Water is the source of life, but it is sometimes a nemesis to a homeowner with plumbing problems. There is not much else short of catastrophe that is going to cause as much damage to a home as plumbing issues. Fortunately, homeowners can take a lot of steps to prevent plumbing nightmares and to minimize the effects when they occur.
On very cold winter nights, allow your faucets to trickle slightly, especially if your pipes are located in a crawlspace. The running water prevents the pipes from freezing as quickly as they would otherwise. You can catch the water and use it for other household needs to prevent wasting it.
Act quickly if your pipes freeze! Shut off the water and open the faucet, enabling it to drain when it thaws. Starting with the faucet, and working your way to the iced-up area, aim a propane torch or hairdryer at the pipe – this will quickly defrost it. You could also wrap the pipe in a heating pad or aim a heat lamp at it, but this will take quite some time. A last resort is to wrap the pipe in rags and pour boiling water over it.
To winterize a house that will sit unused during the winter months, you must completely drain all of the pipes. After turning off the main water supply, let all of the water drain from the faucets, toilets, and water heater (turn off the gas). Add a quart of antifreeze to sinks and the tub to prevent water from freezing in the drain trap.
Unclog drains with ease. Try using a plunger and drain cleaner, as your clog may simply be a build-up of hair and debris. If this doesn’t work you may have to clear the drain with a snake. Feed the snake into the drain line as far as it will go. Turn the crank gently, which will help to loosen the clog. Remove the snake, and run water down the drain to see if the clog has been removed. You may have to use the snake a couple of times, before the clog is cleared so don’t give up!
You can check your toilet for leaks by adding a few drops of food coloring, Kool Aid or some coffee grounds to the water in the toilet’s tank (not the water in the bowl). Check the water in the bowl after a half hour or so. If any of the coloring agent is visible in the water in the bowl, the tank is leaking, and you will have to have it repaired.
Sometimes you have to make the choice between replacing or repairing. If you have an old appliance, that uses a lot of water or electricity, it may be best to replace. Sure, it will cost more initially, but it will save you money in the long run. The other thing is, you can’t be sure how well a repair will work out, whereas with a new appliance you’ll at least get a guarantee.
You can avoid plumbing issues if you know what to do and have the tools at hand to work with. Even just learning the basics will go a long way to prevent costly and damaging mistakes. A homeowner who knows something about plumbing can often fix issues before they become major crises.