The DIY craze is slowly taking root among the American population. More homeowners are utilizing instructional videos available on the internet to carry out vital repairs within their houses. From bathroom and kitchen remodeling to lighting fixtures and plumbing-there is no limit to home improvement projects that you can handle on your own.
Labor is the single largest cost driver for the homeowner’s budget for house repair and maintenance. According to HomeAdvisor, the cost of hiring a plumber ranges from $172-$458 for a typical job, with the average hourly rate ranging from $45-$200. Bypassing the plumbing company can offset the costs for jobs that do not require specialized equipment or skills.
Create a Plan for Your DIY Home Plumbing Repair
Plumbing projects may seem to be daunting tasks to achieve on your own. However, some jobs are easy and can be handled through DIY home plumbing repair. The processes are pretty straight-forward, and the skillset required is at the beginner-level.
No DIY home plumbing repair project is 100% cost-free. Before you start, you may need to create a plan and budget for the repairs. You can get an unsecured private loan to pay for the supplies and equipment required to complete the project.
Assemble the Right Tools for the Job
You may need to have the appropriate plumbing equipment to help you carry out your repairs. Some of the tools you may require include:
- Pipe wrench
- Basin Wrench
- Vice Grips
- Water meter key
- Teflon tape
- Plumbers putty
- Drain snake
- Caulking gun etc.
Most instructional videos and DIY guides can guide you on the right tools for your DIY home plumbing repair project. You do not have to purchase new tools for the project. You can borrow some from your handy friend. Local hardware stores also have renting options for most equipment. Additionally, you can pay a visit to the community tool library and rent a piece.
You can rely on Hardware store assistants to provide you with the answers when searching for new parts or fixtures. Take a few snaps of the fixture brand and model you need, and the attendants will point you in the right direction.
DIY Home Plumbing Projects You Can Handle
Armed with new or rented equipment, your DIY Spirit, and instructional videos, you can now kick-start your plumbing repairs. Here are some of the DIY home plumbing repairs that you can attempt and basic instructions to guide you.
1. Turn Off Your Water Supply
This is a pretty straight-forward task for you to undertake. It is a pre-requisite for most plumbing projects before tinkering with the pipes. All you require for the job is your bare hands. You may need to find easy access to your gate valves. Turn the valves clockwise to shut off the water supply.
For your kitchen faucets, check under the sink to locate the valves. Bathroom and shower fixtures may be difficult to find as they may be within your walls. Alternatively, you can opt to shut off the main water supply valve. In most cases it can be found in the basement, garage, near the water heater, or out on the street. Ensure the valve is perpendicular to the pipe to turn off the water supply. Turn on the water at the fixture to confirm that the value is fully shut.
2. Replace Leaky Faucets
The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 10% of U.S. households have leaks in their plumbing that waste up to 90 gallons of water daily. Leaking faucets can quickly shoot up your utility bills. The leaks may be due to loose parts, worn out washers, or corrosion on the unit. Replacement may be the preferred option.
The first step is to turn off the water supply. Using an adjustable wrench, disconnect the lift rod and remove the nuts that hold the faucet tailpiece. Pull out the old faucet and dispose of it. Your new faucet should contain installation instructions. Use the manufacturer’s instructions to set the new faucet in place.
3. Install a New Shower Head
Fixing a new shower head is one of the easiest DIY home plumbing repair jobs to undertake. You need the new fixture, Teflon tape, wrench, rug, and rust or lime remover. You can start by loosening the old head with the wrench and unscrew it from the shower arm.
Use the rug dipped in the lime remover to wipe off the previous Teflon tape or plumber’s putty from the threads. Apply new Teflon tape on the treads and hand-screw the new shower head. Use the wrench to tighten the grip. You can then turn on the water and check for leaks.
You may need to take extra caution as you purchase your new shower head. Short or angled shower arms can make it difficult to screw in the new fixture. Besides, some brands and models do not require Teflon tape and may leak if used. Read the manufacture’s installation instructions before undertaking the project.
4. Repair Running Toilet
Keeping your toilet in good condition can help you save money. A small leak on your toilet bowl may waste as much as 40 gallons of water in a day. There are many potential causes of a running toilet, including stuck flashing mechanism, worn-out gaskets, damaged flapper seal, and many more.
Your first stop should be at the fill tube. After flashing, the tube squirts a stream of water into the toilet overflow tube to refill the bowl. Reattach the fill tube firmly on its valve, ensuring it remains an inch above the overflow tube.
For leaking fill valves, lift the ballcock and observe whether the water stops to flow into the cistern. You may need to replace the worn-out valve to end the leaky plumbing issues.
5. Fixing a New Toilet
Some homeowners prefer to replace their worn out or damaged toilet. You may need a pair of pliers, a new toilet, wax seal, putty knife, rubber gloves, wrench, plunger, and a rag. The first step is to disconnect the water supply line. Flush the toilet to get rid of the water. Use the plunger to push out the remaining water that settles at the bottom of the seat.
