With everyone in Calgary stuck at home for a while, what better time to check that toolbox or basement and do a roundup of your plumbing tools?
You could spring a leak, have a blocked toilet or a dripping shower head at any time of the year but let’s face it – it’s most likely to happen when everyone’s at home and when it can be difficult to call on a professional plumber to fix the problem.
Some problems are too complex for homeowners to fix but others just take a little know-how and the right tool handy.
Every home should have a few basic plumbing tools…
Tools for fixing a blocked toilet
One of the most common and inconvenient household problems is a blocked toilet.
It’s easily done – too much toilet paper, the wrong type of paper, sanitary towels…all can cause a blockage.
The good news is that a couple of easy-to-find and cheap tools can fix most problems.
A flange plunger
A flanged plunger is a long-handled tool with a cup at the end with a rubber flap that folds out from inside. This allows you to create a seal in the tight and curved space in the toilet bowl.
Surface-level blockages can be released by placing this above the “bowl” area of the toilet and, once a seal has been created, thrusting down to force air through the water to dislodge the blockage.
A toilet auger (plumber’s ‘snake’)
Deeper blockages will not be solved by a plunger.
They will require an auger, which is a coiled-up metal cable with a crank. The crank rotates and pushes the cable forward so that it can navigate the u-bend in the toilet until it reaches and clears the blockage.
Tools for fixing a blocked sink or bathtub
A blocked sink is common and may be caused by the same reasons as a toilet blockage – either too much material or the wrong type of material being forced down the sink
The solutions for clearing a blocked sink are similar too.
A cup plunger
A cup plunger is a basic type of plunger designed to work on flat surfaces like a sink.
It has a rubber cup at the end and a straight handle.
The cup is laid flat over the drain and a vacuum created. A downward thrust can usually dislodge a basic sink clog.
A sink or hand-held auger
This is a similar tool to the toilet auger but it is a hand-held version that is smaller and a little easier to manage.
It can also be used to clear hair clogs from the bathtub.
Tools for fixing a leaking faucet
A leaking faucet is a typical household annoyance that is usually fixed relatively easily.
Basic screwdrivers and an adjustable wrench
Every homeowner should have screwdrivers and an adjustable wrench – not just for plumbing needs but for a variety of jobs around the house.
You should be able to change a washer with these. However, if you want to use what the professionals use, try a faucet valve seat wrench and a faucet valve re-seating tool.
They’re both pretty easy to use once you know how to.
A basin wrench has a long shaft and a part that swivels and clamps at the end.
It is used to tighten and loosen nuts on sink faucets, especially in tight spaces.
The main benefit of this type of wrench is that it can reach deep into the narrow spaces behind sinks in order to reach the faucet bolts.
An essential for most jobs
Consider Teflon tape a plumbing tool-box essential.
You’ll need it any time you have to re-attach something like a shower head that you removed to clean or a sink’s tailpiece that you need to seal before attaching the p-trap.
No pipe wrench?
A lot of people still consider the iconic pipe wrench a plumbing necessity.
However, you can safely leave this out of your toolbox as most modern water piping is a form of plastic that doesn’t use threaded joints.
You’re better off with a couple of adjustable wrenches for tightening compression fittings or for removing valve stems.
Save yourself some money!
If you can use a few of the basic tools outlined above, you’ll be a step ahead of most homeowners.
Now is a time not only for DIY enthusiasts to get busy around the home. Almost every Calgary homeowner can educate themselves and learn to fix some basic household issues.
These tips can get you out of inconvenient situations at home and save you an unnecessary call-out charge or paying over the odds for a plumber in an emergency.