Many of life’s little household emergencies often start with a water issue – either a leak or a lack of it. At best, it’s an inconvenience. At worst, it’s a flood. But either way, it’s a problem that likely needs immediate (and sometimes expert) attention.
While many plumbing problems can be remedied with simple tools or a temporary fix, it’s always a wise plan to build a relationship with a local and trusted plumber. But when should you fix it yourself and when should you hire a professional?
That depends on the type of problem and your comfort level and skills. Here are some common plumbing problems that you may be able to remedy yourself:
Lack of hot water – First, check the setting on the hot water heater. If that’s not it, you may have deposits in your water heater that can be removed. Or you may need to replace the heating element.
Slow-draining sink or shower – Over-the-counter drain cleaners, bleach and vinegar offer effective solutions for clearing grease, hair and other deposits. If possible, use a toothbrush or drain snake to remove hair or other debris BEFORE using a chemical remedy. DO NOT use chemicals for a total blockage.
Leaky/dripping faucet – Disassemble the faucet handle and replace the worn rubber gasket. If you can’t get to the leak immediately, tie a length of thick string around the end of the faucet. The water will quietly run down the string.
Toilet runs – Replace the flapper or ball assembly (available at local home improvement store). Be sure to replace with parts of a similar size and design.
Toilet does not flush completely – Check the water level in the tank. Adjust the float to sit higher in the tank so more water is used per flush.
Toilet leaks at base – Replace the wax ring that fits between the toilet and the floor.
When not to do-it-yourself? If pipes have burst; water is leaking and threatening your home’s foundation; or your plumbing problem creates an electrical or sanitation hazard, don’t delay in calling a trusted professional.