If you’re a homeowner, then you want your house to always be in working order. One of the most important parts of your household is its pipe system. Plumbing problems not only ruin your day but depending on their severity, their repair could take several days or even weeks. To avoid this, and to learn how to fix small plumbing issues, keep reading. The Fantastic Services team has prepared this handy guide of plumbing tips and tricks to make your life easier.

Table of Contents:

You’ll find this article helpful if you:

  • Are a homeowner;
  • Need a little guidance to fix small plumbing issues;
  • Wish to learn how to avoid big plumbing issues long term.

Dangers of an unhealthy piping system

If your water pipes take damages because of blockage, or unexpected low temperatures, you will be plagued by a lot of problems that your household could go without. Some of them include:

  • Flooding. Depending on the location of the ruptured pipe, your house could experience a heavy flood. Bear in mind that if the ruptured pipe is a drain pipe, it won’t be clean water that will flood your home. 
  • Water damage. A direct result from flooding is damaged floors, walls, and ceilings (depending on the place of the damage), which can cost your household a lot of money, time and headaches to repairing. If the damage occurred in the drain pipes in your yard, your garden or lawn will be damaged as well.
  • Water contamination. This one is a health hazard for you and your family. If a pipe has ruptured, it’s very possible that you will notice an unpleasant colouration of your tap water. This can be dangerous, as most tap water filters aren’t equipped to filter all the dangerous contaminants that come from the soil.
  • High water bills. Unfortunately, all these problems also come with an additional blow to your wallet. If the damage occurs when no one’s home, you will be looking at a crippling water bill at the end of the month.
  • Broken appliances. Your washing machine and your dishwasher are two appliances every home needs to be in working order. They could also become victims of a neglected plumbing issue, which will cause you to spend money or repair or replacement. 
  • Infestations. Among all these problems, it’s very probable that your house could also become a target for unwanted pests. Cockroaches are the first invader that comes to mind if your home suddenly gets a pool of still water between its walls or in the basement.

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Plumbing tips for pipes

#1. Use the right tools for clogs and leaks

Don’t jump straight to chemical drain cleaners. If you have a broken drain, you might be tempted to buy a commercial cleaner from the local store. Professionals recommend trying a manual repair first. For this, you need the right plumbing tools.

  • Plunger. Invest in a high-quality plunger. It’s a tool proven to unclog drains, toilets, and sinks.
  • Pipe wrench. A pipe wrench is used to disassemble the piping under the sink and remove the p-trap in order to clean the clog and debris by hand. Needless to say, you will also need a bucket and rubber gloves for the job.
  • Drain snake. For deeper clogs, a drain snake is your best friend. All you have to do is push the end of the snake into the drain until you feel resistance and rotate it against the blockage until there’s no more obstruction.
  • Plumber’s tape. If you have a leaking fixture, you can use plumber’s tape for a quick fix. It’s a special type of Teflon tape that is used to seal pipe threads to prevent leaks around joints and fittings. Make sure to wrap it at least three times around the fixture before sealing. Plumber’s tape comes in white and yellow. White is for plumbing projects and yellow is for gas line connections. Don’t use the yellow one on your water fixtures!
  • Small brush. This is a quick fix for a clogged showerhead. All you need to do is to soak the showerhead in a bowl with warm water and vinegar for about an hour. Then, use the small brush to scrub the mineral deposits off. You might need to repeat it a few times.

#2. Be reasonable when you attempt pipe repairs

  • Assess your building skills. If you have a broken pipe that needs repair, you might try to fix it yourself. But don’t forget that not every pipe is easy to reach. Your broken pipe can reside between your walls, under the flooring, in the ceiling or under the concrete slab of your basement floor. To reach it, you will have to bore a hole through the structure of your property and fix it after the repair.
  • PVC and CPVC pipes. If you decide to repair a broken pipe by yourself, make sure you know if it’s PVC or CPVC type. Normally, you should have CPVC pipes for hot water and PVC pipes for cold water. Buying and installing the wrong pipe coupler will only result in more repairs later.
  • Copper pipes. Repairing copper pipes is heavy-duty work. Not only is it heavy on your wallet, but it also needs you to have at least some experience in operating a torch. It isn’t advisable trying to accomplish a repair of this calibre if you don’t feel confident in your knowledge or skills.
  • Buy a pipe cutter. Despite there being different types of pipes, a pipe cutter is a universal tool so, having one of those would be a good investment.
  • Different pipes require different products. Pipe glue can help with small pipe ruptures, or if you need a short term solution until you attempt a repair with a brand new coupler. However, there is a different sort of glue for each type of pipe, so make sure you get the right one. Also, don’t forget to use a primer before trying to glue your pipes.

