Some of the most common household plumbing problems don’t require the help of a plumber or even a handy-man.  You can save money and water with a few easy plumbing strategies.  From drain clogs to leaks, with the right tools and a little basic knowledge, you can catch little problems before they become big ones.

Basic Plumbing Supplies

Every household should have a basic tool kit, and many plumbing problems can be solved or avoided with a few standard tools.  Make sure you have both a phillips and flat-head screwdriver on hand.  You’ll also want an adjustable wrench, a pair of pliers, and a utility knife.  A 5-gallon bucket is also a good idea.  These help with a whole host of home repair projects, but there area few plumbing specific items you’ll want as well.

Most of us already keep a plunger on hand in case of a clogged toilet, but you’ll also want a sink plunger and a few standard tools on hand.  Plumbing tape (also known as Teflon tape) can also come in handy for sealing pipes where they connect.  Invest in a quality caulking gun, so you can maintain a seal around sinks and tubs.  You may also want to a drain snake on hand to take care of severe clogs, but this will require a little bit of handling knowledge.

Quick Fixes and Maintenance Tips

A little care can go a long ways in keeping your home plumbing system running smoothly between visits from the plumber.  Keep an eye on your pipes and drains; watch for leaks, drips, or signs of water damage.  Clogs and overflows can be prevented by keeping your drain traps clear and tending a slow drain as soon as you notice it.  Here are a few frequent plumbing problems you can mitigate or avoid altogether with only a basic understanding of plumbing a standard toolkit.

Clogged or Jammed Garbage Disposals

Think before you grind.  It’s easy to take a garbage disposal for granted and start throwing anything and everything down there, but there are some things you definitely should not throw at your garbage disposal.  Obviously, glass, metal, and plastic aren’t good for your garbage disposal, but neither is paper or other lightweight trash.  Bones, even relatively small ones, can also damage a garbage disposal.

As a rule, only grind food materials like leftovers, peelings, or unusable parts of fruits and vegetables.  Even then, be careful you don’t over stuff your garbage disposal.  Pay special attention with starchy items like pasta and rice, which expand in water.  You should also limit the number of potato peels you grind at a time.  To play it safe, send only a small fist full of material down at a time.  Run plenty of cold water when operating the disposal to keep the material moving.

If you do have an issue, make sure the power is off at its source before you begin any kind of work on a garbage disposal.  New garbage disposals usually come with a hex wrench and instructions on repair and maintenance.  Keep these on hand in case you need them, but remember: repairing a major appliance is no small matter, and may require considerable homework.  Don’t be afraid to turn to a professional the moment you feel out of your depth.  Biard and Crockett have decades of experience fixing garbage disposals.  We’re local, and just a phone call away.

Caulking Bathtubs or Showers

Water damage can result in costly repairs, but it’s surprisingly easy to avoid some of its most common causes.  It all begins with sealing your sinks and tubs.  An estimated 90% of bathroom leaks are the result of caulking issues, yet maintaining your caulking is as easy as keeping the area dry and well ventilated.  Just leave your shower door or curtain open after each use.  An open window or functioning ceiling will offer considerable help in evaporating the moisture in your bathroom.

When you see the seal around your tub or sink start to peel off, it’s time to re-caulk.  Again, you  don’t have to be a plumber or handyman to handle this job.  All you need is your caulking gun and a reasonably steady hand.  Make sure you get the correct type of caulk – check the label or ask a hardware store employee to be certain you have one meant for tubs and showers.  Be sure to follow the instructions for its application, and seal all of the cracks!

If for any reason you have had a leak in your shower or tub for some time, you may need to call a professional to check for moisture or mold growth inside your wall or floors.  Mold is toxic, and it spreads rapidly in moist, dark places.  Left unchecked, it can eventually cause a building to be condemned!  That’s all the more reason to call the professionals at Biard and Crockett; we not only fix leaks, we clean up after the messes they make.