Emergency Plumbing Repairs

Your plumbing system is powered by water pressure and gravity. Knowing how it works can help you in a plumbing emergency.

Your plumbing system is powered by water pressure and gravity. Knowing how it works can help you in a plumbing emergency.

Life is good! Everything is going well...until you have a PLUMBING EMERGENCY! Then everything becomes frantic as you try to minimize water damage and restore plumbing services to your home asap. The Fix-It Club can help you face emergency plumbing repairs with guidance and confidence. Common repairs made easy!

Plumbing System Repairs

Most plumbing problems occur at a fixture or inside a pipe. The overall plumbing system, the pipes and fittings, seldom cause problems.

  • If a pipe leaks or breaks, turn off the water supply to that pipe or to the entire house, then repair the pipe .
  • If a faucet or appliance leaks, shut off the water supply to it, then repair it (see the Fix-It Guide for faucet or for the specific appliance).
  • If a drain won’t drain or drains slowly, see the Drain System Fix-It Guide.
  • If a fixture or pipe gets clogged, see the Fix-It Guide for the specific fixture or appliance.

See Plumbing System Repair for more information and tips.

Pipe Repairs

Household plumbing pipes are installed in walls and under floors during construction. They carry fresh water to kitchens, bathrooms, utility rooms, and so on. A separate system carries waste water from a sink or toilet to the main drain and out of the house to the sewer or septic system.

Pipe is available in cast-iron, brass, copper, galvanized steel, and plastic. Fittings are connections between pipes that allow pipes to turn or attach to a fixture such as a faucet or water heater.

How the fittings are installed on pipe depends on the material. For example, copper pipes are soldered together or joined with compression or flare fittings. Plastic pipes are joined with plastic screw-on fittings or PVC cement. In addition, transition fittings can be used to join plastic and metal pipes.

See Pipe Repair for more information and tips.

Faucet Repairs

A faucet is a plumbing fixture for drawing water from a pipe. Household faucets use simple valves that control the flow of water. There are several types of valves–compression (sometimes called stem-and-seat), disk, ball, and cartridge are the most common. Outdoor faucets typically are compression or a long-stem compression design called a freezeless sillcock. Faucets also use different configurations of levers and handles to open and close the valves. That’s why they look different.

Faucets are fed from below by hot- and cold-water supply lines. Shutoff valves in the lines can be turned off while you’re working on a faucet.

To repair a faucet, you first need to know what kind of valve is inside. Start by identifying the brand and, if possible, the model. You can then take this information (or the removed faucet) to a plumbing supply store or home center for repair parts or kits. If you’ve kept the owner’s manual for the faucet from the last time it was replaced, you’ll have brand, model, and even parts information you need.

See Faucet Repair for more information and tips.

Toilet Repairs

A toilet is a bathroom fixture that usually consists of a water-flushed bowl and seat. Two mechanisms operate simultaneously when a toilet is flushed: a flush valve and a fill (ball cock) valve. Tripping the flush handle raises the flush valve, releasing water from the tank into the bowl. The rushing water creates a siphoning action in the bowl that forces wastewater down the drain. As the tank empties, the lowering water level lowers a float that’s connected to the ball cock. As the float falls, it operates the fill valve inside the ball cock. Meanwhile, the flush valve closes itself after the water drains from the tank. With the fill valve open and the flush valve closed, the tank fills and the rising water lifts the float. When it reaches a preset level, the float closes the fill valve in the ball cock. At that point, the tank should be full and ready to flush again.

See Toilet Repair for more information and tips.

--Dan "The Fix-It Man" Ramsey

Fix-It Club


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