Here are some basic tips and tricks to fix up your bathroom without having the call the handy man!
Photo: DIY Network
When it comes to your plumbing, seasoned homeowners know that “little problems” can very quickly spiral into financial migraines. Yuck! So, it’s definitely in your best interests to try and take care of plumbing issues pretty quickly after they pop up. You can hire a professional to take care of your “little problems,” of course. But what if I told you that a little regular DIY maintenance – easy enough for any typical person to do on their own – can save you money and spare you a whole bunch of unnecessary stress?
We’ve been living in a pretty awesome era of information for the better part of two decades now. Learning how to do basic DIY tasks takes just a few minutes of searching and video-watching on Youtube – from the comfort of your desk chair or your smartphone.
Obviously, more complicated repairs may still require professional attention (a little YouTube research isn’t going to make you a miracle-worker). But if you aren’t sure how to fix a leaky faucet, you can have the whole process more or less figured out in 5 minutes – which means you can do it yourself, and avoid the whole process of: 1.) calling an expert, 2.) scheduling an appointment, 3.) waiting on the service, and 4.) paying the invoice for parts and labor. We’re talking fixing your problem within minutes, maybe an hour, versus living with the problem for hours, maybe days.
So, are you ready to strap on your Weekend Warrior boots and get down to business with some DIY plumbing? Heck yes you are! But first, you’re going to needs some tools. Here’s what absolutely NEEDS to be in your plumbing toolbox:
Price: $2-7 for a cup-shape, $10-20 for a flange-shape
If you only get one tool from this list, get this. A plunger is a fast and effective way to unclog your drains and toilet, and is an absolute-must. There are two types of plungers, and while you could get away with just a simple cup-plunger, you may want a flange plumber as well. A flange plumber is a plunger with a big ball shape, as opposed to a flat cup, and is specifically designed to unclog toilets. Cup-shape plungers are better suited to sink drains.
2.) Tongue and Groove Pliers
Also called channel lock pliers, also called locking pliers, also called adjustable pliers, also called pipe spanners, also called water-pump pliers, and much, much more – this tool has as much versatility and utility as it has names. So yes, this is a definite must-have. Ideal for adjusting water pipes, their shape and versatility work with their textured, grippy teeth to firmly grab and tighten fittings, even when they’re a little wet. Got an irregularly-shaped, rusted-on nut or bolt in an awkward place in your plumbing? Tongue and groove pliers to the rescue! Beyond just bathroom maintenance, these tools are super useful all over the house. Get one. Or two.
3.) Plumbing Snake
If your plunger didn’t do the trick, your plumbing snake probably will. Also known as a “drain auger,” this tool features a spoiled flexible coil that can be slowly forced out into all sorts of tight, twisty spaces. Plumbing snakes are a fast way to clean your bathroom faucets and are super portable in manual or automatic models. If you want a real specialty tool, you may also consider a closet auger, which is a plumbing snake specifically designed for unclogging toilets.
4.) Needle Nose Pliers
When you’re working in tight places, like a nest of twisting and turning pipes, the trusty needle-nose plier is your friend. Perfect in a pinch, these tapered tools are great at grabbing hard-to-reach things, and are especially adept at fishing out wedding rings from shower drains (among other things).
5.) Basin Wrench
This tool is specifically made to get those hard-to-reach bolts that attach your faucet to your sink. It’s not the most jack-of-all-trades tool, but for those tough nuts to crack, you’ll be glad to have it. It will definitely save you some time and frustration!
6.) Hacksaw, and/or a Tubing Cutter
Price: $15 to 25 for the hacksaw, $10-20 for the tubing cutter
A hacksaw is a very versatile tool for cutting through metal pipe, plastic pipe, nuts and bolts, and all sorts of plumbing hardware. It should be a pretty familiar tool to most, but it’s an important addition to your toolbox. Be sure to keep extra blades on hand, and while in use, make sure the blade is tense in the frame for heavy cuts. For cutting copper pipe, you’re going to want a tubing cutter. It looks a little like a C-clamp, and it’s probably the single fastest and cleanest way to cut copper plumbing. You’ll find them in standard and mini sizes, depending on how tight of a space you’re working in.
7.) Teflon Tape and PVC cement
Price: $1 for the tape, $4-10 for the PVC Cement
Teflon tape is a great way to get a watertight seal on threaded pipe, and are especially useful for things like showerheads. Wrapping the tape 3 to 6 times around the threaded pipe should ensure a tight seal with no leaks! PVC Cement is used to join PVC pipes for a fast-setting, leak-proof seal. If you need to repair and/or replace PVC pipe, you’ll definitely want this handy.
8.) Caulk Gun
Caulk is used on seams and joints you don’t want water to get through; essentially, it makes appliances like bathtubs and sink basins watertight. But beyond bathroom hardware, caulk guns can be extremely useful both indoors and out for all kinds of sealing to make things air or watertight. This is an easy and cheap bathroom update that can make your bathroom caulk look brand new again! For example, a caulk gun can be used to apply window sealant or to glue in weather stripping. This is a handy tool no homeowner should be without. If you are trying to remove mold from your caulk see our article detailing that here.
So there you have it, some super useful tools you’ll be glad to have in your toolkit! Having a simple kit will help you better repair and maintain your bathroom, and at a fraction of the cost of hiring professionals. However, keep in mind that more complex fixes may indeed require the help of a professional. If something seems like it’s way over your level of experience and aptitude, then please do not hesitate to get in touch with a pro. But for more mundae home fix-it needs, these tools will take you a long way!
This post is brought to you by Trade Winds Imports, purveyors of fine bathroom vanities!
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