Contrary to the popular belief; you don’t need to be a plumbing expert in order to fix some minor plumbing issues that occasionally come up around the house. And since plumbing repairs can get expensive, it pays to learn some of the more common tricks of the trade. After a couple of successful interventions, you might learn to find happiness just at the sight of running water. If you need some help to get started, here are 10 plumbing tips that should aid you in your quest.
1. Keep the Valves Functional
As any experienced plumber will tell you, drain and water valves inside your house are very important. If you leave them untouched for a while, they will build up corrosion and eventually freeze in place. Needless to say, this can result in costly repairs once you do need the valves. Fortunately, maintaining these valves is fairly easy. Simply exercise the valves by opening and closing them. Do this a couple of times per year, and the valves should stay fully operational.
2. Empty the Water Heater Tank
To ensure that your water heater drain valve is working properly, you should drain a couple of gallons of water from the heater tank twice per year. This comes with the additional benefit of maximizing heating efficiency by clearing out the sediment that collects in the bottom of the tank. Alternatively, you could invest in a tankless water heater. This will have a positive effect on your utility bill since you won’t have to pay for the energy spent on keeping the water hot at all times.
3. Be Prepared
If you’re facing a sudden plumbing emergency, the most important thing to do is to stay calm. The second most important thing to do is to turn off all the water in your house. In order to do that, you’ll have to locate the main shutoff valve, which can usually be found in the vicinity of the water meter. Once you find the valve handle, simply turn it clockwise until it’s locked in place. Just to be safe, everyone in the house should remember where the main shutoff valve is located.
4. Stop an Overflowing Toilet
If your toilet is not flushing properly, determining the source of the clog should be your number one priority. In order to do that, however, you’ll need to stop the toilet from overflowing first. Take off the tank lid and lower the flush valve, which should basically plug the hole at the bottom of the toilet tank. This should give you plenty of time to determine the cause of the clog.
5. Avoid Chemical Drain Cleaners
Speaking of the clogs in your toilet, resist the temptation to clear them out by using chemical drain cleaners. These things have high toxicity levels and they’re just as likely to damage the pipes as they are to clean them. Instead of that, you can always resort to a toilet snake. This tool is basically a long wire coil with a tip that resembles a corkscrew. Any toilet snake can clear a toilet, but you’ll get the best results by using a closet auger. This type of toilet snake is designed to get around the bend and dislodge anything that it gets to.
6. Acquaint Yourself With Your Plumbing System
Every plumbing system comes with a variety of valves along the water pipes. Locating the appropriate valve can be of great help if you want to turn off water at a specific place, e.g. a kitchen faucet or a toilet. If you’re not familiar with your plumbing system, you’ll be forced to turn off the main water valve, thus preventing any water from entering the house. Water valves come in all shapes and sizes, but they usually operate in one of two ways: they either have rotating mechanisms or need to be pressed down.
7. Read the Water Meter
Checking for water leaks should be an integral part of every homeowner’s routine. After all, nobody wants to see an extra few hundred dollars on their water bill. The best time to read your water meter is when nobody else is home – that way, you’re sure that your readings will be correct. Turn off all running water in the house and check the meter; if the dials are moving, you probably have a water leak on your hands. Faucets and toilets are the most likely suspects, but you might have to confirm this with a professional.
8. Check for Toilet Leaks
Water leaks in a toilet can be a bother. Thankfully, there’s an easy way to find out whether you have anything to worry about in this regard. Insert a few drops of food coloring in the toilet tank, wait for about 20 minutes and look at the toilet bowl. If you see some color, your flapper valve might be leaking and needs to be replaced. The whole process usually lasts three minutes: turn off the water to the toilet, flush the toilet, take out the old flapper valve and attach the new one.
9. Invest in Replacement Parts
Most simple plumbing fixes involve rubber gaskets and toilet kits, so you might want to prepare for that in advance. Additionally, you should consider investing in metal hoses for your washing machine and dishwasher. Rubber hoses often break under pressure; if that happens, they can cause water leaks of approximately five gallons per minute. This is one of the most common sources of flooding in homes, so it’s probably better to be safe than sorry.
10. Keep the Plunger in Good Shape
This might seem a little obvious, but any household should have at least one plunger. However, having a plunger is not enough; you also have to maintain it to ensure that it remains operational. In particular, you should pay attention to the seal around the plunger. If the seal is not tight enough, the plunger won’t be able to exert enough pressure. You can easily tighten the seal by spreading petroleum jelly on the rim of the plunger. In addition to increasing its suction, this will prevent the plunger from cracking or drying.
The information above is provided by the experts at A1 Best Plumbing in Long Beach, Ca. The company offers unbeatable residential plumbing services 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. If you are interested in more plumbing tips or if you would like to talk to a professional plumber contact us today.