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Best DIY Plumbing Tips From The Home Depot Answer Man

Doing proper maintenance will keep your home trouble free and save you thousands of dollars in future repairs. Here are a few tips to help you avoids major disasters.


Never plunge a toilet:


Almost all toilets have a wax ring for the water seal between the bottom of the toilet and the soil pipe in the floor. If you plunge a clogged toilet, the plunging force will blow out the wax ring causing a leak. Undetected leaks can lead to structural damage and mold. Use a toilet auger for clearing a clogged toilet.

Toilet Auger

Never use a bladder drain opener:


Bladder drain openers are attached to a hose and placed in the clogged drain. Water pressure from a garden hose is used to inflate the bladder and build up pressure in the line, forcing the clog down the drain. The problem lies with the water pressure, it often builds up so high that it fractures the drainpipe causing major damage to your plumbing, costing thousands of dollars to replace. Always use a snake to clear drains.

Bladder Type Drain Opener


Use a shop vac to clear minor clogs: 


Often a wet dry shop vac can be used to clear a drain. You will need a vac with detachable blower, this allows you to create suction in the drain loosening the clog and then reversing the vac and using the blower function to force the clog down the drain. You may need to blow and reverse several times to open the drain. The advantage is you do not need to open the plumbing to clear the drain.

Wet/Dry Shop VAC


Always replace the hoses when installing a new washer:


Often homeowners will install a new washer using the old hoses, thinking they work fine why replace them. The problem is they are old and will fail, most rubber washer hoses will last 5-6 years before one fails (usually the hot water side) and the resulting flood can destroy your home.. The constant on and off action of the washer expands and contracts the hoses several times a cycle, after just a few short years the hoses become weak and fail. $25.00 dollars for new washer hoses can save you thousands of dollars in flood damage and many months in a hotel while the damaged is fixed. Most homeowners insurance has a $1000.00 deductible, spend the money for new hoses; they are the cheapest insurance you can buy.

Washer Hoses


Never try to fix a cracked toilet tank:


If your toilet tank is cracked, never try to fix it, the pressure from the water in the tank will cause it to fail. Water weighs over 8 pounds per gallon and your tank holds 3-5 gallons of water. That is 25 to 40 pounds of pressure against the side of the tank; a cracked tank will not hold up against this pressure and will fail flooding your house. If the tank is cracked turn off the water, flush the toilet to empty the tank and replace it.


Don’t buy interior gas line insurance:


This is one of the biggest homeowner frauds of late, companies selling insurance to cover your homes interior gas lines. What is worse this useless insurance is being promoted by natural gas utilities, who are sharing in the profits. Natural gas lines never fail and the only a natural disaster such a major storm or earth quake will cause damage, in those cases your homeowners, earthquake or flood insurance will cover repairs. Natural gas leaks are caused by water heaters, furnaces and gas appliances not the gas supply lines.


If you have a slab leak pipe around it:


Slab leaks are caused by the expansion and contraction of water lines buried in concrete slabs. As the pipes expand and contract the stones in the concrete abrade the walls of the line slowly wearing it away. After many years, the lines finally wear through causing a leak, which can be very expensive to repair. Tearing up concrete to make a repair is very expensive and is only a temporary fix, as any other portion of the line could start to leak at any time. Abandon the line and plumb around it by going through the walls or attic to replace it.


Turn off you water when going on vacation:


I recently met a couple who had a supply line to an upstairs toilet fail while they were on vacation. The water ran full blast from the line for two days straight, flooding the entire first and second stories of their home. Their neighbor called to inform them that water was running out from under their front door!  They rushed home to discover over $75,000.00 in damage to their home, which they had to leave for 6 months to have repairs done. Always turn your water off at the main entrance, or the meter if you are leaving town for more than one day!

If you live in a condominium or townhouse community, check with your homeowners association for the location of your water shutoff.


Replace your sink and toilet water supply lines every five years:


The above example is one the reasons for doing regular maintenance. All flexible water supply lines will eventually fail, even steel braided lines! Replace all sink and toilet supply lines every 5 years! If the couple in the example above had completed this maintenance, chances are very good they would have not experienced the disaster they had. Leave the manufactures tags on the line and write on them the date the line was replaced.


        Water Supply Line



I will have more tips for you next time, until then remember planning ahead and doing proper maintenance can save you a small fortune, enough for a fine vacation! Just remember to turn the water off before you leave.


Mike, The Home Depot Answer Man

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Posted 2017-09-12T01:19:32+0000  by Mike_HD_OC Mike_HD_OC
Greetings Mike,

Such good information as always!

Thank you for the water turn off tip! I never thought about  shutting the water source down while on vacation, what a nightmare your customers went through.

Advice noted, and I will pass it on to anyone heading out on vacation, or just out of town for a few days!

Great tips!   Maureen
Posted 2017-09-12T15:54:27+0000  by Maureen_HD_BOS
Thanks for the useful DIY tips. When it comes to plumbing, preventative maintenance can save a homeowner a substantial amount of money in costs and repairs. Every homeowner should be able to be self sufficient in terms of managing his property. Some DIY tips are very useful in case of an emergency till we get any professional help. Also, some plumbing jobs should be left to a professional plumber for reasons of health and safety.
Posted 2017-10-06T06:08:16+0000  by AnthonyJMowery
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