Clever Hacks for the Everyday Plumber Clever Hacks for the Everyday Plumber

What You'll Need
Large cup/waste paper basket
Baking soda
Vinegar
Pipe insulation
Plastic ties or duct tape
Plumber's tape
Bucket

Two months after moving into my current office, I received a text message that no tenant wants to read. It said, “Come in immediately, there is something wrong with your office.” Now, my mind immediately turned to a fire, maybe a robbery or two, but when I got to work the issue was something I never expected. There was water everywhere.

This was my first major introduction into the world of plumbing. The building owners of course called in a team of plumbers who drudged, greased, and toiled over the pipes around my space, and fixed the problem for an inflated price. It made me realize how little I actually knew about plumbing. Upon doing further research independently, I learned that most complexities can be fixed or even prevented with a few simple DIY plumbing tricks. Here are some of the most helpful things I have learned.

No-plunger Approach to Declogging a Toilet

So you’re at a party and you clog the toilet -- we have all been there. Seeing as you do not want to interrupt the festivities to ask your host for a plunger, here is a wonderful hack to ensure a quick and stress-free return to the fun.

What you’ll need:

  • Water
  • Large cup/waste paper basket

Method:

Step 1- Before beginning any plumbing project, one must always remember to stop any flowing water, which could escalate or worsen a situation. In many cases this means physically bending down to the back of a toilet and turning the water off at the valve, but in the case of a simple plugged toilet, closing the flapper will do. To do this, take off the cover on the back of the tank, and follow the chain down to the bottom of the tank. Remember, this is clean water so do not be afraid to stick your hand in it. This chain is connected to a plug that literally stops water from running from the tank to the toilet bowl. Therefore, one must force this valve closed to stop the flowing water.

Step 2- Find something that can hold water. This can be a cup or even a waste paper basket. Fill it up with hot water (the hotter the better).

Step 3- Pour this water into the clogged toilet. The heat often works quickly to break down the substance clogging the commode, therefore eliminating the problem.

Step 4- If steps 1-3 haven’t worked, try adding soap. Whether hand soap or shampoo, the extra ingredients work to break down the toilet contents, clearing the plug.

Naturally Declog a Sink

A hand sprinkling baking soda in a sink drain.

I can’t tell you how many tutorials I have read that detail declogging a drain using harsh chemicals. With an increased spotlight on pollutants and non-decomposing matter being exposed to the environment through sinks, this DIY plumbing hack is definitely one to know!

What you’ll need:

  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Hot water

Method:

Step 1- Did you ever make an exploding volcano in primary school? To declog a drain without chemicals, one must harness that energy to work for us. After pouring very hot water down a drain, sprinkle in ¼ to ½ cup of baking soda.

Step 2- Mix 1 cup of vinegar with another cup of hot water, and pour it down the pipe. This will cause a rather large reaction, which is needed to loosen and then unplug a sink.

Step 3- After about 10 minutes, simply pour room temperature water down the pipe, cleaning the reaction away with no fear of hurting Mother Earth.

How to Get the Kitchen Sink Sprayer Untangled

Do you find yourself jostling the cord to your kitchen sink sprayer before it can be pulled out for use? This simple hack is for you!

What you’ll need:

  • Pipe insulation
  • Duct tape/ plastic ties

Method:

Step 1- When you find your kitchen sink sprayer unable to be retracted, it may be that the hose itself is getting caught on the pipes and hoses under the sink. Get some standard foam pipe insulation from a local home goods store, purchased to fit the diameter of the pipes and hoses in question.

Step 2- Using tape, adhere the foam around the pipes that are preventing the hose, when moved, to get trapped in its groves. If you dislike the notion of using duct tape on a DIY project, plastic ties are a wonderful and often more permanent alternative.

Pipe Thread Hack

Spools of plumbers tape and pipe fittings.

Have pipes that leak where they connect? Before calling a plumber, try this simple and cheap trick!

What you’ll need:

  • Plumber’s Tape
  • Bucket

Method:

Step 1- Turn off the water associated with the pipes in question. This can be done at the main valve to the house or at one more locally located to the workspace.

Step 2- Using a monkey wrench, loosen the pipes at their threads, disconnecting them temporarily. Although the water will be turned off, there is always some left over in the pipes. It is at this stage, therefore, you must ensure a bucket is handy to avoid a huge mess!

Step 3- Place the tape around the threads, running in a clockwise motion. When the pipes are reconnected, the two pieces will have a tighter, firmer grip without needing to be replaced.

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