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Common Plumbing Emergencies

Plumbing emergencies happen all the time. As a homeowner you should know this to be true with all the clogged toilets, leaky pipes, and jammed garbage disposals you’ve had to deal with. And over the years, you have dedicated countless time and money to fix, maintain, and prevent these problems from costing you more money and inconveniencing you and your family. Instead of wasting all your time and money, here are some easy and inexpensive ways to address the most common plumbing emergencies that occur in your home:   

  1. Clogged Toilet and Pipes

You don’t always need to pay a plumber a couple hundred bucks to unclog your toilet. There are various methods you can try to unclog a drain if one technique, such as a plunger, fails to work. 

What You Can Use:

  • Plunger ($20 - $30)

Simple and easy to use, the plunger is a great way to free up minor clogs.

  • Auger ($15 - $50)

While potentially a more expensive alternative to the plunger, the auger is made for getting rid of major clogs deep within your plumbing pipes.

  • Baking Soda and Vinegar ($10 - $15)

A natural home remedy for dissolving clogs you cannot reach with a plunger or auger is using baking soda and vinegar. Pour an entire 16 oz. box of baking soda into your toilet and allow it set for a few minutes. Then very slowly pour vinegar into your toilet bowl to create a chemical reaction that will dissolve the clog.

  • Chemical Drain Cleaners ($10 - $30)

If all else fails, you can always purchase a chemical drain cleaner to clear the clog.

  1. Running Toilet

If a toilet is constantly or abnormally running, you may need to replace one of three things: the Fill Valve, the Flush Valve Seal, or the Flush Valve. These three components can be found in the toilet tank and can be easily removed with a few tools and parts found in any hardware store.

What You Will Need:

  • Adjustable Crescent Wrench ($20 - $40)
  • Metric Combination Wrench Set ($20 - $150 depending on the number of wrenches in the set)
  • Strap Wrench ($5 - $40)
  • Fill Valve ($15 - $30)
  • Flush Valve Seal ($5 - $10)
  • Flush Valve Kit ($15 - $30) 
  1. Dripping Faucet

A dripping faucet is commonly due to a deteriorated O-ring or an old faucet cartridge. Turn off the water flow to your faucet by closing the shut-off valve. If your faucet is leaking at either the hot or cold water handles you need to replace the O-ring(s). If however, the leak is from the faucet head itself you will need to replace the faucet cartridge(s) located in both handles of your faucet. Carefully take each faucet handle apart and replace the deteriorated part(s) using pliers and a screwdriver. 

What You Will Need:

  • Screwdriver Set ($5 - $30)
  • Pliers Set ($20 – $40)
  • Basin Wrench ($5 - $35)
  • O-ring ($1 - $5)
  • Faucet Cartridge (price varies depending on faucet model)

Be sure to take your old faucet cartridge with you when you go to the department store to ensure your replacement part works with your faucet model.

  1. Low Water Pressure

Experiencing low water pressure is a common problem among most households. Thankfully, low water pressure can be one of the easiest plumbing problems to fix in your home. Overtime debris will gather in your faucets aerator causing your water pressure to decrease. Simply unscrew the faucet aerator, often found at the tip of most faucets, and clean out any existing debris. Reattach the clean aerator to your faucet and watch your faucet’s water pressure increase.     

  1. Leaky Pipe

Every homeowner should know how to patch a leak to prevent wasted money and water damage. Begin by tightly wrapping the leaky section of pipe with Teflon tap and rubber sheeting to temporarily prevent water from leaking all over your home. If you feel confident enough, repair the pipe yourself or call a plumbing professional to do the job. 

What You Will Need:

  • Teflon Tape ($5 - $50)
  • Hose Clamps ($10 - $40)
  • Rubber Sheeting ($1 - $5)

 

While stopping a leak with the steps above is a great temporary fix for small leaks, time sensitive projects, and inexperienced individuals, it does not guarantee a permanent fix to your water leakage problem. If you feel you are capable of permanently fixing your leak, here are the steps you need to take to do so:

 

1) Measure the length of pipe you will need to replace and gather your supplies at your local hardware store.

What You Will Need:

  • Replacement Piping (price varies due to length and circumference of plumbing pipes)
  • Emery Cloth ($5 - $20)
  • Silver Solder ($30 - $60)
  • Solder Flux ($5 - $10)
  • Fitting Brush ($1 - $10)
  • Pipe Cutter ($10 - $100)
  • Propane Torch ($33 - $100+)

2) Turn off your water supply. Turn on any faucets connected to the leaky pipe or use an air compressor to remove any water remaining within the leaky pipe.

3) Using a hacksaw or a pipe cutter, remove the damaged section of pipe.

4) Clean the outside and inside of both your current and replacement pipes using the emery cloth and fitting brush.

5) Lightly apply soldering flux to each side of piping you are going to solder.

6) Solder the new pipe into place and allow it to naturally cool.

7) Finally, turn on the water and check to make sure no leak is present after your repairs.       

Save yourself time and money with these five simple and inexpensive tips for fixing the common plumbing problems in your home.