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9 DIY Plumbing Repairs

Plumbing problem? You might be able to fix it yourself! Here are 9 tips to help you solve some of the most common plumbing problems.

Repairing a Faucet

Before dismantling a leaking or defective faucet, make sure to tightly close the faucet's supply valve or the main water supply.

  • Place a large container under the sink to catch water run-off.
  • Place each component on a plate or sheet of wood in the order that you dismantle them. Reassembling the faucet with the replacement parts will be so much easier.

Then watch the video tutorial Installing or Replacing a Bathroom Sink.


Taking Apart a Soldered Pipe

If you're having trouble undoing a soldered pipe joint, the cause is often water in the pipe, which prevents the solder from heating up to a high enough temperature for it to melt.

  • First, make sure that the water supply is completely closed off. You may need to follow the pipe past the shut-off valve to the main water supply.
  • On the underside of the pipe, close to the soldered joint, use a small bit to drill a hole to allow the water to drain.
  • Once the water is gone, you will be able to undo the pipe, plug the hole and re-solder the joint.

Cleaning a Water Heater

In many parts of the country, the water supply contains sediment. Over time, these minute particles tend to build up on the bottom of a hot water tank and make it less efficient.

In many types of oil- or gas-fired water heaters, odd gurgling sounds will be a sign of such build-up. To fix the problem, you’ll need to drain the water heater.

To drain a water heater

  • Turn off the tank’s electricity from the main control panel.
  • Attach a long garden hose to the outlet in order to let the water run out.
  • In areas where the sediment content is high, it may be necessary to repeat the process by filling the tank and flushing it out again. 

Eliminating Sewage Smells at Home

A home wastewater drainage system is connected to a vent on the roof called a stack. If not checked regularly, the stack can become blocked by animal nests, ice or other debris. If this happens, water will drain more slowly and air will be trapped, resulting in odours that rise up through the sink or the shower drain.

The best way to avoid this problem is to cover the end of the stack with a screen or install a roof vent with a cover.


Insulating Pipes

Copper pipes are great thermal conductors, but they also cause water to lose heat as it is transported. Insulating them will help combat the problem.

To insulate your pipes:

  • Cover the pipes with polystyrene insulation tubing. The pipe will retain its warmth and hot water will stay hotter much longer. In the summer, it will also help cold water to stay cold.
  • Cover as much pipework as possible, including pipes in walls and floors. 

Unclogging a Sink

When using a plunger to clear a blocked sink drain, take a wet cloth and plug the overflow drain. This will provide more pressure to help clear the clog.


Soldering a Damp Pipe

To solder a pipe that has a few drops of water left inside, stuff it with some soft bread.

You will be able to finish the soldering, and the bread will dissolve when the water is turned back on.


Cleaning Drainpipes

To clean drains and prevent them from clogging, pour a litre or two of boiling water into them every month. This will dissolve grease, and your pipes will be less likely to clog at the first opportunity.

Pour a small amount of graphite into sink and bath drains to avoid clogs. It's an efficient cleaner that picks up much of the residue that accumulates in pipes.


Thawing Frozen Metal Pipes

Has a cold snap frozen your pipes?

To thaw frozen metal pipes:

  • Open the valve (often a faucet) closest to the blockage and leave it open.
  • Warm the pipe with a hair dryer or heat lamp. If this is not possible, wrap the blocked section of pipe with rags and pour boiling water onto them.
  • Once the pipe is thawed, leave the valve open for a while to let the water flow so that it will not freeze again.

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