So you want to learn plumber secrets, eh? You want to know what nuggets of insider wisdom we’ve pulled from the depths after thousands of plumbing jobs? Maybe you have a DIY plumbing project coming up. Maybe you’ve had bad plumbing experiences in the past. Or maybe–just maybe–you’re really just interested in the ancient ways of the plumber. What? It could happen.
Well, we’re more than happy to share our knowledge. Seriously, it’s kind of what we do! Here are some basic, high-level plumbing tips every homeowner should follow when working on a DIY project. Master these, and you’ll be ready for just about anything your home can throw at you. We’ll be so proud.
Keep Caulk Around
Cracks. Leaks. Chipping. Holes. Sealing. Installation. Plumbing caulk has about 5,000 uses, and they’re all important. Caulk is a silicone- or latex-based sealant used to seal joints and seams, and to fill in small cracks and gaps. The earliest caulk was used to seal up the cracks between boards on wooden ships! The concept is still the same, but the technology has improved. Modern caulk fills to expand the area it’s applied to, forming a barrier that not even water can seep through.
Caulk has a million uses in construction and plumbing. To see for yourself, just look at the bottom of your toilet! The seal you see between the floor and the toilet was applied with caulk. We always recommend you keep some caulk on hand. Make sure you get specialized “kitchen/bathroom” caulk. This caulk is specially treated to last a long time, even on exposure to water.
Know Thy O-Ring
O-rings are flexible rubber seals that fit between a plumbing installation and the wall or sink. There’s an O-ring in virtually every plumbing appliance, including all your faucets and sink handles. O-rings form a watertight seal between pipes and the entrance to the appliance itself. O-rings need to be flexible so that the appliances they seal can be easily removed, but that flexibility also means they wear out. If you have a leaky or dripping faucet, a worn O-ring is your problem 95% of the time.
O-rings come in a lot of different sizes. Figure out how big the O-ring for each appliance in your home is. Write down the exact measurements, along with the brand if you know it. You could even go to your nearest hardware store and pick up some extra O-rings before you have a problem. Knowing the size of the O-ring will speed up plumbing projects significantly, saving you time and money.
Always Be Measuring
ABM! The greatest risk of DIY plumbing projects is improper installation. At best, you wind up with a plumbing installation so obviously wrong for the space that you can’t use it at all. At worst, you get an installation that… kind of works, all the while damaging your home without your knowledge. Luckily, preventing improper installations is easy: just Always. Be. Measuring.
Learn how to measure the length, width, circumference, height, and size of every plumbing fixture you want to install. Ask the expert at the store to teach you how to use your measuring instrument. Watch YouTube tutorials to make sure you’re measuring accurately. Double-check. Triple-check. Get a second opinion. Quadruple-check! Taking your time measuring may slow down your project a bit, but if you do it then you’ll only have to complete that project once. Plus, you won’t end up with a faucet that’s too long for your sink. We’ve seen it happen.
Use The Right Plunger
Aah, yes, the secret of the plungers. Did you know that there are multiple types of plunger? “Sure, everyone knows that,” you say. Well, did you know that different types of plunger have different uses. You knew that, too? …Ok, maybe this isn’t a great secret, but it’s still something we don’t see enough homeowners doing.
Cup plungers (the traditional-looking plunger with the hollow cap) are made for plunging sinks and bathtubs. They’re easy to work over small drains, or drains in awkward places. Flange plungers (with a rubber flap on the inside of the cup, where the plunger is inserted into the toilet) are for plunging toilets. The flap, or flange, enters the toilet drain directly to supply extra pumping pressure. Simply investing in two of these plungers and using them for the proper jobs will help you plunge much more efficiently. As long as you use them correctly.
Pretty simple, right? It turns out, the best plumbing advice we can give really does come down to basic preparation, knowledge, and practice. If you know what you’re doing before you jump in, you’ll save time and money, and experience more success to boot.
And remember: if you end up confronted with a problem you can’t solve on your own, just let us know. We still have a few tricks up our good-smelling sleeves. We haven’t taught you the secret plumber’s handshake, for instance. Maybe you’ll learn it someday. But not yet! It’s just too dangerous.