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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.

plumberAnything 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 conquer:

replace toilet, wax ringThis is the wax ring that acts as a seal between the toilet and the floor. Photo: Ken R, Flickr

1. Replacing the wax ring of a toilet bowl
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.

sink, p-trapThe p-trap is the curved pipe that leads from your sink to the wall. Photo: Corbis

2. Installing a new p-trap
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.

sink, faucetA faucet aerator is a simple, smart way to save water. Photo: Getty Images

4. Installing an aerator
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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  • vicvod

    Report spam! Don't Just give it a negative vote,REPORT IT!

  • Hildie

    My new toliet "turns on" - runs for about a minute about every hour or so. There is NOTHING wrong with the insides says my fixit person. What is this and can it be fixed. I am assuming that I am wasting water.

  • Dex

    Your problem is most likely the "flapper", the rubber thing covering the large hole iin the bottom of the tank, is not sealing properly. It may not be lined up correctly oe sometimes 'new' ones have an imperfection that will not allow them to seal. Almost a sure bet it's the flapper.

  • Hugh Jassol

    Hildie, you need to consult another "fixit person". The only reason it would "turn on" every hour is because you are losing water - a leak. If it is a tank-type unit, it is probably leaking at "the flapper", the valve that closes after a flush. Granted, it may be a very small leak but even a small leak can amount to hundreds or even thousands of gallons of water wasted per year. Since it's new, I would tell the installer that I want it repaired or replaced, period. There is no toilet on the market that is designed to waste water. You "fixit person" is wrong. Good luck.

  • phil

    Add a little food coloring to the top tank if the flapper is leaking the food coloring will show up in the bowl. this will help find the problem

  • Trent

    Call the manufacturer. When I called American Standard, described the problem and gave the model details; they shipped the replacemennt assembly without charge.

  • Henry in MI

    I believe that the author made an error or was not clear in the section about snaking a drain. If you are trying to clean out a clog in a drain line, you use an auger. This is what is called a snake by most people. The ones that are 20 or 25 feet long will reach most clogs, Have lots of rags or paper towels handy if you use one because they are messy when you pull them out. A closet auger is a special kind of snake that is used to remove clogs in a water closet. This is what most people now call a toilet or commode. The porcelain toilet in your house has a P-trap built in. The closet auger is made to get out things clogging that P-trap. If you have young kids in the house, the odds are good that you will need a closet auger at some time. This may well be soon after a kid has used a toy boat in the toilet to play "submarine". If the closet auger does not work to clear the trap, you will probably have to proceed with a variation on changing a wax ring or call the plumber.

  • Sam G.

    I am a licensed master plumber and have a few comments. Many plumbing projects are diy,
    (which I encorage) however a little studying before you turn off the water is recomened. I also strongly recomend dealing with an an actual plumbing supply house over a "big box store" for quality parts and reliable advice. Hint: take a picture of the problem or needed part. preferibly with a tape measure in the photo. I will save time and multible trips. Also, a closet auger is a snake specifacly used for clearing toilets. A small hand crank snake is very useful, and the "feel" give you feed back.

  • Ellen Bray

    If your bathroom sinks run slow, use small plunger to clear the slowdown.

  • Mr. Hume Repares

    One cup of regular household bleach poured in your bathroom drains monthly will keep them flowing. Most clogs are hair strands with soap particles that have attached to the hair to cause the clog. Pour the Bleach in and let it stand overnight and in the morning just flush the drain out by running the water. The process will cause an odor will the Bleach eats away at the hair/soap clog so you may want to open a window for ventilation. No need to buy the expensive brand name bleach either as the cheaper store brand has the same percentage of chloride. While some people may object to this for enviormental reasons it is far better and nore effective than the regular consumer Drain cleaners that begin with "D" and end in 'O" which contain harsh chemicals that could also damage your piped with continued use. I have used Bleach for years on my home and Apts and I have never had a problem.

  • Tom

    Be very careful when tightening the bolts on the toilet flange. If you tighten them too much you will break the flange on he floor and then you have another roblem

  • Bob

    It's a good idea to remove the water from the toilet before lifting the toilet from the waste water drain.
    After turning the supply valve off, flush, to remove water from the tank. Use a cup to clear as much of the water as you can from the bowl, then use a rag to sop up the rest.

  • 12 Comments / 1 Pages

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