If an influx of family and friends took over your home this holiday (or are still occupying the guest room), you’re pipes may be experiencing some, uh, stoppage from the volume of food, waste and items not suitable for flushing. When the craziness dies down, you’ll want to tackle plumbing issues right away. By taking stock in a few key tools and tips and gaining some basic plumbing knowledge, you can avoid having to call a plumber and save a few of those already tight, post-holiday dollars.
- Know your pipes’ limits. Understanding how your plumbing works will help you to better diagnose a problem and either solve it yourself or resort to calling a professional, if necessary. Invest in a do-it-yourself book on plumbing to help “un-complicate” your home’s plumbing system.
- Use the correct tools. A good plunger is a must for both toilets and sinks, and should be tried and exhausted before resorting to other means. A plunger will unplug most clogs, especially in the toilet, but there is a right way to use one: When plunging, compress the plunger slowly, then pull it vigorously toward you on the upstroke. This draws the clog upward.
- Opt for a snake. If the plunger isn’t doing the trick, another option to try is a snake. Made of bendable steel, a snake is maneuvered into a drain with a crank handle that can sometimes be attached to a power drill. It can reach clogs up to 25 feet away and break them apart with a gentle twist or tug. While this may sound like advanced plumbing, a snake is extremely easy to use and will cost you about $30.
- Use caution with chemicals. If elbow grease and conventional methods aren’t solving the problem, you may need to try a drain-clearing chemical. Most of these are made for hair and grease, but will do the trick on a slow-moving kitchen sink, too. Just be careful not to get hurt when you use them and keep them away from children. Follow the instructions on the bottle exactly to avoid damaging the pipes.
- Turn to a plumbing pro. Some plumbing problems are caused by a bigger, more complex issue, so if your efforts aren’t making things any better, calling a pro is the next best route. A good plumber should be able to identify the problem and take the necessary course of action. Check your local phone listing for plumbers in your area and be sure to ask questions about licensing, insurance, fee structure and experience when you call.