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By Julia Leblanc
Plumbing isn’t an easy job. But as a homeowner, there are a few plumbing tricks you can learn about so you can save up and fix issues in a jiff.
Aside from listing common plumbing problems and how to fix them, we’ve also gone ahead and shared the most common plumbing mistakes to avoid. You’ll also find a list of the plumbing tools every homeowner needs.
5 Most Common Plumbing Problems and How to Fix Them
First, let’s talk about the most common plumbing problems and their doable DIY fixes.
Leaky pipes and faucets may seem like a small nuisance. But they can actually cost you hundreds of dollars a year, not to mention just how negative an impact they have on the environment.
Here are some of the most common culprits to the most common plumbing problem:
- Excessive water pressure
- Cracked seals and pipes
- Corroded pipes
- Damaged or loose joint connections
- Improper joint connections and pipe installation
Some of these causes, like pipe corrosion or loose connections, are inevitable as pipes wear and tear over time.
Luckily, there are a few things you can also do to slow down the natural wear and tear.
For one, you can turn faucets on or off slowly. You can also avoid turning on your faucet to the max to maintain practical water pressure.
Regular inspections from professional plumbers are also beneficial. More importantly, you can prolong the life of your pipes by trusting only professional plumbers with high-quality products during piping system installation.
You can also fix leaks by tightening fixtures and pipe connections. You can use thread seals to temporarily seal leaks while you look for replacement faucets or call for professional help.
2. Clogs and blockages
We’re all a little bit guilty of accidentally flushing things down drains one time or another. And since everything—from clumps of hair to tissues and even small toys—can block your drainage, clogs are among the most common plumbing issues.
But while it can be a common or frequent problem, it’s also pretty easy to fix. Just grab your plunger, position it such that it completely covers the drain, then use it to create a suction by moving it up and down.
By creating a suction, you can thus dislodge light items blocking the pipes. These blocking items can even be close enough to the drain opening that you can pick it out with tweezers.
If the plunger doesn’t fix the clogging, you can instead use a drain snake or hand auger to manually remove the blockage.
Now, if the blockage is in your kitchen sink, then you can also use hot water or chemical drain cleaners to dissolve the blockage.
Some even swear by the effectiveness of either vinegar or a solution with equal parts baking soda and salt. For these home remedies, you’ll need to pour the substances down the drain, wait overnight, then flush them with hot water.
These tricks are effective because kitchen sinks often have bits of leftovers or oil in their pipes.
3. Water heater issues
Have you ever tried going for a hot bath only to be shocked by a cold shower?
Before you panic, try checking for the temperature setting to make sure you haven’t accidentally turned it down. Next, check the pilot light if it’s turning on or not.
If you have tankless water heaters and notice leaks, shut it off immediately, especially if it’s an electric water heater. Make sure you’re completely dry and then turn off the breaker and the water supply valve.
This can be pretty complicated and dangerous. So, call a professional plumber to fix this up.
Now if you have a water tank, the most common problem would be sediment build-up. To solve this, you only need to flush it out. You can also drain and flush your water tank every 6 months to prevent excessive sediment build-up.
It also pays to have the best water softeners in Calgary. This is because hard water is the main culprit to sediment clumping together.
Hard water is simply water carrying lots of hard minerals. These hard minerals, such as calcium, can then settle on your pipes, build up and even cause increased water pressure over time.
However, if you find your tank leaking or if these tricks still won’t work, it’s best if you call a water heater repair technician. After all, every Calgarian needs a working water heater, especially during the cold winter.
In the meantime, use seals or even duct tape to stop the leak.
4. Running Toilet
Running toilets, much like leaky faucets and pipes, result in excessive hydro bills. They’ll keep on flushing small amounts of water even after you hit flush.
There are a few reasons your toilet keeps running, namely:
- Faulty or old flapper
- Leaky fill valve
- Loose float cup/incorrect float height
- Lengthy refill tube
To check if the flapper is the culprit, you’d have to use a stick to press on it. If pressing the flapper stops the toilet leak, it means your flapper isn’t as sealed as it should be and you’d have to replace it.
On the other hand, you’d be able to diagnose a busted fill valve as you’ll see it leaking upon opening the toilet tank. If this is your problem, you’d need to replace the fill valve.
