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DIY Plumbing: Your How-to Guide for At-Home Plumbing

May 13, 2021
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Summary

Sometimes you need to enlist the aid of a professional for plumbing repairs and upgrades. But if you’ve got some basic tools, a willingness to learn, and don’t mind expending some elbow grease, there are many simple — and sometimes more involved — home plumbing repairs and upgrades you can take on and do yourself.
In this how-to guide, we’ll walk you through the basics for some of the most common at-home plumbing repairs and upgrades. Armed with a little knowledge, you may find the confidence to do it yourself.

Table of Contents

Prevent Your Pipes From Freezing

Combine cold temperatures with a prolonged power outage, and you’ve set the table for disaster, as many Texas residents found out recently. As pipes froze and burst during an extreme cold snap, many homeowners faced expensive cleanup and repair jobs. But in many cases, this didn’t have to happen. Follow these guidelines to protect your pipes.

Know where your water shut-off valve is located
If your power goes out during a winter storm, shutting off the water to your home can prevent burst pipes. Your home will have a shut-off valve where the water line enters, usually in the basement or garage. Turn the valve off, then drain the pipes by opening your faucets. If you expect a prolonged outage, be sure to fill up some water containers first.

Insulate exposed pipes
Add insulation around pipes in exposed areas, such as those in crawl spaces or along basement or garage walls. In many cases, you can fill the area around the pipe with fiberglass insulation. You can also buy special insulated tape and wrap it around exposed pipes.

Keep pipes warm during extreme weather
During extremely cold weather, open cabinets under sinks or other areas where you have water pipes to let warm air in. You can also let a small trickle of water flow through the pipes by opening your faucets. This will prevent ice from forming in the pipes.

Fix a Leaky Toilet

You may be surprised to know that a leaky toilet can waste over 500 gallons of water a month, a sizable addition to your water bill. The leak may be slow enough that you hardly detect it, or you may be listening to a toilet tank that always seems to be refilling. Whichever the case, this is a problem that’s easily addressed by the average do-it-yourselfer.

There are several parts that can cause a toilet leak. It’s a smart idea to replace all the potential faults at once, to avoid replicating your efforts. Follow these steps:

  • Prep the toilet by turning off the water below the tank. Disconnect the water line from the tank with an adjustable wrench. Flush the toilet then mop up any extra water with a sponge or rag.
  • Remove the fill valve, the vertical structure in the tank. Use a pair of adjustable wrenches to loosen the nuts holding the valve in place.
  • Remove the toilet gasket. This is the portion with the rubber flapper that lets water drain out of the tank and into the bowl. You’ll need to remove the bolts holding the tank to the seat first, using a screwdriver and adjustable wrench.
  • Lift the tank straight off and set it on its side on the floor. Pry off the spud washer, the large rubber washer on the button of the tank.
  • Take the parts you’ve removed to your local home improvement store and purchase matching replacement parts. These often come in a complete kit.
  • Reinstall the spud washer then seat the tank. Tighten the bolts for the tank evenly, then install the other parts into the tank. Reattach the water line and turn the water back on.

Clear a Clogged Sink Drain

Our kitchen sink drains get a lot of work. And despite our best intentions, sometimes they can become clogged with grease or kitchen debris. Here are some ways to tackle the clog.

Plunge the sink drain
A regular bathroom plunger is often all you need to give the clog a boost out of the way. Apply steady pressure as you work the plunger to avoid damaging the pipes underneath your sink. When you’re done using the plunger, clean and sterilize the sink with hot water and bleach, especially if you’ve used the plunger in your bathroom previously.

Try boiling water
A generous dose of hot water will often get the job done. Empty any standing water with a cup and then boil about a half-gallon of water. Pour the water into the drain in a steady stream, being careful to avoid splashing. Repeat as necessary.

Check out your garbage disposal
Sometimes a clog can develop in your garbage disposal. Try running the disposal in short bursts to break up the clog. If your disposal has quit working, check the reset switch, or use an Allen wrench on the nut at the bottom to manually loosen the impediment. If you need to reach into the disposal to remove debris, turn off the power to disposal then flip off the circuit breaker that provides it power.

