Most homeowners are aware that plumbing leaks and other problems should be taken care of as soon as possible to prevent water damage and high water bills, but they do not look forward to spending the time and money to call a plumber. However, there are many plumbing problems that any homeowner can fix on their own without hiring a plumber. Here are a few basic home plumbing problems that you can fix without calling a professional.
If pipe sweating is significant enough, it can make it seem like your pipes are leaking even when there is no leak present. Pipe sweating occurs when the ambient room temperature around your pipes is much warmer than the water inside them, and moisture in the air condenses on the outside of the pipes. While pipe sweating does not normally pose a problem, you can wipe them dry and cover them with self-adhesive insulative tape to correct the problem. The tape can be purchased in rolls that you can wrap along the length of the pipe to stop the sweating and insulate it. Make sure the tape overlaps itself so that every inch of the pipe is covered and the tape adheres correctly.
Leaky Compression Fittings
The first step you should try to repair leaky compression fittings is to shut off the water to the pipe and tighten the fitting. To do this, use a pipe wrench to hold the body of the joint, and then use a second wrench to carefully tighten the connection. You should be careful not to overtighten, as this can damage the pipe and make the leak much worse.
If the leak does not stop after the joint has been tightened, the joint will need to be refitted. Hold the fitting with a wrench to keep it steady, and undo the nut on the side that is leaking. Slide the nut along the pipe and open the joint so that the olive is exposed. The olive is a copper band that goes around the pipe under the nut to create a waterproof seal when the nut is tightened. Use a wrench to work the olive off of the pipe. Then, clean the pipe, fit it with a new olive, and tighten the fitting back into place.
Leaky Solder Joints
The most common causes of solder joint failure are solders that did not fully seal, a solder joint that has been resoldered after it was damaged by water, and an initial solder that was not done on clean copper. These same reasons make it nearly impossible to repair an old solder joint, and the best course of action is usually to replace the soldered section of pipe.
First, drain the pipe and use a pipe cutter to cut the pipe about an inch away from each side of the solder joint. Use emery paper to sand down the burrs inside the pipe, and to sand the outside of the new section of pipe on each end. Next, apply flux to the inside of the pipe on each side of the cut using the flux brush that comes with the flux, and insert a new section of pipe with integral solder fittings. These fittings have a ring of solder pre-installed on the ends. Once the new section is in place, rotate it to make sure it is coated thoroughly with flux and use a propane torch to carefully solder around the edges until you just begin to see the solder ring around each end. Clean the outer surface with a damp cloth and turn the water back on to flush out contaminants.
Water hammer is a clanging sound that occurs when the high-speed flow of water is suddenly stopped as you turn off a faucet. .Modern plumbing systems are equipped with air chambers to contain the shock of the water as it stops and deaden the sound. If you suddenly start hearing water hammer in your lines, your air chambers are likely flooded with water. Here is an example of what water hammer can sound like on a smaller scale.
Water hammer can often be fixed easily by turning off the water supply to the faucet where you are experiencing the problem, and then letting the faucet run to drain it thoroughly. This will remove all water from the air chamber and allow it to fill up again with air. Once the air chamber has drained, you should no longer notice the loud water hammer noise when you turn off your faucet.
Not all plumbing problems take extensive training and experience to repair. By learning to repair a few basic problems such as these, you can be proud of your ability to maintain your water lines without hiring a professional plumber in the area.