DIY Plumbing – Top Five Problems
The Leaking Toilet
The Flapper is corroded or damaged, the fill valve is broken or the chain is too long/too short.
If the toilet flush arm chain only has one inch of extra chain, unhook and adjust it. Check that the rubber flapper (connected to the same chain) is covering the hole where the water comes in. If it isn’t, attach it firmly in place. If it is in place, unclip it and check for erosion or damage. Replace the flapper if it’s damaged.
If the water level is higher or much lower than the water level line on the inside of the toilet, you’ll need to adjust the fill valve (on more modern toilets) or the float arm. When adjusting a modern ball-less fill valve, look for a vertical arm just off of the main body of the fill valve. Either squeeze the clip to move the arm up or down or use a screwdriver to loosen and adjust the bar. When working with a float arm that has a ball, gently bend the arm to adjust it into place.
The Leaking Faucet
With time, age and use, the washer or o-ring eventually needs to be replaced.
Remove the caps on the faucet to reveal the screws. Tighten the screws slightly. If the faucet is still leaking, take it apart. Look for any parts that are damaged (the washers or o-rings may need to be replaced). Take any damaged parts to the hardware store to pick up an exact replacement. Reassemble the faucet with the new part(s).
The Clogged Drain
Too much matter (usually hair or food) is stuck in the pipes.
Remove any surface clogging such as hair from a sink or tub. Make sure there’s a bit of water in the sink, tub or toilet to act as a lubricant. Plunge the drain rapidly about 12 times without stopping. If the drain is still clogged, feed a plumbing snake down the drain to break up the blockage.
The Molded Silicone
The silicone bead is molding due to too much water and too little ventilation.
To remove the old silicone, slice along the top and bottom of it with a knife, then scrape it out using a razor scraper. Clean the area thoroughly and wipe away any extra moisture that may have been under the silicone (the area needs to be bone-dry for best results). Apply silicone in long, unbroken lines. Immediately after applying the silicone, moisten your pointer finger with water and run your finger along the line of silicone with a light pressure. If it spreads/clumps too much, wipe your finger on a wet rag, re-wet your finger and continue from 2 inches behind where you stopped. Wipe any excess silicone with a wet cloth right away. Allow the silicone to cure for 48 hours by keeping the area dry. Be sure to use only kitchen or 100% silicone – DO NOT USE REGULAR CAULKING!
Quick Plumbing Tips
- Always turn off the water source to the area you’re working on (turn right to tighten, left to loosen).
- When taking something apart, lay it’s parts down in the order you removed them. When you need to purchase replacement pieces, bring the old part with you to our store.
- When working in the tub or sink, close off the drain with tape so nothing accidentally falls in.
- Aside from the annoyance, fixing a leaky faucet also saves you some money! Dripping water at one drip/second wastes approx. 400 gallons of water in a year. If it’s hot water, you’re watching your money go down the drain!
- To eliminate sweating cold water pipes during the summer months, place foam pipe insulation over the pipes. The tubing keeps the warm humid air from condensing on the cold pipes.
- Drain Odors: Running very hot water through your drains will help keep them free from odors some of the time. About once a week, pour a handful of baking soda and hot water down the drain or pour 1 cup of vinegar, let stand 30 minutes and then run some hot water. Keeping all grease, hair and vegetable matter out of the drain also helps with odors and possible clogging.
- Shower Heads Old vs. New: New shower heads use no more than 2.5 gallons per minute therefore saving you water and energy. By replacing your older shower head for a new one can save anywhere from $60-150 on utility bills for an average family of four. That’s nearly 15,000 gallons of water!
- Mineral Deposits: To clean mineral deposits from a clogged shower head, try soaking it in some vinegar. Also, for a little extra money you could go to your neighborhood hardware store (*wink*) and pick up some calcium removing solvent e.g. Lime-Away or CLR.
- Ventilation: Make sure your kitchen and baths are vented to the outside of the house. These rooms generate the most moisture in your house. A timer switch on the ventilating fans will help you remember to run the fans long enough to clear out all the moisture and then shut off automatically. Also, if the house walls are not insulated, water vapor will condense on the drywall. Think about installing some needed insulation in those rooms.