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DIY: How To Avoid A Plumbing Disaster

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There is nothing worse than coming home to a plumbing disaster complete with soaked floors and ruined possessions. However, by combining a few DIY tips with calling a plumber for regular maintenance, you can prevent this emergency from happening. Here are some of the ways to keep your plumbing system running smoothly and safely:

Tip No. 1: Find the Main Shutoff Valve to Your Home

If a pipe bursts in your home, time is of the essence to keep major damage from occurring. You will have to shut off all water, and you’ll need to do it quickly. Immediately locate your main shutoff valve so you can take quick action. This valve is typically located at the point where the municipal water system connects to your home’s plumbing system. Talk to a plumber if necessary so you will know exactly where that valve is located, and then share that information with all people living in the home and show them how to shut off the water supply.

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Tip No. 2: Don’t Risk an Unpleasant Surprise When You Get Back from Vacation

If you are leaving town for a while, make sure you turn off all water to the house. A burst pipe is bad enough when you’re at home—if this type of plumbing disaster happens when you’re on vacation, the damage will be even worse.

Tip No. 3: Check Your Home for Leaks

A plumbing leak not only wastes water and money; it can slowly do a great deal of damage you may not notice until it is too late. That is why you should regularly check for leaks. You can call a plumber or take care of this yourself.

If you’re the DIY type, pick a day when no one is going to be home for at least six hours. Turn off your icemaker, sprinkler system and any appliances that use water. Then, go to your water meter and take a reading. You must not use any water at all—you can’t even flush the toilet. After six hours, check the meter again. If the reading is the same, you don’t have any leaks. If the meter changes, you may have a problem.

Tip No. 4: Be Careful When Performing DIY Projects

While there is obviously nothing wrong with taking a do-it-yourself attitude when it comes to a plumbing project, be sure to have a plan first. Do some research online before starting a project; the last thing you want to do, for example, is to start taking a faucet apart only to realize you don’t have the slightest idea how to put it back together.

Also, don’t try to take on a project you know in your heart you simply can’t handle. The risk of injury or damage is not worth it. Call a professional instead.

Tip No. 5: Have the Right Tools

While researching that DIY plumbing job, pay special attention to what tools you will need to get the job done right. Just about everybody has a screwdriver or a wrench, but there may be some special tools or materials you’ll need to purchase. If you use the wrong wrench when disconnecting a pipe, for example, you could damage the threads to the point you will need to purchase a replacement.

Tip No. 6: There Are Certain Things You Simply Can’t Flush

Paper towels, feminine products and hand wipes are just some of the things that should never see the inside of your toilet. You may think you can flush just about anything since the drain opening is so large, but your drainage system is basically only designed to carry certain things. You would be surprised at the items some people try to flush—not only those mentioned earlier, but also toothbrushes and even small toys.

Just because something can be flushed doesn’t mean it’s biodegradable. Items not designed to degrade will eventually result in a potentially damaging clog that could cost hundreds of dollars (or even more) to clear.

Tip. No. 7: Pay Attention to that Dripping Sound

A constant drip is not only annoying, it is a sign you have an issue that needs to be addressed. That drip is not going to go away on its own, and what may start as a minor issue could eventually become a major problem if not fixed promptly.

These are just a few of the actions you can do around the house to minimize the chances of ever having to deal with a plumbing disaster. Just remember, if you are planning a DIY project, you need to take your time and do your homework. If you have any doubts whatsoever if you can handle the job, make sure you call a pro.

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Patricia Bonacorda
More about Patricia Bonacorda

Patricia Bonacorda is the president of Spartan Plumbing, a plumbing and HVAC company. For more than 50 years, they have assisted with commercial and residential buildings. Spartan Plumbing is a licensed, bonded and insured business that has provided professional plumbing, heating and air conditioning services throughout the Washington, DC region.

