DIY Home Plumbing Guide: Frequently Asked Questions

Plumbing issues arise when you least expect it, and sometimes it’s easier to get out the toolkit and fix them yourself. If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, this DIY Home Plumbing Guide will help you answer some of the most frequently asked questions related to your home’s plumbing. — and will make it clear when you need to ask for professional help!

How do I unclog my toilet?

This is DIY Home Plumbing 101: the clogged toilet. For most clogs, a typical plunger will do the trick. However, you can fix a more stubborn clog with a little dish soap and hot water: the soap will lubricate the pipe while the hot water will break down the clogged materials.

How do I un-jam my garbage disposal?

A jammed garbage disposal is a common problem, and you can often fix it with a simple Allen wrench. You may be able to insert the wrench into the bottom of the disposer and “crank” it to help free up a jam. However, if this doesn’t work, do not use your disposal. You could cause serious damage to the disposal motor or even the electrical system of your house.

How do I fix a leaking faucet?

When a faucet is dripping, the internal mechanism of the faucet likely needs to be rebuilt or replaced. Which internal mechanism you need to fix depends on what kind of faucet you have.

  • Compression faucets (which have hot and cold handles that you must loosen and tighten) are one of the most common. These faucets have washers under the handles that can corrode and cause leaks, so this should be the first place you check.
  • Another common part that can become damaged is the O-ring — you can find these within the handles of various faucets, and will need replace them with a new and properly-sized part.
  • Finally, if you have a cartridge faucet (which have handles that twist freely without compression) you will most likely need to replace the entire cartridge valve.

Note: turn off the water valve under the sink before you start! 

How do I prevent frozen pipes?

There are so many DIY methods for preventing your pipes from freezing that we wrote a dedicated blog post for it. Turning up your thermostat, sealing your home, and running your faucets are just a start for preventing frozen pipes — so we recommend you read our whole list!

Is there really a difference between hard and soft water?

Yes, there really is a difference! The difference between hard and soft water can be damaging to your home and your body. Hard water is high in mineral content, particularly in calcium and magnesium, while soft water is treated to reduce mineral concentration. Be aware of the following signs of hard water in your home:

  • Damaged clothing from the laundry
  • Excessive soap consumption
  • Pipe scaling
  • Faucet and fixture deterioration
  • Skin problems
  • Undesirable tastes or odors from your water

There are multiple ways to address hard water issues, including installing a home water-softening system. However, water treatment must be done safely and with proper testing, so we recommend you give us a call so we can discuss your options.

What causes low water pressure and what can I do about it?

Several factors can cause low water pressure, including a partially closed or malfunctioning shut off valve, a crimped water line, or even deposits that gather in older galvanized pipes. If your neighbors have strong water pressure and your house does not, the problem is most likely on your end. One of our professional plumbing technicians will be able to identify the problem and explain your options to get the water pressure back to where you like it.

What causes sump pump failure?

The most common cause for sump pump failure is a switching problem. If the pump shifts inside the basin, the float that operates the switch can lodge against the pump’s side, preventing it from properly working. Debris are also a major factor, as even tiny particles can interfere with the action of the pump switch. It is important to make sure that your pump switch and float arm assembly are able to move freely, and that you maintain your sump pump annually.

Should I install a conventional or tankless water heater?

There are many things to consider when choosing between a conventional or tankless water heating system:

  • Conventional water heaters are by far the most common type of water heater in the U.S. today. They range in size from 20 to 80 gallons (or larger) and are fueled by electricity, natural gas, propane, or oil. Called “storage” units, these water heaters transfer heat from a burner or coil to water in an insulated tank. The downside to a conventional water heater: they consume energy even when you aren’t using hot water.
  • Tankless water heaters do not contain a storage tank like conventional water heaters. A gas burner or electric element heats the water only when there is a demand for hot water.

Williams Plumbing can guide you through your options and get the right system for home that will give you years of service and efficient performance.

Have other DIY questions? Go to our FAQ page to learn more.

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