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
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 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 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.