Pop off the rim caps at the base of the seat. Loosen the nuts using a wrench and remove the washers. Gently rock the toilet back and forth till it comes off and lift it out. Stuff the rug on the hole to prevent the sewer odors from backing into your home. Inspect the flange for damage and remove the old wax using a putty knife.
Remove the rag from the hole before applying the new wax seal. Hook in the new closet bolts into their slots on the flange and assemble the new toilet. Align the bolts’ shank, drop the tank in place, and secure the unit by tightening the nuts using the wrench.
6. Re-caulking Your Bathtub and Showers
After a while, your bathroom caulk may start to crack and grow mold. You will, therefore, need to clean out the old caulk to give your bathroom a fresh new look. Some of the tools you may require for the DIY home plumbing repair are a caulk gun, putty knife, rag, razor scraper, caulk remover, masking tape, and new caulk containing mold prevention additives.
Cut and peel off the old caulk using the razor scraper. Scrape off along the tub or the shower’s porcelain tile. Squirt some caulk remover and wipe off with a rag. Clean the surface and mask the gap. The size of the largest gap will guide you on how far apart to place your masking tape.
Hold the gun at 90-degree and push a bead of the caulk slightly ahead as you move the gun forward to fill the gap. Use a wet finger to wipe across the caulk to create a smooth fill and remove the excess caulk. You can then peel off the tape.
7. Unclogging Blocked Bathtubs and Shower Drains.
Nothing is as uncomfortable as showering while standing in a few inches of water due to clogged drains. Unblocking your drains may require patience and a lot of elbow grease. Most homeowners tend to look for quick fixes by pouring chemicals that eventually damage their pipes.
You may only need a plunger and a drain snake to get rid of the clog in your plumbing. You can cover the opening completely and pump slowly with the plunger. The vacuum created will pull out the clogging material. If it fails, you can push down a drain wire to break up the clog and flush it away with water. You may also opt for the traditional baking soda and vinegar mixture to free up your drains.
When to Call the Experts
While planning for home maintenance and repairs, it is essential to identify projects you cannot handle. If you are unsure about any plumbing issue, it would be wise to hire professional plumbers. Some of the DIY home plumbing repair projects you should never attempt by yourself include:
Gas Line Repairs
One of the most dangerous plumbing components to work within your home is your gas supply. Gas leaks are rare, but when they do occur, they can lead to devastating results. If you notice the characteristic rotten-egg smell, evacuate your family from the house and call in the experts. Never attempt to take on gas line plumbing, as only licensed plumbers are legally allowed to handle the tasks.
Sewer Line Blockages
It is relatively easy to unclog your small drains within your home. However, it is advisable to leave blocked sewer pipes to professional plumbers. Commercial drain cleaners contain chemicals that eat away the protective lining on the drains, causing pipe corrosion. Attempting to snake the sewer line on your own can crack the pipes, causing raw sewage to spew over your backyard. Expert plumbers have better tools and equipment to unblock the sewers.
Major Plumbing Modifications
You may be tempted to carry out pipe rerouting and replacement on your own during the kitchen remodel. However, mistakes in the plumbing design may result in non-functional fixtures or worse, especially water damage to your home.
If you wish to reroute your pipes or extend your hot water plumbing, consult a professional plumbing company. Some states may require permits before installing a piping system. Licensed plumbers can help you acquire the necessary licenses to ensure your house remains compliant with local building codes.
Water Heater Repairs and Installation
Installing new water heaters for your home can be a tricky process. You may need to understand how to connect the gas line and water pipes safely. The smallest mishap during an attempted DIY project can flood your home. You also risk a water heater explosion that can leave you with burns on your body. You could end up spending far much more money to correct your mistake when replacing damaged walls, floors, and home appliances. Save yourself from headaches and expensive replacements by hiring professionals to conduct the water heater repairs and installation.
Low Water Pressure
You may notice your shower or sink faucet does not have a consistent stream of water as before. In some cases, the reduced water pressure may be a result of mineral deposits building up on your fixtures. A simple DIY home plumbing repair may sort out the issue. However, if the water pressure is not back after the clean-up, it may indicate a more serious problem. You might have a fractured pipe or a hidden leak within your plumbing system. Expert plumbers have the right equipment to inspect your home and find the cause of the low water pressure.
It is exciting for most homeowners to take on and complete DIY home plumbing repair projects on their own. Simple tasks such as changing showerheads, repairing leaky faucets, and unclogging drains can help you save money. They can also help you save time, especially when you wish to sell your house fast.
However, your personal safety and home’s integrity should always come first. Do not undertake any DIY home plumbing repair project that puts you in harm’s way, only to save a few bucks. If you are not confident of your skills and ability to complete the repair, call in professional plumbers.