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How to Fix Common Plumbing Problems Yourself

Plumbing problems are bound to occur in any home. Whether it’s a clogged drain, plugged toilet, or if you have a water leak under the sink, these can ruin anyone’s day. The good news is that most plumbing issues are not overly complicated to fix. Only the most serious problems actually require the help of a professional plumber; the majority can actually be fixed with just a little common sense and some basic tools. This article will discuss some of the most common problems and how you can fix them yourself.

Clogged Sinks

How you clear a clogged sink depends somewhat on the type of sink it is. Clogged bathroom sinks generally clog with hair and soap scum. Kitchen sinks, on the other hand, generally clog with leftover food. Regardless of which one is causing your plumbing problems, the first step is always to try plunging the obstruction out of the pipes. Most kitchen sinks have a flat stainless steel or porcelain basin that makes sealing the plunger to the sink easy. Many bathroom sinks can be a bit more challenging as they are generally curved or otherwise irregularly shaped. Some hardware stores do sell specialty plungers that will do a better job of fitting an irregular bathroom sink, although in some cases plunging may just not be possible.

If the clog doesn’t clear from plunging, you may need to get more aggressive. Taking apart the trap underneath the sink will help you discover most problems, as this is generally the place that most obstructions will occur. If you don’t find the problem in the trap, you will need to clear the drain pipe with the help of a cable auger. If you need instructions on how to operate one of these, just ask your local hardware store employee for help.

Clogged Toilet

Clogged toilets are generally the most messy and smelly types of plumbing problems. If water is not cut off to the toilet immediately upon discovery of the problem, the toilet may overflow causing severe flooding. For this reason, the first step when working with a toilet is to shut off the valve on the supply hose to the tank. Next, you need to figure out where the clog is located. Most toilet clogs are located in the top of the trap inside the toilet. Unlike the sink, a toilet trap is not capable of being disassembled and searched for obstructions. If you suspect the trap is clogged, try plunging the toilet vigorously for several minutes.  If this fails, you will need to obtain what is called a closet auger. A closet auger is much like a cable auger used to clear a sink, although it has a solid end that is specially curved to reach up into the trap of the toilet. When using the closet auger, run it several times on each side of the trap to ensure that you have removed the problem from the entire area. If you still are not able to flush the toilet, you may need to remove the toilet, in which case it is a good idea to call a plumber for help.

photo by: comedy_nose