Many homeowners find plumbing the least desirable DIY project in the home. The risk of failure can be high due to the threat of water damage. However, repairing plumbing fixtures can be one of the most satisfying to complete when done right, as well as one of the biggest ratios of money saved on hiring a professional.
For most plumbing jobs, Ashley Watson from Wisebread recommends having
- Plungers (one for the sink and one for the toilet)
- Adjustable wrench
- Utility Knife
- Plumbing Tape or Thread Tape
- Caulking Gun (for jobs that require sealant)
It’s important to know where the water supply is for each appliance you work on. Follow a trusted guide for the specific appliance you’re working on
Sinks often require a wrench to remove the piece that’s not tight and replacing it. Look up the model of your sink and ensure that you buy the correct replacement piece. It’s important to shut off the water going to the sink for any repairs, as it’s an easy one to make a mess.
For clogged drains, avoid using a chemical drain cleaner right away. They can be harmful to the environment and are often less effective than drain snakes or sink snare. A sink snare, such as a Zip-It, is for shallow clogs and can be found for less than five dollars. A drain snake is a long filament that can be extended into your drain to remove the clog. They can be found at any hardware store. Toilets require a special toilet auger, but most other drains in the home can be effectively cleared with a drain snake. Follow this guide from the Spruce to figure out which tool is best.
If you aren’t keen on pulling the clog out yourself and have a wet vac in your inventory, plug it in and give it a go on the clog. If it’s obstructing most of the pipe, you can often suck a clog out from the drain.
Leaky sinks and toilets are usually simple fixes. Toilet repair often requires merely replacing a part within the tank. Turn off the water to the toilet and replace the faulty part. It’s usually the floater valve or float cup, or a tangled chain
If your shower head is leaking, try tightening the bolt behind the head. Be careful, as there is often no shut off to a bathtub’s water line away from the main line. If your shower head gets clogged, remove it and soak it in warm water and vinegar for an hour. Brush out the openings to remove excess sediment.
In more rural areas or if you pull water from a well, sediment can collect in your water lines. It’s easy to get rid of the sediment in water heaters by draining a quart of water from your tank every 3 months. Turn off the water heater and open the drain into a steel bowl or bucket. This will remove the sediment that has settled near the bottom of the tank which will make your water heater heat less well.
Another way to ensure your water heater is most efficient is by insulating your water heater. If the water heater is warm to the touch, it means you are losing energy through the exterior of the heater. Purchase a special blanket or insulation from a hardware store and install it around your water heater with the help of a friend. According to energy.gov, it can save up to 20% of your water heating costs.
If you have an older water heating system or just want the peace of mind that faulty appliances will be replaced when they break down, look into a home warranty. Keeping your appliances up to date goes a long way to reducing your energy bill and is better for the environment.
There are a lot more DIY jobs that can be done with plumbing; these are just a few to get your feet wet. Remember, small jobs add up to more confidence around the house, so feel free to check a trusted guide and start exploring.