Some of us are quite handy around the house; others, not so much. However, there are a few things that any homeowner should know how to do. Knowing how to do these fifteen DIY repairs can save you from calling in an expert and save you some money.
15 Plumbing Tasks Every Homeowner Should Know How to Do
Here are 15 things that you should know how to do around the home. We’ve included blogs for more in-depth information as well!
1. Snake a Drain
Many of our plumbing tips recommend snaking a drain – but you need to first understand how to do it correctly! For general usage, a 3/8 in, 20 ft-long model should do the trick. Slowly push the snake cable into the drain, turning the handle in a clockwise motion as you push. Push past the U-shaped curve in the pipe until you feel a significant amount of resistance (the clog). Try to hook the clog and continue to prod the material in order to begin to break it up. Pull the snake out of the drain very carefully so you don’t lose the clog hooked on the drain snake.
2. Fix a Leaky Faucet
A leaky faucet is a nuisance and a money-waster. It can also lead to bigger problems. So, it’s important to know how to fix one. First, turn off the water to the sink and stop the drain with a rag (this way you won’t lose any small parts down the drain). A compression faucet likely needs a new rubber washer to seal the valve, and a dripping washerless faucet can be stopped up with a new O-ring.
3. Replace a Shower Head
Whether you’re replacing old, outdated plumbing fixtures with low-flow, low-consumption alternatives or remodeling your entire bathroom, at some point you’re probably going to want or need to replace your shower head at one point. To do this, remove the existing shower head and lay thread seal tape at the base of the shower arm before screwing in the new piece (don’t fasten it too tightly, however). You can also replace the shower arm with a piece that’s sold separately.
4. Unblock a Clogged Toilet
Every homeowner experiences a clogged toilet from time to time. Thankfully, it’s usually a simple fix requiring nothing more than a plunger or an auger. To be sure the bowl doesn’t overflow, shut off the water supply valve behind the toilet. Then, get plunging. If that’s not successful, try snaking the toilet with an auger.
5. Unblock a Clogged Sink
When your sink is clogged, it’s tempting to reach for a chemical drain cleaner. You can try a safer alternative, such as a mixture of baking soda and vinegar. If that doesn’t work, you probably have a blocked P-trap. This is the U-shaped pipe under the sink. Place a bucket under the pipe and unscrew it in order to see if there’s a clog, then remove it and replace the pipe.
6. Replace a Faucet
Replacing a faucet isn’t as difficult as it may seem. First, choose a new fixture that requires holes in the same locations as the old faucet to ensure that it will fit properly on the sink. Shut off the water, drain the faucet, then follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
7. Clean Out Gutters
Cleaning gutters twice a year can prevent clogs caused by debris and pests. Climb the latter carefully, using a stabilizer or find an extra set of hands to hold it, and remove leaves by hand or use a leaf blower, garden hose, or wet-dry vac. Afraid of heights? You can buy special attachments for your leaf blower or wet-dry vac in order to get the job done from the ground.
8. Unclog a Roof Drain
While you’re up there, clean your roof drain. It protects your property from rain and other weather conditions, but like the gutter, it can become clogged by leaves and other debris. This can cause water to back up on the roof, leading to leak damage and potentially a collapsed roof. You can unscrew the drain and remove debris with a gloved hand, snake it with an auger, or hose the debris down, pushing it out the drainage outlet.
9. Turn Off the Water Main
Every homeowner should know where their water main is and how to shut it off in case of a water emergency. Generally, a home’s water main valve is located close to where the water main enters the house from the street. Turn wheel handles clockwise to cut off the water supply. For levers, slowly turn the lever handle 1/4 turn. Feeling like a real DIYer? You can also learn how to replace your water main if there’s rust in the pipe or a leak in the line.
10. Clean the Sump Pump
Sump pumps are most common in basements as they are most likely to experience flooding. Since most California homes don’t have basements, this may not apply. But if your home does have one, you need to maintain the sump pump. It should be cleaned once or twice a year. Turn off the power to it, or unplug it, first. Remove it from its pit and take it outside to rinse it off with a hose and remove any caked-on debris. Drain any water from the pit with a shop vac, and then return the pump after it has thoroughly dried.
11. Fix a Stripped Faucet
A spinning faucet handle is a common household problem, and thankfully, it can be fixed in 10 minutes or less! To fix a stripped faucet, shut off the water first. Then, remove the faucet handles or cover plates as well as the locking nut. Then, remove and replace the faucet cartridge. Once you’ve replaced it, simply retrace your step in the opposite manner to put the faucet back together.
12. Fix a Dishwasher Clog
A dishwasher sure is convenient (and cheaper than washing dishes by hand when it comes to water usage). But when it’s not working right, it can be a real nuisance. To unclog a dishwasher, remove the racks to get to the drain gate at the bottom of the appliance. Remove the gate with a screwdriver and then use a drain auger to clear debris within the pipe. You can also flush it with a baking soda and vinegar solution.
13. Adjust Water Heater Temperature
Hot showers too hot? Maybe icy cold? A simple adjustment of your water heater thermostat should do the trick (and could save you money). You’ll usually find the temperature control knob on the front of the water heater near the bottom. Above the knob, there should be a small black arrow. Simply move the knob to the desired temperature (the EPA recommends 120 degrees). On low boys, which may be in your closet, the thermostat will typically be behind a metal panel. Simply unscrew it and adjust the knob (it may just be a dial that you’ll need to use a flat head screwdriver to adjust).
14. Fix a Leaking Washing Machine Hose
That water coming out from under the washing machine means you have a leaky hose. Hoses can wear themselves out every couple of years, cracking and splitting. To repair the hose, disconnect the appliance and shut off the water. Unplug external hoses to the washing machine and be ready to soak up some water with a towel. Then, connect your new hoses back into the machine. Make sure the cold and hot water connections are correct. Screw the other end of the hoses to the water supply and voila!
15. Replace Toilet Insides
If your toilet always seems to be running following a flush, there’s a good chance that the inner workings of the toilet need to be replaced (fill valve, flush valve, and flapper). This may seem like a difficult job, but any DIYer should know how to do it.