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Plumbing Plunders: When to Fix it or Call an Expert

Posted by on Friday, January 11th, 2019 at 10:46am.

When You Should Call a PlumberWhen you own your own South Calgary home, it helps to be handy. But even someone who is all thumbs may be able to navigate some plumbing issues without too much trouble with the help of a wrench and YouTube.

Plumbing is the most common cause of do-it-yourself disasters in the home so it pays to be careful at the first drip of errant water.

Do it Yourself or Dial a Pro?

There are minor problems that every Calgary homeowner should know how to fix. Just as you wouldn’t call an electrician to change a light bulb, there are some jobs that don’t require a lot of skill.

Examples of these kinds of situations include:

The Toilet is Running

If you constantly hear that noise of water running through pipes in your home, first make sure the dishwasher, washing machine, water softener or garden hose isn’t running. Eliminate those, then take note of when the toilet might have last been flushed. It’s one of those minor annoyances that is noisy and wastes water. Your water use shows up on your monthly utility bill, and a running toilet can actually be a considerable contributor to your monthly water usage.

Jiggling the handle is the first thing to try. What this does is it reseats the flapper at the bottom of the tank. If you take off the top of the tank and lift the ball mechanism ever so slightly, that may stop the flow of water. The ball mechanism may have failed and a replacement kit can be purchased from the hardware store. This is far cheaper than calling the plumber.

The Faucet is Dripping

Whether it’s your kitchen sink, bathroom sink or bathtub faucet that’s dripping, the sound can drive you crazy. You’re not losing as much water as you would with a bathroom toilet, but a constant dripping faucet can also leave hard water stains on your fixtures. If the drip has just started, you may be able to fix it by replacing a washer. Try that before you call in the troops.

The Drain is Clogged

Without a doubt, hair will clog a drain in your bathtub and even your bathroom sink. Then more goop gets stuck in the hair and it’s a slimy mess. If you have kids, who knows what else is down there. If you can’t remove the plug mechanism in the sink or tub to get at the clog, fill the basin with hot water and use a plunger. It might take five or ten minutes of plunging – don’t give up after the first few motions. Make sure the plunger has created a seal around the drain opening.

No luck? Then you can try vinegar and baking soda. Yes, the same two items your child uses in a science experiment to create an active volcano. Next, pick up drain cleaner at the store and follow the manufacturer’s directions, in a well-vented room.  Next you might try a drain auger, a handy tool that plumbers also call a snake. As a last resort, call out the big guns – the professionals.

When Calling a Plumber is Preferred

You watched the videos on how to install your dishwasher or seat a toilet in your new Calgary home and it looks pretty straightforward. But one false move and suddenly it’s Niagara Falls in your basement. If you are changing a hot water heater and you’re not a licensed gas fitter or plumber, or there are burst pipes behind a wall, don’t risk it.

How to Find the Right Plumber for Your Needs

When looking for a plumber, start by checking licensure, certification and experience. Not all communities require plumbers to be licensed, but if yours does, then the plumber you hire should definitely have a license. Look for a plumbing business with a reputation for excellence. If you're not sure about their reputation, check their website for testimonials and reviews. Seek out businesses that have been given awards and local certifications. Get referrals from friends or family, if you know someone who has used a plumber recently. 

If you're having a plumbing emergency, you'll likely require help from a plumber who offers emergency services, so look for these services on the plumber's website. If you need specialized services, like sewer cleaning, check for a plumber who offers these services. Finally, call the plumber you're thinking about hiring to inquire about rates and availability. If the plumber is affordable and is available in a timely manner, hire them!

Water damage is bad enough, but there’s another very expensive consequence of water damage. Mold. The subsequent chain of events when you try to cut corners by doing it yourself certainly outweighs the benefits. All in all, if a project seems way over your head, don't attempt the fix or installation. For all the small things, though, you may be able to save yourself some money with a little research and hard work.

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