Should You Attempt Your Own Plumbing Repairs?

Many tasks appear simple on paper but include possible obstacles that are not readily apparent to amateurs. This is especially true of plumbing repairs because some residential plumbing projects require relatively few steps and basic tools.

However, there are components of these tasks that are often unpleasant, physically demanding, and sometimes dangerous to health and home. Here are a few examples of seemingly simple plumbing repairs that can vex even the most confident handyperson:

Sink repair

In theory, repairing and replacing sink components is relatively simple. However, you may find some tasks physically challenging or repulsive. 

Changing a faucet

Your sink faucet is connected to both the sink and the hot and cold supply lines, Removing the old faucet requires loosening the hand-tightened plastic nuts that secure the faucet to the sink and disconnect the supply lines with an adjustable wrench. You can then lift the old faucet from the sink and install a new faucet by reversing these steps. 

However, these connections are in a very inaccessible area directly below the faucet, and you must attempt to reach them while lying on your back with your lower spine draped over the edge of a sink cabinet floor. 

When you lift the old faucet from the sink, you will find the remains of old plumber's putty that was used to seal the base of the faucet against leaks. This mixture of old putty, stagnant water, and perhaps some mold must be thoroughly cleaned and the putty replaced before the new faucet is installed. Then it's back to Contortionist Training 101 as you wiggle under the sink to connect the new faucet.

Of course, you may need to remove the sink trap in order to be able to fit under the sink. 

Removing a sink trap

Whether you are removing a sink trap to gain access to faucet connections or simply cleaning out the trap, this is another task that seems to be a breeze to perform. It is connected to the sink drain line by two large nuts that can easily be removed with an adjustable wrench.

 It is the contents of the sink trap that you may find difficult to endure. A sink trap is shaped like the letter "J" and it's curved shape allows it to trap and hold water as it flows down the drain. This standing water can slow the descent of possible clogging agents that are dropped down the sink drain as well as block the flow of sewer gases from entering the home.

Unfortunately, the inner surface of the sink trap becomes layered with a vile muck which, coupled with the standing water, produces a disgusting sight and smell. When removing a sink trap, always remember to hold it as upright as possible to avoid an unintended shower.

Water heater repair

Many water heater repair tasks should be performed by qualified professionals, especially those that involve power sources such as natural gas or electrical connections. Even simple operations such as using the pressure relief valve or draining the tank to curtail rusting should be done with caution.

Pressure relief valve

As water is heated, pressure builds inside the hot water tank. The pressure relief valve, which is a small lever on the side of the tank, should be lifted periodically to alleviate this pressure. This should be done with care, as a quick burst of hot steam will be released, which could result in scalding if exposed skin is in the path of the expulsion.

Draining the tank

Periodic draining of the hot water tank may extend the life of the tank by removing rust buildup. This is done by turning off the valve to the supply line of the tank and turning off the heating component. The water is then drained from a hose connection near the bottom of the tank. 

Although it's obvious, the water inside the tank is hot enough to cause scalding burns. What may not be so apparent is the fact that that tank is insulated to keep water hot for as long as possible, so water can remain dangerously hot even after the power source is turned off.

This is especially hazardous if a hose cannot be used to drain the tank because of distance or elevation issues. Buckets must then be filled and emptied at a separate location, with increased risks of burns from splashing or spills.

While many tasks can be performed by informed and prepared amateurs, some plumbing repairs may require a level of physical fitness or a willingness to be exposed to unpleasant substances that should be left to pros. Know your limitations and pick your battles. 

Contact a company like Rapid Rooter Of Central Oregon for more information and assistance.