At one point in your lifetime as a homeowner (or renter) you’re bound to come across any number of annoying plumbing problems that can leave you feeling helpless. The good news is you aren’t – not every plumbing disaster needs a professional assessment. These five fixes you can do yourself, although when in doubt, call in the professionals to figure it out.
A Sink That Drains Too Slowly
When you’re sink is taking forever to drain, it’s usually a result of the pop-up that is used to stop the sink having collected hair and debris over time. You’ll have to clean this in order to get the sink flowing again.
In most cases, you can remove the pop-up and clear the debris. Some are held in place with a nut attached to drain just under the sink which can be unscrewed by hand or with a pair of pliers.
If this doesn’t work, there may be a blockage a little lower in the pipe, in the trap. Clear the area under the sink and place a bucket underneath the pipe in order to catch any access water or debris. Unscrew the pipe, rinse it clean and use a toothbrush to clear any debris from inside.
A Toilet That Won’t Stop Running
An annoying nuisance, there are various reasons your toilet might not stop running, and you’ll have to remove the tank lid to get to the heart of the matter.
First, check the overflow tube. If water is running down the overflow when the tank is full, you’ll know the valve is not shutting off all the way and needs to be replaced.
If it’s not the overflow, your flapper chain may be the culprit. If the chain is too short, the flapper can’t close completely to seal the opening of the tank. If the chain is too long, it could get caught under the flapper and hold it up, also preventing a good seal. A simple adjustment of the frame will fix the problem.
If it’s not the chain, the problem may lie with the flapper itself. As flappers get old, they can become hardened or warped which can prevent a perfect seal. Even the slightest imperfection can cause a toilet to run. A simple test: add a few drops of food colouring to the tank water and let it sit for a few minutes. Any coloured water in the bowl will let you know the flapper is not sealing and needs to be replaced.
A Faucet That Won’t Stop Dripping
Did you know a single faucet can send hundreds of gallons of water drain per year, one annoying drip at a time? That should explain why that leaky faucet is driving your hydro bill higher and higher.
In the spout of your tap there are rubber or silicone-based washers that form a water-tight seal to prevent water from pushing its way through the pipes and out of the faucet. Over time these washers can become damaged – torn, stiff, or dislodged – and and allow a tiny trickle of water to seep through, creating that annoying drip, drip, drip. Replacing the washers is an easy fix you can do yourself, but you’ll need a few special tools. If the leak has gone on too long, the valve seal may become worn or corroded, a repair that’s better off left to the professionals.
A Pipe That Won’t Stop Leaking
In most cases, leaks happen at pipe joints, and you’ll need commercial joint fillers and fitting compounds to correct this problem, though it will only be a temporary solution. For a more permanent fix, you’ll need to replace that section of pipe altogether.
Though it’s entirely possible for you to do this one yourself, it’s a messy, messy job. Feel free to let the professionals handle it. In the mean time, a compression clamp and rubber sheet or leak tape can keep things from getting too much worse.
A Toilet That Won’t Flush
No one wants to be stuck with the duty of dealing with a toilet that won’t flush, but on the off chance it happens to you, never fear! A solution is near.
Often, a toilet that won’t flush is just draining slowly, but if you suspect that there is a problem, don’t flush again! Grab your plunger and a pair of rubber gloves, just in case.
Fit the plunger over the whole in the toilet and seal the toilet drain. The first plunge should be gentle. Initially the bell is full of air and a hard thrust will simply force the air back around the seal, and blow water all over the bathroom. Once you force out the air, you can plunge vigorously, ensuring you maintain the seal. This forces water in both directions, which can effectively loosen most clogs. DO this at least 15 to 20 times if necessary. Try to keep enough water in the bowl so the plunger stays covered.
Most of the time, this is all you’ll need to clear a clogged toilet, but if the situation doesn’t rectify itself, you’ll need to bring in the pros.