We've talked before about home electrical projects you can handle on your own and now it's time to tackle plumbing. The projects we're covering here mostly deal with repairing things like running toilets and leaky faucets, and replacing fixtures like faucets and shower heads. These are beginner-level projects that are fairly easy to do and can save you a lot of money if you tackle them yourself.
Before you get involved with most plumbing projects, you'll need to shut off the water flowing to whatever you're working on. Most of the time, there are easy-to-access gate valves or compression valves that you can turn with your hand. Turn them clockwise all the way to turn off the water and counter-clockwise to turn it back on when you're done. For sinks, look under the sink and you'll usually see two valves—one for hot water and one for cold. On kitchen sinks, you might also see valves for the ice maker on your fridge or your dishwasher. Just turn them all off. For toilets, the valves are on the wall or right on the pipe behind the toilet.
Some allege that putting a brick in the toilet tank can save water, but doing that can keep your toilet from flushing correctly. Another plumbing tip, avoid liquid drain cleaners. Liquid drain cleaners are also bad news—they eat away at the pipes. Try a plunger or, better yet, a $30 auger. Don’t have either? Here’s how to unclog a toilet without a plunger.
If it’s a toilet issue you’ve got, you’re sure to find the right toilet parts and replacement pieces – including shutoff valves and supply lines – to get your toilet in tip-top shape. We’ve also got shower parts and shower valves, sink parts and faucet parts, as well as everything for bathtub repair – all to get your bathroom up and running in top-top shape.
Another way to avoid a service call from your plumber is to make sure the outside faucets are turned off in the winter and make sure you disconnect the outside hoses. You need to shut the water off from the inside. Then, open the valve on the outside to let the water that’s in there drain out—you switch both of them to the opposite direction so one is always closed and one is always open. We have to fix tons of these in the spring mostly because people leave their outside hoses connected and they freeze up. The repair could cost $100-$200 or more. Another tip would be if you’re going away for any length of time, like on vacation, turn off your water. If on any of those days the temperature drops below freezing, have someone check in on your house. I’ve been called to homes where the family returned from vacation, and there was water flooding out from the front door.
For many centuries, lead was the favoured material for water pipes, because its malleability made it practical to work into the desired shape. (Such use was so common that the word "plumbing" derives from plumbum, the Latin word for lead.) This was a source of lead-related health problems in the years before the health hazards of ingesting lead were fully understood; among these were stillbirths and high rates of infant mortality. Lead water pipes were still widely used in the early 20th century, and remain in many households. In addition, lead-tin alloy solder was commonly used to join copper pipes, but modern practice uses tin-antimony alloy solder instead, in order to eliminate lead hazards.
Present-day water-supply systems use a network of high-pressure pumps, and pipes in buildings are now made of copper, brass, plastic (particularly cross-linked polyethylene called PEX, which is estimated to be used in 60% of single-family homes), or other nontoxic material. Due to its toxicity, most cities moved away from lead water-supply piping by the 1920s in the United States, although lead pipes were approved by national plumbing codes into the 1980s, and lead was used in plumbing solder for drinking water until it was banned in 1986. Drain and vent lines are made of plastic, steel, cast-iron, or lead.
Two-handle faucets are most often found in the bathroom, but you see them in some kitchens. Two-handle faucets use three types of mechanisms. The first two are the same as two of the mechanisms used in a single-handle faucet: cartridge and ceramic disc. The third type is a compression (or reverse-compression) mechanism. Compression faucets are the simplest type, using rubber washers that get compressed against one another to seal the valve. They do tend to wear out faster than other faucet types, but are also least expensive to repair.
Garbage disposers usually come with an Allen key. Find a good place to store it, and when the disposer jams, you can follow the directions in the owner’s manual to fix it yourself. It’s as simple as inserting and twisting, and doing this yourself will save you the hassle and cash of a service call to the plumber. Speaking of tool storage, check out these clever tool storage ideas.
Clogged drains are no fun. We've shown you several ways to clear a clogged drain and how to clear a blocked P-trap under a sink, but bathtub drains can be a little more challenging. A lot more hair and other gunk goes down them than you think. Add to this the fact that most bathtub drains take a 90-degree turn that makes getting a drain snake down them more difficult.
The Home Depot has a wide selection of high-quality plumbing parts including sump pumps, water heaters, HVAC systems, pipes and much more. The Home Depot even has eco-friendly plumbing options to help you save money and live green. If you need professional advice or installation assistance with any of your plumbing projects, turn to The Home Depot to help you finish your plumbing project.
The movement of liquids and gases through pipes is critical to modern life. In homes, water is needed for both drinking and sanitation. In factories, chemicals are moved to aid in product manufacturing. In power plants, steam is moved to drive turbines that generate electricity. Plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters install and repair these pipe systems.
Don’t flush floss, tampons, or even so-called “flushable” wipes. They don’t break down like toilet paper does and can come back to haunt you later. “Toilets are more water-efficient now than they were 20 years ago, so there sometimes isn’t enough volume in the flush to force debris down,” says Marcin Wroblewski, president of ExpressRooter Plumbing in Toronto. “An object will get lodged in the trap and cause blockage when waste builds up days later.”
Plumbing reached its early apex in ancient Rome, which saw the introduction of expansive systems of aqueducts, tile wastewater removal, and widespread use of lead pipes. With the Fall of Rome both water supply and sanitation stagnated—or regressed—for well over 1,000 years. Improvement was very slow, with little effective progress made until the growth of modern densely populated cities in the 1800s. During this period, public health authorities began pressing for better waste disposal systems to be installed, to prevent or control epidemics of disease. Earlier, the waste disposal system had merely consisted of collecting waste and dumping it on the ground or into a river. Eventually the development of separate, underground water and sewage systems eliminated open sewage ditches and cesspools.