Archive for the 'Leaks' Category

Fix a Faucet Yourself

Sep. 3rd 2013

There are many things around the house that are just not that hard to fix. A leaky faucet is usually one of them. If you are willing to invest a bit of time, you can save your household a service and parts call to a plumber. If you search the Internet, you will see long and involved articles about fixing a faucet. The truth is it takes a lot of words to describe a fairly obvious procedure. So here, only the most important steps and tips will be mentioned.  It is assumed that you will be able to “see” a lot without being explicitly told.

  • Most household faucets are delicate: This is really important. So often people grab at the bolts and screws like they are in a fight for their lives. But the fact is, these components are not made of the strongest stuff, and they are very easy to strip. Once these components are striped, your life has just become a lot harder. So, use gentle pressure and a tool that is appropriate.
  • It’s all about the right kit: Before you can even do a thing, you have to have gone to the hardware store and purchased the right faucet repair kit. But you cannot do this until you have opened up your faucet’s insides to see what kind of faucet it is (unless you already know). There are two basic categories Washer and Washer less. Faucets with a washer are kind of old-school these days, and not too many new faucets are made this way. But if your fixtures are old, you may have one with a rubber washer at the bottom of the valve. Now, the class of Waterless faucets has three main members: ball, disc, and cartridge.
  • Unpacking the insides: In order to know what you are dealing with, you will first have to open up the faucet (do not forget to shut off all water and turn on the faucet to get the remaining water out). Faucets are not rocket science, so you will either see a screw to loosen or a decorative cap to gently pry off with a flat head screwdriver. From there, you will likely see a bolt that you can (gently) loosen. This should grant you access to the main insides. Loosen screws as needed to take completely apart.Often the parts are small, so it is recommended that you lay them out on a tray or towel in an orderly fashion so you can visually see how they all connect. Taking a photo of this array is great in case the cat or dog tips over the tray!
  • Assess: With all the components exposed, you will be able to take these (or a photo of them) to the hardware store and match with the correct repair kit. Once you get the repair kit home, you can compare the components from your faucet to the new ones in the kit. Again, this is not brain surgery. Look and see. What part looks the most worn or tired or dirty? This is the one that most likely is the culprit. If you want, you can replace just the one faulty part, or more. It is up to you. Then, reassemble, reattach and turn the water back on. If you need to see some good pictures of different faucet types click here.

These are the key steps to fixing a leaky faucet in your home. Don’t forget that you can always search YouTube for videos that discuss your exact faucet and problem. But the most important thing to know is that you can do this.


Posted by plumber | in DIY, Leaks | No Comments »

Common Plumbing Tools

Oct. 25th 2012

Plumbing Tools You’ll Want for DIY Plumbing Repairs

The Do-it-yourselfer is the adventurous sort, who always wants to take a crack at a problem before having to call in the pros. Well, that’s a great spirit; why not try to find out if the issue is manageable and save what might be a hefty fee? You can gain a ton of knowledge in the process to equip you for the future. Among other things, one thing you often learn is that you’d be better able to handle the problem if you only had the tool you needed!

Since there is a wide variety of materials in use, depending mainly on when your home was built, and also on the care that has been put into the home over the years, whether you’ve owned it from the start or purchased a used home.

The materials used in your home (and the specific tools designed for use with each) will vary depending on a few factors. What is the climate? Is it a mobile home? Is there a basement level? If so, does it rest on a foundation, or on soil shelves? All of these questions play a part in determining what you are up against when you tackle the problems that will arise in your plumbing system.

Let’s run down the most common tools you will find yourself needing over the course of many of the projects you undertake, and maybe a few of the “would be nice” ones, as well:

Screwdrivers, both cross-tip and straight. Most faucets and drains are held on with a screw. Fixing a leaky faucet will require removing the handle. Some handles, however, may be held on with a small set screw, which may require a small straight screwdriver, or perhaps a hex wrench (commonly referred to as an Allen Wrench). All of these are staples of the home owner’s tool box.

An adjustable wrench will come in handy for nearly every plumbing project you get involved in. In fact, it is good to have 2 sizes – a 6-inch and a 12-inch wrench will be a complete set. These are better known in the vernacular, as “Crescent” wrenches.

