As a homeowner, you will need to respond to a number of issues that arise — and have to feel comfortable handling it alone! Sometimes that will involve something as simple as switching out the batteries on your fire alarm or fixing a door that cannot close completely due to faulty hinges.
But the more serious problems that you will have to deal with, such as any kind of issue with your plumbing, will require a little more thought and planning to ensure that no more damage is done to the system.
Be realistic with yourself about your capabilities in the DIY arena. Although you can feel confident tackling some issues independently, you don't want to take on a job that is more than you can handle. You need to be able to answer how familiar are you with your bathroom’s plumbing.
When it comes to your plumbing, the first thing you will want to do is create an emergency plumbing kit that will be able to help you out in any situation. It doesn't need to have every item that a professional plumber might have, it just needs to contain the tools that you will need in order to get the job done well and as quickly as possible.
Emergency Plumbing Repair Kit
If you haven't already purchased these tools for yourself, now is the time to do so! Run down to your local hardware store and pick up the following items:
- Toolbox: Although it might seem silly, investing in a toolbox to house all your equipment is a great idea. You should keep all your equipment in one place so when something goes wrong, you’ll know exactly where to reach.
- Plunger: A plunger is the first line of defense when faced with a clog. Contrary to popular belief, it is not solely used for unclogging toilets. This staple item in every bathroom creates a vacuum used to unclog drains, sinks, toilets, and bathtubs. The vacuum is formed when the rubber cup attached to the wooden or metallic handle seals the drainage point and sucks out the debris and materials causing the clog.
- Pipe Wrenches: These wrenches have toothed jawed designed for gripping and turning threaded pipes and pipe fittings. They are used simultaneously, with one wrench is used to grip the pipe and the other to turn the fitting. Typically, they are sold in several sizes from 12 to 18 inches.
- Adjustable Wrench: An adjustable wrench is useful to fit a range of nuts, bolts, and fittings that have a flat side. It is required for working on compression fittings, supply lines, and other fixtures that have hex-shaped nuts. You should have a 10-inch wrench in your emergency plumbing repair kit, which can open up to a 1 ⅛-inch span.
- Slip Joint: This smaller piece is vitally important for wastewater plumbing, like that found under kitchen sinks. The slip joint creates a water-tight seal for non-pressurized drainage, with adjustability to aid installation. The slip joint is composed of a gasket that fits snugly on a pipe end, with a threaded nut behind the gasket. This pipe end fits loosely into another pipe with a flange for the gasket to seal against and threads for the nut to clamp the gasket to the flange.
- Pliers: One of the most multipurpose DIY plumbing supplies, pliers are used to grab, pull, twist, hold, tighten or loosen pipes and fittings. To properly grip and turn pipes, nuts, and fittings, you’ll want to invest in a pair of rib-joint pliers. This type of pliers has an adjustable jaw that allows it to firmly grip objects from small to large.
- Multi-Bit Screwdriver: This is needed for a range of plumbing tasks, from changing faucet washers to disassembling plumbing-related appliances, screwdrivers come in an assortment of sizes and types. Invest in two or three sizes each of standard, flat-bladed screwdrivers and Phillips screwdrivers.
- Teflon Tape: This type of tape can be useful when securing connections. The tape is often wound on the threads of pipes, valves, faucets, showerheads, and other plumbing systems to make the connections tight and leak-proof. Just make sure it’s used as an extra precaution rather than a permanent fix.
- Closet Auger: This clog-clearing tool is specifically designed for unclogging toilets. It has a long steel cable to grind through and clear the toughest toilet clogs when a plunger fails you.
- Rags: Keep a bunch of rags on hand in case you discover a leaking pipe. You’ll want to use them to soak up as much water as possible while you turn off your main water shut-off valve. Additionally, purchase a fire-resistant cloth to protect combustible surfaces if you end up having to solder pipes with an open-flame propane torch. Follow all best practices to ensure you keep you and your family safe, including having a fire extinguisher handy.
- Epoxy Compounds: This is one great resource to use as a temporary fix for a leaky pipe. The putty material can create a seal for pipes or facets.
If Your DIY Plumbing Supplies Aren’t Enough, Call John C. Flood
Once you have put this emergency plumbing kit together, set it in an easily accessible place for the next time you face an issue with the plumbing in your home. Rest easy knowing that you will be well-prepared to take on whatever challenges lie ahead of you.
Be advised that using harsh chemical solutions to take on a clogged drain can do more harm than good. The remedy will eventually begin to break down the pipe itself, leaving you with a much bigger issue. It’s best to let a licensed plumber take care of all your emergency plumbing issues if your DIY plumbing supplies fail you.
If you are facing any issues with your plumbing system, be sure to schedule an appointment with the John C. Flood team. Not everyone can fix a leaky pipe without a plumber.
We encourage homeowners to sign up for one of our maintenance plans to receive an annual plumbing inspection and keep your home’s plumbing healthy. If your emergency plumbing kit fails you, get in touch with our team. Call John C. Flood at (703) 752-1266 or schedule service online.