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Three Plumbing Problems You Can Fix Yourself

It’s all too easy to take modern plumbing for granted, except when something goes wrong! If you’ve ever been stuck with a completely clogged drain, or a shower stuck on “freezing,” then you know – when a plumbing issue arises, it’s best to take care of it as soon as possible. That doesn’t necessarily mean calling up your local plumber, however: while many complicated home plumbing issues are best left to the professionals, there are also a few that you can DIY: take a look at our breakdown of three plumbing problems you can fix yourself.

A Dripping Faucet

Does your kitchen faucet just keep dripping, no matter how many times you turn off the tap? A dripping faucet is an all-too-common household plumbing problem that doesn’t necessarily cause much damage, but can certainly grate on a homeowner’s nerves.

What You’ll Need:

  • An adjustable wrench
  • A flat-head screwdriver
  • A penetrating oil (such as WD-40)
  • Some O-rings and replacement washers

What to Do:

Step 1: Before you start any DIY plumbing repair, be sure that you’ve turned off the water supply. If you attempt to repair a dripping faucet without cutting its water supply, you run the risk of turning that small drip into a veritable waterfall. Make sure the knobs underneath the sink as well as the handles over the sink have their water supply shut off before you begin.

Step 2: Using a flat-head screwdriver, pry off the decorative parts of the handle knobs, then unscrew the screw beneath it. Remove the handle with the help of your penetrating oil.

Step 3: Loosen the packing nut using a wrench, then remove the stem of the faucet, checking for damage on any of the removed parts, as well as the washer and O-ring inside the valve seat. Damage to the O-ring or washer may very well be the reason your sink is leaking.

Step 4: If you do find damage on the washer, replace it immediately, making sure you have a proper fit. Note: when purchasing O-rings, it’s best to buy a package that includes various sizes, in case the first one you try does not fit.

Step 5: Reassemble the parts of your faucet in the following order: washer, stem, packing, nut, screw, handle.

Step 6: Turn the knob carefully to test the water and make sure that the leak has been fixed.

A Clogged Sink

Every long-haired homeowner knows: a clogged sink is an unfortunate by-product of luscious locks! Luckily, unclogging a sink isn’t nearly as tricky as it may seem.

What You’ll Need:

  • A plunger
  • A plumber’s snake
  • A pipe wrench

What to Do:

Step 1: Fill your sink partially with water, then work your plunger forcefully up and down.

Step 2: Swiftly pull the plunger away from the drain opening.

Step 3: If your sink remains clogged despite your best plunging efforts, use your pipe wrench to remove the sink trap underneath your sink.

Step 4: Next, empty the water that’s accumulated in the trap in a bucket, checking the trap for a clog.

Step 5: At this point, you’ll need to remove the horizontal arm of the trap (the plastic arm that protrudes from the stubout in the wall.)

Step 6: Next, feed the cable into the stubout, stopping when you feel resistance. Continue until you have pulled out 18 inches of cable.

Step 7: Tighten the lock screw, then push while cranking the handle clockwise in order to drive the cable down the pipe.

Step 8: You’ll want to pull another 18 inches of cable at this point, repeating the same process until the blockage has been broken.

Step 9: When the cable is clear, you must once more push forward while cranking.

Step 10: Finally, retrieve the cable, replace the trap and trap arm, and carefully turn on the faucet to check if your sink is now draining properly.

A Running Toilet

In many cases, a running toilet is caused by a broken or damaged flapper. The flapper is the rubber stopper in the toilet’s tank that lifts when you flush, releasing water into the toilet bowl. This rubber device wears down over time, allowing water to trickle past its seal, causing a runny toilet.

What You’ll Need:

  • A replacement flapper

What to Do

Step 1: Before starting, shut off your toilet’s water supply – this valve can be found beneath the toilet’s tank.

Step 2: Flush the toilet, then remove the flapper.

Step 3: Use the directions on your replacement flapper’s instructional guide to replace your worn-out flapper with your brand new one.

Step 4: Be sure that the length of the chain which connects your flush arm to your flapper is an appropriate length – too long, and it will not flush properly, too short and your flapper will not be able to rise fully.

Three Plumbing Problems You Can Fix Yourself

While heating, cooling, and ventilation all work together to keep our homes comfortable, there’s one more invisible – yet completely vital – home utility system that’s just as important: plumbing.