Disconnect the fill valve from the water supply line and loosen the fill valve by turning the retaining nut by rotating counter-clockwise.
Make sure the overflow pipe beside it is lower than the new fill valve’s critical level mark. You can cut out excess overflow pipe using a hack saw.
A loose float cup in the fill valve can also cause running toilets.
Test it out by lifting the float cup a bit. If it stops the running water, then it means that you only need minor float cup adjustments and not a whole fill valve replacement.
Lastly, a lengthy refill tube can also cause running toilets, so best to shorten it. Just make sure it’s still long enough to properly transport water to the overflow pipe.
Remember to wear rubber gloves before handling any toilet part. You should also drain your toilet tank, especially if you’re replacing parts.
More importantly, remember to turn off the water supply, lest you end up with an even bigger mess than when you started. Luckily, the best Calgary water damage experts can help restore waterlogged floors, ceilings, basements, and more.
5. Low Water Pressure
While high water pressure is something we should avoid, we also don’t like it when water flows too slowly.
Among the most common plumbing problems, low water pressure is something you can actively prevent or even control.
To solve this issue, you first need to check the meter valve, situated right next to your water meter, and the main house shut off valve. Make sure these valves are fully open to allow water supply into your home.
Old pipes can also cause low water pressure, which is why it’s important to have your plumbing inspected regularly.
Common Plumbing Tools Every Homeowner Needs
You can increase your chances of success by using the right plumbing tools. Here’s a list of plumbing tools that every Calgary homeowner should have:
1. Plunger, for freeing up clogged toilets as well as drains
2. Drain snake, for dislodging objects stuck on your sink drainage
3. Hand auger, for dislodging objects stuck on larger pipes
4. Wrench, for tightening or adjusting pipe connections, faucets, toilet seats, and other plumbing fixtures
5. Pipe wrench: has adjustable jaws for gripping and turning pipes
- Basin wrench: has a long handle and jaws at the end for adjusting faucets or filling valve lock nuts
- Thread seal tape, for sealing pipe connections, thus temporarily fixing leaks
6. Pliers, for gripping and grabbing small and large items stuck in pipes alike
7. Tape measure, for taking exact measurements for cost-effective repairs and/or replacements
8. Caulk gun and caulk, for sealing fixtures like showerheads and faucets
If you still haven’t got these, then here’s your sign to go shopping at the nearest home improvement store!
Now, if you think these steps are too complicated for you, or the DIY plumbing seems too costly, then you may contact the best plumbers in Calgary instead. These professionals can also help you should your plumbing issues become recurrent.
Besides, there are also some situations when immediate professional help is the best choice. Here are some:
- Sewage backups
- Plumbing installation
- Recurrent clogged drains
- Old and rusty pipes
- Faulty hot water tank
There’s nothing wrong with needing a little help sometimes, especially if you can save up more time and resources by calling for help. But if you want to improve, then this next section can help you avoid any costly mistakes!
Common DIY Plumbing Mistakes
- DIY installations. DIY replacements are fine, but full plumbing installations require licensing and permits.
- Leaving water on. Whenever you do plumbing repairs and replacements, turn off the water supply to avoid expensive hydro bills and indoor flooding.
- Using drain cleaners too often. Chemical drain cleaners can easily dislodge clogs, but they can also corrode your pipes when used too frequently.
- Not taking pictures. Taking pictures before disassembling fixtures can help you save time and money when replacing plumbing parts.
- Not having proper tools. Without the proper tools, you may end up frustrated, unproductive, and lost.
- Overtightening fixtures. Tightening fixtures and connections can prevent leaks, but it can also lead to cracked piping and fixtures when overdone.
- Being overconfident. Sure, you can do some DIY to fix the most common plumbing problems, but learn to know your limits.
We hope our complete guide can help you solve and move past the most common plumbing problems.
If you think we missed any other plumbing issues you’d like to know more about, feel free to send us a message! We’ll look into the topic and hopefully expand this article to further help you out.
While nothing beats specialized experts, the best handyman in Calgary can also help you, especially if you have more than a plumbing issue. Just make sure your handyman team also has licensed plumbers on their team!