Plumbing Tools to Have At Your House

Every DIY homeowner should have some emergency repair plumbing supplies on hand to be able to  quickly repair common plumbing problems that occur in the home. These basic plumbing supplies are inexpensive and take up very little room in the garage or basement, but could save you a lot of inconvenience or clean-up.

A tube of plumber’s repair putty. This epoxy putty is invaluable to fix any plumbing leak. Just break off a piece of the putty, knead it in your hands until the two parts form a uniform color, then press it firmly around the leak. It will harden in less than an hour, and will last until a permanent repair can be made. If the leak is in a water supply line, turn off the water first if possible, but it will stop a leak under pressure, if you can keep it in place until it hardens.

Rubber pipe repair clamps. Water supply lines can be temporarily repaired by using a rubber gasket held in place with a metal sleeve. Commercial pipe repair clamps are available in different sizes and are easy to use. Simply loosen the screws on the clamp, slip the rubber sleeve over the leak, slide the metal clamp over the rubber gasket and tighten the screws until the leak stops. These clamps are made for temporary repairs, but will last for years.

Assorted faucet washers. Dripping faucets can be very annoying, but can be easily repaired if you have the right parts to replace the worn out washer. Even if the washer isn’t the exact size you need, a washer close in size will stop a drip until you can get the right size washer.

Slip washers for drain lines. Bathroom and kitchen drain line slip washers often need to be replaced after you take a drain apart to clear a clog. Having several extras on hand will allow you to put a drain line back together after you have solved a clogging problem.

Hand auger drain snake. Most household clogged drains can be cleared with a hand drain snake and a little effort. It may be easier to remove the clog if you take the p-trap apart first, giving you a clear shot down the pipe with the snake. Having the slip washers available will let you put it back together without leaks.

There are other emergency plumbing supplies that will be handy to have from time to time, but just having these supplies on hand will allow you to make emergency repairs in the majority of cases.

One more tip: Know where the main shutoff valve to your house is located. If all else fails, turn off the water supply to stop any more water from leaking and causing damage until you can call a professional.

Article Submitted by Greensboro Plumbers

Preventing Water Damage in the Laundry Room

Learn how to easily mitigate the high costs and hassle of a laundry room leak

Other than the water heater and a full bathtub, there’s not a lot in the typical home that uses as much water as a washing machine. Directing your eagle-eye to the laundry room is one of the most important things to do as a homeowner: detecting problems early means saving money…for all the other repairs around the house!

Try keeping the following points in mind each time you use the laundry room – your floors, walls, and possessions will appreciate it.

  • Sometimes things just fail, and no amount of inspection, maintenance or care can prevent it. With a washing machine, there are a number of mechanical and electrical components that can lead to serious damage should they break down. To mitigate (or maybe even prevent) the resulting damage, think about investing in a flood-prevention device. There are products to automatically shut off water supplies, sound alarms, and even call you when something’s up! Considering the potentially extreme costs of water damage, it’s an investment well-made.
  • Only do laundry when you or someone else can be around to react, should something go wrong.
  • Regularly check washing machine water supply lines. These are the #1 source of laundry room water damage. If you spot any blisters, cracks, bubbles, or a loose connection, replace the line immediately. Use a braided stainless steel flex line – these are far less likely to have problems than their standard rubber counterparts. Don’t forget to check out the discharge line, too!
  • Ensure there’s a 3-4 inch gap between the wall and the washing machine’s supply connections – this will help prevent kinking and damage.
  • Are there shut-off valves on the supply lines? Shutting off the water supply at the wall when the washer isn’t in use relieves the constant pressure supply lines would otherwise be under, lessening the risk of a leak. Washing machine outlet boxes make for a tidy, easy-access solution.
  • Some washing machines (usually front-loading models) have built-in drain filters. If yours does, remember to regularly clean it out to keep the water where it belongs, and off the laundry room floor. While you’re at it, you should also check out the filter screens in the inlet valves (especially if you have hard water).
  • Drain pans will trap water from leaks, and when installed correctly, direct it to a floor drain. Don’t have a floor drain in your laundry room? Though the cost to install a new one can be steep, it‘s still significantly less than the average cost to repair damage from gallons upon gallons of water. If you’re unable to have one installed, consider a flood prevention system as a stopgap.
  • If your washer drains into a laundry sink, always check inside the sink before starting a load. Refrain from keeping anything around the sink that could fall in.
  • Inspect the supply lines and shut-off valves for the sink, if you have them. Keep an eye out for any signs of water damage in the area: discoloration, warping or bubbling of nearby floors/walls.
  • Some laundry rooms house the water heater – if yours is one of them, be extra-vigilant in its maintenance and upkeep.

While your laundry room may never be cherished like a bathroom or kitchen, its water use commands equal respect. By giving it its due, you’re protecting both home and wallet. It’s a good thing!

