10 Plumbing Tips Everyone Needs to Know

Are you dealing with a dripping faucet, low water pressure, or clogged pipe? You’re probably tempted to call a professional plumber, and with good reason. Homeowners usually don’t have the necessary skills for a DIY plumbing job. They can even make matters worse in the end, triggering thousands of dollars in property and personal damage. But don’t put your plumber on speed dial just yet! Here are 10 basic plumbing secrets every homeowner should know. Maybe one of these could save you a costly visit from your local expert.

  1. Know the Location of Shut-Off Valves

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    Where Are Main Water Shut-Off Valves?

    Before moving into a new home, note the location of the main shut-off valve and drain (in some cases, the shut-off will be located outside the house). You should also get acquainted with sewer line access points, in case you need to conduct periodic clean outs. Note that apartments and condos may not have their own dedicated shut-off valves.


    Related: 12 Things Your Plumber Wishes You Knew

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  2. Don’t Puncture Pipes

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    Punctured Pipe

    Are you planning to drill holes or pound nails into your walls, floors, or ceiling? First determine if there are any supply or drainage pipes behind your work area, since you don’t want to accidentally puncture them. You may be able to locate pipes behind walls with an inexpensive stud finder. Alternatively, you could invest in an endoscopic camera, which can be snaked into the walls.


    Related: 13 Home Improvements That Are Illegal to DIY

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  3. Find Out What’s Flushable

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    What Can't You Flush Down the Toilet?

    Homeowners shouldn’t use their toilet as a trash can, since flushing anything except toilet paper leads to nasty clogs. Even “flushable” baby wipes can back up the system!

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  4. Don’t Put Garbage Down the Drain

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    What Can You Put in Garbage Disposal?

    Never dump coffee grounds, food debris, bacon grease, vegetable peelings, or starchy foods like rice or potatoes down the kitchen drain; they will almost certainly clog your pipes. It’s also smart to read the manufacturer’s manual for your garbage disposal to know what, exactly, the unit can handle.


    Related: 10 Things Always to Keep Near Your Kitchen Sink

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  5. Take the Plunge

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    Best Plunger

    Invest in a high-quality plunger to clear clogs in toilets, sinks, and drains. If you’re planning to clean sink traps, use a plunger to push most of the water out before removing the trap. The task will be a lot less wet and messy.


    Related: No Plunger Needed: 7 Easier Ways to Clear a Clog

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  6. Pull Out the Vacuum

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    How to Unclog Sink with Vacuum

    When you're trying to dislodge a clog caused by a small, hard object (like a child’s toy, toothbrush, or comb), rely on a wet-dry vacuum. It's more effective to suck the object out. A plunger will only push it deeper into the drain, making it more difficult to remove.


    Related: You're Not Using Vacuum Attachments the Right Way

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  7. Don’t Ignore Leaks

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    How to Deal with Leaky Faucet

    That steady drip, drip, drip of a fixture symbolizes money going down the drain. In fact, a leaky faucet typically wastes up to eight gallons of water per day, while a running toilet can waste 200 gallons per day. Fix small leaks promptly before they become big—and costly—problems.


    Related: 14 Sneaky Ways to Save Money on Your Water Bill

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  8. Never Over-Tighten Fittings

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    How Much Should You Tighten Fittings?

    A common DIY plumbing mistake is over-tightening fittings and connections, which leads to broken bolts and stripped screws. Remember this adage: “hand-tight is just right.”


    Related: 9 Signs Your Tap Water Might Be Contaminated

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  9. Make Friends with Plumber’s Tape

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    How to Use Plumber’s Tape

    Plumber’s tape (also called Teflon tape) is used to seal pipe threads to prevent leaks around joints and fittings. You should typically wrap plumber’s tape three times around the pipe threads before sealing. Also note that white tape is designed for common household plumbing projects, while yellow is for gas line connections.


    Related: 9 Things First-Time Homeowners Don't Know to Do

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  10. Always Check for Leaks

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    How to Check for Leaks

    After every plumbing project, check for leaks by running water through the system, then opening and closing all valves and drains. Even professional plumbers may miss a small leak and need to reseal a connection.


    Related: 11 Things Your Contractor Won’t Tell You for Free

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  11. Plumbing 101

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    Plumbing 101

    With the right knowledge, you can be your own first line of defense for basic plumbing issues.

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  12. See the House of the Week

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    Discover and admire beautiful and innovative home architecture, from grand Victorians to quaint cabins and all the styles in between. Take a look at the latest images and inspiration!