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Although there are many instances where you will require the help of a professional plumber, there are some simple do-it-yourself tasks that don't need any previous knowledge and experience.

Here a list of all the small plumbing repairs and upgrades that almost every homeowner can do with the basic tools they have in their toolbox. If you're generally handy around the house, you can easily handle such repairs and avoid calling a professional plumber.

Before you start working on the repairs, you will have to make sure you have the right set of tools required for the job, which might include:

  • Plunger

  • Screwdriver

  • Adjustable wrench

  • Pliers

  • Plumbing tape

  • Caulking gun, and

  • Utility knife

Depending on the scope of work that'll need to be done, you might need additional tools, as well as parts and elements that might need to be replaced.

To get you started, here are some of the most common plumbing problems that you can encounter along with easy-to-understand instructions on how to fix them yourself.

1. Repair a Leaking Faucet

Difficulty: Moderate

The most common culprit behind a leaky faucet is usually a worn-out washer or some other inner component of the faucet. A leaking faucet is quite a common plumbing problem, and luckily there are a few easy solutions to it, most of which can be done without the help of a professional.

Here's how you can replace worn washers, O-rings, and seals.

Instructions:

Before you go ahead and replace the inner component you believe is responsible for the leak, your first step should always be to try and tighten the faucet's base to see if it stops leaking. If not, you can go ahead and remove the faucet to replace the worn-out components.

For a compression faucet:

Remove the faucet's decorative cap and handle screw, and pull the handle off. Remove the packing nut using a crescent wrench, unscrew the stem, take out the worn-out seat washer and replace it with a new one. After that, take out the stem from the packing nut and replace the worn-out O-ring with a new one.

For a ball-type faucet:

When it comes to ball-type faucets, your best option is to get a replacement kit with all the inside components. That's because this type of facet contains more parts, which makes it difficult for you to determine which part needs replacing. Once you have all the new parts, you'll need to take out the handle set screw and remove the handle.

Use the special tool from the faucet-repair kit to loosen the faucet cam and take it out, including the cam washer and rotating ball. Use pliers to get to the inner faucet elements, like the seals and springs and remove them.

Next, using your utility knife, cut off the old O-rings and replace them with the new ones from the kit. Remember to coat them in plumbing grease before you put them in.

To reassemble your newly fixed faucet, finish with installing the new springs, valve seats, and cam washers.

2. Installing a Kitchen or Bathroom Faucet

Difficulty: Moderate

If you tried fixing your faucet, and have replaced all the worn-out elements inside it, but you're still noticing the same problem as before, you might be better off installing a new kitchen or bathroom faucet. Similarly, if the repair is more difficult and might require more time to fix it, it might be easier and cheaper just to replace your entire faucet.

Instructions:

Obtain the replacement faucet you want to install. Follow the instructions that come with the faucet, as they can be very helpful most of the times. For times where you have minimal or no instructions on how to install it, you can follow these few simple steps:

Clear out your sink, and get as much light as you can in there. Turn off the water to the faucet.

Use a wrench to loosen the nuts holding the faucet against the sink. Loosen the tube nut from each tube and lift the tubes out. Remove the nuts that hold the faucet in place and pull out the faucet along with the tubes. If you find that your tubes are damaged, you should consider replacing them as well.

Get the plastic faucet base that comes with your new faucet set. You'll use this part as a seal around the base, to keep the water from leaking out.

Next, you'll need to attach the tubes to the new faucet. Assemble the remaining parts of the faucet, slipping the plate over the bottom.

Once you've completed these steps, it's time to slip and position the faucet, tighten all the nuts below the sink, insert the tubes into the valves located under the sink and finally turn on the water.

3. Unblock Toilet

Difficulty: Easy

Although clearing a clogged toilet is not something anyone wants to deal with, this is one of the simplest and easiest plumbing issues that can typically be handled using materials you already have at your disposal.

Instructions:

The first step of unclogging a toilet and clearing the blockage is to stop flushing immediately. Once you notice that the water in your toilet keeps rising and rising, that will be your cue to let go of the handle and stop flushing, to prevent your bathroom floor from flooding.

The next thing you'll want to do is get the plunger and start plunging away. You'll need to use a long handle plunger so you can reach the bottom of the toilet. If you don't have a plunger, read on below to find other ways to unclog your toilet that don't require a plunger.

If you do have a plunger, go ahead and start plunging. Make sure your first plunge is slow and gentle so as not to spray or spill out water on your bathroom floor. Create a tight seal with the toilet drain and start plunging more vigorously. After 10-20 plunges, the clog should clear away, and your toilet should be flushing properly. If that's not the case, you may need to use a drain snake to remove the clog or call in a professional to diagnose and fix the problem.

