By Vincent West
There’s no doubt that, by helping solve our plumbing problems, plumbers play an important role in our livelihoods. They can install, maintain and repair plumbing systems, ensuring optimal levels of functionality. Health issues are less likely to occur with proper plumbing.
Though plumbers help enhance our quality of life, their services come at a price. Luckily, you can reduce such costs by learning a few tricks. Here are five easy DIY hacks:
1.Shutting off your main water supply
Knowing how to stop water flow at the source is undoubtedly one of the most important plumbing tricks anyone can learn. Aside from the ability to make any plumbing situation worse, uncontrolled water flow can have serious cost implications.
If you have a plumbing problem, stopping the flow of water helps prevent an even bigger disaster. When a pipe breaks, for instance, water can start flooding into your home, in which case you would have just a few seconds to shut the water. As such, knowing how to stop water flow at the source is crucial.
Even if the problem seems easy to solve, you must never begin a plumbing project before you stop the flow of water. For instance, 99% of the running toilet issues are caused by a dysfunctional fill valve, adjustment or replacement of which might be easy. However, turning off the master valve before the necessary maintenance or repair work keeps you from causing a flood while working.
To stop the water flow, you’ll have to physically locate your main shutoff valve and turn it off. Shutoff valves can help stop water from flooding your house because they are specifically designed to disconnect a home’s entire plumbing system from its main water source. Although the location of these fixtures might vary from one home to the other, you can easily find and learn to operate your main shutoff valve.
2.Removing mineral buildup
Water contains lime, calcium and several other minerals. Over time, sediment can build up in your shower heads and faucets, with minerals from the water making up most of the residue. You might be shocked at just how much accumulated residue you’ll find, particularly if you have hard water. This buildup can cause your plumbing fixtures to clog, reducing the amount of water pressure. As a result, you will have slow water flow.
Fortunately, you can remove the buildup easily. Unscrew each of the affected fixtures carefully and soak them in vinegar overnight. The vinegar will slowly eat away at the minerals, clearing the buildup. Before you re-attach the fixtures, however, you’d want to give each a quick scrubbing. You can use an old toothbrush for this purpose. This simple plumbing trick does not require any special skills.
3.Using homemade drain cleaner to unclog your sink
When it comes to clearing clogs, most of us are familiar with the use of harsh drain cleaning chemicals. Unfortunately, the environment is exposed to an alarming amount of pollutants in the form of non-decomposing matter and harmful chemicals through our sinks. As such, simple do-it-yourself plumbing solutions that anyone can learn might be worth our while.
For this process, you need vinegar, baking soda, and a gallon or so of hot water. Since you must harness energy, gravity and pressure will play an important role.
Pour two cups vinegar and one cup baking soda down the pipe. When combined, vinegar and baking soda produce a fizzing chemical reaction that will loosen debris, oily residues, food particles and other inhibitors from the drain’s inner surface. Allow 45-60 minutes and then pour hot water into the drain to help dissolve the clog. The higher the level you pour from, the more forceful the water.
The force of the water should dislodge the already loosened blockage, but you can leave the mixture overnight. Pour room temperature water down the pipe to wash away the reaction and clear the obstruction. This homemade concoction is effective in clearing organic waste clogs.
4.Using a plumbing snake to unclog your toilet
Toilets tend to clog when we try to flush away too much waste. Although you can use a wire coat hanger to unclog the toilet, this technique will only work if the obstruction is within reach. Otherwise, you’ll need a tool that can get much deeper. The plumbing snake is one such tool. Also known as the toilet auger, this low-tech piece of equipment is known to work wonders.
Because it can snake through a pipe’s curves, this flexible coil of wire can help you clear the blockage without causing any damage. It’s, however, notable that plumbing snakes will often need some maneuvering to clear toilet clogs.
With one end inserted into the drain, feed the auger until you feel the blockage. As mentioned earlier, some maneuvering is required. Push the snake against the clog, twisting it to help break the obstruction down. The smaller the pieces, the easier they will be to move through your plumbing lines. Flush your toilet as soon as the water drains to see whether you’ve restored proper drainage.
5.How to thread plumbing pipes
Plumbing lines will often spring a leak where they connect. You need a bucket and some tape for this hack. As mentioned earlier, you must turn off your main shutoff valve first. Once you’ve turned off the master valve, place a bucket underneath the affected connection to keep the water left in the pipes from making a mess.
Use a wrench to loosen the pipes. Once disconnected, wrap a small amount of tape around the threads. Do this in a clockwise motion. When you reconnect the two pieces, they will have a much tighter and firmer grip. Besides providing an immediate solution, the new connection is not likely to spring a leak anytime soon.
With these easy DIY plumbing tricks, you can keep emergencies at bay and ensure smooth plumbing operations. However, these pocket-friendly hacks cannot solve every plumbing issue. So, you should consider calling in a professional if the problem persists.
Author Bio: A fresh Engineering Design graduate with a keen interest in all things DIY, Vincent West is the mastermind behind ThePlumbingInfo.com. He has worked on a handful of home improvement projects. And now he’s eager to spread the word on what he has learned and continues to learn – mechanical and plumbing wise.