5 basic plumbing tips for homeowners

5 basic plumbing tips for homeowners

Private Property South Africa
Carmel Woodman

Major plumbing projects should probably be left to the professionals but there are some DIY plumbing jobs that homeowners can tackle themselves in order to save some money.

When it comes to plumbing, knowing how to do a few basic things can save you time and money, as well as prevent water damage in your home. In case of a plumbing emergency, these tips could save your home and your pocket.

How to fix a leaky tap

A common reason for leaky taps is when the washer is damaged or worn and needs to be replaced. This is a simple, quick job and washers can be purchased from your local hardware store at a reasonable price.

Fixing a tap

  • The first step to most plumbing DIY projects is to turn off the water supply to your home.
  • The next step is to remove the handle of the tap. Do this by unscrewing it - the screw will either be on the side or on top of the tap.
  • Use a cloth and a wrench to remove the plastic insert.
  • Unscrew the brass valve located in the tap.
  • A nut holds the washer in place, remove this nut, replace the washer with a new one, and tighten the nut again.
  • Reassemble the tap, the same way it was before, make sure it is closed and then turn the water to your home back on.

How to stop a running toilet

This often happens due to the flapper (or flush valve seal) inside the tank not sealing properly. When flappers wear out, water trickles out which causes the water valve to open again and fill up the tank. Replacing a flapper is a doable task which is relatively inexpensive.

Fixing a toilet

  • First turn off the water to the toilet itself, using the valve on the pipe behind the toilet bowl.
  • Open the cistern to check whether the chain is broken or needs to be adjusted.
  • If the chain is working as it should, take a look at the arm holding it up.
  • Should the flapper need replacing, remove it and take it to your local hardware store. Find a matching product and replace the valve in your toilet.

How to unclog a blocked toilet

  • It’s a good idea to always have a plunger on hand in your bathroom, in case a toilet gets blocked.
  • Wait until the water level has gone down as much as possible, and collect some old towels to use on the bathroom floor, in case of an overflow.
  • Plunge the toilet, then flush carefully. Repeat the process if need be, and the blockage should clear.

How to clear a clogged drain

Two useful ways to clear a blocked drain are: drain clearing chemicals or the natural approach.

  • When using drain chemicals: remove any visible objects clogging the drain and pour the chemicals down the drain as directed on the bottle.
  • When using a natural approach: pour some backing soda down the drain, followed by vinegar and then boiling water.

How to replace a shower head

A shower head

There’s no need to call a plumber out for this one, it’s a quick job you can easily do yourself.

  • Unscrew the old shower head at the wall - if you need to replace the arm, unscrew this from the wall using an adjustable wrench or pliers.
  • Wrap some plumbers tape around the end of the new shower head arm, this ensures a tight fit on the pipes and helps prevent leaks.
  • Screw the new arm and shower head into the wall.

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