, this is a symptom and not a cure, and over time, the leak will just get worse until it is properly repaired.

Ultimately, the only way to fix a leak in a pipe is to replace the piece of pipe.

Can a water pipe leak only when the water is running?

Faucets can leak even when they are turned off at the handles but not if they are turned off at the shut-off valve. This will stop the leak but it will stop the fixture from being used entirely.

You can also turn off leaks by turning off the main water shut-off valve that controls all water to the house. Once again, this will mean that no water can be used until the valve is turned back on again, but the leak will stop.

If a leak is particularly bad, using shut-off valves until leaks can e repaired might be the best possible temporary solution because you will be losing water that you are ultimately paying for in the interim.

Further Reading

5 Tips for Tightening Plumbing Fittings

7 Common Home Plumbing Mistakes to Avoid

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9 Plumbing Trends

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