Plumbing jobs can turn off even the most courageous DIYer. After all, who wants to deal with a burst pipe and a flooded bathroom? We're here to tell you: Some plumbing projects just sound scary -- but they're totally doable.
Anything he can do, you can do too. Or at least you can try. Photo: Getty Images
"What is your least favorite DIY task?"
When I posed this question on Kathy's Remodeling Blog
, the majority of my readers (32%) voted that hanging drywall (called sheetrock in some areas of the country) is their least favorite DIY task. Their second least favorite task? Plumbing
. 22% of my readers dread tasks of the H20 variety.
I can understand the drywall/sheetrock aversion. It's messy and takes a lot of artistry to get even a basic project to look good. But the aversion to plumbing probably doesn't stem from the idea that it's difficult, but rather because it seems scary. And yes, maybe a little gross.
Still, if you want do as much around the house as you can (DIYing saves money and builds confidence!), it's time to lose your FOP (fear of plumbing).
Here's a list of 5 not-so-scary plumbing jobs that you can
1. Replacing the wax ring of a toilet bowl
This is the wax ring that acts as a seal between the toilet and the floor. Photo: Ken R, Flickr
If you've ever replaced a toilet, you know that there's a wax ring that sits between the bottom of the toilet and a metal gasket, sealing the joint where the toilet meets the floor. If that wax ring degrades or otherwise stops doing its job, you'll get water leaks. A wax ring replacement is pretty cheap -- about $5 -- and the job is just as painless. Simply turn off the supply water to the toilet, unbolt the toilet, lift it up, replace the wax ring, and bolt the toilet back down again. In fact, if your toilet is due for an upgrade, go ahead and replace the whole toilet
while you're at it. The biggest obstacle will be if the nuts on the bolts holding the toilet to the floor are rusted in place or otherwise impossible to remove. In that case they may need to be sawed off. But hey, give it a try before you call in a pro.
2. Installing a new p-trap
The p-trap is the curved pipe that leads from your sink to the wall. Photo: Corbis
A p-trap, named for its curved shape, is a portion of pipe that prevents sewer gases from escaping through your sink, and catches objects that fall down the drain. For such a useful piece of plumbing, the p-trap is pretty low-maintenance and DIY-friendly. You can rescue something from your p-trap
or replace the p-trap
in a few easy steps. Or you can be proactive by installing this handy contraption: a p-trap that theoretically never clogs
3. Re-caulking a tub
Now you may ask yourself: Is caulking
really a plumbing job? Heck yes it is! Caulk is integral to the sealing of plumbing fixtures and the containment of water. Around the tub, it creates a barrier to keep water from getting behind the tile or backer and into the wall, which can promote rot and lure pests. Silicone caulk creates a watertight seal, so it's best for plumbing applications. But it also has a reputation as a difficult product to work with; it's messy and hard to remove. But just because silicone caulk is stubborn doesn't mean it's scary. The process of removing and replacing caulk requires just a few tools -- namely a utility knife and a caulk gun -- and little technical skill. I suggest cutting the tip of the caulk tube at an angle and use an inexpensive caulk gun to squeeze it out slowly and carefully, using your finger to smooth it out. The verdict? This job may require some elbow grease but the results will be well worth the effort, for years to come.
4. Installing an aerator
A faucet aerator is a simple, smart way to save water. Photo: Getty Images
An aerator screws easily into the opening of a faucet, where it goes almost unnoticed while saving water. How? It adds air (in the form of tiny bubbles) to the water to make it seem more buoyant; essentially, to make it seem like there's more water coming out the faucet.. It's kind of like beating an egg until it froths. According to Earth Easy, faucet aerators can cut water consumption by up to 50%
. If you've already got an aerator on your faucet and the water flow seems wonky or weak, just take the aerator off and rinse off the collected minerals. Then put it back, extend your right arm up, bend it at the elbow, and give yourself a pat on the back.
5. Snaking a drain
Why is it that once we've used Drano
a few times to no avail, we feel the need to call in a plumber to unclog the drain
? If you've got a seriously clogged drain that won't respond to liquid clog remover, use what's called a closet auger
to snake your own drain. When you turn the handle of this twisty metal coil, it snakes its way into your drain, twisting and turning around bends in the pipes, and pushing aside whatever is there causing you grief. An auger costs around $30. It won't clear every clogged pipe that comes your way, but it's worth a try.
Do you do your own plumbing? Give us your tips and advice!
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