Calling the pros for every plumbing issue in your home is time-consuming and costly. Now, don’t get us wrong: We love helping our Northwest Arkansas, Fort Smith River Valley & Southwest Missouri plumbing customers with problems big and small! But if you’re feeling empowered to DIY your simple plumbing issues, we’re here to help you do that, too.
From regular maintenance to clogs to leaks, we’ve compiled 10 awesome plumbing hacks that will help you save money and headaches in the long run.
Hack #1: The Emergency Shut-Off Valve
Let’s say you have an overflowing toilet that just won’t stop or a busted pipe in your basement. Your first step is to shut off the water at the source! Knowing where your emergency shut-off valve is can save you some costly clean-up, water damage, and mold issues.
Hack #2: Garbage Disposal 101
Knowing how to use your garbage disposal correctly helps you avoid repairs and blockages. There are several things you should never put down your disposal:
- Fibrous foods, like celery, asparagus, or sprouts
- Fats, oils, and greases
- Coffee grinds
- Starchy food, like peels, beans, rice, or pasta
- Non-food items
Hack #3: Clear the Clogs
While we’re talking about disposals, let’s talk about clogs. These steps can help you de-clog your disposal in record time.
1. Turn off the power, either by unplugging or turning it off at the circuit breaker.
2. Inspect the disposal with a flashlight. If you see an obvious clog, clear it with any long and sturdy tool. Never use your fingers!
3. If you don’t see an obvious clog, use a sink plunger. Fill the sink with a few inches of water and start plunging.
4. Use a DIY drain cleaner. Mix one part baking soda to one part vinegar, and pour the solution down the drain. Wait about 30 minutes, then turn on the hot water for about 60 seconds.
5. Turn the power back on and test it!
Hack #4: Cleaning Your Disposal
There’s a pretty simple DIY tip for keeping your disposal blades sharp and eliminating those weird smells. Every now and then, put several ice cubes and a hunk of lemon peel down the disposal. Run it without water for about 30 seconds, then run some water and add a little dish soap. You’ll have sharpened blades and a lemony scent in less than a minute!
Hack #5: DIY Drain Cleaner
We can’t stress this enough: Commercial drain cleaners are bad news for your plumbing. They’re too strong and corrode your pipes over time. A DIY cleaner is safer, cheaper, and just as easy. For major clogs, try pouring boiling water down the affected drain, followed by ½ cup baking soda. Let that sit for 5 minutes. Then, pour in a cup of vinegar and wait another 5 minutes. Flush with warm water.
Hack #6: Tackling Toilet Clogs
Your first pro-plumber move for tackling toilet clogs is to have a plunger for every toilet in your home. When you’ve got an overflowing toilet, time is of the essence. You don’t want to be running upstairs for the only plunger in the house!
You can also fix a clogged toilet without a plunger! Stop the flow of water by disconnecting the chain in the tank or by turning off the water at the valve at the back of the toilet. Pour hot water—the hotter the better—into the bowl. Hot water and a little soap can also help break down a clog.
Hack #7: Finding Invisible Leaks
It’s the end of the month, and you’ve received a huuuuuuuge water bill you weren’t expecting. Next, you notice water damage, mold, and poor water pressure. Sounds like you might have a leak… but how can you know for sure?
Finding an invisible leak can be tricky, but it’s definitely not impossible! Turn off all the taps and take a water meter reading. Wait a few hours with nobody using any water, and check the meter again. If it shows water usage, you definitely have a leak somewhere, and need to call in the pros.
Another common place for leaks? The toilet! Try putting food coloring in the tank. If there’s color in the bowl after 30 minutes, you’ve got a leak from the tank!
Hack #8: Ultimate Shower Pressure
Low pressure leads to longer showers, which leads to higher bills. So why not lower your bill and have better pressure—but simply cleaning your shower head? Put a small plastic bag full of white vinegar over your shower head. Secure with a rubber band and leave overnight.
Hack #9: Tighten the Pipes
Threads on your pipes get looser over time, which can lead to small leaks. For a quick DIY pipe tightener:
1. Turn off the water.
2. Unscrew the leaky pipes.
3. Wrap a single-layer of masking tape around the threads.
4. Screw the pipes back together.
Hack #10: The Leaky Faucet
A leaky tap is the time-old plumbing nightmare. Even though it’s one of the most annoying household problems, a leaky faucet can slip to the very bottom of our to-do lists again and again and again. To stop the constant drip-drip-drip, secure a washcloth around the faucet with a rubber band. Then, when you’re ready to tackle the issue at the source, turn off the water, remove the tap body, put in a new washer or O-ring, and reassemble. Done! The same thing works for leaky pipes, but you’ll want to put a bucket underneath as well.
Want more Northwest Arkansas, Fort Smith & Southwest Missouri plumbing tips?
We love helping you with your plumbing problems, big and small. Give us a call today for more plumbing tips and tricks!