Use these troubleshooters to fix common issues with your toilet, sink, and faucets, among other things.
While the benefits of homeownership are numerous, there will inevitably be repairs along the way, especially with your hardworking plumbing. Some problems, such as repairing broken sewage lines, should undoubtedly be addressed by a professional; others, luckily, are simple do-it-yourself projects that require no special equipment or skills. Check out five of the most popular problems you’re likely to face and learn how to solve them quickly with these plumbing repairs.
Stopping a Sweating Toilet Tank
Condensation on toilet tanks—the kind that drips into puddles on the floor—usually happens after a long, hot bath or a steamy shower. When the temperature and humidity in the bathroom are high, but the water in the toilet tank is still cool (between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit), condensation forms. On a hot summer day, imagine a cold beverage forming droplets outside the glass; the same thing is happening with your toilet tank.
This plumbing repair includes installing an anti-condensation tank liner to prevent the bothersome problem. They’re available in kits for less than $20 at home improvement stores and plumbing supply stores. The kit comes with instructions as well as a large sheet of flexible foam that you can cut to match the inside of the tank. The liner can come with a peel-off backing or separate adhesive for installation, depending on the brand. Before you begin, you must drain the tank and allow it to dry. If the liner is firmly in place (you will need to wait overnight for the adhesive to set), it will create an insulating barrier between the cold water and the outside tank, eliminating puddles.
Opening up a Sink Trap
Since most clogs lodge in the sink trap—a P-, J-, or S-shaped pipe that connects to two other pipes underneath the basin—removing it is always the secret to simple plumbing repairs like unclogging a sink. If a ring or other valuable is dropped down the drain, it is likely to become entangled in the pit. To detach, clean, and repair a trap, follow the steps outlined below.
1. Place a pan under the plumbing pipes beneath the sink to collect the residual water that will drain when the trap is removed.
2. Locate the trap that leads to the vertical pipe that drops straight down from the sink drain and the horizontal pipe known as the “waste arm.” The trap is threaded on both ends and secured with nuts. There’s no need to turn off the water supply to the sink; simply instruct family members not to use it while you’re working.
3. Twist counterclockwise to loosen both nuts that hold the pit. You can usually do this with your fingertips, but if a nut is very stuck, use an adjustable pair of pliers—just be careful not to break the nut.
4. Pull the trap downward to detach it. If it doesn’t come off quickly, gently tug and wiggle it before it does. Allow the water to drain into the pan you’ve set up underneath the sink.
5. Use an old butter knife to scrape out any trapped debris in the trap, then take it outside and thoroughly spray it with a water hose to clear any sludge that might be covering the inside.
6. Replace the now-clean trap by slipping it back into place and clockwise twisting the nuts that hold it with your fingers.
Calking a Vanity Sink
Caulk was added around the edge of your sink by the plumber who originally built it to prevent water from seeping between the basin and the countertop. This semi-solid waterproof sealant, on the other hand, will deteriorate, harden, or crumble over time, allowing water to seep into the cabinet below, causing damage to stored products and mold growth.
1. Use a plastic putty knife to scrape away the old caulk; a metal knife might damage the sink or countertop.
2. Using a clean rag dampened with denatured alcohol, wipe down the seam between the sink and the countertop. The alcohol will dissolve any remaining soap scum or grime.
3. Allow the area to completely dry.
4. Apply a small bead of caulk, around 1/8″ in diameter, all the way around the sink, maintaining constant pressure on the tube to produce a uniform bead.
5. Dampen a fingertip with water and run it gently over the caulk bead, smoothing the caulk into the crease and creating a good smooth groove. You may need to rewet your finger many times.
6. Wait for the caulk to fully dry before using the sink. Drying times are indicated on the caulk tube and range from 12 to 24 hours.
Flushing a Water Heater
Mineral deposit buildup in your water heater will reduce the efficiency of the device. You will prolong the life of your water heater and enjoy more hot water by flushing it every six months. The flushing instructions are in the unit’s manual, and although models differ slightly, the following steps should suffice for most.
1. Turn off the water heater’s electricity. Switch off the power if it’s electric. Switch off the gas at the shut-off valve if it’s gas.
2. Turn on a hot water faucet somewhere else in your house and leave it running until the water cools.
3. Connect one end of a regular garden hose to the water heater’s drain outlet and the other end to a floor drain or a big bucket.
4. Turn off the water heater’s water supply. The shut-off valve is located on the pipe connecting the cold water supply to the water heater’s tip.
5. Using a flat-head screwdriver, open the drain valve on the drain outlet to which the garden hose is connected. Water, as well as accumulated sludge and mineral deposits, may begin to drain from the hose. Be careful not to get splashed—the water will be very hot!
6. When the water begins running out, close the drain valve with a screwdriver, cut the hose, turn on the water supply to the water heater, and then turn the power back on.
Fixing Low Water Pressure
It’s so inconvenient when you want a solid, powerful stream of water but just get a trickle from the faucet! Fortunately, most water flow problems are simple to resolve.
• First, test the water pressure at various faucets. Mineral deposits may be the source of the issue if only one faucet is affected. Most faucets have a small screen or a water-saving filter that twists off at the very end of the spigot. Twist the screen off counterclockwise to remove it. Rinse it and reattach it if it is clogged with dirt.
• Showerheads are infamous for accumulating hard water deposits, which can turn a cooling spray into an unappealing dribble. If the low water pressure just affects the tub, detach the showerhead by turning the nut that keeps it in place with a pair of locking pliers. Soak it in white vinegar overnight, then rinse and reattach.
• Inadequate water pressure at all faucets is a major red flag. Call your local municipality to see if any maintenance on the water lines that supply your home is planned, as this may affect your strain. Switch off all faucets and any other water-using appliances, such as a dishwasher, if no work is being done. Then, look at the water meter (usually located near the curb or alley). If the meter is turning despite the fact that all of your faucets are turned off, there is a leak somewhere between the meter and your house. This means a serious problem, and a plumber should be called right away.
This article is accurate and true to the best of SmartLiving’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
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