Helpful Info
Quick Fixes for Leaking Pipes
Unclogging Bathtub Drains
Prevent Clogged Air Conditioner Drain
Toilet Repair Tips To Keep In Mind

Quick Fixes for Leaking Pipes
It's a nightmare that most Cocoa, Cocoa Beach, Melbourne, Melbourne Beach and Brevard County homeowners hope they only have to dream about and never experience - a pipe suddenly springs a leak and water starts spraying. Fortunately, even though your first thought is "Oh my Gawd, what do I do now," there are lots of ways to deal with this situation.

The main thing is, don't panic. First, turn off the water supply to the leaking pipe. This may be at the fixture supply valve in front of the leak or at the main water supply valve itself. Shutting off the water will stop the water flow and give you time to think. If the plumber can't get there for a couple of days or you don't have time to fix it yourself, you actually do have a number of options to do a quick fix until the pipe can be properly repaired.

First, figure out where the leak is actually coming from. Is it a pinhole or has a pipe split? If it's a run of copper, here are some quick fixes - depending on what you have available.

Temporary Repairs

Remember, none of these are permanent fixes, but they will allow you to turn the water back on until you can get the pipe fixed more permanently.
  • Stick a pencil point into the hole and break it off, then wrap the pipe with electrician's tape. Smear some plumber's epoxy repair putty over the tape to make sure it doesn't leak. Let it set for half an hour and turn the water back on.
  • Wrap a piece of rubber (like an old inner tube) around the pipe over the hole, and then use a C clamp and small blocks of wood to clamp the rubber wrap tightly in place. If you have them, hose clamps around the rubber covering the hole could also be used to keep water from leaking.
  • Don't have any old rubber that can act as a repair? Cut a piece of garden hose long enough to cover the hole in the pipe plus two or three inches on each side. Slice the garden hose lengthwise and position it over the hole in the pipe. Once again, use hose clamps to keep it in place and stop water from leaking.

Permanent Repairs

These fixes take a little more time and some planning, but once you're finished, you've got a permanent repair for your leaky pipe.

  • Install a pipe clamp specifically designed to fix leaking pipes. These clamps have a rubber gasket attached permanently inside the clamp, which itself is designed to fit around the leaky pipe. Simply place the clamp over the hole and tighten the integral screws, holding it in place and making a permanent seal. Pipe clamps are available at home stores.
  • Another alternative is to use flexible/braided metal tube with compression couples on each end to provide a permanent fix. A significant advantage of this repair is it will allow you to not only fix a small pinhole leak, but it can be used to fix a longer split pipe. Because the repair tubes are flexible and will bend, they can even be used to repair a leak in a pipe elbow. The metal tubes are available in number of lengths so you should be able to fix your pipe wherever it's holed. To install the braided metal tube, you're going to have to cut out the damaged section of pipe, so be sure to drain all the water out of your pipes. Next, center the repair coupling against the damaged section of pipe and mark the water pipe one-inch in from each end of the coupling. Cut out the damaged pipe at the marks, slide the compression couplings onto each end of the water pipe, and attach the repair coupling. Tighten the compression fittings and turn the water back on to check for leaks.

Any and all of the above quick fixes will get you back in business quickly if you ever need to deal with a leaky pipe. Anyone living in a home with copper pipes can be thankful that leaky pipes happen very seldom.

In older homes where galvanized pipes were used for plumbing, leaking pipes will unfortunately be much more common. Since galvanized pipes rust from the inside out, you can't tell what kind of condition they are in by looking at them. However, when one starts leaking, it's logical to expect that others won't be far behind. Laying in a good supply of pipe clamps might be a prudent investment.

Unclogging Bathtub Drains
A blocked or clogged drain is a pain, but it doesn't mean that you need to call a plumber. Most clogged drains can be easily cleared by using things that are around the house or just a few inexpensive tools.

