There are times in a homeowner’s life when you definitely need to call a plumber. But some plumbing problems that crop up from time to time are relatively minor, and with a little knowledge, you should be able to handle them yourself.

Three of these minor problems – the dripping faucet, the clogged toilet, and the leaking toilet – are fairly common, and are pretty easy to fix. Here are a few tips on how to do it.

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Clogged Toilet

There are actually a number of different ways to fix a clogged toilet, but we are going to focus on three.

  1. The good old plunger.

This is the tried and true method of unclogging a toilet, and it usually is very effective. Make sure, however, that you buy a plunger with a flange on it so that you get a more airtight seal when plunging.

When you use the plunger, make sure that the water in the bowl is completely covering the end of the device so that you get the most suction possible. Your initial thrust with the plunger should be a soft one, mostly just to get the air out. Then push vigorously.

  1. The snake.

Another device that works well to remove toilet clogs is a snake. This is a long, flexible wire with a corkscrew-like end. You push it into the toilet until it reaches the clog, then turn it. The corkscrew on the end will either break up the clog or penetrate into the clogging material so that you can pull it out.

  1. Surfactant.

Another method you can use is to pour some type of surfactant into the bowl – dishwashing liquid, shampoo, or liquid soap. Pour a good amount into the bowl, and then pour in a bucket of hot water. This may take some time to take effect, but it should do the job.

Dripping Faucet

  1. Turn off the water.

This should be a no-brainer. You don’t want water running all over the place after you have taken the faucet apart. There should be knobs underneath the sink that control the water coming into the faucet.

  1. Take off the outer covering.

This is the decorative part of the knob. You can usually use a screwdriver to pry it off. After taking the knob off, you will see a screw that attaches the handle to the stem. Take the screw out and take the handle off of the stem.

  1. Take off the stem.

Some stems you can simply pull off, while others you have to twist off the valve.

  1. Replace the washer.

Once you get down to the valve seat, you will be able to see the washer. If that is the cause of the leak, simply replace the washer on the seat. There is also something called an O-ring, and you may need to replace that as well.

You need to make sure that the new washer and O-ring are an exact fit, or you will not stop the leak.

The Leaking Toilet

If you have this problem, the first thing to check is the flapper, the rubber device over the opening at the bottom of the tank. It may be worn or not fit correctly. It is easily replaced.

First, turn off the water to the toilet. Then flush the toilet. This will remove all of the water from the tank. Then, you can simply take the old flapper off the prongs that hold it, and put on a new one.

If this doesn’t solve the problem, take a look at the fill tube that drains into the overflow pipe. The end of the fill tube should be above the water. If it is not, you need to cut off enough of it so that the end is above the water.

Still leaking? Check the float. If it is not set properly, it may allow the water again to rise above the overflow pipe, causing a leak. You may need to install a new float. This can be purchased at any hardware store. Simply follow the instructions on the package for installation.

Whether you never want to DIY any type of plumbing problem yourself, or if you’ve come across a situation that you know is above your skill set, call upon the plumbing experts at Plumbing Dynamics. Contact us at 214-929-3431.

Image courtesy of Mister GC/