Read more posts by Patricia Bonacorda


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17 responses to “DIY: How To Avoid A Plumbing Disaster”

  1. Delores Lyon says:

    Thanks for sharing this DIY advice for preventing plumbing disasters in the home. I really like that you mentioned turning off the water when you leave for vacation. Like you said, it is important that you don’t risk a leak or a burst pipe while you’re away. Besides, I am sure that turning off the water could help you save a little bit of money.

  2. DoloresB says:

    It’s important to know where the main shutoff valve in your house is. That way if you have any plumbing problems you can switch of the water. It will keep water damage from occurring, because you shut off the water. I like your tip to have the right tools, because you can’t really fix anything if you don’t have the right tools. That’s why it’s sometimes better to call a plumber, because they already have the right tools.

  3. Thank you for all of the insight you give about avoiding any serious plumbing issues. Specifically, you talk about how you should check your home for leaks, and I think that this is a really great idea. Not only will this help you to avoid any issues and quickly get a plumber to fix any issues you do have, but I think that doing regular checks will ensure that you understand your home’s plumbing system a lot more effectively so that you can do repairs yourself, too. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Jason Strong says:

    My wife and I just bought a new home and we love it. We are trying to figure out the best way to prepare our home for the winter, but we aren’t really sure how to. This helped us see the importance of checking out the plumbing. I’ll make sure I bring this up with her when I see her tonight.

  5. Fred Summers says:

    I think that having the right tools is one of the reasons that I usually call the plumber. Sometimes there is something simple to fix but without the right tools, it is hard to fix. I can’t afford the right tools a lot of the times so then I get a plumber.

  6. James says:

    Thanks for your tips! I will keep this article in mind as I try to take care of these things, thank you!

  7. I didn’t know that paper towels aren’t supposed to be flushed. I think I flushed a few of those just the other day after I wiped up a spill in the bathroom! Baby wipes are another thing I flush regularly. Those say they can be flushed. However, after reading this, I’m wondering if they are biodegradable!

  8. Adam Bockler says:

    One of the biggest things that I’ve encountered with DIY plumbing projects is that I often don’t have the right tools, as mentioned in tip number five. This can make or break a DIY project. Not only do you need to have the proper tools and equipment, but you need to know how to safely use them. Know your limits. Sometimes it’s better to just call a plumber than to have your house flooded.

  9. Drew says:

    Regularly checking your house for leaks is a good idea. Letting one slide by can end up causing a lot of damage. Great advice.

  10. Nash Rich says:

    I think knowing where your main shut off is really important. I’ve been in a panic while not knowing where the switch is. I also liked the advice about trying to fix things you don’t know how. It usually just makes things worse when I try that. Thanks for all the tips!

  11. Alex Trodder says:

    I like how your first point is to know where the water main shutoff is for your home. Water damage can be very expensive, and it helps not to have water spraying in your face while you are trying to do repairs. It can also be important to remember your fourth tip, knowing when you might be in over your head. Hiring professional plumbing services can help to ensure that repairs are done quickly, safely, and permanently. I’m sure soldering pipes is something that most people don’t know how to do, including myself. Thanks for the list.

  12. Willie says:

    I need to do a little DIY plumbing myself. My dishwasher won’t drain. It’s practically brand new too.

  13. Nice post! It is an interesting one. I like blogging and follow many but this one is really amazing.

  14. john Mahoney says:

    I agree that finding the main shutoff valve to your house is important to avoid accidents from betting too big. I can see how doing this will help you avoid floods and other accidents as you would be able to shut the water if it starts to flow out of control. I will make sure to know where the main water valve is so I know what to do in case of an accident.

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  16. Thanks for the advice about getting the right tools before starting a plumbing project. My husband and I live in an old house with leaky pipes, so this is some great advice. I will have to make sure we get the correct tools and pipes with the correct thread size so that we don’t end up cross-threading or breaking anything!

  17. Ivy Baker says:

    I am a new homeowner and I am really concerned about water damage affecting my home. I liked your advice about regularly checking the pipes in my home for leaks. It does seem like a good thing for me to do and if I find any, I should probably call a professional plumber to come fix the leak.

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