When you own a home, it’s a good idea to have a basic working knowledge of the systems in place. You don’t need to be an expert at DIY, but it’s helpful to understand how a kitchen sink works for basic fault finding and repairs. If you take the time to develop some basic plumbing skills, there are a number of useful tasks you can complete yourself. And, if you find yourself out of your depth, you can always contact your local certified plumber for expert help. In this article, we will take a look at five basic kitchen plumbing tasks you can carry out yourself with little to no training.
- Locate the Shut-Off Valve
Every day hundreds of gallons of water flow throughout your plumbing system. When a problem occurs, it may be accompanied by a lot of water flowing into your home, and you need to act fast. Many homeowners don’t know how to shut-off their water in an emergency, and water can cause a lot of damage in a very short period of time. So, it’s a good idea to learn where the shut-off valve is beforehand and make sure everyone in the home knows that information too. There are four main areas where you may find the shut-off valve for your home, they are:
- Under the Sink: In many modern homes, the shut-off valve is located directly under the kitchen sink.
- The Basement: If you have a home with a basement, the shut-off valve may be located somewhere along the foundation wall at the front of your property.
- The Water Heater: If you live in a home with no basement, the shut-off valve could be near the water heater or drain plumbing for the kitchen sink.
- The Crawl Space: If you have an older home with a crawl space and a basement and you can’t find the shut-off valve, it may be in the crawl space. This is a hard to reach location, and you may want to contact a professional plumber to install an extra shut-off valve in your basement.
When you locate your shut-off valve, there are two main types, round wheels and lever handles. The wheel valve is like any crank; rotate it to the right until it can’t go any further and it closes. A lever handle is rotated a quarter turn until it’s perpendicular to the pipe, and this will block the flow of water.
2. Learn to Read Your Water Meter
Many people don’t know where their water meter is located or how to read it. This can be very useful to monitor your water usage and to locate any hidden water leaks in your home. Many homes have a water meter located near the curb in a box, or it could be under the sink next to the water valve. There are two main types of water meters; analog and digital. A digital meter is easier to read, and the screen shows the gallons or cubic feet of water consumed. An analog water meter displays the same information, but it has a dial ranging from 0-9 like a clock. The center of the dial has a readout that moves steadily as water is consumed. If you turn off every plumbing fixture in the home, take a reading, wait 30 minutes, and the reading changes, you know you have a hidden water leak. Contact your local certified plumber; they can find the leak quickly and fix it for you.
3. Determining the Water Pressure
The water pressure in your home should be in the 45-80 pounds per square inch (PSI) range. If your water is lower than 45 PSI you will notice that your showering experience is sub-optimal, and your water using appliances may not work correctly. If your water pressure exceeds 80 PSI, showering will feel great, but the extra water pressure may cause damage to your plumbing fixtures and pipes. A water pressure gauge can be used to determine the exact PSI, but most people can tell if their water pressure has risen or fallen intuitively. A drop in water pressure can indicate a formation of scale in the pipe that’s lowered the diameter, or there could be a leak in the plumbing system.
4. Water Heater Warning Signs
A water heater is a hard working appliance; identifying potential issues earlier is a good way to prevent a complete equipment failure and other issues. Here are warning signs that something is wrong with your water heater:
- The water heater is noisier than normal.
- You can’t seem to get sufficient volumes of hot water.
- The water tank is leaking.
- The hot water has a rusty color, it smells bad, or it looks cloudy.
If you notice any of the symptoms, contact your local certified plumber and ask them to inspect your water heater.
5.Take Care of Your Garbage Disposal
A garbage disposal is a significant investment, and it makes sense to protect against damage. Avoid placing items in the disposal that can clog up the unit, such as coffee grinds, eggshells, bones, and other materials. Generally speaking, fibrous materials should be placed in the trash where they belong. If the disposal is smelling bad, you can sanitize it by pouring some baking soda in the drain and following up with hot water. Then run the disposal with cold water, and you should notice that it smells fresher and cleaner. If you have serious issues with your garbage disposal, it’s important to contact your local certified plumber to carry out a professional repair for you.
As you can see, there are a lot of basic plumbing tasks that you can accomplish without formal training, experience, and specialized tools. Understanding how some of these plumbing systems work will help you to know when to call a professional plumber. Changing a washer in a tap or cleaning a basic drain clog is pretty simple, but regular inspections, installations, and repairs are best left to the experts.
If you have a plumbing problem, contact your local certified plumber today.
By Giovanni Longo President Flood Brothers Plumbing
Giovanni Longo is a 3rd generation master plumber who has been practicing his craft and trade in the greater Los Angeles area for well over a decade and a half. A plumbing and hydraulics-engineering innovator, Giovanni’s particular world-class expertise focuses on dealing with challenging sewer system designs as well as resolving complex commercial and residential draining issues. As a certified Flood Mitigation expert, he is also well versed in a wide variety of water damage and remediation solution.