Article Submitted by Augusta Plumbers

Plumbing Maintenance Check List

We all forget about things: let them go for a few weeks… then months… then years. At that point, they generally fall away (which is great since they’ll never get taken care of). And usually, if something can go unaddressed for that long, it probably wasn’t that important to begin with. Plumbing maintenance is an entirely different and particularly vicious beast. While just as easily forgotten, put off, or ignored, plumbing never lets you off the hook. With the patience of a saint – and the malice of a demon – plumbing problems can take their time developing, smoldering, until that once-tiny leak turns menace, threatening the very structure of the home.

Fortunately, routine maintenance and observation can forestall or eliminate most of those problems. The key is to be comprehensive – and to actually devote a few hours to getting to know your house (as off-putting as “doing maintenance” might sound, it is an opportunity to do just that). To aid in this learning/bonding experience, we offer the following checklist, hitting up the most vulnerable and troublesome spots in the home.

Plumbing Maintenance Checklist

 Perform an in-depth leak check throughout your home. For help, take a look at our guide to finding leaks. When you visit each fixture, look for a shut-off valve on the water supply lines. Test them out to have some assurance they’ll work when you need to perform repairs, or prevent a flood!
 Check any visible pipes and joints (you really should go into the basement or crawlspace) for signs of corrosion: bluish-green deposits on brass and copper, rust on iron and steel. While there may be no problems as of yet, leaks will eventually develop. Consult with a plumber to determine the best course of action.
 Look and listen to the drains in your sinks, tubs, and showers. Are they draining quickly and smoothly? Is there any gurgling? A slow drain is an obvious indicator of a clog; gurgling could mean the same, or a blockage in the drain vent. While some blockages can be dealt with by the amateur, if you can’t solve the problem by manually clearing the drain or using vinegar and baking soda, it could mean the issue is further down the line, requiring professional attention. Learn more about clog prevention and drain maintenance.
 Even if your sink drains seem fine, you know what they say about prevention and cure. Cleaning out the p-traps under your sinks will help protect against future clogs, and you may even find that earring that went missing last Thanksgiving!
 While you’re under the sink, take a good look around for leaks, or signs thereof: stains, mildew, warping, or peeling. Not every leak is constant, and a seemingly dry area may be hiding damage below.
 Garbage disposal? There’s likely regular maintenance recommended by the manufacturer; consult your owner’s manual or our tips on garbage disposer care. At the very least, give it a quick cleaning using ice cubes made of white vinegar.
 If your refrigerator has an ice maker, take a look at the water supply tubing and connection to ensure no leaks are present. Leaks from ice makers can become big problems, and are often overlooked.
 Check faucet aerators and shower heads: each can become clogged with minerals and debris, compromising performance. Aerators can usually be cleaned with a toothbrush and soapy water, or vinegar. Shower heads should be submerged in vinegar for 30 minutes (or overnight, depending) – for more help, check out how to clean a shower head.
 Examine the caulking around the tub/shower, shower doors, toilet bases, and sinks (including the kitchen). If any spots are dried out, missing, or otherwise iffy, thoroughly remove the old caulk and replace with some fresh silicone.
 Without using too much force, try to move or rock your toilets. If there’s movement, check the mounting bolts at the base. If these are tight, the flange may need to be replaced and the toilet reinstalled.
 Remove the tank lids off your toilets and peek inside. Check for any obvious signs of wear or damage. Reach in and feel the flapper: these and other rubbery parts have a habit of rapidly deteriorating in highly-chlorinated water, and with the use of cleaning additives (the blue stuff, which should never be used). Beware! Deteriorated flappers can leave a serious mess on your hands (literally). If you want to make sure your toilet is in top-notch working order, check out how to improve toilet performance.
Note: Be extremely careful when taking off tank lids! They can be heavy, and break oh-so-easily. Place them on a flat, steady surface to avoid damage. And if you’re sitting there thinking, “Well that information would have been useful to me yesterday…” – we have a HUGE selection of replacement tank lids.
 If you have a running toilet – and the flapper is in good shape, forming an even seal – perform some troubleshooting to help figure out what the problem may be. Many times this is a quick and easy fix.
 Any rarely used toilets in the house? Give them a flush to make sure things are as they should be. Your future guests will appreciate it.
 Another oft-overlooked leak source is the washing machine: in particular, the water supply lines. Examine these hoses for cracks or brittleness, ensure the connections are secure, and that the surrounding walls and floor are dry.
 While low water pressure is pretty easy to notice, high pressure can be a bit trickier. Even if you have a pressure regulator installed, check the actual pressure regularly using a test gauge. An ideal pressure is somewhere between 40-65 psi. High pressure can mess with valves and fixtures, and can even cause blowouts in supply lines. Regulators and pumps can help keep things proper.
 If you haven’t done so in the past year (or ever), flush your water heater and replace the anode rod, if necessary.
 The Temperature and Pressure Relief valve on your water heater should be checked every few years for proper operation. If it’s been a while, be sure you have a receptacle for the hot water that will stream out (be careful – it can be VERY HOT water), and flip that switch! Sometimes if they’re too worn, these won’t re-seal after testing them out, so be prepared to replace this vital mechanism.
 Be sure to know the locations of the main water shut-off, as well as your sewage cleanouts.

… Doesn’t sound too bad, does it? So roll up those sleeves and get to maintainin’!

Article Submitted by Greenville Plumbers