Background & Tips for Plumbing: Do it Yourself


Plumbing is certainly a complicated field. There are some who think that there isn’t much to know since it is all just led by pipes. While this may be true there are some very basic issues which can be handled without a professional, nearly all cases require the assistance of an experienced, certified professional.

The water and plumbing system of a home or business is a necessary and vital part of a proper functioning facility. It is one of the most invisible systems, in the sense that until something rocks the boat, it operates behind the scenes, seemingly unnoticed.

Aside from the faucets, the toilets, and perhaps the water boiler switch, we don’t really see the system in action. It is special because, much like the electrical system, it is all internal, in the walls and underground. This can be both an advantage and a disadvantage.

On one hand, with the plumbing and pipes being invisible, this conveniently contributes to maximizing the use of living space. On the other hand, it means that when something does happen to the plumbing system, there is a greater potential that the problem will cause the whole entire system to malfunction, which will affect the lives of those living there more drastically.

When it comes to changing and replacing an ordinary faucet, installing a water filter, or unclogging a mildly-stopped-up drain, even someone who isn’t a professional has a variety of solutions and options. You can find plenty of DIY video tutorials, or try contacting a “phone buddy” who has already been through a similar experience. When it happens to be an easier issue, you don’t always need to call a plumber.

History of Plumbing

The History of Plumbing

Most of us, however, don’t know what really goes on down there. We see that which exists at the surface, but have insufficient knowledge of the inner-workings of the system. So, when a pipe bursts, when a tub needs replacing, or when the water and sewage systems need to be looked at, it is probably best to call a professional. Even in times when you think you can pull it off on your own, remember that there is a good chance that a plumber will be able to do it more thoroughly, in a way which will prevent the problem from making an unwelcome comeback. People before me have said that experience makes a person wise, and this is certainly true when it comes to our home’s pipe network. One wrong move can cause a lot of damage.

The first sewer systems were installed thousands of years ago. At that time, waste and sewage were led to nearby rivers or other water sources, and sometimes towards pits which were dug especially for that purpose. During the industrial revolution, the water and sewer systems advanced immeasurably, and they laid the foundation for what became our modern-day plumbing systems. Even in the 21st century, there are cities who make use of those older systems, like in Paris for instance, where the underground pipes can be traced back to the 19th century.

In the 1990s, the standard sewer systems all over the world underwent an upgrade, and the traditional metal pipes were left in favor of more durable plastic ones. The modern piping infrastructure is more sophisticated, but it still remains relatively gentle and fragile. Why? Because this is a system which is under constant pressure. Because of this, breakdowns and malfunctions due to old age or mishandling are a common occurrence, even with today’s state-of-the-art systems. A system’s certificate of being up to code does serve as some measure of quality and as a kind of guarantee, but even then, problems still happen.

Common Plumbing Issues

Common Plumbing Issues

Okay, so let’s go through some of the most common issues we see with home systems. Remember that even when you opt to take care of it yourself, it is always recommended to read through the user’s manual before taking care of any problems. Furthermore, always remember to turn the main water faucet off first, in order to prevent inflicting more damage on the foundation.

The water won’t flush – We’ve all been there. You push down on the lever or button, and the water won’t go down. Two tools which should be in every home are a simple plunger and a drain snake. These two will be able to solve many local issues. Alternatively, if the problem is not solved, it could be that the problem is with the whole building’s plumbing. In other words, the issue is general and not local. In that case, it is necessary to call a professional.

Standing water or a bad smell coming from the sink or bathtub drain – Another very familiar situation, which in most cases is solved by simply removing the drain cover and cleaning it thoroughly. Hairs, dirt, and other elements are the cause in many cases, and once the drain is cleaned (without the use of sharp tools or stabbing objects) it should be fixed. There are different products which are commercially available in shops and hardware stores. Remember to use gloves and, if necessary, goggles. These products’ ingredients are usually toxic and highly dangerous, and you must avoid contact with these substances with the skin. Incidentally, if you are interested in a more eco-friendly solution, you can use coarse salt and warm (not boiling) water to address this particular issue.

Low water pressure in faucets – Here, it depends whether you are dealing with a single faucet or all of the household’s faucets. If we’re talking about a single faucet, it could be attributed to the accumulation of lime – or possibly some foreign object – which is causing a disturbance to the regular flow of water through the pipe. Using a commercially-available lime remover, or a more natural alternative such as vinegar, citric acid, and the like, you will be able to solve the problem easily. If the low pressure exists in all of the faucets, there is a good chance you need to have your system looked at. As we said, the plumbing system is under immense pressure. If that pressure is not evident when using the home’s faucets, this acts as a red flag, which should alert you to the need of replacing pieces of your infrastructure.

A low or irregular pressure in the shower head – Much like faucets, the shower head is also prone to lime buildup, especially when taking into account Israel’s hard water. Also, it could be a mere broken rubber band. This is a problem which can be solved without a professional (usually), but before you take your shower head apart, you need to make sure the work area is clean and that there are no open drains. One of the most frustrating things to experience is watching, in quasi-slow-motion, as the shower head’s teeny-tiny screw slips from your hand, falls in the tub, and makes its way to the drain, where it disappears forever.

Other Malfunctions

A leaky faucet

A leaky faucet – This is another classic case which doesn’t necessarily require outside intervention. It could be the fault of worn out rubber bands or older parts. You don’t always have to replace the entire faucet! Sometimes one torn rubber band or a loose nut or bolt is enough to make a faucet leak and in those cases, your solution can be found at the nearest hardware store. If, after applying the solution, the faucet still leaks, then you should consider replacing the whole faucet.

Other types of leaks – There is always a chance of leakage in the different types of faucets as well as the toilet’s tank. Before locating the root of the problem and fixing it, it is best to make sure that none of the pipes have burst. The best way to check this – albeit not the most professional – is to shut off the various faucets around the house, including the toilets’, and check your water dial.

If the dial keeps on turning, even though there is no faucet turned on, you could be facing a larger issue. If the dial stops turning, there is a good chance that the problem is more local and that a quick insulation job, or an easy part-replacing job, will fix the issue.

Pay attention – a leaky toilet tank can also be caused by a malfunctioning or unaligned toilet float. A tighter screwing-on of the float’s main bolt could solve this problem, or alternatively, it could alert you to a larger issue than a mere stopped-up tank. Keep in mind that water could spill on the floor, and take precautions when opening up the toilet tank.

These are all very common issues, and there isn’t a home or business which has not encountered one of these problems at some point or other. Sometimes the solution is within your own abilities, and sometimes you will need to call a pro. Take care of yourself and use your judgment. Either way, if there is any doubt, it is best to contact an experienced professional. One phone call can end up saving you a lot of heartaches, expenses, and inconvenience.

The Importance of a Professional Plumber

Call a professional

And, if you do decide to turn to a professional, make it is someone who is certified and able. While it is true that many plumbing issues require immediate attention, not everyone should be permitted in your home. Ask around, get some recommendations, and if you feel that the person who showed up is giving off an air of unprofessionalism, don’t hesitate to go to someone else. The former may charge you for a service call and leave with a bad attitude, but it is better to go with someone whom you can trust than to go with someone who may try and swindle you. As we said, most of us have no idea of what goes on down there, and it is precisely because of that fact that a reliable and experienced professional is so essential.

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