Plumb­ing prob­lem: Fix it your­self or call in a pro?

The Progress-Index - At Home - - NETWORX - By Laura Firszt Laura Firszt writes for net­ This post orig­i­nally ap­peared here:­­ti­cle/plumb­ing-prob­lem----fix-it-your­self-or-c

Wa­ter, wa­ter ev­ery­where ... or a hefty bill for a 15-minute ser­vice call? That’s a de­ci­sion you may have to make when you’re faced with a plumb­ing prob­lem in your home. The com­bi­na­tion of to­day’s chal­leng­ing econ­omy and the wealth of how-to in­for­ma­tion avail­able on the In­ter­net means that many home­own­ers are ea­ger to DIY. While we ap­plaud this in­de­pen­dent spirit, we’d like to in­ter­ject one caveat. Plumb­ing re­pair is no sim­ple mat­ter. Un­like gar­den­ing or paint­ing, it al­lows for far less mar­gin of er­ror. So pre­pare your­self ahead of time. Learn which plumb­ing glitches you can tackle your­self and when you need to call in pro­fes­sional plumb­ing re­pair.

Drip­ping faucet

Re­pair­ing a drip­ping faucet in the bath­room or kitchen used to be the be­gin­ning home handyper­son’s rite of pas­sage. Once you had suc­cess­fully changed a washer on your own, you were ready to move on to tackle big­ger and bet­ter DIY house­hold re­pairs. These days, though, chances are good that your faucets don’t even con­tain a washer any­more. Mod­ern lever-op­er­ated sinks, as op­posed to those with the tra­di­tional sep­a­rate knobs, are likely to be sealed with ce­ramic plates in­stead. Fix­ing a ce­ramic plate is a much more com­pli­cated plumb­ing re­pair that is best left in the hands of a pro.

Re­duced flow in shower or sink

If the wa­ter flow in your shower or sink has dwin­dled to a mere trickle, your first move should be to check with your town’s wa­ter di­vi­sion; the slow­down could be due to a prob­lem (tem­po­rary, we hope!) with the lo­cal sup­ply, and not the fault of your home’s plumb­ing sys­tem. Oth­er­wise, the trou­ble might be a block­age due to min­eral scale or other de­bris. Un­screw the faucet’s aer­a­tor screen and clean it thor­oughly, us­ing the point of a pin to un­block the holes if nec­es­sary. Your show­er­head could most likely ben­e­fit from a “bath.” Pour ½ cup of vine­gar into a plas­tic bag, place it over the head, and fas­ten tightly. Leave overnight to dis­solve min­eral buildup. Wa­ter still su­per-slow? Time to check with a plumber.

Worn-out wash­ing ma­chine hose

When your washer’s hose starts look­ing the slight­est bit frayed, it’s time to think about re­plac­ing it. Wash­ing ma­chine hose re­place­ment is a rel­a­tively sim­ple and in­ex­pen­sive plumb­ing re­pair, as long as you get on it right away. How­ever, if you’re the least bit un­sure of your DIY skills, don’t use that as an ex­cuse to de­lay. A bro­ken washer hose can spurt out 500 gal­lons of wa­ter an hour … all over your laun­dry room. Do your­self a fa­vor and hire a li­censed plumber to take care of the re­place­ment -- pronto.

Clogged toi­let

A clogged toi­let can be quite a nui­sance, es­pe­cially if you live in a one-bath­room house­hold. For this rea­son, a plunger should be part of even the most ba­sic home tool kit. Do not re­peat­edly flush the toi­let; this will only cause more mess. In­stead close the flap­per valve in the toi­let tank. Make sure that the plunger head is to­tally sub­merged in wa­ter and com­pletely cov­ers the toi­let hole. Plunge vig­or­ously un­til the wa­ter be­gins drain­ing from the bowl. If you don’t have a plunger, be wary of overus­ing drain clean­ers. These are usu­ally made of caus­tic chem­i­cals and can be hard on your pipes. Safe home­made drain cleaner may be con­cocted by adding 1 cup bak­ing soda and 2 cups vine­gar to the toi­let, fol­lowed by 8 cups of hot wa­ter (not boiling, be­cause this could crack the porce­lain of the bowl).

Burst pipe

A ma­jor wa­ter pipe that has bro­ken and is gush­ing wa­ter an­kle deep on your kitchen, bath­room, or base­ment floor is quite a sight to be­hold. Don’t just stand there in awe, how­ever -- turn your home’s wa­ter off at the source (you do know how, don’t you? If not, stop read­ing and go find out NOW). Call your home­owner’s in­sur­ance emer­gency num­ber and find out how to have one of their au­tho­rized plumb­ing con­trac­tors re­pair the dam­age ASAP. At­tempt­ing a DIY plumb­ing re­pair in this in­stance might void your in­sur­ance cov­er­age.


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