There’s no better time than the New Year to make your home improvement dreams come true, especially for do-it-yourself homeowners. Not all improvement projects cater to your creativity, though. Consider a leaky faucet or a stopped-up toilet. These kinds of home repairs are not only necessary, but also nice to take care of, finally. So roll up your sleeves and find out how you can complete home maintenance and repairs yourself…and become a DIY star!
1. Fix a Leaky Faucet
It’s one of the most common household repairs, one that can save you money on utility bills and help you avoid wasting water. Most of the time, a leak starts because the washer has deteriorated.
What to Do:
- Shut off the water to the faucet by turning off the stop valves under the sink
- Locate the screw that holds the faucet handle in place (back or side, under a metal or plastic cap)
- Unscrew the handle with a screwdriver and remove it
- Remove the packing nut with pliers
- Unscrew the valve stem and remove it from the housing
- Take out the screw that holds the washer in place
- Remove the washer and examine it
- Use the washer to help you locate a replacement, if it’s still intact
- If the washer falls apart, check the valve-body for the washer size
- Buy a replacement washer at your home improvement store or plumbing supplier
- Install a new washer and reverse these steps to re-assemble the faucet
2. Fix a Stopped-Up Toilet
When a toilet backs up, the entire family can get stressed, but don’t panic! First, investigate what’s causing the clog. Chances are, some foreign object is stuck in the bowl. However, you have a couple options for unclogging the toilet.
The Easy Method:
- Put on a pair of rubber gloves and try fishing the object out of the bowl with your hands
- Wait for the extra water to drain, then pour a bucket of water into the bowl (this can dislodge whatever is causing the blockage)
- Try using a plunger to clear the toilet
- A plumbing snake or closet auger dislodges clogs by threading a coiled length of metal from the bowl down through the serpentine piping to free what’s trapped there
- Another option is a compressed air or carbon dioxide sewer air cleaner, which uses stronger pressure than a standard plunger to suction out anything trapped in the piping
If all else fails, you can uninstall the toilet and get to a clog that way. Most toilets are relatively easy to remove from the floor.
A Little Extra Elbow Grease Required:
- Toilets are heavy, so find a helper
- Unbolt the tank from the bowl
- Undo the bolts that attach the bowl to the floor and remove the wax collar
- Remove the caulk around the base, use a sealant saw if needed
- Carefully place the toilet onto a plastic tarp with cushioning underneath, to avoid cracking the toilet
- Cover the drain opening to keep gas from escaping into the room
- Upend the toilet and find that clog
- Replace the wax collar before reinstalling the toilet and re-caulk
In the winter months it is especially important that your plumbing works properly, what with the chance of pipes freezing. So, fix your leaky faucet or clogged toilet now, before you have a bigger mess on your hands. These may not be the most glamorous fix-ups, but you’ll be happy after you take the time. Let us know if you have more questions about these issues, especially in regards to the tools you’ll need. Happy amateur plumbing!
About the Author
Jack Runyon is the president of Runyon Equipment Rental. He has 21 years of rental experience, as the 3rd generation son to carry on the family tradition and his grandfather’s vision. He prides the company for its devotion to ethics, quality products and customer service. Jack is known for his passion and vast expertise.