If you’re a homeowner, you should know that sometimes things happen with plumbing. With consistent use and constant pressure, faucets, hoses, drains, fixtures, sewers, sump pumps, and other items will eventually wear and fail. Angi (formerly Angie’s List) recommends having annual or bi-annual plumbing check-ups by a professional to keep your home’s water supply and drains flowing freely without hassle.
But, when those problems arise, some small issues can be easily remedied before contacting a professional plumber. With a little bit of know-how and the following tools, you can feel empowered to take control of small fixes without missing a beat!
The quintessential plumbing tool is the plunger. It’s the icon of all things having to do with work on drains. But, be selective about what kind of plunger to use.
This is the type of plunger people usually see in the movies or cartoons. It’s simply a stick with a large rubber cup at the end (usually red or pink rubber). These are used for drains such as sinks, tubs, and floors. Ensure that the cup has a good seal around the ends, and then pump the plunger in an up-and-down motion to clear the blockage.
These plungers have a rubber cone or “flange” extended downward after the cup. This type of plunger is intended solely for the purpose of unclogging your stopped-up toilet. Fit the end of the flange at the opening at the bottom of the toilet, and begin pumping in the same manner.
DO NOT USE YOUR TOILET FLANGE PLUNGER IN YOUR SINKS OR TUBS OR YOUR CUP PLUNGER IN YOUR TOILET!
An auger or “plumbers’ snake” is a long, thin metal coil or a thin length of plastic to help unclog drains.
These are very commonly found at most stores and are an inexpensive way to clear hair or other contaminants blocking the topmost part of drains. They often have “teeth” sticking out of a wavy piece of plastic to grab the material blocking the drain. Fish out the blockage, and you’re back to a successfully performing drain.
The metal auger or snake is a bit more expensive. It consists of a wound metal coil, usually with a hook or cutter on the front end. There are manual versions of this tool, and there are powered versions — some you can put on a cordless drill. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on properly using this type of auger.
When you need to loosen or tighten drain pipes, having the right tool for the job is important. A pipe wrench is specifically designed to hold fastly to metal pipes and fittings to loosen or tighten joints. These come in various sizes, but you can’t go wrong with a 14” as your starter tool.
It’s not recommended to use wrenches on PVC plastic pipes and fittings. Usually, the these elements are designed to be tightened by hand.
Channellock pliers or tongue-and-groove pliers are adjustable by slipping the joint of the pliers into channels. These are helpful to use in turning fittings and in conjunction with pipe wrenches. Popular sizes are 9”, 9.5”, and 12”.
It’s not recommended to use pliers on PVC plastic pipes and fittings.
To avoid leaks when fitting metal pipes together, wrap the threads of fittings with teflon tape. This helps to create a waterproof seal to properly keep water from leaking. It’s not recommended to use teflon tape on PVC drain pipes because the plastic threads perform the same function.
Know what length of pipe, what diameter of tool, or what size space you have or need to replace with a measuring tape. This multi-use tool isn’t just for plumbing!
Protecting your hands during even the most mundane plumbing repairs is important to your health and safety.
Before removing “gunk” like hair from your shower drain or touching anything pertaining to the toilet or waste water, wear personal protection equipment (PPE) such as rubber gloves (or plastic if you are allergic to latex). Prevent the spread of germs and remove and dispose of your rubber gloves as soon as you are finished with them, and don’t touch anything with them if they have been soiled.
Leather work gloves can come in handy when handling tools, tightening PVC fittings, or working with rough materials to protect your hands from cuts, scrapes, and bruises.
Your phone can be a useful tool to solve problems. Just think: today our cell phone acts like a phone, a computer, a calculator, a map, a video player, a camera, a watch, a reference book, and even a flashlight! You can find some good advice online to help you use the above tools — but be careful! There’s a lot of bad advice out there too!
When all else fails and you need more help than your arsenal of tools can provide, we’re just a phone call away! Call to speak with a professional plumber at 708-203-7057 or contact us at https://www.drcplumbingandsewer.com/contact/ to schedule a free estimate.