A leaky faucet can be a real annoyance, and no one loves
a clogged drain or any kind of toilet repair. But fixing household leaks can save you about 10% on your water bill. A leaky faucet that drips just twice a minute wastes over a gallon a week! Some fixes can save you even more because estimates are that about 10% of all homes with a water leak are actually wasting as much as 90 gallons or more a day. Even if you know nothing at all about plumbing, you can do a few basic things on your own. Read on for tips on how to do minor repairs on something like a leaky faucet, and when to call in a professional.
The Leaky Faucet
- Shut off the water at the valve under the sink Leave the faucet handle open and running so all the water in the pipe runs out.
- Use a screwdriver to remove the set screw on the faucet itself. This is usually under a decorative cover indicated which side is hot and which cold. This will let you pull the handle free.
- Check whether the adjusting ring needs to be tightened. This is the ring and bolt your faucet pops off of. Try tightening and test for leaks.
If that’s not the issue, then it’s likely time to bring in a plumber if you don’t have a lot of experience in fixing leaky faucets.
Clogged drains can be an even worse issue than a leaky faucet. Here are some things to try before you call plumbers for help.
- Pour freshly boiling water down the sink. This might cause organic matter in the pipes to dissolve and clear the leak. Do not do this if your pipes are made from PVC, and never pour boiling water right into a porcelain sink bowl.
- Pour half a box of baking soda down the drain and chase it with a half cup of vinegar. Don’t add water, and after you’ve put in the vinegar stop the drain with a stopper or rages. Wait 30 minutes and then do the boiling water.
- Use a hand plunger: cup-shaped and not flanged, much as you would with a toilet.
- Try a simple hardware store hand snake. These run down the pipe and can sometimes twist and catch debris.
If none of those works, it’s time to call for drain cleaning or other plumbing services.
- Test the flapper (the bit that allows water from the tank into the bowl) Push it down with something and listen for the water to stop running. If it stops after a few moments, the flapper wasn’t sealing correctly and it’s time to replace it. A new one at the hardware store will come with instructions.
- Check the chains and valves. If you’ve got an older toilet, sometimes the fix is as simple as finagling the chain or unwrapping it from something it’s been stuck on.
If none of these things work, it might be time to call for a plumber.
This is a serious issue because of the moisture that can build up and damage the floor.
- If you’re able, check the connections to find the leak. It could be coming from the tank bolts, the supply tube coupling nut, or the valve nut. These might need to be replaced.
- Check if condensation is making the tank drip. This happens sometimes in the summer. It can be fixed by a toilet liner kit or better ventilation.
Anything else, especially a cracked bowl, wax ring, or tank, will need professional help. Now you know a few simple fixes, so give it a try!
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