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Plumbing Advice for Homeowners

Boy Helping Dad with Plumbing
When you are responsible for the plumbing maintenance on your own home, it is important to learn as much as you can to know when you may need to hire a professional. This is a guide about plumbing advice for homeowners.
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Solutions

Share on ThriftyFunThis guide contains the following solutions. Have something to add? Please share your solution!

By 3 found this helpful
February 28, 2011

I have read many ways to unclog a drain. I have also tried many ways. However, the one way that has always worked for me is "Rapidly Boiling Water." I just boil several pots of water and pour them down the drain. I have used this in the kitchen sink and bathroom sink as well as a toilet and shower. It has never let me down.

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Note: Take as much liquid out of the sink as possible. Then keep pouring the boiling water until it starts to drain. Keep doing this until it drains normally. It may take several trips. If you still need to plunge - WAIT UNTIL THE WATER COOLS (you don't want to burn yourself with any splash)

By Compltlyme from Sammamish, WA

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By 0 found this helpful
December 19, 2008

All you need are styrofoam cups, an empty 2 litter pop bottle and tape. We are in a big cold snap right nowand my local Home Depot was sold out of faucet covers, so I came up with an even better idea.

I took three large styrofoam cups (20 oz. size from the $1 store) and stacked them all together inside of each other. I then cut off the top lips of the top 2 cups so the cups were no taller than the bottom cup. These go on to the spout first and if you like, you can just tape these cups on to the faucet and leave it at that, but for added protection I cut the bottom half off of a 2 litter pop bottle and put this over the cups. In between the cups and the bottle-bottom I put quilt batting for extra insulation, but you could also use fiberglass insulation, spray in foam or even just a rag. Lastly, I duct taped this to the side of my house. I bet you could also drill a hole and uses zip-ties to secure it.

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By 0 found this helpful
September 6, 2007

My daughter dropped her diamond down the drain. She called a local plumber who said there would be a service call charge of $55.00 plus a charge to locate the ring. I called my brother in law who does plumbing. Here are the steps he gave me to do the job.

Start by finding the trap, a curved pipe under the sink, and put a bucket under it. Next you will loosen the two slip nuts while holding the trap in place, either by hand or with a plumber's wrench. Apply WD-40 if needed to help loosen nuts. When the trap pipe is off, dump the contents into the bucket. If your jewelry isn't there, use rubber gloves and feel in the pipe right above the trap. It may be stuck above. My daughter found her ring and she did not have to pay a plumber to come out.

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By Bobbie G from Rockwall

Editor's Note: When you replace the trap, use some plumbers putty to make sure it doesn't leak. It's always a good idea after doing any plumbing to put a pan or bucket under where the work was done and check it the next day to make sure nothing is leaking.

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February 27, 20060 found this helpful

If you do any replacement work on your plumbing, double check the job the next day, a week later, a month later to make sure that no leaks develop.

We had a lot of fun with a drip under the sink this weekend that we hadn't realized was there. We'd installed a faucet some months back and although it seemed fine right after we installed it, it evidently has been dripping. The under the sink cabinet was full and it dripped out the back, soaked the bottom of the cabinet, then reached the old flooring and came forward underneath the new vinyl tiles in the kitchen. The floor kept being wet because everytime you would step on a tile, it would squish a little water up through the cracks.

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For someone who finds they have that problem, look for plumbing leaks. It was just a little drip from where the shutoff valve faucets were attached to the waterline.

Susan from ThriftyFun

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November 9, 20040 found this helpful

Label the parts of the electrical and plumbing systems that lurk in your basement. Identify each fuse or circuit breaker, hot and cold water shutoffs, heating system controls, gas and water meters, and drain clean-out access covers. Use adhesive stickers or tags on strings. For those items that don't lend themselves to labeling, sketch a rough map and post it on the back of the basement door.

If you can't locate any or all of the above (and if you don't have a male in your household to help you) next time you have an uncle, brother, friend, or father visit ask them to help you. And make sure you thank them. They'll love you for boosting their ego.

By joesgirl

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By 0 found this helpful
December 3, 2003

Toilets have little holes under the lip inside the toilet that can build up calcium in the holes.