#3. Leave the underground drain pipe to the professionals

Underground drain pipes are the pipes that reside under your house and go under the concrete slab of your basement and through your yard. A long pipeline connects the waste drain of your house to the city sewers, so as you have probably already thought – you’ll experience serious troubles if something were to happen to the underground drain pipe. Unfortunately, accidents do happen for various reasons, and in these cases, we highly advise for any homeowner to call a professional. If you’re interested in how the repair procedure goes, check our article on fixing an underground drain pipe. 

Related: How to Fix a Broken Drain Pipe Underground

#4. Find the location of all your shutoff valves

Cutting the water supply to your pipes is the first step to effective flood prevention. For this purpose, you will need to know where all your shutoff valves (or stopcocks) are. If you’re moving into a new house, this should be one of the first things to find out. The same rule applies if you’re renting a house, after all, accidents happen. Some shutoff valves could be located outside of the house, but you’d most probably find them in your kitchen and/or bathroom.

Related: How to Find the Stopcock

#5. Drill the wall only when you know the position of your pipes

If you’re doing a renovation and you’re a DIY enthusiast who likes to do everything on their own, be sure to learn the position of your pipes. If you intend to drill in the walls, floors and/or ceilings, the last thing you want is to puncture a pipe and start an avalanche of household damages. A stud finder is a tool that can help you with this. And, additionally, you can invest in an endoscopic camera.

#6. Pay attention to what’s flushable

If you want to avoid pipe blockages at all costs, the first thing you need to pay attention to is the stuff you flush down the toilet. Don’t trust the “flushable” sign on the household packages. Even “flushable” baby wipes have been the culprit of nasty clogs. So, make sure nothing but toilet paper goes down the toilet.

#7. Keep drains clear of food particles

The other most common way to clog your pipes is through the kitchen sink. It’s impossible to completely prevent food waste from getting into your pipes, but you can reduce their amount to a minimum. For this, make sure to clear your plates and bowls from food particles as much as possible before washing them in the sink. 

#8. Learn how to test your water pressure

Water pressure can tell you a lot about the general condition of your pipes. Lower water pressure is often associated with leaky faucets, clogged aerators, or a blockage. These are all basic problems that any homeowner should be able to fix. Keep reading to find out how, or check our article on testing water pressure for more information.

Related: How to Test Water Pressure

#9. Invest in winter-proofing of your pipes

One of the most common reasons for ruptured pipes, besides blockage, is freezing temperatures. If winter temperatures fall below zero, there’s a possibility for the water in your pipes to freeze, create a blockage and ultimately damage the pipe, no matter of its composition. In the end, the elements are your most difficult enemy. That’s why many homeowners invest in pipe insulation which protects them from sub-zero temperatures. This isn’t a small project, so consult with a professional.

#10. Set dates for regular plumbing inspections

Have a professional check your plumbing system at least once every two years. Of course, different technicians will tell you about different schedules. Many will insist that you need more frequent inspections, which mainly depends on the age of your plumbing system, as well as the change of the year-round weather. The decision is up to you, but bear in mind that inspections are the best way to prevent an issue before it has created a flooding disaster.

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Plumbing tips for appliances

Water appliances are the outer nozzle of every piping system. If you wish to save some money from repairs or replacement, especially for crucial ones like the washing machine, or the dishwasher, here’s what you can do: 

#11. Deal with a running toilet

A running toilet is one of the most common plumbing issues. It’s easy to fix even for someone with no plumbing knowledge. It’s enough to open the toilet tank and thinker with the simple mechanism. You may need to replace a damaged part. Check out our article on fixing a running toilet tank for more on the matter. 

Related: How to Fix a Leaking Toilet Tank

#12. Know how to install a new appliance

If you’re buying a new appliance, like a washing machine, or a dishwasher, you’ll have to connect it to the water supply and drain pipes. Here is a quick guide for installing a new washing machine, if you have any questions

#13. Fix a leaky faucet

A leaky faucet is another very common and simple to fix the plumbing issue. It can be an indicator of low water pressure, which is why you should check your water pressure metre first. If not, then the problem is the fixture itself. You can either fix it with plumber’s tape. Or if you don’t like how it looks, you can always replace the part by buying a new one from your local hardware store.

