1) Know where your emergency shut-off is!
This tip seems really basic, but you’d be amazed how many people wouldn’t know how or where to turn off their water in a plumbing emergency! Precious seconds turn in to precious dollars in damage repair if something goes wrong during a plumbing project and you can’t shut off the water, so before you do ANYTHING make sure you know where to find and how to operate the main water shutoff!
2) Be careful not to puncture pipes.
Perhaps you just got the prints back from your family photo shoot, or maybe Aunt Sally gifted you a beautiful painting… why don’t we just hang it over here? Stop! First consider whether there might be any supply or drainage pipes behind your work area, because if there are it is of utmost importance that you don’t puncture them! Sure, you might get lucky, but it will take a lot more than luck to clean up the mess if you damage your homes plumbing system inside your walls! How can you check, you ask? First, simply take a minute to think about your home’s layout and what is on the other side of your wall. Being aware of your home’s layout is a good first step. Perhaps you may be able to locate the pipes using a stud finder, or if you have serious concern, may need to utilize an endoscopic camera to look behind the wall. For less expensive techniques, utilize a “Hercules hook,” or carefully drill a hole in your wall and probe the area with a wire or piece of a coat hanger.
3) Learn the basics of Plumber’s Tape.
For most DIY plumbing projects that the average homeowner will dabble in, thread tape is the way to go when you encounter pipe threads. Plumber’s tape (also called Teflon tape) seals pipe threads to avoid leaky joints and fittings, and avoids the potential mess an inexperienced homeowner can create using thread sealing compound (“pipe dope”). Four things to keep in mind when reaching for Plumber’s Tape… 1. Go with the white tape for common household products, yellow tape is for gas lines (Teflon should not be use with gas piping only pipe dope). 2. Roll plumber’s tape counterclockwise, this will prevent unrolling your work when connecting the fitting! 3. It is best to wrap your tape around the male end of the fitting roughly three times for best results. 4. If you can’t fit the tape roll in a tight space, wrap some tape around a pen and apply the tape to your fitting from the pen!
4) Homemade Drain Cleaner
Have a minor sink drain clog but don’t have any drain cleaner in a pinch? Use this natural drain cleaner that’s actually better than the nasty chemicals in the drain cleaners you find in stores! First pour approximately two tablespoons of baking soda in to your sink, followed by a cup or more of vinegar. The drain should begin to fizzle up, which means the chemical reaction is working to break up your clog. Cover your sink to contain the reaction, and once it’s done, flush out the loosened clog with a large amount of boiling water… Voila!
5) Showerhead Maintenance
Showerhead maintenance is simple, but often overlooked. You spend so much time making sure your bathroom looks clean and presentable, but mineral deposit buildup sure does make your showerhead look like one you would find in a seedy hotel! And what about that pesky drip that just won’t seem to go away? Taking a few minutes to remove your showerhead, thoroughly clean it, and replace the plumber’s tape (Refer to tip #3 for the basics of plumber’s tape!) will do just the trick. First, remove the showerhead and scrub any unsightly watermarks with a toothbrush. For tougher deposit build-up soak the showerhead in a vinegar bath for at minimum one hour and potentially even overnight, depending on how much buildup you have accumulated. The acid in the vinegar will help dissolve the white mineral deposits. After the soak, scrub and rinse the showerhead, polishing it with a microfiber rag or towel. Before reinstalling the showerhead, make sure to replace the plumber’s tape and you might just have killed two birds with one stone and even increased water pressure!
6) Clean and deodorize that garbage disposal!
Have you ever noticed any foul smells coming from your sink? Well, I don’t mean to gross you out, but that smell may be rotting pieces of food in your garbage disposal. Yuck! The first step in correcting this issue is to use the homemade drain cleaner trick we discussed in tip #4 to chemically break down any large pieces. Dump in your baking soda and vinegar and cover with the sink stopper, letting it do it’s thing for about ten minutes. After ten minutes, scrub out the rubber gaskets and drain with a tooth brush, and now you’re ready to sharpen the blades and give it a little burst of fresh scent! Cut up a lemon into eighths and insert the pieces of lemon as well as a bunch of ice cubes into the disposal, running it for a minute or so, or until all of the lemon is gone. The ice will work to sharpen the blades, and the lemon will leave your kitchen with a fresh, clean scent!
7) Think twice before you flush it.
If you head to the Heiland Home Services blog, we have an entire article outlining what you can and can’t flush down your toilet, but we can’t be stress enough, human waste and toilet paper are all that should ever enter your toilet.
8) Calm down, Rambo!
You’re giving that plumbing project a shot, and you’re pretty sure it’s a repair you’ll be able to tackle on your own, but you don’t want to leave anything loose! Just to make sure, you bring out the big guns and REALLY torque it down. A common DIY plumbing error is over-tightening fittings and connections. Don’t add broken bolts, bent pipes, or stripped screws to the list of issues you’ll be fixing. It’s counter-intuitive, but remember this important rule of plumbing, “hand tight is just right.”
9) Check you work!
Every seasoned plumber will tell you that no matter how good you are at your job, you must always check your work! Run water through the system, open and close any valves or drains, check for leaks at connection points or anywhere else in the system for that matter. If there are any errors or issues, you want to find them now… not after they’ve caused more damage!
10) Call Heiland Home Services!
Eventually, we all reach the end of our knowledge and need to call in the professionals! It is a wise homeowner who “knows when to hold ‘em, and knows when to fold ‘em!” Go ahead and program our number into your cell phone now! 215-990-7408
There is no shame in knowing your limits, and you’ll be making the right decision for the wellbeing of both your family and your home when you call Heiland Home Services, “Bringing QUALITY back to the trades!”