Flush the toilet and the water rises high and goes down slowly but does not give that gurgle at the end of a full flush. No amount of plunging helped. Using a wire coat hanger, wiggle a piece of wire in each little hole to dislodge the calcium buildup.

It was a number of years ago that our tenant had a problem and this is what the plumber did and told him about it.
I had forgotten about this until I had a problem.

Before calling the plumber, I figured what the heck did I have to lose?

Worked like a charm! Saved big bucks; plumbers don't work cheap!


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September 22, 20160 found this helpful

This is a guide about keeping a toilet from overflowing. A few simple steps can help you prevent the disastrous toilet overflow event.

Plumber holding a plunger peeking out from inside a toilet

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August 18, 20160 found this helpful

This is a guide about unclogging a shower drain. Shower drains routinely become clogged with soap residue and hair.

Shower drain with hair

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February 15, 20120 found this helpful

This is a guide about fixing leaky faucets. Leaky faucets are a common problem that you can sometimes fix yourself.

Plumber fixing a leaky faucet.

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Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 0 found this helpful
January 5, 2010

How can I fix a slow shower drain?

By Steve from Pa

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Answers

January 9, 20100 found this helpful
Best Answer

I used the method that has been posted several times on Thriftyfun for unstopping a toilet. Pour Dawn dish detergent down the drain and let it sit a few minutes. Then pour boiling water down drain. Afterwards, I used the plunger and it unstopped the drain immediately. Amazing.

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June 10, 20100 found this helpful
Best Answer

Before you try using a drain cleaner try using a baby bottle brush. Get one that has a wire type handle so it can be bent. When you get it in twirl it around and in and out to get hair and debris dislodged. Repeat as need to clean the hair off the baby bottle brush. I then used a plunger while the water was running. Worked for me! Don't use the baby bottle brush again for your baby's bottles.

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November 21, 20100 found this helpful
Best Answer

The Dawn/plunger route worked great! Thanks for the tip!

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July 28, 20100 found this helpful

I need to get a new washer and dryer. I live in a 40+ year old house and I have been told that the outlet hose for the washers in these old houses are 1 1/2 inches. The new washers use 2 inch hoses. I don't even know where to go to get an answer or what to do. Does anyone have any advice? I sure would appreciate it. Thanks.

By abigailprettycat from Portland, OR

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
August 2, 20100 found this helpful
Best Answer

Go to your local hardware store and tell them that you need an adapter for your washer hose that will fit what you need at your house. Although our house and washer are a lot closer in age than your two, we still had to get an adapter to make it fit right. You will also need to be sure and buy plumber's tape to make sure the fittings are tight and secure.

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August 5, 20100 found this helpful
Best Answer

You can ask at various stores before making your purchase. A lot of stores will hook them up for you and will even haul away the old ones. Lowe's and Home Depot are a couple of stores that come to mind.

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By 0 found this helpful
February 26, 2009

I recently had major plumbing work performed in my master bathroom. They had to remove the tiles in my shower to get to the pipes. Upon completion of the work including re-tilng of the shower, there seems to be a lingering strong chemical smell.

We tried to vent out the room for 2 weeks but anytime you shut the doors to the bathroom or bedroom, the chemical smell accumulates. Has anyone experienced this after major plumbing and tile work? Any recommendations on testing the air. We're in our 37th week of pregnancy and are concerned for the baby.

Hegel from Houston, TX

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
February 27, 20090 found this helpful
Best Answer

Invite the local Plumbing Inspector over for his/her opinion..

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March 5, 20090 found this helpful
Best Answer

I'm not sure if this will work, but try setting several bowls of baking soda in the room and close the door to see if that will absorb the smell. Change every couple of days with fresh baking soda. Good Luck

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January 6, 2009

Any plumbers or roofing contractors out there? I live in Winnipeg, where the temperature is usually -35 to -45 degrees Celsius for 6 months of the year. This summer I put a new roof on my house. Now I have a big problem! My "stink stack" keeps freezing over! This never happened before. My house was built in 1935 and is a story and a half. It has a Cape Cod style roof (very steep angle), we put ice dam stuff on it and asphalt shingles.

