Integrated Family Community Services 3370 South Irving Street, Englewood, CO 80110-1816 Ph: 303-789-0501

Pipe Dream: How to Learn to Fix Your Own Plumbing at Home

Doing your own minor plumbing repairs is a great way to save money. You will also have the satisfaction of fixing the issue yourself. With some basic tools, you can complete these repairs in just a few hours.

Repairing a Leaky Faucet

Begin by identifying where the faucet is leaking. A drip from the head requires a different fix than a drip from the base. Shut off the water valve to the faucet. Open the faucet to allow the water to drain. After the water has drained, cover the drain opening with a plug to prevent any small parts from going down the pipe. If the drip is from the faucet head, remove the head and check the gasket for wear. If it is cracked, take it with you to the store and get a replacement part. Clogged aerators can be replaced or cleaned with white vinegar and a wire brush. If the faucet base is leaking, you will likely need to replace the entire unit. Take it with you to the home supply store so that you know what size of replacement unit is needed. Follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions. Remove the plug from the drain. Restore the water supply, allowing the water to make its way through the pipe and flush out any debris you loosened while working.

Unclogging Drains

A clogged drain is often the result of sending too much solid waste down the sink or shower. Try a sink plunger first and see if that dislodges the clog. Next, try a chemical reaction of one-half cup of baking soda followed by one-half cup of white vinegar. Plug the sink and allow the gas from the reaction to push the clog out. About 30 minutes later, flush the sink with hot water for five to ten minutes. If the sink is still clogged, try calling a plumber in Utah County. A persistent clog requires that you take the sink apart. In most cases, the clog is located at the curve of the pipe. You’ll need to shut off the water supply and have a bucket to collect water in the pipe. A wrench allows you to remove the pipe and use a wire brush to clean out the obstruction.

Fixing a Running Toilet

Most running toilets are caused by a worn-out flapper or rusty chain. Shut off the water to the toilet. Flush twice to drain the water through the bowl. Disassemble the flapper assembly and take the parts with you to the store. Buy an exact replacement kit. The putty will need to cure for a couple of hours. Once it’s dry, restore the water supply to the toilet.

Replacing a Shower Head

Replacing an old, crusty shower head with a low-flow shower head could save you up to 20 percent on your monthly water bill. Your current shower head should be easy to remove by rotating it counterclockwise. If mineral buildup has gotten it stuck, fill a plastic food storage bag with white vinegar and wrap it around the shower head, using rubber bands to secure it. Allow it to sit for several hours. The vinegar will dissolve the lime and calcium deposits. Take the shower head to the home improvement store and select a new unit. The new head will screw on by threading it in a clockwise direction. Clean the shower head monthly by unscrewing it and soaking it in white vinegar for 30 minutes.

Some patience, quality tools and persistence will solve most minor plumbing problems. The folks at the hardware store can also help with the selection of plumbing supplies. If you discover a bigger problem, it is best to call in a plumber.

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