Nothing can replace the experience and expertise of a licensed plumber in case of a real plumbing emergency, but for smaller plumbing issues, it may not be necessary to call one! After all, if you knew of a method that could keep you from needing an expensive house-call from your plumber, you’d rather try that first, right? Right! :-)
So today I’m rounding up some of my favorite tips for fixing minor plumbing issues. But be forewarned…once your friends and family realize how handy you are, they may start turning up at your door for help with their plumbing problems too! ;-)
Clearing Out Clogged Pipes
There are tons of easy methods out there for clearing clogs, but here are a few I’ve personally found to be most effective:
Pouring a quart or so of hot water into your toilet from waist-height can often be all you need to sort out a clogged toilet. The heat of the water helps dissolve the clog, and the force of the water being poured from a height helps dislodge it.
Dawn Dish Soap
Have I ever mentioned how much I love Dawn?! ;-) It can do just about anything! Pour a quarter cup of Dawn into a clogged drain or toilet, and let it sit for half an hour or so. The soap will surround the clog and lubricate it, so next time you run water through or use a plunger, the clog should slide right through the drain.
Baking Soda and Vinegar
The reaction that occurs when baking soda and vinegar are mixed (remember your grade school volcano project?) can clear clogs in a hurry. You can just dump a half-cup of each into your drain, but add a little hot water, and things will REALLY start moving! For detailed instructions on how to do it, read my post HERE.
For more detailed information about all of these clog-clearing methods, read the full post HERE.
Speeding Up Slow Drains
Sometimes a pipe isn’t quite clogged, but isn’t draining as well as is used to. (Or the water level is ankle-height while you’re showering!) You can actually use table salt as an easy way to help clear out a slow drain!
Start by pouring a quart of hot water through the drain, letting it move through entirely. Next, sprinkle a half-cup of table salt into the drain. Finally, rinse the salt down the drain with another quart of hot, hot water. The abrasive action of the salt will help loosen debris from the sides of the pipe, and the hot water will flush it all away!
Avoid an Overflowing Toilet
The only thing worse than a clogged toilet is an OVERFLOWING one! Talk about a nightmare! But you can avoid the overflow by taking a few simple precautions before proceeding with any clog-clearing methods.
Start by reaching into the tank of your toilet, and make sure the flap that allows the water to come into the tank is closed. Once the flap is closed, locate the position where the hose to the toilet meets your wall (usually behind the toilet on the left side.) Turn the knob there to the right, which will shut off the water supply to the toilet. Now you’ll be able to plunge safely without the threat of flooding your bathroom.
Clean Your Garbage Disposal
Garbage disposals, as the name implies, can get pretty gross! But by cleaning and freshening your garbage disposal regularly, you can avoid needing to call a plumber to address a smelly, backed-up disposal. And all you need to do it is a few lemons, some white vinegar, and an ice cube tray!
Cut up a couple of lemons into small wedges, and place a wedge into each cup of an ice cube tray. Pour white vinegar over the tops of the lemon wedges, until the tray is full. Freeze the tray of lemon & vinegar cubes, then place the cubes into a plastic bag to store in your freezer. When your garbage disposal starts getting a little funky, drop a few cubes into your disposal and let it run until you they’re broken up.
For more detailed instructions on making and using vinegar cubes, read my post HERE.
Unblocking Your Garbage Disposal
Sometimes, despite your best efforts to keep your disposal clean and clear, it just gets stuck. You flip the switch, and you hear the motor running, but the blades aren’t spinning. It happens to the best of us! Instead of reaching into the sink to try to clear it, which is unsanitary and possibly dangerous, there is a much easier way!
All you need (if you have an Insinkerator brand garbage disposal) is one of these: a special hex wrench made by Insinkerator. It fits into a hole on the underside of your disposal unit under the sink, and when your turn the wrench, it forces the blades to turn manually. This way, you can safely and easily dislodge whatever is stuck in there, without the fear of burning out the motor on your unit. It’s a little over $6 on Amazon, but will definitely save you a LOT more than that if you can fix a blocked disposal yourself, rather than having to call in a plumber! :-)