For those of you who don't have a plunger handy, you can use a solution of:

  • Hot water and soap.

     Pour a bucket of hot water and soap into the toilet. This should break down and remove any clogs provided they are either toilet paper or organic.

  • Baking soda and vinegar. 

    Add one cup of baking soda into the toilet bowl. Start adding a cup of vinegar into the bowl and let the solution bubble and react. Leave it to sit for half an hour and pour hot water into the toilet.

4. Unclog Sink Drain

Difficulty: Easy

One of the most common plumbing problems all of us have experienced at least a few times in our lives is a clogged sink. Although it occurs quite often, there is a simple solution to the problem, and it involves ingredients you probably have available in your own home.

Instructions:

First off, before you begin unclogging the sink drains, you need to make sure you remove the water from your sink, using a bowl or a bucket. Once you clear the sink, you'll need to remove any visible gunk such as food, hairs, soap gunk or any other visible clogs.

The next step would be to remove the stopper and the strainer from your drain by removing any screws that are holding them in place. Be careful not to lose any parts and screws down the drain or under your sink.

Once you remove these parts, you'll need to carefully de-gunk them and run water through them to remove any remaining material.

The final step of the process includes pouring a bucket of hot water through the drain to give your drains an extra rinsing. If your sink drain is still clogged or you want to make sure you've cleaned everything properly, you can also add half a cup of baking soda and then pour a cup of vinegar on top of it so it can react with the baking soda and thoroughly clean your drains. Leave the solution to sit for 10-15 minutes and then pour hot water down the drain again.

5. Fix Running Toilet

Difficulty: Easy

The main culprits for a running toilet are usually a faulty fill valve or flapper. The fill valve is the bulb in the toilet tank that when working properly, stops the flow of freshwater from running.

Although a running toilet can be really annoying, especially if it keeps re-occurring, there are a few simple ways to fix it for good. This particular plumbing repair requires a minimal amount of DIY knowledge, a few tools and 20-25 minutes of your time.

Instructions:

Before you go ahead and change the appropriate parts, you'll need first to check which part of the toilet is faulty and needs to be replaced.

The flapper is the part of the toilet that is sealed against the flush valve and drains water from the tank. To check if it needs changing, open the toilet tank, use a stick to push down on the flapper and listen to the water running to see if it stops. If it stops, that means that the flapper is worn out and needs to be changed.

To replace the flapper, you'll need to shut down the water supply to your toilet, flush down the remaining water and install the new flapper following the instructions on the package.

If the test rules out that the flapper is faulty, it's time to check and adjust the water level in the tank.

Lower the float on the fill valve by adjusting the screw attached to the float arm until you've reached the maximum recommended water level. If this doesn't fix the problem, then the next thing you'll need to check will be the fill valve itself.

If there's a leak in the valve that is stopping the water from refilling the tank properly, your best option would be to replace the entire fill valve.

To do that you'll need to turn off the water supply to the toilet, open the tank, flush the toilet and absorb the remaining water using a sponge or a rag, disconnect the water supply line, remove the original fill valve and replace it with the new one, following the instructions on the package.

6. Fix Low-Pressure Shower

Difficulty: Easy

If you're annoyed by the low pressure from your shower head and would like to learn how to fix it yourself, without having to call a plumber, you've come to the right place.

There are a few reasons why your shower head could have low pressure. However, most often, the problem is caused by the accumulation of scale.

Instructions:

Before you start cleaning your shower head, make sure the water is turned off.

Next, unscrew the shower head and take out the spray plate. Soak the plate in white vinegar, or other descaling solution for a few hours. Rinse it in hot water, reattach it to the shower head and attach the shower head back on.

Test the pressure on the shower head to make sure it's working properly now, and that there is no large-scale plumbing problem that's still causing your shower head to have low pressure.

7. Replacing Kitchen Sink Sprayer

Difficulty: Easy

Replacing the kitchen sink sprayer is one of the easiest plumbing jobs around the home.

Depending on the type of sprayer you have, you may or may not need to replace the hose as well. Although some come with a detachable hose, the newer models generally come as one piece.

Instructions:

If you're dealing with an older model that has a detachable hose, you'll need to check the hose for tears and leaks in order to determine if it needs changing. If not, you'll simply need to get a replacement sprayer, remove the old one and install the new sprayer according to the instructions on the box.

When going to the home improvement store, it's best to take the old sprayer and hose with you in order to get the right replacement.

