Five D.I.Y. Home Plumbing Repairs That Save C.A.S.H.
1. Garbage Disposal Has Stopped Chomping
Clogged or jammed garbage disposals can be easy repairs to make. First, never insert a hand into your disposal. Turn your power main off at the circuit breaker box. Look under your sink for a loose hex tool that came with the disposal. If it is long gone, they are available at any hardware store. On the bottom of the disposal is a hole in the center. Insert the hex key and turn one full turn in both directions. If one direction is frozen there is likely something jammed in the grinding mechanism. USE CAUTION and shine a flashlight down the disposal opening. If you can locate an obstruction use a magnet wand or extension pliers to carefully extract the object. Try the hex key again. If it turns freely in both directions you are probably good-to-go. Next, look for a small red button on the bottom and press it to to reset the unit. Turn the power back on. Turn your sink faucet on. Test the disposal. If you hear grinding or if the unit remains frozen call a plumber for further repair or replacement.
Tip: For long life make sure you know what types of foods are intended for garbage disposals and what foods will wear or cause damage to it.
2. Kitchen Sink Sprayer – on the fritz with no spritz
First, shut the hot and cold water off under the sink. If this is not possible, shut off the main water valve to your home. Then turn on the faucet to relieve any remaining water pressure. This is really simple fix if you have a detachable hose. You can find this out by attempting to unscrew the sprayer from the hose. If detachable, the sprayer should have a threaded cap that attaches it to the hose. First, buy a replacement sprayer that matches the finish and style of your existing fixture at your hardware store. Study the hose/sprayer connect. Disconnect or unscrew as needed. Install new sprayer and reassemble reversing your disassembly process. If you have a one-piece hose/sprayer, you will need a crescent wrench. From under your sink, follow the sprayer water feed line to where it joins the sink faucet mounting bracket. Unscrew and remove the old hose from above. Install new in reverse order adding plumbers tape to the male threads. Turn water back on. Done.
3. Caulking – Gaining The Perfect Edge
There is a newer option here, and an old one that both give you a professional look.
Caulk Tape – It comes in a roll and in different colors. You simply peel the backing, lightly press in place and let dry. Here is a video on application: https://youtu.be/HwxkS3WCMbA
Tube Caulk – There are many different kinds for home repairs. Make sure you check the label and purchase caulk that is designed for water related fixtures. You will need a caulk gun for your project and a secret weapon – Painter’s tape! There is a little labor at the front-end as you have to mask off all joints where you will apply caulk. Remove old caulk carefully with a razor knife and clean excess with mineral spirits as best as possible. Apply painters tape on both sides leaving a even gap. Apply the caulk, spreading it evenly with your figure or spreading tool. Let dry. Peel the low-tack tape and reveal a sharp edge. Simple! Here is a video on applying tube caulk with this method: https://youtu.be/Mki76u9ByRs
4. Showerhead replacement – what a difference it makes
For starters, If your showerhead is 10-15 years old, by installing a new one, you can save a sizable amount on your water bill – 20-30% is not unreasonable. In addition to conservation benefits, today’s showerheads have more options and better spray patterns. This is one quick fix that will have you saying, “It feels like I’m on vacation!” The next time you bathe.
American showerhead pipes have a one-size-fits-all opening of 1/2” so buy the style that fits your taste without worry of not being able to install it. You will need plumbers tape, steel wool and an adjustable crescent wrench for the replacement. First, place a folded towel in the tub to catch any objects that could be dropped. Remember, if you drop the wrench you will also have a porcelain repair ahead of you. Unscrew the old fixture carefully with your crescent wrench. Clean the pipe threads with steel wool to remove sediment. Take a 2-3” piece of the plumbers tape and wrap it around the threads. Use just enough to make completely circle the pipe. Gently thread your new showerhead on by hand as far as possible. Use the crescent wrench to tighten until snug. Simple!
5. Running Toilet – catching it is easy
A running toilet is usually caused by a faulty fill valve in the tank. If your toilet either runs constantly or refills intermittently, this is your culprit. You can purchase a complete fill valve kit from any hardware store. First, shut the feed valve off under the toilet where the water pipe comes though the wall. Remove the cover to the tank being careful not to drop it (fragile). Flush the toilet to drain most of the water. Use an old towel to soak up all of the remaining water. From under the toilet tank, unscrew by hand or with a crescent wrench the water feed tube and the two wing nuts or bolts holding the valve in place. Lift the old valve out and put the new one in place reversing the removal process. Be sure not to over-tighten the two screws/wing nut mounts. Turn the water feed back on for a few seconds putting a couple of inches of water in the tank to test the water seal. If sealed, open the valve completely and test flush. Ahhh…The sound of silence.