What can I do to stop this freezing problem. Would wrapping the part of the stack that goes through the attic with insulation help? And, if so, what kind of insulation should I use? The roof is too steep to get up there in the winter. We have scraped the snow off from around the stack and removed the ice several times already, but it still freezes over. What can I do to permanently fix this, as I am told it is not good to have this happen!

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
By guest (Guest Post)
January 9, 20090 found this helpful

I lived in northern MN, in a two story house. In the fall before really cold weather set in we would always climb up on the roof and drop an electric heater element, designed for that job, into the vent. You have to run an electric cord outside to it somehow, of course. The extension cord would keep the heater element in proper position.

Never a problem with freezing. The element was a very low-wattage gadget and well worth the cost of the power to keep the vent open.

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January 9, 20090 found this helpful

The fastest thing to do (make sure you get someone to help or do this if you cannot climb ladders, roofs). Get a heat tape. One house we lived in/owned had one up year round. It makes so sense if you get it up there right to remove it. You need it when you can't get back up there! You can find them at a hardware store, farm store,etc. Just picked one up for my son and it was a 6 foot for $30. Don't be fooled by the single use heat tape wrap. You need the one you plug into another extension cord and run to electricity.

THEN, when it is clear, make sure you flush and run hot water in all the sinks/toilets daily. You will know when it gets slow and plug it in to take care of the problem.

URGENT. With it being frozen over, you have back up possibilities of sewer gas into the house. You may become sick or even DIE from the back up. I would call your local plumber or the carpenters to return to assist you with getting the heat tape up there. You just need to do a spiral wrap around the pipe, like a candy cane stripe.

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By guest (Guest Post)
January 10, 20090 found this helpful

The reason for a stack is to provide air so the sinks, toilets, tubs etc. can drain properly and also to allow gases to escape. If you have more than one stack - escaping gas will be no problem it has a way to leave. when the stack freezes over - it blocks the air from getting in - you will hear your drains bubbleing when it is trying to drain - the bathrooms especially when the toilet is flushed.

An Inline vent(a one way valve that lets air in and keeps other gases out) installed under the kitchen sink will give you the air flow you need. You can purchase one at Home Depot in the plumbing Dept and it shows on the packaging how to install it.

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January 10, 20090 found this helpful

My hubby is a retired contractor; I'm not. Hope I can express his suggestion clearly.

He wondered if you had installed a flange between the "stink pipe" and roofing, or tarred around it on installation. Also, I believe there's a cap of some sort, like a chimney cap. He suggests wrapping insulating tape or tar paper around the thing.

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January 10, 20090 found this helpful

Thanks people. Yes, we put a metal flange around the stack and tarred it. The toilets do not bubble, neither do the sinks. There never was a cap over the stack, and none of the other houses in the neighborhood have caps, either. I can't find a heater element, such as you describe, in any of the plumbing or construction supply stores here. They tell me they have never heard of them.

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By 0 found this helpful
September 2, 2015

So I went to run a bath and only a little water came out. Then it stopped. There is no water to the bath, sink, washing room, and toilet. The kitchen only has cold water. Can anyone help?

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September 4, 20150 found this helpful

Get a plummer - I assume you were at one time getting water in these items.

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September 7, 20150 found this helpful

Have you paid your water bill? In my town, if one is late with payment, they shut your water off without notice, so that they can collect a late payment fee of $50 when you storm into the town office to pay your bill!! If have water to the kitchen and no where else, it is time to call a plumber! You've got major problems and our long distance advice is not going to be of any value.

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By 0 found this helpful
February 26, 2015

We had dirty water from a frozen pipe. I did my undies, some are white, and now they are yellowed from the dirty water. This happened on Saturday. They fixed the pipe, but here it is Wednesday and this happened. When will my water clear up?

By flower51

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
February 28, 20150 found this helpful

Phone the people in charge of your water treatment plant/water service, and find out what they say. There is no way we can help you with this problem when we don't live where you do. Perhaps there is some other issue that causes this, or perhaps it isn't fixed properly.

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