Plumbing Tips Everyone Needs to Know

Are you dealing with a faucet that drips, low water pressure or a pipe that is blocked? You are probably tempted, and with good reason, to call a professional plumber. For a DIY plumbing job, homeowners usually do not have the necessary skills.

Know the Location of Shut-Off Valves

Note the location of the main shut-off valve and drain (in some cases, the shut-off will be outside the house) before moving into a new home. You should also get to know the access points of the sewer line if you need to perform regular clean outs. Note that apartments and condos may not have dedicated shut-off valves of their own.

Don’t Puncture Pipes

Are you planning to drill in your walls, floors or ceilings holes or pound nails? Determine first if there are any supply or drainage pipes behind your work area because you don't want to puncture them accidentally. With a cheap stud finder, you may be able to locate pipes behind walls. Alternatively, you could invest in a camera that is endoscopic and can be snaked into the walls.

Find Out What’s Flushable

Homeowners should not use their toilet as a trash can, as flushing anything but toilet paper leads to nasty clogs. The system can even be backed up by "flushable" baby wipes!

Don’t Put Garbage Down the Drain

Never dump coffee grounds, food debris, bacon grease, vegetable peelings, or starchy foods such as rice or potatoes down the kitchen drain; your pipes will almost certainly be clogged. Reading the manual of the manufacturer for your garbage disposal is also clever in order to know exactly what the unit can handle.

Take the Plunge

Invest in a high-quality plunger in toilets, sinks, and drains to clear clogs. If you plan to clean sink traps, use a plunger before removing the trap to push most of the water out. The task is going to be much less wet and messy.

Don’t Ignore Leaks

That a fixture's steady drip, drop, drop symbolizes money going down the drain. A leaky faucet, in fact, typically waste up to eight gallons of water a day, while a running toilet can waste 200 gallons a day. Before they become big — and costly — problems, fix small leaks promptly.

Never Over-Tighten Fittings

A common DIY plumbing error is over-tightening of fittings and connections, resulting in broken bolts and screws being stripped. Recall this adage: “hand-tight is just right.”

Make Friends with Plumber’s Tape

Plumber's tape (also called Teflon tape) is used to seal pipe threads to prevent leaks around joints and fittings. Before sealing, you should typically wrap the plumber tape around the threads of the pipe three times. Note also that white tape is designed for common plumbing projects in households, while yellow is designed for connections to the gas line.

Always Check for Leaks

Check for leaks by running water through the system after each plumbing project, then open and close all valves and drains. Even professional plumbers may miss a small leak and need a connection to be resealed.