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DIY Plumbing Repairs You Should Know

Updated Jan 11, 2023

Updated Jan 11, 2023

Home > Maintenance & Renovation > DIY Plumbing Repairs You Should Know

As a homeowner, you’re responsible for maintaining your home and making necessary repairs. Unfortunately, plumbing repairs can be expensive, with an average bill of $400. Plumbing repairs are also not something you can afford to put off because, without repairs, pipes can burst, water damage can occur, and toxic chemicals can emanate from your plumbing system. 

However, this isn’t to say that homeowners can’t take on some easy DIY plumbing repairs to save money and fix a problem on the spot.

homeowner plunging his kitchen sink
Image Source: Canva

1. Unclog a Sink

A clogged kitchen sink is one of the most common plumbing problems homeowners face. It’s happened to the best of us, even when we’re careful about what we put down the garbage disposal. 

Many of us turn to chemical clog removers when the sink clogs. However, these chemicals are typically regarded as unsafe and may damage your pipes, porcelain fixtures, and seals. They’re also dangerous for humans and pets, so taking a different approach is better for your hardware and health. 

Fortunately, you can fix most clogged sinks by cleaning out the sink trap. The sink trap is the J, P, or S-shaped pipe that connects two pipes beneath the sink basin. Typically, materials and clogs get stuck in this spot, so if you have a clogged sink or drop a valuable item, like a ring, down the sink, this is likely where it’s lodged. 

  1. Start by informing everyone in your household to avoid using the water supply while working on this project. 
  2. Locate the sink trap by looking for the pipe that drops straight down and connects to a horizontal pipe, otherwise known as the waste arm. 
  3. Place a pan underneath the plumbing pipes to catch residual water and gunk you pull out of the trap.  
  4. Loosen the nuts holding the trap in place by twisting counterclockwise. In most cases, you can do this with your hands. Use pliers if it’s stuck. 
  5. Gently pull the trap down so it opens, and allow the water to drain into the pan you placed below. 
  6. Take an old butter knife and scrape the remaining debris until the trap is clear. Then, rinse the trap with a hose outdoors to remove the remaining sludge. 
  7. Reattach the trap by sliding it in place and tightening the nuts clockwise to secure it back in place. 

2. Fix Common Leaks Yourself 

faucet leaking water
Image Source: Canva

Many small leaks are easy to fix and require only a few plumbing tools and hardware from your local hardware store. 

Here are some of the most common leaks and how to address them: 

  • Toilet leaks — The most common cause of a toilet leak is a worn-out toilet flapper. Fortunately, toilet flappers are inexpensive and can be purchased at your home improvement store. Consult with your home improvement retailer about replacement steps. 
  • Showerhead leaks — Most showerhead leaks can be fixed by tightening the connection between the showerhead and the pipe stem. Use pipe tape, also known as Teflon tape, to secure this connection. 
  • Faucet leaks — Most faucet leaks result from old washers and gaskets, which you can replace after a quick visit to your local home improvement shop. 

3. Caulk Your Sink

When the plumber first installed your sink, they applied caulk around the edges to prevent water from seeping between the countertop and sink basin. However, the caulk will crumble or deteriorate over time, allowing water to slip through and cause water damage to stored items or mold growth. 

Look for a tube of 100% silicone caulking that is transparent or matches the color of your sink or countertop. Then, scrape away the old caulk with a plastic putty knife. Never use a metal knife, as this may scratch the countertop or sink. 

Next, wipe the seam between the countertop and sink with a clean cloth dampened with denatured alcohol to remove soap scum or grime. Let the sink and countertop dry entirely.

Apply a consistent, tiny bead of caulk around the sink to create a uniform look. We recommend approximately a one-eighth-inch diameter of caulking for this DIY project. If the caulk creases, wet your finger and gently run it along the caulk bead to make a smooth grove. Reference the tube of caulk for approximate drying times and allow it to dry completely before using the sink. 

4. Fix Low Water Pressure

hand under faucet testing for low water pressure
Image Source: Canva

Nothing is more frustrating than turning on the shower or a faucet and having a weak trickle of hot water coming out. You can address most water flow issues with a bit of research and the following steps: 

  • Check all of the faucets and showers in your home. If only one or two are affected, it could be a larger problem with mineral deposits. Mineral deposits build up in the faucet’s small screen or water filters located at the end of the spigot. Detach the screen by twisting it off counterclockwise, then rinse it and reattach. 
  • If all the faucets have low water pressure, immediately call your local municipality and ask if work on your waterlines is scheduled. If it’s not, turn off all your faucets and other appliances that use water, like the dishwasher or washing machine, and check your water meter. If the water meter is turning with all the faucets turned off, this is a sign of a serious leak between the meter and your home. Immediately call a professional plumber to handle this severe issue. 
  • If your showerhead has low water pressure, remove the showerhead using a set of locking pliers to turn the nut securing the showerhead. Soak the showerhead in white vinegar overnight to remove hard water deposits, rinse it, and reattach it. 

The Verdict

DIYers can take on many small plumbing projects with some research and recommendations from a home improvement store. However, it’s wise not to hesitate to call for professional plumbing work if you suspect a bigger issue. If you have a home warranty, check if it covers professional plumbing to save on this expense

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