All drains have a similar construction. At the bottom of the drainpipe is a curved section of pipe called a trap. Under sinks this trap is shaped like an "U", while most bathtubs have a slightly different shaped trap called a "P" trap, since it's shaped like the letter "P". The curves in the trap are there to "trap" some water in the drain line, and prevent sewer gases from coming up the pipe and smelling up the house. Over time, however, the traps will sometimes get blocked with things like cooking grease or food particles (in kitchen drains) or hair and soap scum (in bathroom sinks). Slow running drains are partially blocked, and drains that don't drain at all are obviously totally blocked.

Clearing Out a Blockage

The first step in unblocking a bathtub drain is to look at it and see if you can see what's blocking it. In bathtubs, often a build up of hair and scuzzy soap scum can actually close up a drain. If you can see hair in the bottom of the drain, you can often just reach in and pull the clog out. Since that's not a lot of fun, you might want to try bending a wire coat hanger to hook onto the clog to pull it out. Alternatively a pair of tweezers might work, or even a pair of needle nose pliers.

If you can't see the clog to pull it out, your next step is to try plunging the drain. A plumber's helper - plunger to some of us - didn't get its name without good reason, and it is one of the first tools a pro would use to clear a blocked drain. Put enough water in the bathtub or sink to cover the bottom of the plunger, block the overflow outlet with a rag, put the plunger over the drain, and push down and up five or six times. The pressure should clear any clog and open up the pipe. Lift up the plunger and the water should quickly drain away. If it doesn't, try plunging again - you might have just moved the blockage down the pipe where it got stuck again.

Note: On some bathtubs the drain stopper is attached to the overflow plate. In order to plunge the drain, you need to remove the overflow plate and the drain mechanism. The overflow plate is usually held in place by two screws, and after you remove them, you can gently remove the overflow plate and the drain mechanism at the same time.

If a plunger won't clear a blockage, a "snake" - a long flexible steel cable wound on a handle - is the next level of escalation. In a sink you just feed the snake down the drain, but on a bathtub you need to feed the snake down through the overflow plate opening. Start by feeding about 3 feet of the snake into the opening, turning it as you push it forward. You will feel some resistance as you work the snake through the trap under the drain, and the turning helps to move the head through the trap. The snake should either break up the clog by pushing its way through it, or your turning will hook the end of the snake onto the clog and you can pull it out.

Once the snake is through the trap, move the cable back and forth through the drainpipe while still turning it. You may actually feel the clog when the snake hits it. Try running some water down the drain while moving the snake in the drain. If the clog is gone, the drain will run free. You may have to repeat this process a couple of times to get the drain cleared out, since some clogs are more persistent than others.

What About Chemicals?

Some people think using chemicals to clear a drain is an option. However, any chemicals that will dissolve a clog (usually grease based) are highly caustic and damaging to the environment. No professional will ever use a chemical to clear a drain for exactly those reasons.

Keeping Drains Clear

Clearing a blocked drain isn't a lot of fun. It's much better to prevent a clog from happening in the first place. Here's some tips on how you can keep your bathtub drains free flowing.

  • Use strainers in all your drains to stop hair from going down the drain. It's easier to clear out a strainer once a month than unblock a drain every six.
  • Don't just drop small pieces of soap down the drain assuming they will dissolve and wash away. That's how soap builds up in a drain.
  • Once a month, pour a kettle full of boiling water down the drain. This will melt any grease (body oil) and wash it away before it can build up. (Don't do this in a toilet; the boiling water could crack the porcelain).
  • Every three months or so, pour a half cup of baking soda in the drain then slowly add a half cup of vinegar. Let the mixture sit in the drain for a few minutes and then rinse it away by running lots of hot water down the drain. This will not only keep your drains free running, but clean smelling as well.

Prevent Clogged Air Conditioner Drain

There are many reasons why an air conditioner drain may become clogged. The drain pipes may get clogged with dust, sludge or mold. Getting a professional to help clean out the drain can be an expensive solution as you may have to do so often. Unclogging an air conditioner is important to prevent drips and from completely shutting down. If it is left clogged over a period of time then it may lead to irreversible damage leading to replacement of expensive parts.

Why Does the Air Conditioner Get Clogged?