If you're dealing with a newer one-piece model, then you'll need to supply the new sprayer and hose and install them in place of the old unit.

The whole process should not take you more than 20-25 minutes.

8. Upgrading Shower heads

Difficulty: Easy

Today there's a wide variety of shower heads available on the market, so if you're simply looking for something that comes with more features, you're tired of your old shower head, or you want to give your bathroom a new look, you can start by replacing your old shower head with a new and improved unit that can improve your shower experience and can even save you on your water bills.

If you're looking to reduce your household water consumption and save on your water bills, you can opt for installing a low-flow shower head that can help you save up to 30% on your monthly water bills, without compromising your shower experience.

Instructions:

Place a towel in your shower, just under the shower head. Use an adjustable wrench to turn the nut on the shower head counterclockwise to loosen and remove it. Use your other hand to stabilise the shower arm, so it doesn't turn inside the wall.

Make sure the threads are clean before you screw on the new shower head. If you're not sure what type of shower head to purchase, take your old one to the home improvement store so you can find the right replacement easier.

Once it's installed, turn on the shower to test it for leaks. If it does leak, tighten the nut as needed, until it stops.

9. Caulking Bathtubs and Showers

Difficulty: Easy

Whether it's mouldy or peeling, a time will come when you'll have to replace the caulk in your tub or shower.

Take a look at the instructions below so you can learn how to easily clean out the old caulk and re caulk around your bathtub or shower.

Instructions:

Caulking is a simple and easy process. It requires no previous DIY experience or knowledge and a couple of basic materials. All you'll need in terms of supplies are a caulking gun, caulk and masking tape.

First, you'll need to get the supplies you'll need. When buying caulk, you'll need to look for tubes labelled "for kitchen and bath use". This caulk is specially designed to prevent mildew and mould and is, therefore, more suitable for bathroom use.

If it's your first time caulking, you may want to opt for latex caulk, instead of the 100% silicone one, simply because latex caulk is easier to clean. Once you choose the right caulk, you'll need to get a caulking gun, and some masking tape and you're good to go.

Before you start re caulking, you'll need to remove the old caulk by slicing through it using a utility knife or a scalpel blade. Scrape up all of the old caulk, clean the surface and let it dry before you start applying the new caulk.

Start by applying masking tape on both the tub/shower and the wall above it. Although some scoff at the idea of using masking tape when applying caulk, we recommend using it if you're applying caulk for the first time.

Once that step is complete, cut the nozzle tip, so it matches the gap width, hold the caulking gun at 90 degrees to the gap and start applying the caulk.

Use your finger to shape the caulk, remove the tape and let it dry before you use your shower or bathtub again.

10. Installing a Toilet

Difficulty: Moderate

If you're remodelling your bathroom, or you want to upgrade your toilet to save on water and give your bathroom a new and improved look at the same time, you can choose a new model from the wide range of toilets available today and replace your old toilet yourself following these few simple steps.

Installing a new toilet is a lot easier than you might think.

Instructions:

The first step includes measuring the size of your old toilet so you can get the right replacement. Measure from the back of the wall behind your toilet to the middle of the closet bolts to determine the measurement of your toilet.

Consider buying a dual flush toilet to save on water.

Once you supply the new replacement toilet, it's time to take the old one out and replace it with the newer model.

Before you start, make sure to turn off the water supply first.

Then flush the toilet to empty the tank and use a sponge to remove the remaining water from the tank and the bowl. Make sure to wear gloves to protect yourself from bacteria.

The next step would be to remove the tank bolts, disconnect the water supply line and remove the tank.

Use a socket wrench to remove the nuts that are holding down the toilet, rock the bowl to the sides to remove the seal and then remove it.

Thoroughly clean the area underneath the bowl and replace the closet flange around the drain opening if necessary, or at least replace the mounting bolts.

Fit a new wax ring around the bowl, lift it up and place it over the anchor bolts.

Rock the bowl to the sides to set the wax ring in place. Hand tighten the nuts and then use your wrench to tighten the nuts gradually, alternating from side to side, making sure you don't over tighten them. Cover them with the supplied caps and place the tank on the bowl.

Tighten the bolts, make sure the valve assembly is in place (most tanks come pre-assembled) and reconnect the water supply.

Caulk around the base, and you're good to go.

11. Spot Leaky Pipes

Difficulty: Easy

Not only can leaky pipes increase your monthly water bills, but they can also cause damage to your flooring and end up costing you hundreds if not thousands of dollars in repairs.

This is why the sooner you spot leaky pipes, the better. Unfortunately, they are not always easy to spot, especially if you don't know where to look.

