Honestly, unless you grew up learning to fix things (which most Malaysians do not do), the best thing you can do when encountering a plumbing issue is to well, call a plumber. However, if you have a leak today and your plumber is not available until tomorrow or a few days later, knowing some basic plumbing skills can save you a lot of money and prevent some serious damage during an emergency.
Here are 5 everyday plumbing hacks everyone should know:
1. Turn off the water mains
Without going all “Legally-Blonde” on users, a lot of homeowners are so dependent on their plumber that when a burst pipe happens, they scramble to find out how to turn off the water! Turning off the water should be the first step every time you have a water leak or before you start fixing something.
The quicker you get the water turned off, the less damage you will have. Take note where the water shut-off valve is located in your house and practice turning it off – show everyone in the house where it is and how to do it.
In Malaysia, the shut-off valve is usually located outside your house.
2. How to fix a leaky faucet
Most leaky faucets can be easily fixed by replacing the washer, the circular rubber disc you find inside your faucet.
Try to tighten the base of the faucet first, and see if the leak stops. If it doesn’t, replace the washer inside the faucet. Sometimes these fixes do not work and it could be a problem with the faucet itself. In this case, installing a new faucet is the next best thing. Get a faucet which comes with an installation kit to help you.
3. How to stop a running toilet
A running or an overflowing toilet is usually due the flapper inside the tank failing to close properly.
As usual, start by shutting off the water to the toilet. There should be a shut-off valve located on the pipe behind the toilet bowl (or somewhere near it). Check to see if the connecting chain is broken, if it came out of its holding slot or just needs to be readjusted to the right length. If there’s nothing wrong with the chain, check the arm that is holding it up – you might need to replace the flapper and the arm.
The parts are very easy to dismantle and reassemble, so a trip to the hardware store should do the trick.
4. Unclogging a toilet
Every home should have a plunger. A plunger with a narrower flange at the end is ideal as it can fit right into the snake pipe. This is definitely a problem you’d want to be able to fix without having to wait for a plumber.
Firstly, don’t flush the toilet if you suspect that it is clogged otherwise it will overflow. Instead, do a drainage test: remove the tank lid and lift the flapper valve slightly to let a cup or two of water into the bowl to see if the water goes down. If it doesn’t drain, don’t flush it. With a clogged toilet, the bowl will fill to the brim with flushed water, and can have the potential to overflow. Give the water level some 10-15 minutes to go down before going in with the plunger. (To be on the safe side, keep some old towels on hand in case of an overflow)
Now, confidently go in with the plunger.
- Plunge gently the first time. Initially, the bell will be full of air and you want to release the air pocket slowly. If you thrust hard, it will force the air back around the seal and blow water all over the bathroom.
- Once the air is released, start plunging vigorously in and out, maintaining the seal. This movement will cause water to move in both directions of the drain which will effectively loosen the clog. Keep repeating for 15-20 times if needed.
- Keep enough water in the bowl so your plunger stays covered.
5. Clearing a slow or stopped drain
Drain clearing chemicals like acid drain cleaners are commonly used in households. They do a good job when clearing most draubs that are clogged.
If it’s a small clog and there is no standing water in your tub or sink, try using natural cleaning ingredients instead – pour some baking soda down the drain, followed by vinegar. Lastly, pour in some boiling water.
It’s a good idea to use some thongs to pull out hair or food that’s stuck in the drain before you get started.
There you have it. Easy right? These handy tips should help keep plumbing emergencies at bay until the professionals show up for more dire situations. If the problem doesn’t go away and you need help, we have many plumbing services available locally on Kaodim.com. Let us know your location and requirements, and we’ll find you a good match.