5 Plumbing Repairs Every Homeowner Should Know

While the pleasures of homeownership are great, there will invariably be repairs along the way, especially when it comes to your hard-working plumbing. Some issues, such as fixing broken sewer lines, should certainly be handled by a pro; others, fortunately, are basic do-it-yourself jobs—no special tools or skills required. Check out five of the most common problems you’re likely to encounter and learn how to make short work of them with these plumbing repairs.


Condensation on toilet tanks—the kind that ends up dripping into puddles on the floor—generally occurs after taking a long hot bath or a steamy shower. That’s when temperature and humidity levels in the bathroom are high, but the water in the toilet tank is still cool (between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit), causing condensation buildup. Picture how a cold beverage develops droplets outside the glass on a sizzling summer day; the same thing is happening with your toilet tank.

To prevent the pesky problem, this plumbing repair involves installing an anti-condensation tank liner. You’ll find them in kits at DIY stores and plumbing-supply outlets for less than $20. The kit includes instructions and a large sheet of flexible foam, which you’ll cut to fit the inside of the tank. Depending on the brand, the liner will come with a peel-off backing or separate adhesive for installation. You’ll need to drain the tank and let it dry out before starting. Once the liner is securely in place (you may need to wait overnight for adhesive to set), it will form an insulating barrier between the cold water and the outside tank, and puddles will be a thing of the past.


Removing a sink trap—a P-, J-, or S-shaped pipe that connects to two other pipes beneath the basin—is often the key to common plumbing repairs like unclogging a sink, because that’s where most clogs lodge. Or if someone drops a ring or other valuable down the drain, you’re likely to find it caught in the trap. Follow the steps below to remove, clean, and replace a trap.

1. Position a pan beneath the plumbing pipes under the sink to catch the residual water that will drain out when you remove the trap.

2. Locate the trap that connects to the pipe that drops straight down vertically from the sink drain and the horizontal pipe called the “waste arm.” The trap is threaded on both ends and held in place with nuts. No need to turn off the water supply to the sink, just tell family members not to use the water while you’re working.

3. Loosen both nuts that secure the trap by twisting counterclockwise. You can often do this with your hands, but if a nut’s really stuck, use an adjustable pair of pliers—just go easy to avoid breaking the nut.


The plumber who originally installed your sink applied caulk around the edge to keep water from seeping between the basin and the countertop. Over time, however, this semi-solid waterproof sealant can deteriorate, harden, or crumble, allowing water to seep into the cabinet below, which can damage stored items and lead to mold growth.

To re-caulk the area around the sink, purchase a small tube of 100 percent silicone caulking that’s transpa