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Easy Tips To Try Before You Call A Plumber

Plumber Tricks

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! ;-)

Plumber Tricks

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:

Plumbing Tips

Hot Water

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.

Plumbing Tips

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.

Plumbing Tips

Baking Soda and Vinegar

Remember your grade school volcano project? The reaction that occurs when baking soda and vinegar are mixed 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.

Plumbing Tips

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!

Plumbing Tips

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

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.

Plumbing Tips

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! :-)

Plumbing Tips

Jill Nystul Photo

Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.
I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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Bright Ideas

  • I didn’t realize that really hot water can help unclog a pipe or drain. That is a good thing to know if you are having issues with that in your home. However, if you are having to do this a lot it might be a smart to call in a plumber to check out your plumbing system.

  • I had no idea that boiling water could help clear out a clogged drain. I imagine this works very well with certain items that are clogging drains, but my bathrooms are victims of hair clogs recently. I might just call a plumber first to be safe and make sure everything gets cleared up correctly the first time. Thanks for the awesome tips and tricks!

  • Honestly, the worst thing in the world for me to experience is an overflowing toilet. Last year, I lived in an apartment where the toilet seemed to not be able to take anything down and kept overflowing. I eventually had to call a plumber and our toilet seemed to work a lot better afterwards. From this experience, I learned your trick about shutting off the water to avoid flooding the bathroom. However, if plunging doesn’t work, then I let the water in the toilet rest for about half an hour, turn back on the water and flush again.

  • That Hex Wrench thing really works with the garbage disposal. I had to use it numerous times at the last rental I lived in – it was a life saver. Great tips, thanks for sharing!

  • I’ve tried a lot of different home remedies for a slow drain, and I think it could be deeper than anticipated. I think calling a professional might be helpful in this situation, as they could fix every drain, just to help prevent it. I’ll have to keep this in mind if it gets to the point to where its a problem.

  • All these tips are wonderful! I love the baking soda one for the clogged toilet, one piece of advice Hot water works great, but be sure it is not boiling! If you live in a colder climate or the bathroom is in the basement boiling water could crack the base of the toilet. ( assuming it is really blocked up and there is not a lot of water to tempid the boiling water being poured in)

  • Excellent post and great advice. I’ve used many of these myself and they work amazingly well. Especially helpful with today’s “low flow” toilets. Another thing I’ve found helpful, though chemical related, is twice a month I use Zep toilet bowl cleaner (I get mine in a big jug at Home Depot). I pour about a cup of it into my toilets and let it sit over night. Since doing this, along with pouring very hot water in the toilet once a week, I no longer have to plunge the toilet a couple times a month. It’s great stuff.

  • I’m really glad you posted this. A friend posted a story about a guy that got some droplets of a popular drain cleaner on his hands. It caused a big wound and he eventually lost his hand because of the infection. I’d definetly try some of these methods after reading that horror story. The story is called Two droplets.

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