When to DIY and When to Call a Pro

Know What to do for Yourself and When to Call a Plumber

Your home’s plumbing might seem like a complex, confusing system, but by taking a few minutes to review how to do some common tasks, you can save yourself time in the long run. There are some projects that you want to turn to a professional to get done, though. For all of those times, Sarkinen plumbers in Gresham are on hand to serve your residential or commercial needs.

First Things First

Before you start any job, make sure that you’ve got the tools that you need. If you don’t have them when something breaks, it’s best to call in a professional first, then go get what you need for next time. A DIY repair kit should include, at a minimum:

  • A plunger for working out stuck items
  • A plumbing wrench, a large cast-iron, adjustable wrench with a wide jaw for opening pipes
  • Teflon tape for running over the threads of pipe
  • A flashlight for seeing in the dark

Common Toilet IssuesPlumber repairing a toilet

Has the toilet ever kept running for minutes at a time after you flushed? This is a fairly common issue, and it’s also a fast fix. In all likelihood, the chain that runs from the handle to the flapper is caught on the lever inside the toilet tank. This prevents the flapper from closing completely and keeps water flowing out rather than filling up the tank. To fix this issue simply lift off the top of the tank and follow the arm on the inside from the handle down to the chain. If the chain is tangled, simply work the knot out and let go. The flapper should close and the tank will fill up in a few seconds.

Clogs are another frequent annoyance. Depending on the source of the clog you can often work it free with a plunger. Sometimes the blockage is farther in or more tightly packed than a plunger can handle. Your options include flexible snakes that you insert through the toilet bowl and down the pipe. Then simply pull it back to drag out stuck material, or chemical cleaners. Note that some chemicals can discolor the finish of your toilet bowl.

If you’re unable to reach the blockage with a snake, it’s likely that the blockage is farther down. Your best bet in this situation is to call in a plumber who has the diagnostic tools to find the clog, as well as the equipment to isolate and extract it. If you’ve already used one cleaner and haven’t dissolved the mass, don’t use a second cleaner. Chemicals can react with one another, which might lead to further damage or even injury.

Everything and the Kitchen SinkPlumber repairing the pipe under a bathroom sink

Losing a wedding ring down the kitchen sink drain is a common plot for sitcoms and movies because it happens a lot in real life. This can be startling, but it’s something that you can fix in just a few minutes, so long as you remain calm. Turn off the sink and don’t let anything else go down the drain. Make sure to close off the supply line that sends water to the faucet, then get an adjustable, open-jaw wrench.

You’re going to look under the sink for a curved section of pipe. This is called the P-trap, and your wedding ring or other item is probably stuck at the lowest point of the curve. Use the wrench to loosen the fasteners at the end of either section of the P-trap. Make sure to support it while you’re getting it off so that you don’t end up spilling out the contents of the trap on your floor. Gently tip out the trap into a bucket and sift through what comes out to find your lost item.

If you’ve got a leak from any of your exposed pipes, you might be able to fix that yourself. Just remember to always shut off the supply of water to any pipes on which you’re working. Damaged lines that require sealing or replacement are usually best left to professionals to fix. In the case of large-scale leaks that cause damage to your home or business, the benefits of using a plumber far outweigh the costs. These include:

  • Licensed professionals have many years of training and practical experience under their belt
  • You’ve got a life to live, including work and social obligations; calling in a pro can save you hours or days, depending on the project
  • Quality plumbers guarantee their work

Preparing for Winter

In the Pacific Northwest, winter is always coming. Cracked pipes can lead to thousands of dollars worth of repairs down the line. Protect your home by winterizing as much of your plumbing as you can. Install hose bib protectors on all of your outer hose spouts. These styrofoam caps have a strap that connects them to to your spigot and seals them up against the exterior of your home.

Running water freezes far less readily than still water, so once the cold weather hits allow your faucets and showers to run at a trickle so the flow of water doesn’t solidify and burst your line. You can also install insulation around exposed pipes in your basement to shield them from the cold. Secure the foam with zip ties to keep it in place.

As water freezes, it expands. If this happens and causes your pipes to break open, it’s time to call a plumber immediately. If you’re able to turn off the main supply, do that as soon as possible to keep further water from leaking in. While you wait for the professional to arrive, clear out as much of the affected area as you can in order to save your valuables from water and to make it easier to access the pipes.

Your plumbing provides your home with fresh water for cooking, cleaning, and bathing. It’s an essential system that you want to do your best to care for. With these tips in mind, do the best that you can to care for your system on your own. When the problem goes beyond the scale of these issues, make sure to call Sarkinen for fast, professional service that’s backed up by years and years of experience and thousands of satisfied customers.