Plumbing fixes for under $20

Risk management is not just about insurance. When it comes to your plumbing there is quite a bit you can do to prevent the cost of repairs and the cost of insurance claims on your homeowner policy.

Some tips you might find useful include:

Stinky or blocked garburator

No matter how busy you are it is important to use running water whenever you turn on that garburator. It seems obvious when you think about it - food particles need to be pulled down into the drain once they have been ground up. If you do not use the tap at the same time then the particles will stick to the sides and start to rot. Then you get an unpleasant smell.

A maintenance tip for the garburator is to take a tray of ice cubes and empty them into the garburator to be ground up. This is the one time you do not use running water because you want the ground ice to absorb any food particles that have accumulated over the month. Flush the drain well with running water once the ice is completely ground up.

Broken hot water tank

Have you checked the condition of your dip tube? If this tube is broken off near the top or is corroded then the hot water cannot get to the lines. The hot water tank will only draw cold water through for your use.

How do you check the condition of the dip tube? First shut the water off and then open the top of your hot water tank. You will find the dip tube beside the cold water connection.

Remove the dip tube with a screwdriver. If it appears to be broken or corroded then the local hardware store can supply a new one for less than $20.

Leaking toilet

A quick and easy check is to put some food coloring in the toilet holding tank. Usually five or six drops will be enough. Wait a few minutes to see if the water in the toilet bowl changes color.

If it does change color then you know that yo have a worn out toilet flapper that needs to be replaced. A toilet flapper is a rubber disk that fits over the bottom of the long flush tube.

Remove this flapper and replace with a new one purchased at the local hardware store for less than $20.

Bathroom sink is draining slowly

Most clogs in the bathroom sink are from a toothpaste buildup or hair that has built up into a lump. This slows down the draining of the water.

There is usually a lever that you pull up or down that is located between the hot and cold taps that you use when you drain or fill your sink. This is where the hair and toothpaste usually get stuck.

To remove the clump just push the level down and pull the mechanism up and clear of the sink. If there is a clump attached you will be able to remove it and return the mechanism back to it's normal position.

Blocked shower drain

Most shower drains get blocked by hair. This one takes a homemade tool to fix.

Straighten out a wire coat hanger but leave the end as a curved hook. Next, pry off the grate with a flat butter knife and wiggle the hanger around in the drain hole. You will likely get a big clump of hair sticking to the hook when you pull it out.

Turners Tips thanks Blair Howes, SAIT instructor for these helpful home plumbing tips. Don't wait until the situation is bad enough that insurance gets involved. Claims will almost always involved your paying a deductible and then you lose valuable claims free history discounts. Take control of your insurance.