And before we get too far away from the basics, let’s talk about the plumber’s helper – the plunger. There are two different types of plungers that will be the most helpful for clearing clogs in drains. The “sink” type plunger is a shallow rubber cup, which forms a seal around the sink or tub drain. If plunging a sink, seal the overflow hole with a piece of duct tape first, in order to enable the creation of a vacuum. A toilet, however, requires a differently shaped plunger, A shallow cup, suitable for a flat sink, could not seal as well on a toilet. This requires a ball type plunger with a flange, that can fit into the drain hole in the toilet.

Looking under the sink and tub brings to mind the next commonly used tools. To easily reach the nuts which hold the water hoses to the underside of the faucet, a basin wrench is an essential. This is a long handle with a set of jaws sticking out to the side such that they will only turn in one direction. To turn the other direction, simply flip the jaws over to the other side of the handle.

A drain snake is a very handy tool for unclogging a drain. A 2-foot snake can reach all the most common clog areas once the drain is uncovered. One of these costs just a few dollars. It might be nice to have a longer one for snaking some areas; a 25-foot snake is fairly inexpensive as well.

Moving into the basement, or the crawl space, whichever applies, we see the supply pipes that will lead upstairs. If your pipes are primarily galvanized steel, you will need a pair of pipe wrenches to deal with them properly. These are a little pricey, so keep an eye out at rummage sales and flea markets if your budget is tight. Probably a pair of 10-inch wrenches would serve well enough, but they come in various sizes. On a really tough joint, slip a steel pipe over the handle to greatly increase your force.

You may find copper pipes in your home, or, more commonly, PVC plastic, both of which are far easier to work with than steel. These must be cut and spliced together again to fix them when they leak. A hacksaw is useful for cutting these pipes. When it comes time to put them back together, though, all that is needed for the PVC is a can of PVC cement and a couple of fittings. For the copper, however, in addition to the coupling fittings, the “glue” that is necessary is solder, (pronounced “sodder”), along with flux. Both of these, when kissed by a propane torch, will form a water-tight seal.

You will discover as you embark on do-it-yourself plumbing projects, that the tools you will need will present themselves, and you may have, from time to time, to go and get one in order to proceed. But stocking up on these basics in advance will equip you – and embolden you – to begin many repairs that you might not have thought yourself capable of before.

Posted by plumber | in Clogs, DIY, Leaks, Pipes, Tools | No Comments »

Preventing Frozen Pipes

Jun. 2nd 2012

When, in the dead of winter, water freezes within a pipe, it expands, slowly but surely, until it causes the pipe to burst. When this occurs, you’re in for serious trouble, especially if it’s your heating system that has just bitten the dust. if you have young children in your home who depend on heat to keep them healthy, the dimensions of the disaster are magnified even further.

It may be of interest to some readers to note that that the formation of ice within a pipe is not what normally causes the rupture. Most people will be inclined to think that the expansion of ice within the pipe is what does the damage. But, in fact, when ice forms within the pipe and completely blocks it, the water pressure trapped within that pipe will increase and begin to move downward, trending toward the closed faucet at the end of that pipe.

When the water pressure built up against the closed faucet increases to such a point that the faucet can no longer hold up against that pressure, the pipe will burst, with flooding and freezing as the natural result. The pipe will usually tend to burst precisely at the point where no or very little ice has actually formed – a fact which can puzzle even the most seasoned of winter veterans. The true culprit of pipe rupture and breakage is inadequate insulation, whether within the building the pipes are part of, or within the pipe itself.

The best way to keep pipes in your home from freezing is simply not to expose them to frigid winter temperatures in the first place. If it is at all possible to place them only in spaces which are adequately heated or thickly insulated, by all means do so. Keep your pipes out of your attics and off of your outside walls. If it is possible to reroute or replace altogether older pipes which have served through many past winter seasons, you should do so. The longer a set of pipes has been in service in an area which is vulnerable to freezing temperatures, the more likely they will be to finally give out under the pressure of age and fatigue.

Seal up all the holes and cracks in your walls and foundations and, likewise, plaster up all the holes in your inside walls and window ledges and crevices as well. The less freezing outside air you let into your home, the better. And this goes double for the areas where your water pipes are. If you can install or reroute pipes into kitchen or bathroom cabinets, this will keep frigid winter air from affecting them there. Insulate the insides of your kitchen or bathroom cabinets with a bit of fiberglass coating, to insure that no cold air reaches these precious pipes. The more preventative measures you take before winter comes, the more chance your pipes have to survive the coming ordeal.

If it comes to the worst, and a rupture does occur, the following actions are recommended. The first course of action you should take should be to close off your pipe’s supply line valve (where the water first enters the pipe), and then open the faucet, which you will find at the end of the pipe. This faucet may, in fact, already have been forced open by the water escaping during the breakage. At any rate, you should then examine closely the entire length of the ruptured pipe.