Related: How to Fix a Dripping Tap

#14. Never over-tighten fittings

The most common reason for leaky fixtures is over-tightening the screws and connections, which leads to broken bolts and stripped screws. The same goes for hot and cold water faucets. If you have the bad habit of securing them too tightly, just don’t.

#15. Don’t ignore a clogged sink drain

Sinks can clog, no matter how careful we are not to let any food particles get inside. Cooking oils sediment into the inner walls of the pipes, catch debris, and it’s only a matter of time before they create a blockage. There are three ways to unclog a sink drain and all of them are fairly easy – by plunging, by opening the p-trap, or by using a drain snake. If you wish to learn how to use all three methods, check out our post on unclogging a drain.

Related: How to Unclog a Kitchen Sink Drain with Standing Water

#16. Unclog a drain with a vacuum

It might sound strange, but a wet-dry vacuum is proven to be a very useful tool if your sink drain has been clogged by accidentally dropping a small hard object in it – a child’s toy, toothbrush, comb, etc. Plungers are useful for dislodging a clog, but they end up letting the waste go further down the drain. So, an effective way to get your item back is to suck it with a vacuum.

#17. Check regularly for leaks

Fixtures and appliances should be regularly checked for leaks. This includes your faucets, showerheads, refrigerators, washing machines and dishwashers (including the hoses), water heaters and more. Anything that uses water is vulnerable to leaks. The quicker you spot a problem, the easier you can fix it.

Plumbing tips for heating system

A household heating system should always be in working order – you owe this to yourself and your family members. Can you imagine having to do serious repairs to your heating system in mid-winter? If you don’t want to deal with this nightmare, here are a few tips that would prolong the life of your boilers and radiators:

#18. Invest in the right boiler

If you own a water heating system, you need a boiler that can last you for a long time. There are different types depending on your house and the needs of your household. There’s a lot to choose from, so check out our article about choosing a new boiler. And, once you have your boiler, make sure to learn to know how to maintain it properly.

#19. Make your water heating system more efficient

Invest in additional insulation of your boiler. Just like with pipe insulation, this will not only protect your boiler from subzero temperatures (especially if your boiler is in a non-heated room), but it will also keep the water hot for longer periods. Another way to make your heating system more efficient is to drain the water from your radiators every 3 months in order to get rid of any sediments.

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#20. Don’t ignore the noise in your central heating system

If your water heating system is noisier than usual, the most common reasons are either the boiler or the pump. Don’t ignore either and inspect them as soon as possible. Both might be an indicator of a serious problem that should be looked at by a professional. Read the following article for more information.

Related: Why is my Central Heating System Noisy?

#21. Pay attention to the pilot light of your boiler

The pilot light of your boiler can end up going out for no particular reason. This is a common issue in many households, and people tend to ignore it since it doesn’t affect the efficiency of the heating system. The reason this happens is usually a small electrical issue in the mechanism. In most cases it’s harmless, but it’s still not advisable to neglect an electrical issue on a water system for long periods of time. 

Related: Why Does the Pilot Light Keep Going Out on My Boiler?

#22. Have the right schedule for your heating

Every house is different, and every homeowner decides for themselves whether they need their heating to be on at all times or not. There are a few factors that play a role in the overall efficiency of this decision. To find out which is the right one for you, check out the following post covering the topic:. 

Related: Should I Keep My Heating on at All Time?

Look for professional plumbers for complicated problems

Pipes are easy to maintain if you know the most common tips for preventing plumbing issues. However, if you’ve neglected the state of your piping system for a long time, it can surprise you with a big problem out of nowhere, followed by a serious repair. Should something unfortunate like a broken pipe occur in your property, call a professional plumber immediately. 

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Takeaways

  • Keeping non-flushable materials and food leftovers out of your piping system is the number one thing that you can do if you want to prevent a clogged drain and/or pipe ruptures;
  • Winter insulation of your entire piping system can help a great deal against freezing and ruptures;
  • Never ignore leaking faucets as they are indicators of either a water pressure problem or a damaged appliance;
  • Have regular home inspections to prevent bigger plumbing issues.

Prevention is your best bet and if you know the right plumbing tips and tricks, your piping system will have a long and healthy life. As a responsible homeowner, you owe yourself and your family clean water, working pipes, and no flooding issues.

Image source: photographyfirm/shutterctock.com

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Have you ever experienced any plumbing issues in your property? Did you handle them yourself, or did you call a professional? Tell us about your experience in the comment section below!

  • Last update: November 11, 2019

Posted in Plumbing Tips

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