Well it’s a holiday time again and when things go wrong they normally happen on a holiday weekend. Knowing what to do in these situations is a really important part of being a homeowner.
I’ve been contacted by a few friends this holiday season who had problems with their water heaters this is a pretty strange situation however neither of the problems we’re so bad that they needed to call a plumber. Calling a plumber or handyman on a weekend or holiday is something that may result in an extremely high bill or maybe even in an unanswered service call. Repairman are normally on call in off hours however during the holidays they have their families and special interest to take care of just like the rest of us. You can’t really expect someone to drop everything and not be compensated for it.
This is why it is important weather you are a homeowner or renting that you understand the basic principles of how things work in your home.
The first thing that you should do when you have a problem with plumbing to find a shut off valve near the appliance or fixture and close it. This way the leak will be controlled even if the appliance can not continue to be used. This way you can continue to work on the problem in safety and without panicking .
The next thing that you need to do is to assess the problem. Many repairs you can make on your own others you will have to hire a professional. The main problem that you will have on a weekend or holiday is having access to the parts to repair the problem this is why you should always keep on hand a basic tool kit with enough parts to repair common problems.
The main thing to remember is that it is not the end of the world. If you live in a home with more than one bathroom you can always use the secondary bathroom, if there’s a problem with your water heater you can always struggle through a cold shower.
When purchasing a home you should always ask the home inspector to provide you with a map of your basic systems such as plumbing, electrical, waste and heating this way you will not have to hunt things down on your own during a problem. If you are renting an apartment or home you should ask your manager for information about where shut off valves are located. Most appliances such as a dishwasher, clothing washer or even the filter on your refrigerator will have a shut off valve just prior to the connection to allow you to service the fixture without turning the whole home off. In some cases plumbers on a tight budget or just not kind to the homeowner will forget to install these valves and you will have to trace the line back to find a valve to shut off. In the worst situation you can always shut off the valve at your water meter.
How to diagnose leaky
When diagnosing a leak it is important to understand weather leak is coming from the supply line such as a copper pipe, from the fixture or a connecting valve. Water can run down lines and provide a deceiving situation where are the actual leak maybe coming from a fitting but it looks like it is coming from somewhere else.
Your plumbing tool kit
In the basic plumbing tool kit you should have enough parts and tools to handle common problems. You will want to have a basic wrench set, a good pair of pliers, a good quality plunger, screwdrivers, a copper pipe tubing cutter, a hacksaw for cutting PVC pipe, Teflon plumbers tape for repairing connections, a few short pieces of pipe in different types and sizes and a few different types of connectors. This may seem like a lot however the cost should not be more than $75 which is the minimum amount you will pay for a service call. Having the tools and parts on hand will mean that you can correct the problem yourself quicker then waiting for a plumber or handyman and you will be able to do it for less money.
For homeowners I suggest that you also keep on hand additional parts such as A $20 toilet rebuild kit, every placement valve that will fit your kitchen sink and bathroom sink and although it was not mentioned before it is necessary for you to have a clean out snake that can be used in a sink or waste line.
Making the repairs
Once you find the problem and shut off the valve that will allow you to service the fixture or line you can begin the repair.
Every situation is different however making repairs when stores are not open and when repair people are not available means you are on your own. At the very minimum you can turn off the water to your entire home but with some preparation you will be able to handle most problems on your own without waiting for help to arrive. If you ever smell smoke or natural gas you should leave the home immediately and call for help a fire crew is able to enter your home safely and tell you if the problem requires emergency services they may even be able to turn off your utilities.
Understanding how your homeworks and how to make simple repairs will save you money and reduce headaches.