Perhaps one of the less enjoyable aspects of home ownership is the continual maintenance required for keeping a home in excellent condition. Providing your home with the maintenance it needs—including all cleaning, repairs, and replacements as soon as they become necessary—can and will result in a better-kept, higher value home over time, and is the key to experiencing a high-value investment. 

When it comes to your home’s plumbing installations, maintenance, and repairs, it’s always best to count on a Chicago plumbing company for a professional outcome. Expert installation can help to prevent costly problems before they start or become worse, just as regular, expert maintenance will ensure that many plumbing disasters are avoided. DIY plumbing projects by homeowners should be avoided unless you’re experienced and have access to the proper equipment and installation techniques used by the professionals. 

There are times, however, where DIY fixes and installations are perfectly safe and acceptable. In this guide, our experts at Four Seasons Plumbing and Sewer share some helpful plumbing tips to remember when fixing simple issues that come up from time to time. With these ten plumbing tips, you can swiftly solve problems before or right as they come up—along with regular maintenance sessions from your trusted professional Chicago plumber, of course. 

Hand Tight is Just Right 

DIY plumbing projects seem to be all the rage right now—which is a great thing, as long as the work is done correctly. A rookie mistake many homeowners make when handling their own plumbing is tightening their fixtures too tightly. As any professional plumber will tell you, “hand tight is just right.” 

In other words, tightening connections—such as bolts, screws, and pipes—can cause them to break or become damaged. Instead of over-tightening them during the installation or repair process, take care to gently close them without any added pressure. This will prevent future problems down the road. 

Replace Fixtures, Not Pipes 

It’s perfectly fine for homeowners to dive in and replace corroded or non-functional fixtures—like faucets, toilet bowl flaps, and handles. These are usually very simple and easy projects to take on and can help to keep your bathroom and sink areas updated and running smoothly for longer. However, replacing pipes is a job best left to the professionals. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you’ll risk causing major damage to your home if you try taking pipes apart without the proper knowledge, tools, or experience. 

Use Teflon Tape to Prevent Pipe Problems 

Teflon tape—also known as “plumber’s tape”—is a white or yellow, heavy-duty tape material that can be used to effectively prevent leaky pipes. The tape is wrapped around pipe joints before being sealed, securing a tighter fit (and less likelihood that the joint will become loose). 

Invest in a Good Plunger 

You’re nothing without a good plunger—or at least, that’s what we plumbers like to say to homeowners hoping for advice on keeping their plumbing systems well-maintained. Plungers are a dime a dozen, which means that there’s everything available from low-quality plungers, to high-quality ones. 

Do yourself a huge favor and invest in a high-quality plunger. A great plunger will relieve your basic toilet and sink clog issues a good percentage of the time. When it comes to home maintenance, there’s nothing better than handling a clogged toilet or sink by yourself, and a great plunger can make that happen for you (most of the time). 

Unclog the Toilet Without a Plunger 

We just went over the tip on investing in a good-quality plunger. But what if you don’t happen to own a plunger at the moment, or are in-between plunger purchases after throwing out your old one? 

While we firmly stand behind the “get a good plunger” tip, there are some ways to unclog your toilet without one. You can start by using Drano or another chemical to dissolve the blockage or a box of baking soda and a half a gallon or more of white distilled vinegar. Just pour these liquids down the drain, wait up to an hour or longer, and see if you can flush the toilet. 

If that doesn’t work, try using a coat hanger to poke the obstruction (and hopefully break it up or move it) to release the drain clog. You can also use your hand to do this, but make sure to put on a rubber glove first. 

Learn Where the Main Shut-Off Valve Is Located 

It might seem hard to believe, but far too many homeowners have no idea where the main shut-off valve is located on their property. This is incredibly important information to know, and can help you prevent or reduce damage to your home should a plumbing emergency occur (such as broken or burst pipes). 

In most cases, the main valve is located in the basement, in a utility closet, or outside on a utility wall. Turning it off will immediately shut off the flow of water from the house to the pipes, and can prevent the home from flooding in the event of an emergency. 

Quick Fixes for Common Shower Issues 

A very common problem for homeowners has to do with the water pressure in the shower. While this can be caused by a number of factors, the problem usually has to do with the showerhead. 

If your shower is not particularly old or deteriorating, it might need cleaning. You can try removing the showerhead carefully and cleaning the inside by filling it with warm water and vinegar and letting it soak for a while. Minerals in the water can clog the holes, and cleaning it out will restore the water pressure to its normal levels. If that doesn’t work, try replacing the showerhead with a new one. Basic showerheads are quite inexpensive and can mean a cheap and quick resolution to this problem. 

Keep Your Pipes Warm in the Winter 

Freezing pipes can quickly become burst pipes—a costly and very inconvenient plumbing problem. To avoid your pipes from bursting due to cold weather, keep a warm trickle of water running out of the faucets when the outside temperatures dip below freezing. You can also keep your home’s HVAC system set to at least 55 degrees throughout the winter which will help to keep the pipes from getting too cold and freezing over. 

Don’t Ignore Leaking Fixtures 

Whether it’s your shower dripping, faucets leaking, bathrooms running, or another seemingly minor plumbing issue—it’s critical to take care of it right away. Never ignore leaking or running plumbing fixtures, as these can severely affect your water bill (aside from wasting gallons of water every day). 

If you’ve noticed leaking fixtures, look for a simple fix—perhaps adjusting or tightening the fixtures. If you can’t find the problem, call your plumber right away. 

Find Reliable 24/7 Emergency Chicago Plumbing Services 

The last and most important tip of all is to find a reliable, trustworthy plumbing company that can help you with your plumbing emergencies—any time of the day or night. If you’re in the Chicago area and looking for a top-rated Chicago plumber to help you with installation, repairs, and maintenance of your home’s plumbing system, give us a call at Four Seasons Plumbing and Sewer today. 

If you’d like, you can also fill out our online form, and we’ll get back to you with information on how to get started with a free, in-home pricing estimate.