Home Remedies for Plumbing Problems

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home remedies for plumbing problems

The clanging of pipes, slowed draining of a sink, and tubs that fill with water are just some of the issues that arise when dealing with plumbing. When the thought of hiring a professional sends you running to the bank, take a moment to assess the issue. You never know when home remedies for plumbing problems can save you time, money and gray hairs.

Plumbing Home Remedies

When the plumbing is on the fritz, there is some reason to worry – lots of professionals charge $100 just to pay a visit to your home. In your lifetime, you will face at least one plugged drain, clogged toilet, frozen pipe or another common malfunction. However, with home remedies for plumbing problems, you might have a better chance fixing the issue on your own. Convenient approaches include:

a) Food Coloring:

If you suspect a leaky toilet, you can use food coloring to test out your theory. Make sure you have clear water in your in-tank bowl (this means remove any sanitizing tabs you may have – like the blue ones). Add food coloring to where there is a rich color inside the tank. Wait 30 minutes and if you see some of the coloring in the bowl, then you know that your toilet is leaking.

b) Red Powdered Drink Mix:

Powdered drink mix can be used to test whether or not you have a leaky toilet on your hands. First, remove anything with color from your in-tank bowl (such as Tidy Bowl blue tablets). Add powdered drink mix with a red color to your tank – enough to produce a rich color. Wait ½ hours and if you detect any coloring in the bowl, then your toilet is leaking.

c) Stinky Toilet Smell:

If you smell a funky odor coming from your toilet bowl every time you flush, then you may have a bacterial overload. Usually, this type of thing happens in hot, humid conditions. To kill the bacteria, pour several cups of household bleach into the toilet tank’s overflow tube. This is the tube that is sticking up about ½ inch above the water. The bleach will flow through the rim holes and into the toilet bowl – killing any odor-causing bacteria that are hiding. Flush the toilet to send away the bleach.

d) Straighten Sink Hose:

If your kitchen sprayer just dribbles and seems sluggish, it could be a sign that the hose that feeds water to the sprayer is kinked. Check under the sink to see if the hose is straight. Untwist or unpinch any visible issues. Sometimes, you may have to disconnect the hose in order to straighten it out. You will find the hose connected to the faucet by a hex nut (has six sides). You can loosen this with a pair of locking pliers.

e) Tighten Hot Water Valve:

If there is water coming from under your dishwasher – take a deep breath. The remedy to this problem could be as simple as tightened the hot water valve. Remove the screw holding the handle and take off the slip-on covering. Tighten the packing nut with the wrench if you see any signs of a leak. You may have to refer to your manual to pinpoint the appropriate parts of the dishwater.

f) Soda Bottle [1]:

When you don’t have a plunger on hand for a clogged toilet, cut an empty 1.5 liter plastic soda bottle in half. Jam a broom handle into the spout and secure it in place with duct tape. This plunger will only help for a couple of tries and is not meant as a total replacement for a regular plunger.

g) Towels:

To stop the potential damage that an overflowing tub may cause – run for the linen closet and sop up the water with your oldest towels. Wring out saturated towels over the sink or in the toilet. Follow up by using a fan or dehumidifier to dry the room faster.

h) Moist Rag:

To pinpoint where your pipes are freezing before they burst, take a moist rag and swab along the pipes. When you locate the frozen spot, frost will form.

i) Hair Dryer[2]:

Once you have found a frozen spot in your pipes, you can use a hair dryer to thaw out the liquid. Using a slow approach is better. Set the hair dryer on high to elevate the temperature. Start by thawing the ice in your frozen pipe on the side that is closer to a faucet. This means that the melting ice will have somewhere to drain. Gradually work the hair dryer from the faucet side back towards the frozen area.

j) Allen Wrench:

This little L-shaped tool can save you tons on money when you think you need to call a plumber to come take a look at your jammed garbage disposal. Keep one under the skin and when you experience problems – follow the directions in your manual to fix it yourself.

k) Plunger:

Keep in mind that using a plunger is far safer for your pipes than using the chemicals in liquid drain cleaners, which actually eat away at your pipes.

l) Say ‘No’ to Flushing Baby Wipes:

The baby wipes that claim to be ‘flushable’ are also one of the main reasons pipes get clogged. They just don’t break down in the system like toilet paper does[3].

m) Pliers:

How many people have dropped their ring down the sink and thought it was gone forever? Before calling a plumber, you could solve the issue yourself. To retrieve a valuable that is stuck in your drain pipe – first turn off the water immediately to prevent any water washing the item out of reach. Open the cabinet located underneath the sink and find the P-trap – it is the U-shaped piece of pipe that connects the vertical pipe that runs from the sink to the horizontal pipe that goes into the wall.

Put a bucket under the trap. Loosen the large threaded nuts that attach the trap to the other pipes. Some people can do this with their hands, while others will need a pair of channellock plier. Pull the trap off with a forceful tug and let it fall into the bucket if needed. The trap will be full of dirty water. With gloved hands, empty the trap into your hand (over the bucket) and find your ring or other item. Reassemble the P-trap, and make sure that you do not overtighten the nuts.

n) Boiling Water:

To unclog a kitchen drain, use boiling hot water to dislodge and dissolve grease, bits of food and other gunk. Boil a kettle of water and pour it down the sink to cure sluggish drains and clogs. This remedy will also work to free up a clogged bathroom sink or tub.

o) Baking Soda:

Pour one cup of baking soda into the drain and follow with a flush of three cups of hot water. The water will activate the baking soda, which creates a more slippery (yet slightly alkaline) substance that has a better chance of dissolving and moving a clog along.

p) Baking Soda and Vinegar:

The combination of baking soda and vinegar creates a reaction that frees a kitchen drain. Put ½ cup of baking soda in the drain, and then add ½ cup of plain white or cider vinegar. Cover the drain and let the two chemicals work their magic. After several hours have passed, flush with hot water.

q) Hot Salt Water:

Add salt to a boiling pot of water to clear drains of unwanted substances that cause clogs.

r) Metal Hanger:

Sometimes, taking apart a metal hanger will create a wiry tool that can fish out pieces of cloth and clumps of hair that can be clogging a sink or tub drain. Flush the pipes with hot water after pulling out unwanted materials from your drain.


[1] Five Minute Fixes by Reader’s Digest; pg. 113.

[2] https://brightnest.com/todos/safely-thaw-a-frozen-pipe

[3] http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/15/nyregion/the-wet-wipes-box-says-flush-but-the-new-york-city-sewer-system-says-dont.html?_r=0