Household Plumbing

4 Clever Plumbing Hacks That Will Save You Money

Some jobs require a specialist, but there are some situations where handling it yourself won’t only save you money, but can be a quick and easy fix.

There are definitely times when you need you call in the pros, but there are also many times when with a little know-how, you can do it yourself saving you both time and money. So instead of waiting around for a professional to fix your plumbing problem, try these quick and easy plumbing hacks and save some of that hard-earned money.

#1: Unclogging a Drain

house drain

Our first plumbing hack is for when the water backs up and won’t drain properly. When this happens, you may be tempted to call a plumber to either snake your pipes or replace the line, but that would be the equivalent of launching a missile to kill a mouse.

And while there are chemical solutions that you can get at the store to try and breakup whatever it is that is clogging the drain, you can also concoct your own home-made, often cheaper, and yes, even more environmentally-friendly formula for unclogging a drain: baking soda and vinegar.

Here’s how it works:
  1. Put on the kettle, and boil some water — it doesn’t have to reach boiling, but it does need to be hot. If your water heater is turned up, that may do the trick, but for those penny-pinchers who keep the water heater at below skin-scalding levels, a kettle may be a better alternative;
  2. Slowly pour the hot water down the drain;
  3. Chase the hot water with about ½ cup of baking soda;
  4. Mix 1 cup vinegar with an additional 1 cup of hot water; 
  5. Pour the vinegar combination down the clogged drain;
  6. Wait for about 10 minutes while the hot water, baking soda, and vinegar break up whatever it is that is clogging the drain; and,
  7. Following the waiting time, pour warm water down the drain to wash away the baking soda and vinegar and send away the broken-down materials that had been clogging the drain
  8. Repeat, as necessary.

The baking soda and vinegar combination will not only unclog the drain, but it will also do a little bit of cleaning at the same time, which may improve the aroma surrounding the drain. 

If the baking soda and vinegar treatment doesn’t work, that may be indicative of a bigger problem. In that case it may be a good idea to call in a professional to locate the clog and fix it.

#2: Unjamming Your Garbage Disposal

kitchen sink

Our second plumbing hack is for when your garbage disposal makes a humming sound, but doesn’t seem to be grinding the refuse. This often means that the garbage disposal is jammed.

Fixing, or unjamming, a garbage disposal doesn’t have to require outside assistance, and can often be easily done by you. Here is a simple plumbing hack to try yourself before turning to a professional:

  1. Unplug your garbage disposal. Trust us, you don’t want it to accidentally turn on while you’re in there;
  2. Grab a ¼ in. hex wrench — if you don’t have one, that neighbor with a leafblower probably does;
  3. Look under your sink at where the garbage disposal connects to the drain. Find the hex-shaped hole and insert the ¼ in. hex wrench;
  4. Move the hex wrench back and forth several times to loosen up the garbage disposal blades;
  5. Plug the garbage disposal back in; and,
  6. Turn on the garbage disposal to make sure the blades are spinning again.

If the blades are unable to spin, then you may need to open up the garbage disposal and clean out whatever it is that is blocking the blades. Again, make sure to unplug the garbage disposal before attempting to remove it from the drain and open it up to clean it out.

Sometimes, silverware can fall into the trap and jam up the blades, which a simple loosening of the blades will not be able to overcome. If neither of these things work, then you may need to replace the garbage disposal as the motor may have burned out or there may be a short in the wiring.

#3: Unclogging A Toilet

bathroom in a home

The plunger is the most obvious answer to a clogged toilet, and it is often the best working solution, albeit a messy one. But sometimes it may not seem like it’s working or it can draw out the process. When the plunger doesn’t seem to be working, try our third plumbing hack:

 

  1. Stop the flow of water. You can do this by lifting the lid to the back of the toilet and turning the water off at the valve. Simply follow the chain down to the plug and force the plug closed. This will force stop the tank from filling the toilet. The water in the tank is clean and comes directly from the spicket, so don’t worry about reaching into the tank barehanded
  2. Fill a bucket with really hot water. Generally, the hotter the better. This can be from the tub, assuming your water heater is set to a high level, or you can boil a buckets-worth of water (I would try the tub first);
  3. Pour the water directly into the clogged toilet bowl. The heat will help break down the blockage for easier clearance;
  4. If the hot water doesn’t do the trick, try adding soap or shampoo to a second bucket of hot water and trying again. This can help break down the blockage even more.

You should be able to clear the clogged toilet with this method and/or a plunger. If these methods don’t work, then you definitely want to call in a professional, as there may be something beyond the traditional clog that is backing up your toilet. Also, try adding fiber to your diet to avoid future clogs.

#4: Fixing a Low-Pressure Shower Head

Low pressure shower heads are the worst. There’s nothing better than stepping into a hot shower with an adequate amount of pressure not only to get you clean but to soothe away the stresses of the day.

Thankfully, our fourth and final plumbing hack provides an easy fix for those low-pressure shower heads:

  1. Turn off the water to the shower-head;
  2. Unscrew the shower head;
  3. Soak the spray plate in a descaling solution such as white vinegar (usually about three hours is enough);
  4. Reattach the plate, turn on the water, and enjoy better water pressure.

Many times, especially if you have hard water, a shower-head will get a build-up of minerals from the water that can clog it. In theory, these mineral deposits would increase water pressure as more water would have to come out of fewer openings; however, this does not seem to be the case. By cleaning and removing the mineral buildup, your shower head can feel like new and that lost water pressure will be a thing of the past.

As always, before you break out the DIY plumbing hacks , make sure you don’t have a bigger problem on your hands. If you think that there is a chance that the problem is more than a simple clog or maintenance issue, make sure to contact a plumber for some help. But for most things, you can try to do-it-yourself before committing to waiting on and paying for a professional.

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