Plumbing Basics: Easy Bathroom Fixes for New Homeowners

By Craig Donofrio

Posted on September 9th, 2022

illustration of a woman fixing a sink

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As a homeowner, it’s always good to know how to fix common issues. Even if you aren’t very handy, there are there are some plumbing basics you can troubleshoot without having to call a plumber.

From a leaky faucet to a toilet that won’t stop running, here are some basic plumbing homeowner tips that will help you fix basic plumbing problems.

Fixing Leaky Faucets

Leaky faucets are a nuisance, but luckily – the most common cause of a consistent drip is also an easy fix. If your faucet is leaking, the first thing you should check is whether or not the fixture is screwed on tight. If a handle gets loose, you can end up with a drip.

If that’s not the culprit, check to see if the washer inside the faucet needs to be replaced. To check, turn the water off from below the sink and take the fountain head off with a wrench.

Find the washer, and if it looks weathered, take it with you to the hardware store and get a replacement. If the washer is in good shape, feel free to poke around and see if you can identify anything else that could be the cause of the issue. As long as the water is turned off, you won’t make a mess.

Unclogging Drains

A clogged drain is almost always the result of debris getting down your drain and getting stuck there. Before you go with extreme chemical methods, unscrew the drain stopper and clean out whatever debris might be in there. It'll be gross, so grab some gloves.

For a non-chemical cleaning solution, you can sending a cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by three cups of white vinegar. This combination works well to break up minor clogs, and it may cause enough of a disturbance in your drain to get it running again.

If that doesn’t work, put water in the sink and use a plunger. Make sure you have enough suction around the drain hole before you start. As a last resort, you can try using a bottle of chemical drain cleaner, or a plumbing snake (about $25 at your local home improvement store and a good tool to have) to bust up the clog.

If all these attempts fail it may be time to call in a professional.

Fixing a Running Toilet

A toilet that won’t stop running usually means there is a problem between the flapper (the part that tells the tank when to stop refilling) and the handle. If the chain holding the flapper has a kink in it, the flapper won’t be able to close all the way.

To see what’s going on, open the toilet tank and look inside. You may see an easy fix, such as a twisted chain. If that’s not the issue, try flushing slowly a couple times to see if you can identify another problem. If nothing obvious stands out, turn off the water to the toilet and drain the tank and poke around to see if you can find an internal piece that’s loose or broken.

If you do find one, you can order a complete set of internal replacements parts and can install them yourself using easy-to-follow instructions.

Changing a Shower Head

You don’t need a plumber to change a shower head. In fact, you most likely won’t even need to shut the water off. Simply purchase a shower head of your choosing, and unscrew your old one. If it’s really stuck on there, you may have to use a wrench for leverage.

Screw on the new shower head, make sure it’s tight, and the job is complete! If the shower head leaks for any reason, remove it and wrap the threads with plumber’s tape before re-securing the new head.

Basic plumbing fixes can save you a lot of money, and as long as you turn off the water, you aren’t going to make any major mistakes. If you aren’t sure how to do something, ask a friend or watch an online tutorial.

But if the job is just too time consuming or requires a specialist's touch, hire a local contractor.

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Posted in Home Improvement, Homeowner Advice