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How to Handle Common Plumbing Problems

September 23, 2019

 Whether you rent or own your home, you probably want to save money wherever you can. One way you can do this is to save on household maintenance jobs by learning how to do them yourself instead of calling in the professionals. This handy little guide will teach you how to handle many common plumbing problems.



Plumbing Basics


First: Shut off the Water

 Before you do anything else, you should shut off the water. This will not only help you avoid making a mess of your house, but it can also potentially save you from expensive water damage. Every fixture has a valve on the pipes that connect to it. Sinks and showers have two pipes, for cold and hot water, while toilets have only one.

 Next: Prepare the Work Area

 Put a big bowl or bucket on top of a towel under anything you are working on. Put a drop cloth on the floor so you don't get wet. Keep a flashlight handy in case you need to see into a pipe you are working on.


Fixing Pipes


Leaking Pipes

 A leaking pipe is something you can fix with little to no effort. After you find the location of the leak, use a pipe cutter to cut the pipe on both sides of the leak. To use the pipe cutter, tighten it and then rotate it around the pipe until it feels loose again, then repeat. Then, cut a new section of pipe that is exactly the length of the section you removed.


If you are working with PVC pipes, put primer on all the exposed pipe ends and two slip couplings, and then PVC cement. Next, slide the couplings onto the exposed pip ends, put the new section of pipe in place and slide the couplings over the cuts. Wait 30 minutes before turning the water back on. If you are working on copper pipes, follow the same procedure but use flux instead of primer and PVC cement. Gently apply the flame of a small propane torch to the joints until the flux sizzles, then apply solder to them. Slide the couplings over the joints and wait until the pipes cool before turning the water back on.


Frozen Pipes

 Pipes sometimes freeze during cold spells, even if they are insulated. Because water expands when it freezes, frozen pipes can burst. You can keep this from happening by turning the faucets on a little bit, so the water just trickles out. Moving water doesn't freeze so well. To fix a frozen pipe, hold a hairdryer set to high pointed at the frozen pipe. This procedure can take several minutes, or even over an hour to work.


Fixing Faucets

 A leaking faucet is most often caused by a worn-out gasket. After you have shut off the water, open the taps so the water left in the pipes drains out. Cover the bottom of the sink with a towel so you don't lose anything down the drain. Then follow one of the following procedures:


Compression Faucets

 If your sink has separate hot and cold handles, it is most likely a compression faucet. Remove the handle caps and then unscrew the handles. Underneath each one is a gasket with a seat washer underneath. If it is the faucet doing the leaking, the washer needs to be replaced. If the handles are leaking, the gasket needs to be replaced. Replace whichever you need to (coating the gasket with grease first) and reassemble everything.


For Ball Faucets

 If your faucet has ball bearing at the base of the handle, it is a ball faucet. Take off the cap with pliers and remove the collar from the bearing. Remove the cam, ball, and washer, which will require special tools you can get in a ball faucet replacement kit. Remove the springs and gaskets. Coat the new gaskets with grease and reassemble the faucet.


Cartridge Faucets

 Having a cartridge underneath the faucet handle means you have a cartridge faucet. Take out the retaining clip with pliers. Pull out the cartridge. Remove the spout. Remove the old gasket, coat the new one in grease, then reassemble everything.


Ceramic Disk Faucets

 A ceramic disk underneath the faucet handle means you have a ceramic disk faucet. Take out the metal piece under the handle, then unscrew and remove the cylinder. Wash it in white vinegar, then replace the seal.


Fixing Toilets


Running Toilet

 First, take off the lid. Find the vertical tube in the tank. If the water is pouring over the top of it, locate the float ball and the rod supporting it. Bend the rod so that the ball sits lower than it was. If not, the chain is probably tangled so the flapper valve on the bottom of the tank can't close. Untangle it and then take the slack out of the chain by reattaching it.


Spontaneously Flushing Toilet

 Remove the lid. If the lift chain is tangled, then untangle and shorten it. If this is not the problem flushing the toilet to drain the tank (after the water line is shut off of course!). Remove and replace the flapper valve.


In Conclusion

 You will probably have to deal with at least one of these problems sooner or later. You should be able to handle them by yourself, with minimal fuss. However, if you find yourself completely lost and unsure of what to do, then it's time to call the professionals, or risk causing even worse damage yourself.

Call Narwhal Plumbing Today, Your Best Choice For Chicago and Northwest Suburbs Plumbing Services! 773-653-0822

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