What you need to know before calling a plumber

September 7, 2015

Plumbing trouble can sometimes be a symptom of a serious issue. But, in other instances, no water from the tap might just be because of a water valve that's shut off or a plugged faucet aerator. Here's what you need to know before calling a plumber.

What you need to know before calling a plumber

Your toilet is not a garbage can

  • Toilets are designed to flush away waste and toilet paper - nothing else.
  • Flushing down anything plastic like dental floss holders will likely lead to a clog that you could never unplug with a plunger.
  • Thankfully, you can avoid that sort of impossible clog if you just keep trash like floss holders in the trash can.

Low water pressure at the faucet?

  • Over time, your faucet's aerators get clogged with minerals or other bits of stuff that break loose from the inside of the pipes.
  • To remove an aerator, turn it clockwise when you're looking down on it.
  • You may have to grip it with pliers to unscrew it.
  • Once the aerator's off, you can take it apart and clean the pieces, but it's usually better to simply replace it.
  • When you go shopping for a new aerator be sure to take the old one along so you can find an exact thread match.

Got a leak?

  • Leaks are one of the most common complaints plumbers get.
  • Valves are one of the main culprits because they have moving parts and seals that can wear out.
  • The next time you see a suspicious puddle of water, look for a leaky valve before you call the plumber.
  • If you find that a leaky valve is the culprit, check to see if water is leaking out around the valve stem.
  • If it is, try turning the valve's packing nut (the nut right below the valve handle) about an eighth-turn with a wrench.
  • You'll know if you over-tighten the nut because the valve will be hard to turn. If tightening the nut doesn't stop the leak, the fix is a little tougher.
  • First, shut off your main water valve.
  • Then, remove the leaky valve's handle and nut and add to or replace the valve's packing material.
  • Now the valve shouldn't be leaking any more.

The next time you have a plumbing emergency, give these fixes a try and you might just be able to save some money and your plumber's time.

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