Try a mixture of baking soda and vinegar
A combination of one cup of baking soda, followed by one cup of white vinegar will dissolve some tough clogs. Pour them into the drain, then cover the drain and wait 15-20 minutes. Run hot water down the drain to finish.

Use an auger
A plumbing auger, or snake, can often break up a tough clog. Feed the auger cable into the drain until you feel resistance Turn the crank on the auger to break up the clog, then retract the cable and rinse the drain with hot water.

Replace a Faucet

Got a leaky faucet? Or do you want to dress up the look of your kitchen or bath with some new fixtures? In most cases, putting in a new faucet is a straightforward job.

  • Turn off the water at the valves underneath the sink and open the faucet to drain out any remaining water.
  • Disconnect the water lines leading to the faucet, using an adjustable wrench or pipe wrench if necessary.
  • Loosen the nuts under the sink holding the current faucet in place, using an adjustable wrench or pipe wrench. Remove the faucet.
  • Put the gasket on the new faucet and insert it into the mounting holes. Tighten the nuts to hold the faucet in place.
  • Connect the lift rod for the drain to the lift rod strap of the new faucet.
  • Connect the water lines to the new faucet.
  • Turn the water back on, check for leaks, and test the faucet.

Every faucet is a bit different, so be sure to consult the manufacturer’s instructions before you begin the job.

Install a Water Filter

Using a water filter in your home is a great way to ensure that your family drinks the purest water possible. And models designed to fit under your sink are easy to install. Here’s how to do a typical installation for an undersink water filter.

  • Undersink water filters have a separate faucet for filtered water, so you’ll need to cut a hole in the sink top for the faucet. If your kitchen sink top already has an opening for a soap dispenser or water sprayer, you can use that. If you need to cut a hole, follow the instructions provided with your filter.
  • Attach the provided fitting to the cold water line to provide a water source for the filter.
  • Connect the filter to the water supply.
  • Connect the new faucet to the filter using the provided filter.

Another way to ensure that your home has the purest possible water and to fight the effects of hard water is to install a whole home water filter. That’s a more substantial job. To find out more and to get a quote on a whole-home water filtration system, get in touch and we’ll provide a quote.

Replace a Garbage Disposal

A garbage disposal is a great kitchen feature that helps with food prep cleanup and preventing drain clogs. But garbage disposals work hard, so you may need to replace an old model that’s worn out. This is a job that’s well within the reach of the average homeowner.

  • Start by examining all of the parts that come with your new disposal. Garbage disposals have a number of gaskets, mounting rings, and flanges that must be installed in the correct order to avoid leaks. Lay them out and practice the assembly order with the instructions before you begin the job.
  • Remove the knockout disc from the outlet. This plastic plug must be removed before you install the disposal. Tap on it with a screwdriver and hammer to remove it.
  • Prop up the disposal with a support to hold it in position while you make the necessary attachments. A paint can, blocks of wood, or something similar will work fine.
  • Turn off the power to the circuit powering the disposal and make the electrical connections.
  • Connect the discharge and inlet tubes.
  • Prepare the sink flange. You can reuse the existing one if it’s in good shape.
  • Attach the disposal to the flange, following the instructions.
  • Turn the power back on and test the disposal.

When you purchase a garbage disposal, consider the power rating (measured in horsepower). Be sure your new disposal at least matches the specs of the old model. If you want a little more grinding power, go for a higher horsepower rating.

Need Professional Help?

You can take pride in doing basic plumbing jobs yourself, but you may find that professional help is required for some jobs. When that’s the case, you should work with professionals who know the ins and outs of residential plumbing. At Team Enoch all our plumbers are specially trained, state-licensed, fully insured and background checked. And we warranty any of the work we do, whether it’s a simple repair or a completely new roof.

Whether you need a new water heater, a bidet seat, or other household repair or upgrade, or you need a big job like a water main or sewer repair, contact us. Remember, estimates are always free!

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