If you have had an air conditioner for a long time then it is likely to get clogged at some point of time. The dust particles, mold or other particles start collecting at the bottom of the pipe. At some point the particles will collect in a place and cause a blockage. The condensation in the pipe is not enough to completely clear out the drain. Once the blockage is in place the water will not be able to drain out causing the air conditioner to leak.

How to Clean a Clogged Air Conditioner Drain?

Cleaning out the drain yourself is not difficult and you can do this yourself easily. Make sure that your air conditioner is switched of completely from the main line. Inside the air conditioner panel you will find a drain pan that will be filled with water if there is a blockage. Clean out this drain pan completely until dry. Next locate the drain pipe and unclog the bottom of the pipe. Make sure that the pipe is sticking out of the ground and not embedded into the ground. Dig out the pipe if it is under the earth as this could be a reason for the blockage. The pipe should allow the water to run free at the bottom. You can use a vacuum cleaner to ensure that the bottom of the pipe is free of restriction. You can also use the pressure of water to push through the restriction in the pipe. You can reconnect the panel and start your air conditioner once again. Leave it on for some time to make sure that there is no more leakage. If these methods do not help, then seek help from a professional.

Preventing the Clogging

You can easily prevent your air conditioner from clogging by following a maintenance technique once or twice a year. You need to access the drain and you may need to remove the cover or coil to do this. There may be a PVC cap on top of your drain pipe that you have to remove by hand to access the drain. Take a gallon of warm water and let it run through the drain to clean out any accumulated dirt. Do this slowly.  You can also add a bit of bleach into the pipe to remove lime scale or grime. Make sure the drain pipe is good quality as that goes a long way in preventing clogging.

Prevent Clogged Air Conditioner DrainToilet Repair Tips To Keep In Mind
Every year, around 80,000 gallons of water are wasted due to undetected toilet irregularities such as leaks. The sad part is that most households do not seem to worry about sewage. They spend a lot of time and money maintaining landscape or their living rooms but they do not spend as much on toilet maintenance. The need for toilet repair happens in the most unexpected time. Only then will we realize the importance of maintenance.

In most cases, toilet irregularities may be remedied by a good “tune-up.” Here are some toilet repair tips to keep in mind.

Toilet repair tip 1: If you are using the old ballcock refill valve, you can adjust the water level by bending the arm. Remember that the arm should be high enough to facilitate a complete flush. However, the water should not go beyond the top or else the tank will overflow. Ensure that you follow the water level mark of the tank. To avoid overflowing, set a ¼ allowance between the water level and the overflow pipe.

Toilet repair tip 2: If the problem is caused by the rubbing of the float and other parts, adjust the float arm to the sides. If you feel that the float lacks buoyancy, find out if it is waterlogged by unscrewing and shaking. If the situation is bad or if the float is waterlogged, you may consider replacement.

Toilet repair tip 3: The more modern tanks use plastic valves. There are many ways to adjust water level in newer tanks. If the tank comes with a hand nut, turn the nut in a clockwise direction. Doing so will raise the water level. If you want to lower water level, simply turn the nut counterclockwise. Some modern tanks come with an adjustment rod or a sliding pinch clamp.

Toilet repair tip 4: Before replacing your flush ball, ensure that you have tried stopping the leak by doing a few minor adjustments. Replacement can be costly. Have your plumber check the situation first before purchasing anything.

Toilet repair tip 5: The guide arm should always be centered over the seat. The rule is that if the arm drops the flush ball, it should drop directly into the seat. If the ball is not on its proper location, feel free to make the necessary adjustments. However, if you’re not confident with your skills, consider hiring a plumber to assist you.

Toilet repair tip 6: Water can be routed into the tank and not into the bowl if the refill tube is out of place. In situations like this, you will hear weird slashes when the tank is being refilled. Ensure that the refill tube is directed into the overflow pipe but should not be below water level.

Keep these simple toilet repair tips in mind. Most toilet irregularities are caused by minor repairs. Instead of calling your plumber right away, try these tips and see if you could work things out by yourself. However, if the situation is severe, it would be best to hire the services of professional local plumber to ensure sound and fast toilet repair.