Everyone has to deal with plumbing problems at some point, whether they come in the form of clogged drains or burst pipes. When these issues arise, the first thing you might do is call a plumber, but that can be expensive. Yes, there are serious plumbing problems that should only be handled by a professional, but there are some minor problems that you can easily fix by yourself.
A clogged drain is the most common plumbing issue you will face. Bathroom sinks and shower drains become clogged with hair and soap scum over time, while kitchen sinks can become clogged with food waste and grease. Clogs can be a real pain, but they can be fixed most of the time.
One great tool to have around the house is a plastic clog remover. These are long barbed plastic strips that work much like a plumber’s snake to remove clumps of hair, scum or anything else that may be creating a minor clog in a drain. These tools may be called plumber snakes, drain strips, drain sticks or zip-it tools at hardware stores everywhere, and they can be purchased for just a few dollars.
Of course, having a plunger on hand is also a must for any home. This tried-and-true plumbing tool can be used to fix the most stubbornly clogged sinks and toilets, and like plastic clog removers most are inexpensive and easy to use.
If plastic clog removers and plungers cannot unclog a drain, you can always try a chemical drain cleaner. You do need to be careful with these, however. The most caustic drain cleaners can damage your pipes if they are used too often. If you want a simple and safe drain cleaner that can easily clear out small clogs, try pouring a little bit of vinegar down the drain and following it up with some baking soda. The resulting reaction will clear out hair and grease just as easily as most commercial drain cleaners.
A Running Toilet
Most toilets will occasionally run when they’re not supposed to. This is annoying, but fixing it is usually a simple task. When a toilet flushes, a rubber flapper inside the tank opens up to allow the water to drain from the tank into the bowl. Once the tank is empty, the flapper closes, and the tank fills with water until a float closes the intake valve.
A running toilet is usually caused by a problem with the flapper or the float. In many cases, the chain that attaches the flapper to the toilet flush handle gets twisted and prevents the flapper from closing. If this happens, simply open the tank and untwist the chain. If the problem is because the flapper is too worn to create a tight seal, you can purchase a new flapper at most hardware stores at a low price.
If the problem is because the float in the tank is too high, you will have to lower it so it shuts off the intake valve sooner. The float is the large rubber ball that is connected to the intake valve by a metal rod. Most of the time, you can stop a running toilet by bending the rod so that the float is lower and will shut off the water valve sooner.
Frozen plumbing is a common problem in the winter. The worst-case scenario that can arise when your pipes freeze is that they will burst. The only thing you can do in this situation is to call a plumber to have the pipe replaced, but there are a few ways to prevent your pipes from freezing in the first place. For starters, try turning on the faucets in your home so that there is a slight trickle of water going down the drain. When water is constantly moving through your pipes, it will be less likely to freeze. You can also insulate exposed pipes by wrapping them with old rags or foam insulation. This is a simple fix, but it does keep your pipes from freezing when the weather gets really cold.
These are just a few things you can do when you’re facing minor plumbing problems. Keep in mind that plumbing systems can be very complex, so don’t be afraid to call a plumber if you have a serious problem that you cannot fix yourself. It will be more expensive than a do-it-yourself job, but a plumbing professional will be able to fix almost any problem you may have.
If you discover any plumbing, drain or sewer line issues in your home, don’t hesitate to call the Pittsburgh plumbing experts at Mister Sewer. Our professionally trained plumbing technicians will work with you to correctly diagnose the problem and come up with a cost-effective solution to help you save time and money. At Mister Sewer, we have over 25 years of experience providing solutions to all of Pittsburgh homeowner’s plumbing and sewer line needs. If you’re looking for fast, friendly and quality service for your home’s plumbing system, contact the team at Mister Sewer today!