To save you the trouble, we've put together a list of a few easy ways to spot leaky pipes, so that you can get them fixed on time.

Instructions:

1. Toilet

Leaky toilets can cause you to waste a lot of water, which can really add up and increase your water bills. The good thing is that you can easily spot a leaking toilet by the sound of running water.

2. Shower head And Bathtub Faucet

When it comes to your shower head and bathtub faucet, the best and simplest way to tell there's a leak that needs fixing is to observe what happens once you turn off the faucet. If you notice a few drops of water for a few moments after you've turned the faucet off, then you have nothing to worry about. If, however, water still continues to drip or leak, that's an indication of a leak that needs fixing.

3. Waterline

A leak in your waterline can be the most difficult to spot. These leaks won't just increase your water bills, but will probably cost you a lot of money in repairs as well. That's why it's important to keep an eye out for such leaks, so you can spot them on time and take any necessary measures.

Early signs of leaks in the main water line may include damage and water leaking from walls, flooring, floorboards, and so on. Flooding or pooling in the yard are also indicators of waterline damage, but unfortunately, they are harder to notice.

12. Garbage Disposal Repair

Difficulty: Easy

Garbage disposal repair is one of the easiest DIY plumbing jobs that doesn't require any special tools or previous plumbing knowledge and experience.

Instructions:

To fix clogged or damaged garbage disposal, you'll need to follow these few simple steps:

Drain out the water from the sink, or use a sponge and a bucket to empty it out if it's too clogged.

Use the wrench that came with your garbage disposal, insert it into the bottom of the disposal and turn it back and forth in both directions. Don't be afraid to use force if it doesn't want to turn. Continue turning until it can freely move in both directions and complete full circles.

Check to see if the overload protector on the bottom of the disposal has been tripped. If the red button is extended, gently press it and see if it stays up. If not, wait ten minutes and press it again.

Turn on the water and check to see if the disposal is functioning properly.

13. Eliminate Pipe Leaks at the Connection

Difficulty: Easy

If they are not sealed properly, you may notice leaks at the joints or connections and cause your water bills to rise.

Instructions:

To fix a leak at the pipe connections, you'll need to follow these few simple steps:

  • Locate the leak

  • Turn off the water supply to that connection

  • Loosen the pipe connection

  • Collect any leaking water in a bucket

  • Wrap thread tape on the threads of the pipe (do not use plumber's putty)

  • Reconnect the pipes and tighten them using a wrench

  • Turn on the water supply and check for leaks

14. Thaw Frozen Pipes

Difficulty: Easy

During cold winters the water inside the pipes can freeze and cause cracks to form, leading to leaks and other damage to occur.

Instructions:

The first step in the thawing process includes locating the frozen pipes and checking to see if they're cracked or damaged. If there's no damage, you can proceed to thaw them. You can use a hairdryer and blow hot air onto the frozen area of the pipe, or wrap a hot towel onto it. Once you're done, check for any signs of leaks.

If you notice cracks or leaks caused by the frozen water, you'll need to get replacement pipes.

15. Drain and Flush a Water Heater

Difficulty: Easy

If you notice that your water heater is becoming less effective at heating up water, you can try to restore its former glory by doing a simple drain and flush, to remove calcium and magnesium deposits.

Instructions:

Follow the manufacturer's instructions and turn off the gas or electricity before you begin the process. Once you've done this, you can follow these few simple steps to drain and flush your water heater:

  • Turn off the water supply

  • Turn on the hot water from a nearby faucet and leave it on while you're draining the heater

  • Hook on your garden hose to the drain valve

  • Loosen the drain valve and start draining the water

  • Flush the remaining sediment by opening and closing the cold water supply valve

  • Close the drain valve

  • Fill in the tank, and

  • Power up the heater

16. Fix Noisy Pipes

Difficulty: Easy

Let's take a look at a few ways to quiet down noisy, clattering and clanging pipes.

Instructions:

Lower your water pressure at your main water line to below 60 psi, or install a pressure-reducing valve which doesn't allow the pressure to build above 60 psi.

If you hear a clanging or creaking sound, place insulation around the noisy pipe. You can also cushion your poorly secured water pipes or strap them down if you hear a rattling sound.

If you hear a whistling sound coming from a faucet, consider replacing the washer or the faucet valve seat.

Although many of these plumbing repairs may seem like a lot of hard work at first glance, most of them can be achieved in under half an hour, provided that you have the right supplies.

That's why next time you notice a leaky pipe or faucet, or any of the other plumbing issues we covered above, stick to our instructions and you'll be able to fix the problem in no time.