Plumbing Tips

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DIY Drain Cleaning Made Easy

by raleigh plumbers on June 28, 2017

By Eva Sparks

Dealing with clogged drains isn’t something you can put off for long, but many people don’t even know where to begin. Other are worried that strong chemical cleaners may be harmful for their health. The good news is that, with just a bit of baking soda, vinegar, and some very hot water, you’ll be able to get all of your drains working like new again.

Baking soda and vinegar are the perfect drain cleaning agents for three main reasons. First, they don’t pose any risks to your health or to your drains. Second, when the two are mixed, they create carbon dioxide and sodium acetate, both of which can easily dissolve the grime and gunk that has built up in your plumbing. Third, the foaming bubbles they create further work to give your drains a thorough scrubbing.

Enough with singing the praises of using baking soda and vinegar to clean your drains; let’s go through the steps you need to take to actually do it.

Step 1 – Prepare 2 cups of baking soda, 1 cup of vinegar, 4 cups of boiling water, and bring them to your target drain.

Step 2 – Pour 1 cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by about half of your boiling water.

Step 3 – Pour your second cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by your cup of vinegar.

Step 4 – Quickly plug the drain to trap the bubbles in the pipe, allowing them to clean more effectively. You should be able to hear the mixture working.

Step 5 – When the sound of the bubbles begins to quiet down, open the drain again and pour your remaining hot water inside. This should clear away any remaining debris.

Step 6 – If your drain still doesn’t seem to be running as smoothly as it could, you can repeat steps 1-5 as many times as it takes for water to flow through it unimpeded.

Some particularly grimy drains may also call for the use of a sink plunger. If the baking soda and vinegar doesn’t seem to be able to clear away all of the gunk, you can be sure that it has at least loosened it all up. After filling your drain with water you should seal it off with a plunger and quickly plunge up and down a few times. This should be enough to dislodge any remaining grime.

To keep your drains in tip top shape you should try not to let them get so clogged again. Clear them periodically with some baking soda, vinegar, and water, and you’ll save yourself from having to deal with many future drainage problems.

After that if your drain still doesn’t seem to be running as smoothly, you could have a bigger issue. Call your trusted local plumber.

If you had to call a plumber in every time something dripped or clogged up, you might wait too long. Having the right plumbing tools on hand is an excellent way to get to a problem as soon as it occurs, and to make sure that it doesn’t get out of control.

Certainly, some kinds of DIY plumbing repair projects aren’t for beginners (you should probably look up a professional plumber before you do extensive damage to your drainpipes trying fish out a lost wedding ring with a straightened-out wire hanger, for example). Many smaller problems are perfect for the DIY beginner, however. This simple home servicing guide should help you with the right ideas.

A non-working flush lever

If you have an old flush tank sitting on your toilet (rather than a wall-mounted flush lever), you should be able to handle the common loose handle problem. All you need to do is to take the lid off the tank and look inside. Often, the lever will have worked itself loose from the flapper, or from its metal chain. You may be able to simply screw any loose parts together, or visit a hardware store for broken parts.

Unclog the toilet

Some toilet clogs can be complicated and need a plumber. Before you look on Ask Doss for a professional, however, it would make sense to see what you can do with a plunger and an auger. You should first visit a home improvement store for the right tools. It takes a toilet plunger, rather than a sink plunger. A dozen strong thrusts should clear up any minor clogs. If this doesn’t do the trick, you need to send in an auger and crank away. It should attach to whatever foreign object is clogging up the works, and help you pull it out.

Correct a leaky sink drain

Leaky pipes are one of the simpler DIY plumbing projects. When you look under the sink, you should find some attachment that delivers waste water to the drain in the wall — a P-trap or bottle trap. You need to put a large basin under the drain to catch any splashes and use a large wrench to undo the nut that holds the trap in place. You can rinse the trap out, and replace the washer. Not only will the drain flow more freely now, but the new washer should also keep the water in, where it belongs.

Stop that drip

If you have a dripping faucet, you don’t have to keep using more force each passing day, to tighten it. Instead, you only need to replace the washer. Whether you have an old faucet that takes many turns to open and close or one of the newer ones that take a simple quarter-turn, it’s easy to do the work yourself. It does take patience, however. You need a small plumber’s wrench and to find an assistant to help you. While they hold the faucet from above, you go below and carefully unscrew the nut that holds it in place.

Once you have the faucet out, you can take it to a home improvement store and have them give you a replacement washer or cartridge. You want to take a video of yourself taking the faucet apart, however. Faucets contain many washers and other small components, and you want to make sure that you know how to put them back in the order that you find them.

One of the most important skills that the DIY plumber possesses is knowing when a project is too complicated. Venturing forth with a job that requires a greater level of skill and you possess a recipe for flooded floors and big bills. When you take baby steps, however, DIY can be nothing but rewarding.

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5 Plumbing Tasks You Should Leave to Professionals

by raleigh plumbers on April 18, 2017

Being able to make repairs around the home is a valuable skill to have, saving both money and time, and also giving a sense of satisfaction. Many domestic plumbing tasks can be carried out by anyone who’s reasonably good with their hands — leaking faucets, malfunctioning toilets, blocked pipes — you feasibly can fix all of these yourself, especially in this age of instant information and tutorials over the internet. However, there are some types of repair that should definitely be left to the plumbing experts, and here are five examples.

Water Heaters
Aside from routine cleaning, anything involving a water heater is probably a job for professionals. When working with a heater, you’ll be dealing with water, electricity, and probably gas or oil. If you make one mistake, the consequences can be severe. Also, an amateur is unlikely to have all the right tools to ensure safety, such as those needed to detect gas leaks or carbon monoxide emissions, and your home insurance may not cover any damage caused by faulty DIY repairs.

Sewer Repair
Not only is this an unpleasant job that you might prefer to give to someone else, but you could easily make things worse by tackling it yourself. What may seem like a simple leak could in fact be caused by a blockage or other problem deeper within the system. Without the right tools, such as cameras and other inspection devices, you might only apply a band aid with your fix. If you don’t address the main problem, you risk a more severe issue at a later stage, possibly involving the expense and disruption of digging up your whole yard.

Pipe Repairs or Replacement
Tightening a loose joint is one thing, but tackling anything more complicated is risky. A pipe system is only as strong as the weakest part. Without the right tools to ensure a proper job is done, you risk failure when the system is brought up to pressure. With water pipes, this can be a damaging leak that’s quickly noticed and fixed. With gas pipes, you might not even realize there’s a problem until disaster strikes.

Major Leaks

If you’re faced with a pipe spraying water across the room, it’s time to turn off the main supply and call in a professional. It might seem a simple matter to fix the obvious fault with a replacement joint or a spot of soldering, but this might only be the tip of the iceberg. If a major leak has occurred, it’s likely that other parts of the system are also in a similar state of wear and tear, and could be close to failure, possibly in a much more damaging and hard-to-fix location. A plumber will not only deal with the immediate problem, but also will check on the health of the rest of your pipework to prevent future failures.

Multi-Occupancy Buildings
In most jurisdictions, amateur plumbing repairs are illegal in buildings where other families also live, and so a certified professional needs to be used. Whether this restriction would ever be enforced over a simple leaking tap is of course your judgement to make, but certainly for any more major work, then it’s a point to be aware of if you want to avoid legal problems down the line.

Many plumbing repairs are fairly simple, and easier and quicker to carry out yourself rather than call in someone else. However, if you’re at all unsure, and when the consequences of a mistake can be serious, it pays to consult a professional. With most good plumbers now offering free call-outs and estimates, you’ve nothing to lose by getting an expert opinion.


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