Why hire an expensive plumber when you can do these minor repairs on your own? YouTube has a number of detailed video tutorials you can access for free. We've rounded up three of the most common plumbing problems and their simple solutions—along with video—below.
A Dripping Single-Lever Faucet
Many modern sinks have gone from having two knobs, one for hot water and one for cold, to a single lever that controls flow and temperature. These lever faucets can develop leaks when the cartridges inside them that the filter water go bad. Save money by doing the repair yourself (and save on your water bill, too).
Here's how to do it:
1. Go under the sink and find the shut-off valves for the hot and cold water. Turn off both valves.
2. Open up the faucet by lifting the lever all the way up. No water should come out of the faucet.
3. Lift the cap on the lever, remove the small screw you'll see there and expose the cartridge.
4. Pull out the clip on the side of the lever. This enables you to remove the cartridge.
5. Remove the cartridge, put the new one in and replace the cap.
Water Heater Element Needs Replacing
When an element goes bad on a water heater, the heater can leak or stop providing hot water altogether.
Here's how to do it:
1. Turn off the breaker to the water heater and give the water in it time to cool down.
2. The element is located behind the panel on your water heater. Remove the panel, remove the insulation behind the panel, and then remove the safety guard.
3. Look for the broken element. It will have a visible break somewhere on it.
4. Look at the label on the side of your hot water heater to determine the type of element you'll need to buy.
5. Turn off the water by turning the water main valve above the water heater.
6. Turn the nearest hot water faucet all the way on to relieve the pressure on the hot water heater.
7. Put the panel back on to cover the electrical components of the hot water heater, in case water splashes back on them during the draining process.
8. Turn the drain valve at the bottom of the hot water heater to drain it. Drain the water to below the level of the element you're replacing.
9. Disconnect the wires from the element using a screwdriver.
10. Use an element wrench to remove the old element.
11. Prepare the new element for installation by pushing the correct-size o-ring all the way to the base, past the threads. You can find the size you need at AppleRubber.com.
12. Screw the new element in using the element wrench. Tighten it enough to smash the gasket a little bit.
13. Replace the wires, safety guard, insulation and panel.
14. Turn the water on, check for leaks and wait until you've got a steady flow of water coming out of your faucet.
15. Turn the power back on, let the water heater fill again and check the temperature once it's filled to be sure it's heating properly.
A Slow-Draining Sink
A slow-draining sink indicates debris in the plumbing somewhere. Fortunately, the debris is usually nearby and easy to reach with just a large wrench and a container to catch water.
Here's how to do it:
1. Get under the sink and look for the P trap.
2. Put a medium-sized plastic or metal container under the P trap to catch the water that will soon drip out of the loosened piping.
3. Use a large wrench to gently loosen the front and back nuts from the P trap. Be gentle, because on most modern sinks, these are plastic.
4. Water will start dripping as soon as you remove the nuts and loosen the pipe, because some water is always in the P trap. Let it drain into the container until you've got it all.
5. Once the water is drained, use the wrench to remove the two nuts altogether. This will allow you to remove the P trap from the rest of the plumbing.
6. Clean out the P trap. It's common for hair, hair clips, earrings and other debris to get caught in the P trap and slow the draining of your sink.
7. Once the P trap is clean and clear, re-attach it using the wrench and the nuts.
8. Run the water in the sink to make sure it's draining properly. While the water is running, get under the sink again to make sure you've re-attached everything properly and there are no leaks.