Check carefully for any tell tale cracks, symmetrical breakages, or holes which may have been forced open in the pipe by the escaping water. The best place to look for a broken pipe will most likely be outside of your home, somewhere on the outside walls, or in crawl spaces adjoining your cellar or garage. Upstairs in the attic might be the next logical place to check, as pipes placed in that area tend to get forgotten about, and thus neglected through the years, until such a breakage finally occurs.

Next, you’ll want to thaw out the ruptured pipe. Shut off the supply line valve before you do so, so that as little water as possible can escape out of the pipe once it begins flowing again! Once you’ve managed to positively identify the source of the breakage, and exactly where it took place, grab a hair dryer and use it to thaw out the area that surrounds the ruptured area. This is in order to ascertain whether or not you can manage to get water flowing again through the pipe. If you can get the water flowing, then it’s time to patch up the hole to prevent water leakage from damaging the floor.

Once you have successfully managed to thaw out the ruptured pipe, you can begin to repair it. You’ll need a pipe cutter, or perhaps a hack saw. Regardless of which of these instruments you choose, you’ll also need to have some basic welding skills if you are to perform this task by yourself. If you lack these skills, it might be best to call in a professional who can perform the job, so as to minimize the risk of botching it.

If you do possess these skills, then you will need to use the pipe cutter or hacksaw to remove the section of pipe that has been compromised. Once you’ve done so, you’ll then proceed to replace the damaged section with a new bit of pipe. To do so properly, you’ll need a propane welding torch, as well as the proper soldering gear, to weld the new section of pipe into the existing sections. Once this is done, switch the supply line valve back on, and test the pipe to see if any fresh leakage occurs.

If the join was successful, no further action should be necessary. However, keep in mind that even the best welding patch job is a temporary solution. You will have to replace the entire pipe as soon as possible, in order to ensure that no further breakages occur. Still, this patch up job should hold you and your family through the night, until morning comes and you can venture out to the nearest store to purchase the new pipe. Good luck!

Posted by plumber | in DIY, Leaks, Pipes, Winter | No Comments »

Quick Fixes for Leaking Pipes

Apr. 14th 2012

Temporary Repairs for Leaking Pipes

These fixes are a quick repair to get the water back on in a pinch. Remember you will need to get a permanent fix later.

  • Push a sharpened pencil point into the hole. Break it off, leaving the point in the hole. Wrap the pipe with electrical tape. Put plumber’s epoxy over the tape to seal any leaks. After the plumber’s epoxy has set, about a half hour, turn the water back on.
  • Wrap an old inner tube or other piece of rubber around the pipe, covering the hole. Then use hose clamps over the rubber to seal the hole. If you don’t have hose clamps you can use a couple small blocks of wood and a C clamp to seal the hole and keep it from leaking.
  • Cut a piece of garden hose to cover the hole and about 2-3 inches on either side of the hole in the pipe. Make a slit down the length of the cut hose and slip the hose over the pipe. Use hose clamps to hold the hose in place and stop the leak.

Permanent Repairs for Leaking Pipes

Permanent repairs for your leaky pipe will take some planning and a bit more time. But these repairs will fix you leaky pipes once and for all.

  • Your home store will sell you a specially designed pipe clamp for leaky pipes. The clamp is a rubber gasket with a clamp affixed or sealed inside that is specifically designed to fit around the leaky pipe. Slide the clamp around the pipe, covering the hole tighten and your leak is gone.
  • One more option is flexible/braided metal tube with compression couples at each end. This permanent fix allows you to fix longer split pipe and even elbows. The repair tubes are flexible so they can be bent gently to follow the path of the pipe. Flexible/metal tubes are available in several different lengths accommodating a number of situations.
  • Installing a flexible/braided metal tube is pretty simple. Start by draining the damaged pipe. Center the repair tube on the damaged section of pipe. Measure one inch in from each end of the repair tube and mark the damaged pipe. Cut the section of damaged pipe between the marks out. Push the tube over the ends of the pipe, forming any elbows if necessary. Tighten the compression fittings and turn on the water. Check for leaks.


Thankfully leaks in copper pipes don’t happen very often. But if you ever need to deal with a leaky pipe any of the above quick fixes will have your water running again quickly. If you have older pipes you may have to deal with these issues much more often.


Posted by plumber | in DIY, Leaks, Pipes | No Comments »

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