As many of us continue to self-quarantine because of the coronavirus pandemic, some home maintenance issues are easy to overlook. Plumbing problems, especially, are becoming more frequent — and right now, even though plumbing is considered essential work, we may not want a stranger coming into our homes if we can help it.
Ted Puzio, the owner of Southern Trust Home Services in Roanoke, has some helpful tips and tricks for DIY plumbing — and advice for when you really should get a pro’s help.
Can we safely and effectively clear toilet clogs (and other stopped up drains) on our own? Ted says, “Clogged toilets can sometimes be easily cleaned by a homeowner using a compression-style plunger. The best way to prevent clogs in the first place is to be aware of what you’re flushing and use caution about placing wipes in the toilet.” To tackle the problem, Ted says, “Always have an old towel handy. Make sure your plunger has a tight seal on the opening in the bottom of the toilet bowl and give it a strong, direct push downward.”
If that doesn’t fix the problem, then what? “Snaking lines can be dangerous and cause serious injury,” Ted warns. “Be mindful of the equipment you’re using. If the cable itself were to lodge in the drain line, it could possibly snap off inside, break or damage the pipe, or twist around your hand or arm. Dismantling a pipe under the sink will allow the water to drain from the bowl downward, but if the clog is in the wall, it will require a snake to clear it — provided the pipes are not the old-style galvanized type, which has a tendency to clog.”
Running Faucets or Toilets
“The toilet problem can be caused by something as simple as a bad or old flapper,” says Ted, “and that can be replaced easily by watching a YouTube video. Fixing a dripping faucet can be as simple as replacing the cartridge, or it can be as complex as reseating the cartridge seals. They can be pitted or corroded and require a faucet replacement.”
Low Water Pressure
If you have low pressure in a sink, Ted recommends that you “first check the aerator (this is where the water comes out of the faucet), because it may be partially clogged.” If that isn’t it, he says, it could be that the pressure coming from the water line is low or a pressure switch on a well system isn’t working correctly. An old, corroded pipe could also be the culprit.
If your issue needs the help of a large drain cleaning machine, it’s best to call in a professional, says Ted. Also consult a professional for old-style faucets that need to be reseated. And of course, get a pro’s help for anything you’re uncomfortable tackling on your own (or an issue you tried to fix but — ahem — may have made worse).
Southern Trust Home Services is available 24/7/365. “We follow all recommended requirements for COVID-19: we pre-call to confirm no one is sick or has traveled outside the country, follow the six-foot rule, no hand-shaking or other bodily contact with clients, wear masks, and wipe down the areas we touch,” Ted says.
STHM also has a live person answering their phones at any time of the day who can answer basic questions (but for insurance purposes, they cannot make recommendations or guide homeowners over the phone).