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Do It Yourself: The 4 Plumbing Jobs You Can Handle

Do It Yourself: The 4 Plumbing Jobs You Can Handle

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September 9, 2009

It happens to everyone from time to time--something in the bathroom starts leaking, or you find that ominous drip under the kitchen sink. Before you call the plumber, examine the problem and determine if you can fix it yourself. The following list of common problems might be remedied with only a few minutes and some minor elbow grease.

  1. Your toilet is constantly running. The most likely culprit for this annoying problem is a flapper valve not sealing properly. Open the back of the toilet and make sure nothing is blocking the valve, then make certain the pull chain is not caught on anything that would prevent it from closing. If your valve needs to be replaced, kits can be purchased at the hardware store for a very reasonable price.
  2. The kitchen faucet is dripping. This is usually a sign that something inside the faucet is worn and failing. To figure out what the problem is, you may need to disassemble the faucet. This might seem daunting, but it's really just like putting together a simple puzzle. A repair kit can be obtained at your hardware store that should include new o-rings, seals, and instructions on how to pull that faucet apart, clean it out, and put it all back together.
  3. The sink drain is blocked. First, gently use a plunger to clear the obstruction. If that doesn't work, go under the sink and remove the curved trap by loosening the couplings on either side. Clean out the blockage with a plumber's snake, available for purchase or rent from any hardware supply store. And that's it! Remember to clean out the trap before you put it back on, and tighten the couplings well.
  4. The hot water turns cold. It could be a problem with your thermostat or heating element on the hot water heater. Follow the manufacturer's directions on how to test and replace either. If you have a gas water heater, the pilot light might be out. You can re-light this yourself or call the gas company to do it for you.

When Should You Call a Plumber?

If the repair is too big for you to handle or involves getting into the pipes underneath your house, consider calling a professional. Sewage backing up into your home always warrants an emergency call to the plumber. If you can do the simple repairs yourself, you can save your pennies for that day when you have to call a professional to handle a serious plumbing problem.

About the author: Shannon Dauphin is a freelance writer based near Nashville, Tennessee. Her house was built in 1901, so home repair and renovation have become her hobbies.
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