Ignoring a minor pipe leak can end up going sideways. Plumbing issues need to be inspected and addressed as early as possible to keep them from getting worse.
Unless you have a lot of personal expertise, most emergency plumbing problems will require you to call a plumber. Contacting a professional is necessary if your home is flooded, the toilet is overflowing, pipes are bursting, and sewage is spilling into your home.
However, there are some issues that you can fix on your own. Thankfully, the San Diego Emergency Plumbing Squad will let you in on some secrets that will make repairs a breeze! But if problems persist, it's essential to call in an expert.
San Diego Plumbers' Best Repair Tips
To make things easier, you need to know a few things before you get started. Essential tools, steps, and knowledge will help out significantly, but there are other bits of information that the experts want everyone to know.
1. Prepare yourself!
You'll need to prepare for a few key things:
- Leaks: Unchecked leaks can cause flooding that will lead to water damage in your home. You should keep any hoses in your homes free of damage and routinely check for any water drips or puddles around hoses, valves, and other water fixtures. Leaks often happen in the basement, so it would be good to keep things elevated or on shelves to keep them from getting soaked from possible leaks.
- Valves: Members of your household should know where the valves are in your home and their functions—especially the main shut-off valve!
- Tools: You have to prepare for any eventually by having the right tools. Investing in tools will save you money by avoiding damage done to appliances, furniture, walls, and flooring. Here's a checklist to help you complete your plumbing toolbox:
- Snakes and augers
- Screwdriver set
- Socket wrench
- Adjustable wrench
- Pipe wrench
- Basin wrench
- Channel-lock pliers
- Drain-cleaning tool
2. Know what can't be flushed
Toilet problems are pervasive. They are often caused by ignorance regarding what's flushable and what isn't. Here's a list of things that you should never flush in the toilet:
- Kitty litter, particularly clumping clay-based litter
- Paper towels
- Cooking grease
- Cotton balls
- Bits from your ashtray
- Feminine hygiene products
There are times when products claim to be flushable. For example, some kitty litter or feminine products are labeled flushable, but it's still ill-advised to dump them in the toilet. There are better ways to dispose of these products than flushing them.
The same goes for the shower. You need to avoid certain products as they will harm the piping in your shower drain.
3. Pipe protection
Pipes aren't indestructible—they wear down and get damaged, especially if they don't have the necessary protection. Here are some ways you can protect your pipes:
- Insulation wrapping: Frozen pipes during winter can cause severe damage. To keep this from happening, use foam tubes, which are easy to wrap around pipes, to insulate your plumbing.
- Prepare for winter: As mentioned, freezing temperatures are terrible for your pipes. If you are expecting this drop or plan on leaving home during winter, you'll need to keep exterior faucets on to keep it from freezing.
- Detach hoses: During the winter or any cold season, it's essential to remove hoses as any water left inside can damage pipes and faucets.
- Drain outdoor faucets: Close the internal valves that direct the outdoor faucets. Then, drain the remaining water in the taps.
4. Water heater maintenance and replacements
Water heaters are bound to break down eventually, especially if they’re old. If your water heater is around eight years old or older, you might need to get it replaced. Sometimes a new one saves you more coin—the more often you need repairs, the more you spend in the long run.
But still, some maintenance, minor repairs, and pipe insulation need to be done to keep the water heater from breaking down quicker.
5. Know when to call it quits
Sometimes doing less will do you better. While there are some things that you can do on your own, some problems might be way over your head. Besides, unknowingly tinkering with piping without any knowledge or precautions might cause more damage.
It's important to know when to pack it in and call a plumber. But here are some plumbing issues you can probably handle yourself.
Plumbing repairs you can do on your own
Did you know that not all plumbing issues will need to be repaired by an expert plumber? Some fixing can be learned and done on your own, especially if you're already a bit of a handyman at home.
Here are some of the common plumbing problems you can fix:
- Running toilet: The water in the tank might continue to flow into the bathroom. If you ignore this problem, then the toilet will inevitably have flushing problems. You can fix this by simply putting the chain on to the lever reconnected to the toilet handle.
- Ineffective flush: Flushing the toiler requires some pressure, and if the flush is too weak, it's just not going to do anything. When this happens, the problem is likely the fill tube. It could have been removed or disrupted, which can occur because of continuous flushing. The fill tube is a small tube that goes from the fill valve to the overflow tube. Ensure that you reattach this and that it's at least one inch over the overflow tube's rim.
- Leaky tap: A dripping faucet is widespread in many homes. Many residents don't even recognize it as a problem until it becomes a more significant issue. A leaky tap is wasteful, and you're still going to get billed for it. Disassembling the faucet, cleaning it out using vinegar, and replacing and deteriorated parts will do the trick. Don't forget to turn off the water supply first!
- Water heater leaks: You might not be able to notice your water heater leaking immediately. The tell-tale sign of a leaky water heater is when the shower has low water pressure. Usually, water heaters leak because of scorching temperatures, or the valve needs to be replaced. Directly tackling the causes will be enough to deal with the issue. Replace the valve and keep the heat at 128º F.
- Clogged toilet: Of course, we can't forget the blocked toilet situation. This is hugely frustrating, but keeping the right tools at home will make unclogging the toilet an easy fix. Start with a plunger, but if that doesn't do it, use a toilet snake.
Emergency plumbing is needed for severe and urgent repairs, but there are minor projects that each homeowner needs to know. Being prepared, like having the right tools, avoiding dumping certain things down the toilet or drains, protecting pipes, and maintaining your water heater, are only some of the main things you'll need to remember. But always know your limits and gauge the projects that you're capable and confident in doing.