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Plumbing Basics for Homeowners

plumbing basics

Homeownership comes with a lot of responsibilities that you might not consider before buying a house. However, maintenance and repairs are something every homeowner must manage. At Cates Heating and Cooling, we want to ensure all homeowners have a basic knowledge of plumbing so that they know what to do when problems arise.

Identify Where Plumbing Fixtures Are Located

You won’t be able to do regular maintenance if you don’t know where the plumbing hardware is. Knowing the plumbing basics means first identifying where these vital fixtures are located. There are several things you should identify. First, you’ll want to find the water main, which is the main supply line of water to your home. If you need to fix a plumbing problem, you’ll need to know where it is and how to turn it off.

You should also know where the main sewer line clean out is. Blockages and clogs may build up here, so it is important to locate the clean out. This is usually located near the home or property line.

Your home’s sinks, toilets, and appliances should have a water supply valve near them. If a plumbing issue arises in a particular area of the home, this will turn off the water for that spot only, rather than the entire home.

DIY Plumbing Fixes

Now that you have identified vital components of your home’s plumbing system, you will be better prepared to fix or repair problems if they arise. While there are many plumbing problems that should be left to professionals, there are many different things you can fix yourself. The following are some of the most common plumbing problems and how you can fix them.

1.      Clogged Toilets

Unclogging a toilet with a plunger is pretty straightforward. Be sure to wait until the water level has gone down as much as possible before starting to use the plunger. Having a bucket of water nearby allows you to control how much water goes into the bowl when flushing the toilet next.

While clogged toilets are annoying, there are plenty of things to help prevent this from happening. Only flush things that can go down the toilet plumbing, such as waste and toilet paper. You will want to be careful about flushing baby wipes or feminine hygiene products. Some brands are not flushable but leaving it in a bowl of water for about an hour will allow you to test whether these products will disintegrate.

2.      Leaking Taps

When a water tap is leaking, it likely is due to the seal being worn out. Replacing the seal is fairly simple. First, turn off the water main and turn on the tap to get rid of the remaining water. Next, you should unscrew the handle and flange, which is the cover that conceals the tap’s hardware. Then, you’ll remove the bonnet and spindle. These parts are metal pieces with a coil-like texture. Inspect the condition of the washer and jumper valve, which should be located wear the tap body reaching the rest of the faucet. Replace any parts that look worn and reassemble the tap. This should help you repair your leaky faucet.

To prevent leaks, try not to close the tap too tightly. Using waterproof lubricant will help prolong the life the spindle and O-ring (a small circular piece connected to the spindle).

3.      Running Toilets

If it sounds like your toilet is constantly running long after you flush it, there is likely something that needs to be fixed or adjusted. Turn off the toilet’s water supply valve before inspecting the tank. Check the chain and arm holding the chain to ensure they are in good condition. You’ll also need to check the flapper for signs of wear. If the flapper needs to be replaced, remove the chain from the flush lever then slide the flapper up. Slide a new flapper down the overflow tube. Replace the chain, as well. If you have any questions about what hardware you will need, someone at your local hardware shop should be able to assist you.

4.      Clogged Drain

If you have a clogged drain, there are various ways to unblock it, whether it is a sink or bath drain. If it is a minor clog, pouring baking soda, followed by vinegar and boiling water, down the drain should clear the problem. Should the clog persist, you can try unblocking the drain with a plunger. You can also use a plumbing snake to unblock any clogged drains.

If none of these solutions do the job, you can purchase drain cleaners that use harsh chemicals to unblock the drain. However, you should only turn to this if you have tried everything else as the chemicals can be harmful to your plumbing system.

5.      Cleaning a Showerhead

You may notice a loss of water pressure in your shower. There can be various reasons for this. However, it may just mean that you need to clean your showerhead. Fill a plastic bag with vinegar and use a rubber band to secure the bag to the showerhead. Leave it to soak overnight.

If this does not solve the problem, you may need to unscrew the showerhead and scrub it with an old toothbrush.

When to Hire a Plumber

Some homeowners will choose to call a plumber when even small problems arise. The plumbers at Cates Heating and Cooling are happy to take on any plumbing task that you may need. Whether it is a clogged sink or a leaky tap, we can fix any plumbing repairs that may arise in your home.

However, even the handiest homeowners will need professional plumbing help at some point. When it comes to installations and repairs that require the plumbing system to be taken apart, you should leave it up to professional plumbers. Likewise, if problems persist to the point of becoming chronic, there could be something bigger at play.

Our plumbers at Cates Heating and Cooling serve homeowners in Johnson County, Kansas, and surrounding areas. Call us today at 913-914-2800 for Kansas residents and 816-944-1844 for Missouri residents. We also offer our customers 24-hour service should a plumbing emergency arise in the middle of the night.

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