To save you time, money and headaches down the road, we collected our favorite tips and tricks for solving common household plumbing problems. Most of these tips make use of things that cost less than $20 and these tips could save you an expensive service call.
If you have to jiggle the hose as you pull
out your kitchen sink sprayer, chances
are the hose is catching on the shutoff
valves. For smooth operation, slip 1/2-in.
foam pipe insulation over the pipes and
shutoff handles. Tape it if it won't stay put.
Get the insulation at home centers for
Running hot water can cause copper pipes to
expand and grind against pipe hangers and
joists. So pick up some adhesive-backed felt at
the hardware store and cut it into strips. Then
remove each hanger and wrap the pipe before
refastening the hanger.
Fill the space between two stainless steel sink basins with
expanding foam. The foam deadens vibrations and lessens the
gong effect. It's possible to do this with the sink in place but
much neater and easier before installation. Either way, let the
foam harden and then trim away the excess with a knife.
When a hard object like a toothbrush, comb or toy plugs a toilet or drain, a plunger
may not be the solution—it might only push the obstruction in
deeper. Instead, suck out the water and the obstruction with
a wet/dry shop vacuum.
When trying to locate a pipe under the
floor, attach a rare earth (neodymium)
magnet to an electrical fish tape and feed
it into drain lines through the cleanout
plug. Locate the magnet (and the pipe)
under the floor using an ordinary compass,
which will turn wildly when it finds
the strong magnet.
You don't have to run to the neighbor's
bathroom during a plumbing project.
Before you turn off the water supply, fill 2-
gallon buckets with water. Flush the toilet
by dumping the water in the bowl. You'll
get one flush per bucket. Works just as
well as the usual method, although it
won't refill the bowl.
Your walls may not have much inner
beauty, but it's a good idea to take pictures
of what's inside during remodeling. The
same goes for floors and ceilings. When
your next remodeling or repair project rolls
around, you'll know where the framing and
the electrical and plumbing lines are.
Before you remove a sink trap, give the drain a few plunges
with a toilet plunger. This will push most of the water out of
the trap, lessening the mess when you pull the trap. If you
have a double sink, be sure to plug the other drain to
contain the air pressure. If the strainer isn't a screw-down
style, you'll have to hold it down while you plunge the drain.
Whether you're remodeling or just running wire, knowing
what's inside the walls is helpful.
If your project requires
holes in the wall or ceiling, all you need is a
digital camera or cell phone to see what's inside those dark spaces.
Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.
Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.
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