Common Plumbing Issues and How to Solve Them

Plumbing tools near a toilet.
  • 1-4 hours
  • Beginner
  • 50-100
What You'll Need
Adjustable pliers
Adjustable wrench
Thread tape
Small bucket
Drain weasel
What You'll Need
Adjustable pliers
Adjustable wrench
Thread tape
Small bucket
Drain weasel

For most, home ownership means becoming well-versed in all sorts of minor DIY repairs. Some of the most common problems homeowners face are plumbing related. Plumbing contractors charge a premium no matter how big or small the job is. Learning how to tackle small plumbing issues around the home yourself not only helps to restore service and preserve your property, but also your savings account.

1. Replace a Leaking or Stuck Shutoff Valve

For most, home ownership means becoming well-versed in all sorts of minor DIY re

A shutoff valve is a device that allows you to interrupt or turn off the water supply to a faucet. Every faucet has two shutoff valves for both the hot and cold water supply lines. It is not uncommon for the valve to become stuck or to develop a leak. A leaking shutoff valve can wreak havoc on your cabinetry. One that is stuck will prevent you from turning off the water supply should an emergency arise.

Step 1 - Turn Off the Water

To get started, turn off the main shutoff valve for the home. Most often, the valve can be found on the water meter for municipal customers or near the pump if you use a private well.

Step 2 - Turn on the Faucet

Turn on the applicable faucet to relieve water pressure and leave it open during the repair. Once the water stops, you are ready to proceed.

Step 3 - Use a Bucket

Place a small bucket underneath the valve in question to catch any drips.

Step 4 - Remove the Supply Line

Using a pair of adjustable pliers, a wrench, or an adjustable wrench, loosen and remove the water supply line from the shutoff valve.

Step 5 - Remove the Shutoff Valve

Use a pair of pliers to carefully secure and hold the water pipe in place. Use another pair of pliers or an adjustable wrench to unscrew and remove the shutoff valve from the water pipe.

Step 6 - Apply Tape

Apply a generous layer of thread tape or pipe dope to the threads of the water pipe.

Step 7 - Thread the Shutoff Valve

Thread the new shutoff valve onto the water pipe by hand until it is snug.

Step 8 - Tighten Shutoff Valve

Secure the water pipe with adjustable pliers while tightening the shutoff valve with the adjustable wrench until tight.

Step 9 - Thread Supply Line

Thread the supply line onto the new valve and tighten it with the adjustable wrench.

Step 10 - Turn on Water

Turn on the main water valve and check the valve and supply line for leaks. Small leaks can be detected easily by placing a sheet of newspaper underneath the repair.

2. Unclog Your Bathroom Sink

A plunger in a sink.

A slow-draining or clogged bathroom sink can present a real inconvenience. The most common cause is hair caught in the pop-up drain assembly. Fortunately, this can be an easy fix using a drain weasel or a piece of wire with a hook on the end.

Step 1 - Fish Drain Tool

Fish the drain tool or wire down into the sink drain. Four to 6 inches should be deep enough.

Step 2 - Spin the Tool

Turn or spin the tool to snag the clumps of hair.

Step 3 - Remove the Tool

Carefully remove the tool. Clean and repeat as necessary.

3. Increase Your Faucet's Water Pressure

A bathroom faucet.

A kitchen or bathroom faucet exhibiting signs of low water pressure can often be corrected by cleaning or replacing its aerator located on the end of the faucet's spout.

Step 1 - Remove the Aerator

Using a pair of pliers or adjustable wrench, loosen and remove the aerator by turning it counter-clockwise.

Step 2 - Clean

Clean any debris buildup from the existing aerator screens or purchase a new one.

Step 3 - Thread the Aerator

Thread the clean or new aerator onto the faucet spout by hand by turning it clockwise.

Step 4 - Tighten the Aerator

Tighten the aerator using the adjustable pliers or wrench until snug.

Use caution and common sense when working on plumbing. Even the smallest mistake can cause extensive water damage in your home. When in doubt, play it safe and contact a professional plumbing contractor.