For some plumbing repairs in Boston, homeowners can effectively service and maintain their own systems. In other cases, the repair may be too large, complicated or dangerous to attempt on your own. In addition, some repairs require special tools or skills to complete. Today, we’ll focus on the difference between repairs homeowners can do without assistance and help you to determine those repairs that should be evaluated or completed by a trained plumber.

Leaking or dripping faucets, faucet replacements, cracked or leaking toilets and faucet/fixture valve shutoffs are four great examples of repairs that can be completed by the average homeowner and without the need for specialized tools. On the other end of the spectrum, issues that involve sewer line and drain repair (other than a clogged drain) may require special equipment and expertise to complete.
As a general rule, repairs that involve the “clean” side of your plumbing system – that is, the clean water supply – are good candidates for a DIY repair, as long as the fixtures and supply lines are reasonably accessible. Repairs that involve sewer lines, or those that involve specialized equipment like hot water heaters or boilers, are much less likely to be completed successfully by a homeowner, partially because these repairs may involve health and safety hazards, or require specialized tools and skills to successfully complete the repairs. In addition, these repairs may also require interaction with municipal water and sewer authorities, dig permits and other special handling.

For basic plumbing repairs, you’ll want to assemble a “kit” or collection of tools that will assist you in completing basic maintenance and repair tasks. This kit should include one or more adjustable wrenches; a pipe wrench; flat and Phillip’s head screw drivers (including a set of short handled drivers for tight workspaces); vice grips and/or channel locks; a hacksaw; a small diameter pipe cutter; teflon tape; plumbers’ putty; a large capacity bucket; rags or towels; safety glasses and neoprene or heavy rubber gloves; a sink plunger; a toilet plunger and a flashlight or portable/battery powered light source.
Also, as a rule of thumb, if you’re working with older fixtures like sinks or toilets that do not have their own shut-off valves, please do yourself a favor and add one when you do your next repair. All fixtures that use fresh water should have separate local shut-off valves for each water supply line. These valves are generally not expensive. After you’ve installed them, please be aware that they sometimes break in-line. Check the operation of your valves often and replace those that seem difficult to turn or turn with no resistance at all.

Before you begin any plumbing repair, know exactly where your main shut-off valves are and make sure any local shut-off valves work properly. If you’re dealing with a leak or break in a pipe that’s embedded in a wall, you’ll have to open up the wall to get access to the break or leak, and to dry out the area.
Don’t try to cut corners when it comes to drying out the damage. If you re-enclose a wet wall, you’ll soon end up with mold in that space, and that’s a much more difficult problem to deal with. Occasionally, your initial impression of the problem may be wrong. As you dig into the problem, you find that you’re dealing with something much more complex than you’d initially thought. That’s ok; it actually happens all the time. Boston Standard Plumbing can assist, no matter what the nature or size of your problem is. If your problem has gotten bigger along the way, or you need assistance with completing a plumbing repair, please contact Boston Standard Plumbing at (617) 362-0377 and we’ll be happy to evaluate your situation.

Continue reading: When You Should Call a Plumber (3 Examples)

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