Plumbing Tools and Basics Every Homeowner Needs Before Tackling a Plumbing Emergency

plumbing terms, plumbing service in Charlotte area

New homeowner? Still not totally comfortable with home improvement projects? If you’re about to tackle your first plumbing project, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got the plumbing tools necessary. You will also want to arm yourself with some basic plumbing knowledge so you don’t make a mess of things. Get the basics down before you have to respond to your first plumbing emergency!

Homeowner’s Plumbing Tool Kit

Head out to the local hardware store and collect the tools you’ll need to take care of any plumbing emergencies that may arise.

  • Find a five-gallon bucket and invest in a tool caddy or tool belt. You’ll use that bucket to hold old parts and for a quick save if a leak springs while you’re working. The tool caddy or belt will allow you to locate and transport the tools you need for each project.
  • Invest in two plungers: a forced cup and a regular plunger. You’ll find they offer two different types of plunging strengths and will help when you're dealing with clogged pipes or toilets.
  • Get yourself a good wrench set. You need an adjustable wrench and a multi-wrench set.
  • Make sure you have a pair of medium sized slip joint pliers.
  • A multi-bit screwdriver and an assortment of Allen keys will make your life easier.
  • Buy a roll of duct tape, leak sealing tape, and Teflon tape. These can be used for temporary fixes and to seal leaks around threaded connections.
  • Pick up a series of blind caps. You’ll need them if you ever have to fix a broken joint.
  • Keep a roll of heavy duty paper towels and a flashlight with your tools. They’ll come in handy.

Things You Should Know Before a Plumbing Emergency Happens

Plumbing emergencies don’t give you time to go online and research what you need to do. If water is pouring out of a burst pipe, you need to know how to shut off the water immediately, not in ten minutes. That’s why you will want to take the time to learn the following plumbing basics before an emergency strikes.

Locate Water Shut Off Valves

You need to know how to shut off the water, both locally and the main shut off to the whole house.

  • Local shut off valves, also called isolation valves, are located at each fixture. These shut off valves will stop the flow of water to a specific sink or toilet or appliance. You can shut off water to a toilet and still have water running to your dishwasher. Locate each of these isolation shut off valves and test them, turning them on and off. You should test them once a year to ensure they work, they stay lubricated and usable, and that the people in your house understand how they work.
  • Whole house water main shut off valves are essential for burst pipes or major water line repairs. They are typically located either in your garage, outside the home by the side of your house, or in a cement or metal box by the curb. Find your shut off valve and make sure it works. If it is corroded such that it is stuck, replace the shut off valve with a newer plastic coated shut off valve that won’t corrode.

Get to Know Your Water Heater

  • Learn how to turn off your water heater. You need to locate both the water source (and accompanying shut off valve) and the on/off switch. If it’s a gas heater, you can turn it off by switching to “pilot” position.
  • Check your water heater for problems such as any sort of hissing or whistling noises (watch out for a leaking pressure valve – you can get scalded), and obvious damage such as corrosion, denting of the tank or leaking. Check your water heater once a year, when you drain and flush it, to make sure you stay aware of problems before they escalate.

Inspect All Other Appliances That Use Water

As a new homeowner, you’ll want to inspect your refrigerator, dishwasher, garbage disposal and washing machine. Look for cracked hoses and any signs of leaks or damage. You need to know what’s normal and what’s not so you will catch plumbing problems before they get out of control.

Need a Charlotte Plumber?

Plumbing project out of your scope? Plumbing emergency caught you off guard? Give us a call and we’ll help you figure out what’s going on. We look forward to working with you!

plumbing terms, plumbing service in Charlotte area

Article Summary

Quick question & answer: What are the best things I should know before a plumbing emergency happens?

Before a plumbing emergency happens, you need to know how to turn off local shut off water valves that go to a specific appliance and also how to turn off whole house water main shut off valves. Learn how to turn off your water heater. Check your water heater for hissing, whistling noises, corrosion, denting of the tank, or leaking.

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