The home’s plumbing system tends not to get much attention until things are going wrong, but consider it handles both the water supply and waste lines, it’s an important part of our daily lives and comforts. When things do go wrong, the first impulse is to try and call a plumber and get things fixed with a minimal fuss. This isn’t a bad practice. Some of the most complex operations in home improvement are plumbing related, and there’s a reason why plumbers are specialized the same way as electricians are—there’s a lot to know.
Saving Money On Your Plumbing Needs
The thing about this is plumbing can get expensive real quick. First, you have a service fee just for the plumber’s time. Then, you may have their time of travel factored into your bill. Follow this up with labor costs, which are roughly a third of all plumbing costs. And this all takes place before you pay for your service in the first place! As a result, it’s tempting to put your DIY skills to the test when it comes to plumbing.
Even if you plan on using a plumber for most of your home issues, it’s a good idea to have a few tools on hand for your own. These can make the difference between managing an issue until a plumber comes and panicking because you don’t know how to handle that pipe or other issue. Here’s a basic run-through:
- Plumber’s or pipe wrench.
- Basin wrench.
- Seat wrench.
- Water meter key.
- Drain snake.
- Plumber’s putty.
- Teflon tape.
All of these items are relatively inexpensive and easy to store, perfect for an emergency plumbing scenario. Now, let’s talk about some of the things you can do yourself.
Installing a new showerhead can take place for a number of reasons, whether you simply want to change things out or your current showerhead is beyond repair. This is one of the easiest things that you can do yourself. Simply unscrew the old one from the shower arm, clean off the threads, wrap some of that Teflon tape around it, and screw on the new showerhead. Just make sure that the new showerhead you bought fits the shower arm, and you should be able to swap things out in no time at all.
When It’s Too Much
As mentioned before, plumbing is one of the more difficult areas of home maintenance to do yourself, if it is even possible to do so. As a result, you always want to have a plumber in mind in case the task becomes too much for you or things go wrong. Some potential signs things are getting out of hand include:
- Low water pressure
- No hot water
- Pipe blockage
- Burst pipes
- Gurgling in the toilet or sink while not in use
- Hearing water in pipes when not in use
- Slow draining
- Frozen pipes
- Odors of sulfur or sewage
- Staining and deposit buildup of water
Any of these are cause for concern. In addition, you’re better off going to a plumber if you plan on doing any kind of major overhaul such as moving or adding appliances. Messing up in this area can not only leave your bathroom out of commission, but you’ll have to get a plumber to fix it anyway down the line, and chances are this will cost more than having them handle the issue in the first place. You may actually be able to save in other ways while having a plumber work. For example, let’s say you have a leak and bring a plumber in. Are there perhaps some not-as-urgent issues that you’re having that need to be done? Examples of these may include a faucet that needs installing or a slow draining sink. It may work out for you to include that in your plumber visit rather than do each thing separately. Remember all those fees we mentioned in the beginning? Better to pay them once and get everything done.
Rachel is an Austin blogger, educator, mom, wife, young breast cancer survivor writing about health, saving money, and living a happy life in Austin, Texas.
Rachel has written for HuffPost and Hometalk and has been featured on KXAN, Studio 512, Fox 7 Austin, and CBS Austin.