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For some, the idea of doing their own plumbing is frightening. Even experienced do-it-yourself enthusiasts have their share of horror stories. Nobody wants to experience a plumbing problem that they caused themselves. We talked with our home repair expert for advice. Here’s some information to help you get started on tackling some of your own plumbing issues, without doing more damage than good.
Q: What plumbing tasks can you do yourself?
A: Surprisingly, there are many plumbing tasks that you can accomplish yourself. With a few inexpensive tools, even a novice can save big bucks by clearing clogged drains, fixing faucets, repairing leaks under a sink or taming uncooperative toilet issues.
Q: What tools are needed for DIY plumbing?
A: A drain auger and a basin wrench are the only specialty tools required to get started. The rest of what you need is probably already in your basic tool kit. An adjustable wrench, pliers, large channel lock pliers, a hacksaw and a couple of screwdrivers will take care of most little jobs. I find that keeping a pair of needle nose pliers nearby almost always comes in handy when plumbing.
As you become more confident in your skills, your plumbing tool collection will likely grow with you. A pipe wrench or two, a basin wrench, pipe cutters, a strap wrench and a few fixture specific tools may be all you’ll ever need to look and feel like an expert plumbing DIYer.
Q: Do you have any plumbing maintenance tips?
A: Plumbers get called many times to repair problems that could have been avoided with simple maintenance. Adding a lint trap to your clothes washer discharge hose, and continuing to replace or clean dirty ones, is the simplest task a homeowner can do to minimize clogged laundry drains.
Other troublesome drains in the house can be cleared from time to time by disassembling the p-trap under the sink and snaking out the first several feet of the drain pipe. This is an easy task that can keep larger problems from occurring later.
For homes with particularly hard water, you can keep showerheads and faucet aerators flowing freely by treating them with a calcium and lime buildup remover on a regular schedule.
Q: What should you know about chemical clog removers?
A: Chemical clog removers should generally be regarded as unsafe. They’re toxic to humans and pets, and can do severe damage to pipes, seals and porcelain fixtures. Using a drain auger instead of a chemical clog remover is almost always preferable. That said, they do have valuable uses.
Kitchen drain clogs are often made worse by the presence of cooking grease in the pipe. It can be thick and difficult to manually remove. Drain clog removers are usually very effective at breaking up those types of clogs. Just be sure to use them sparingly and only when …….