In the modern home, plumbing is essential. Unfortunately, from time to time, parts of the plumbing system break down – it can be something as simple as a leaky tap or as complicated as a burst, damaged pipe.
The good news is, is that with no more than a smattering of DIY skills and a few basic tools, you could successful perform a range of DIY plumbing repairs.
Know your limits
Before you make any attempt to repair plumbing, you need to know your limits. If you are unsure about any aspect of the plumbing repairs facing you, call a professional.
Essential Tip – ALWAYS switch off the water (you will find the stop cock under the sink or under the stairs etc.) before attempting any kind of plumbing work.
There are many plumbing repairs that can be DIY tasks, easily performed with no more than basic knowledge and a few minutes of your time.
Taps can spring a leak at any time. In the bathroom or the kitchen, over-tightening taps can lead to the rubber washer in it to wear away quicker than it should.
Switch off the water at the stop cock and undone the tap using a plumber’s wrench or spanner. Remove the old rubber washer and replace it with a new washer of the same size and thickness. Reassemble the tap and switch the water back on.
Old taps can sometimes be difficult to reconnect with a water tight seal. Using a small strip of plumbing repair tape, wrap it around the thread of the tap and then reassemble. This will help seal the tap. The tape works great on all plumbing pipes and connections too.
Check our guide on how to replace a tap and see if you have the right skills.
Of all the plumbing repairs and issues you will be faced with, this is one of the most common.
- Blocked sink – small bits of food can make their way down the plug home, causing the kitchen sink to run slow or become blocked. In the bathroom, hair and other detritus can also block the sink etc.
Use a sink plunger to shift stubborn blockages. Fill the sink with a little water, place the plunger over the sink hole to form a seal and with your other hand and an old towel, block the overflow in the sink to allow the plunger as much leverage as possible on the blockage.
Pump the plunger several times in small, fast movements to unblock.
For slow running drains, consider a drain unblocking chemical but use with care as they are erosive and damaging to skin and eyes. If the blockage is stubborn, you may need to call a professional.
- Blocked drains – blocked sinks are a nuisance but a blocked sewer can be a health hazard. It may be possible to release the blockage in the drain yourself, using a long, telescopic pole available to buy from high street DIY retailers.
However, since a change in regulation, some water boards are now responsible for sewers and drains up to your property. Causing damage may result in a hefty bill for you. If the sewer remains blocked, call your water supplier.
Again, a common plumbing DIY disaster. The only thing that should be flushed away with bodily fluids is toilet paper and not wet wipes, even if the packaging says they are flushable.
Flushing and pouring down buckets of water can move the blockage but take care as there can be a back draft that causes the blockage to be released through another toilet.
When to call in a professional
There are some plumbing repairs that need the may be needed. Different piping requires different tools and connections. Lead piping is common in older properties and a plumber may suggest replacing with copper piping etc.
Any time you don’t feel confident to deal with a problem, call a professional. In the case of any plumbing that also involves gas and/or electric, call a plumber.
You can also read our complete plumbing cost guide to know the price of installing an outside or exterior tap or unblocking a toilet.