Plumbing tips for the novice!

Whether you are a homeowner or a tenant, at some point you will be faced with a plumbing problem. Even if you call your plumber to handle repairs, it’s worthwhile (and empowering!) to learn a little about the plumbing in your house. We spoke with plumber, Simone Smith (#girlpower!), of David Hayward Plumbing Service (DHPS) for tips on plumbing fixes anyone can do on their own and avoid an expensive service call.

Improving Low Water Pressure

Low water pressure is usually most obvious at your sink faucet. The first thing to check is if the low water pressure is affecting both your hot and cold water. If it is, it is most likely due to dirt and deposits in the aerator. Calcium deposits and sediments slowly build up in the faucet aerator and gradually reduce the water pressure. The aerator is located at the front of the spout (see photo). Simone says:

1. Screw off the aerator

2. Clean and dirt/grime out with water

3. Screw the aerator back on.

You should immediately see an improvement in your water pressure.

Stopping a Running Toilet

Everyone should make themselves familiar with the sound of a running toilet. Quickly addressing a running toilet can reduce significant water loss and prevent water pump burn out. Stopping a running toilet is one of the easiest plumbing fixes:

1. Take the cover off of the toilet’s tank

2. Make sure the flapper at the bottom of the tank is flat and not leaking.

3. If the flapper isn’t flush, reach down and adjust it (the water in the tank is clean)

You may not be sure whether your toilet is leaking. To test whether it is, Simone says:

1. Take the cover off of the toilet’s tank

2. Mark the location of the water level with a pencil

3. Turn off the angle valve (see last month’s article on shut-off valves)

4. Leave the valve off overnight

5. Check water level in the morning. If it has dropped, there is a leak.

Changing a Toilet Flapper

Your water quality (well water versus fresh water) and chemical additives to your toilet tank can impact the condition and life span of your toilet flapper. Flappers on toilets should be changed out on a scheduled basis for maximum efficiency. To change your toilet flapper, Simone says:

1. Turn off the toilet’s angle valve

2. Unhook the flapper from the flush valve and from the trip lever

3. Attach the new flapper to the flush valve

4. While it is laying flat, life the chain to meet the trip lever

5. Count down 2 or 3 chain lings to compensate for the length of the connector

6. Reconnect the chain to the trip lever

7. Turn the angle valve back on and check that all functions correctly

Clearing a Slow Draining Sink 

A slow draining bathroom sink is pretty common. Often, the pop-up drain that is used to stop up the sink collects hair and soap or toothpaste scum, and to help the drain flow smoothly again, the debris must be cleaned out. One chemical free method is as follows:

1. Remove the pop-up stopper. If it doesn’t lift right out, it is being held in place with a nut attached to the drain just under the sink and can be unscrewed by hand or with pliers.

2. Clean the debris and hair from the stopper and use a wire bent with a hook (like a clothes hanger) to clear the debris from the drain.

3. Run hot water down the drain to help clear out any remaining scum and to check that the clog is gone.

4. Reinstall the pop-up stopper.

These tips should be able to help you address basic plumbing concerns in your home. If you have anything more serious, always contact a plumbing professional to assist.

Sharika Tucci is the managing director, lead property manager and broker at Masterkey Management Ltd. She offers her clients over a decade of real estate and property management experience spanning various property types including commercial, residential, condominium, arable, recreational and social use properties. Follow Masterkey Management on Facebook @masterkeymgt, Twitter @SharikaTucci or

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