Plumbing repairs can be very expensive, so it is understandable that keen DIY-ers want to save money and do it themselves. Carrying out a plumbing repair can vary from relatively easy to extremely complicated, it is because of that we recommend only trying out the basics yourself.
If you try something usually left to a qualified plumber, and get it wrong, you could end up having to pay even more for the damage you cause, as well as the initial issue. So, if you fancy trying a few DIY plumbing repairs, then you’ve come to the right place! This guide will cover the following topics:
1. How to fix a blocked toilet
How many of us have experienced this annoyance before? Most likely most of us! Blocked toilets are a nuisance and often result in a professional plumber being called out. However with a little bit of skill and research you could fix the problem yourself.
The most simple and effective tool you can use is a plunger. Go for one with a rubber head and a wooden handle for maximum impact. This is an incredibly easy tool to use, simply place the plunger over the toilet and push and pull until it becomes unblocked.
If the plunger doesn’t work, you might want to try a “toilet snake”. This is a tool that is around 4 feet long with a crank on one end and set of hooks on the opposite side. Simply insert the end with the hooks down the commode drain. Once you read the clogged area, twist the tool with the crank. This should either grab hold of the debris causing the block, or break it up enough to become unblocked.
Whilst you may have to pay for the initial cost of the tools, it could save you a lot of money in the long term. Most plumbers charge a call out fee, so even if the job is quick and cheap, you will still have to pay between £20 to £100 simply for initial call out.
2. How to fix a clogged drain
We know that we shouldn’t, but how often do vegetable peelings and the like end up down the sink? Over time this misuse causes build up which causes a clogged drain. Now, you could call out a plumber, or you could save yourself the call out fee plus cost by doing it yourself!
The first to try is a Zip-It drain cleaner, this simple little tool is amazing. You can pick one up for less than £10.00 and it should free your life of clogged drains for the rest of your life. It doesn’t matter whether it’s your kitchen sink, bath or shower that needs unclogging, this tool will work on them all.
Simply slide the jagged plastic tube down the drain and wiggle around, pull it back up and it should have either broken up or caught the problem, meaning a free flowing drain.
If this doesn’t work then you can always use a chemical drain cleaner, though we would advise this as a rarity or last resort, as they use harsh chemicals.
If you continually experience a clogged drain you might need to hire a plumber to carry out a thorough drain pipe repair.
3. How to loosen faucets and fixtures
The next level up from unblocking and unclogging is loosening faucets and fixtures; however there are a variety of tools you can use to make the job easier.
You can use either a vice grip or a crescent wrench to take off a faucet or hose. Other helpful tools include plumbers grease and plumbing repair tape. You can use the grease to lubricate the faucets that are too tight. Another time when plumbers greases comes in handy is if the faucets squeak when water is flowing . You can use plumbing repair tape to seal threads on shower heads or other fixtures.
Lastly, a good old fashioned screwdriver can be used to loosen faucets and fixtures and the best news if you’ll probably already have one!
4. How to turn the water off
If you are experiencing a leak you will need to turn off your water ASAP. You can do this by turning it off from the inside stop valve. You will find this under the kitchen sink in most cases, or possibly in the airing cupboard or under the floorboards near your front door.
You should be able to operate the valve manually yourself. Turning it clockwise will close it, thereby reducing the amount of water passing through. It will take a few minutes for the water to stop completely.
Top tips to avoid plumbing repairs
If your house is in tip top shape at the moment and you want to keep it this way, then these tips are for you!
- Once a year clear your gutters out properly, this will help prevent damp
- Never pour grease down your kitchen sink as this will likely result in a blockage
- Grease stop cocks and turn them off and back on once or twice a year to stop them from seizing up
- Use a lemon to get rid of lime scale, it will preserve the life of your taps both inside and out
- Make sure you know where the mains valve stop cock is, that way when you have a serious leak you know how to isolate the water supply
- If any of your roof is flat, check it for cracks. If you spot some cracks apply sealer before it starts to leak
Other plumbing repairs
We would recommend for more complicated tasks, such as pipe repairs, hiring a plumber with the proper qualifications. They have been trained to carry out these kinds of jobs and will ensure safety and professionalism is at the forefront of all work carried out.
Check on The Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (IPHE) website for a list of approved plumbers. Whilst it is not a legal requirement to be on the list, the organisation is well respected in the industry and has been around for more than 100 years.