7 Essential Tips for Common Plumbing Problems

toothbrush and faucet aerators

Having some basic plumbing knowledge comes in very handy once you take on the responsibility of homeownership—or even just living on your own. That’s why we’ve compiled some of the best tips from friends, neighbors, plumbers, and customers to help you solve everyday plumbing problems around your home.

If you know someone who could benefit from this knowledge, pass it along!

1. Use white vinegar to remove mineral deposits on faucets and aerators.

Unless your home has a water filtration system, you’re probably familiar with mineral buildup accumulating on your plumbing fixtures. These deposits can also block up your faucet aerators and disrupt the flow of water. You can get rid of this buildup by removing your aerators and plumbing fixtures and soaking them overnight in white vinegar. The next day, use an old toothbrush to scrub away the remaining debris, and wipe the fixture clean with a dry cloth.

2. Keep both a cup plunger and a flange plunger on hand.

Every household should have at least two plungers for plumbing clogs. Cup plungers (traditional, bell-shaped plungers) typically work best for sinks and bathtubs. A flange plunger’s distinct shape makes it perfect for the irregular contours of your toilet. Plus, you never want to use the same plunger in your sinks that you use for your toilet—yuck!

3. Fill your bathtub in anticipation of a water shut-off.

If you know that your water is going to be shut off due to a plumbing repair or local water line maintenance, fill up every bathtub in your home so that you’ll have a supply of fresh water to tide you over. Generally, you should be able to get one more flush out of your toilet once the water is shut off, but after that, you’ll need to add water to the bowl or tank for additional flushes.

4. If your toilet won’t stop running, jiggle the flush handle.

If you flush the toilet and notice a continuous running water sound from the tank long after the tank should be full, this means that the tank isn’t filling. This happens because the flapper isn’t closing and sealing at the bottom. Usually, jiggling the toilet flush handle can nudge the flapper closed, but you may need to open the tank lid and manually push the flapper down at the bottom of the tank.

5. If you drop something down the drain, use a magnet, a grabber tool, or retrieve it from the trap.

If you drop a diamond earring down the drain, don’t despair! It might be close to the surface of the drain, and there are a few ways to try and get it back:

  • Use a telescoping magnet, which is a tiny magnet on a wand that you can stick down your drain to retrieve metallic objects.
  • Use a grabber tool, which is a bendable metallic cable with some claws at the end. You feed it down your drain, and the claws “grab” the object. It’s also a handy way to remove hair that’s clogging your drain.
  • If it’s a sink, disassemble the P-trap over a bucket or a deep pan (like one you would use for casseroles). The object may be in the curve of the P-trap.

6. Clean your garbage disposal with ice.

Have you ever wondered how to clean your garbage disposal? “Feed” it some ice! Grinding up the ice will help get rid of food particles in the blades that could be causing bad smells and attracting bugs.

7. Learn the location of your home’s main water shut-off valve.

There are a few instances where knowing your main water shut-off valve’s location comes in handy:

  • You have a leak. The best way to stop it is by cutting off the flow of water into your home from the city. Once you pinpoint where the leak is and fix it, then you can turn the water back on.
  • You want to prevent a leak. If you’ll be away from home for a week or more, it’s a good idea to turn off your home’s water before you go. This will prevent leaks from starting when no one is around to catch them.
  • You’re performing plumbing repairs or replacements. Always, always remember to shut the water off at the main shut-off valve or at the plumbing fixture’s shut-off valve before doing a repair or replacement on a plumbing fixture. This will prevent unexpected water flow from occurring while you’re performing the work.

At Albright's Mechanical Services, our knowledgeable, extensively-trained plumbers are ready to help you solve your Baltimore home’s plumbing issues. Experience our exceptional service when you give us a call at (410) 834-0148 or contact us online.

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