The Ultimate List of Plumbing Hacks

Good plumbing is an art, as it is a science. And, even good plumbing can go wrong.

Sometimes you need a plumber. Other times, there might be a trick or two that will get the job done, and save you a nice chunk of change (and time).

In this article, you’ll find every bit of advice a plumber might give you to help manage and maintain your plumbing system along with some general information that may be useful.

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Plumbing Hacks

Understanding Your Plumbing System

If you’re not counting gas lines, the term plumbing system is an umbrella term usually covering two systems:

Water Supply System

Water Supply System

The water supply system is the system that provides water to your home. Most of us use a public water supply system, however, many homeowners in rural areas use their own wells instead.

The water supply can be controlled in the home via supply valves. The main water shut-off is usually near the foundation wall where the water supply enters the home. However, it might be located outside of the home. If you don’t know where the main water valve is located, you should find it before you need it!

You should also find stop valves near any fixtures that use water. You can often find these valves under sinks, beside toilets, behind showers, or in basements. If you notice that your fixtures are missing supply shut-off valves, consider installing water supply valves as they’re useful and can greatly help you during a plumbing emergency or fixture replacements.

Hot water requires one additional step: your water heater. Cold water enters your home through the main water supply and makes its way to the water heater where it is heated before it’s used. There are several types of water heaters, which differ in energy source and storage. Most of us have hot water tanks which heat and store hot water so it’s available as we need it, although tankless water heaters are growing in popularity as a greener and more efficient alternative.

Water supply lines installed throughout your home are often made of copper or PEX, although there are many others.

Drainage System

The drainage system is a series of drainpipe installations throughout your home, connecting all of the drains to your local sewer system. Public sewer systems then carry waste from your home to treatment facilities, while rural areas often use septic tanks instead.

When in use, your drainage system uses gravity to move wastewater through your drain pipes. The wastewater is carried through the slopes in your plumbing system and out of your home. Although fairly simple in concept, your plumbing system uses an ingenious system of slopes, vents, traps, and more, to make everything function properly.

To protect you and your home from sewer gas rising through your drains, P-traps are installed underneath drains, or a similar trap is built directly into toilets. If your plumbing system is used regularly and functioning properly, water should always remain in the trap. This water forms a barricade that blocks the sewer gases and dangerous pathogens from entering your home.

As water flows out of your drain pipes, properly placed vents allow air to enter the pipe which replaces the water as it flows out. Without proper venting, a vacuum would develop in your plumbing system which would disrupt water flow, cause clogs, and draw the water from P-Traps out.

When installing your drainage system, plumbers must abide by strict plumbing codes that take proper slopes and venting into consideration.

Locate Your Water Supply Valves

It’s very important to know the location of your water supply valves, especially your main water supply valve.

During a plumbing emergency, the first step is often to shut the water off.

How to Locate Your Main Water Supply Valve

Independent Valves

Individual plumbing fixtures should have independent supply valves (or water stops), but not always. These independent valves are nice because if you’re experiencing a plumbing emergency with one fixture, you can disable the water to the single fixture. Otherwise, you need to locate the main water shutoff and cut water to your entire home.

How to Locate Your Main Water Supply Valve

Look In The Basement

You will usually find the main water shutoff in the basement of your home, near the foundation where the water supply first enters the home. Follow this pipe to a nearby valve, and you’ve found your main water shutoff. If you don’t have a basement, you can often find the main water shutoff in the crawl space underneath your house.

How to Locate Your Main Water Supply Valve

Check Outside Your Home

If you still can’t find the main water shutoff, you can sometimes find a shutoff outside in the meter box. Somewhere near the perimeter of your property, you should find a cover. Once you open the cover, you’ll see the meter and shut-off. It’s important to keep access to this box available in case you need it.

Drain Clogs

Like most problems, prevention is the best cure. The same is true when it comes to a clogged drain.

Although fairly simple in concept, your plumbing system is intelligently designed and reliable. A good plumbing system that is treated right should give you very few problems.

That being said, most of us will deal with a slow drain, drain clog, or blockage at some point in our lives.

The good news is that you can avoid most clogs by following these tips:

Watch What You Put in Your Drains

Your drain system is designed for wastewater and human waste. Even toilet paper can give you trouble sometimes, and it disintegrates fairly easily. If you avoid putting some things in your drain, you might avoid calling a plumber. Some of these might sound painfully obvious, but some might surprise you.

Grease, Oil and Fat

Watch What You Put in Your Drains
It might be tempting to pour oil down the drain when cleaning your frying pans, but grease and fat can easily get caught in the drain and harden. Grease clogs are some of the most challenging clogs to get rid of, and often require replacing a section of pipe.

It’s best to pour grease into a disposable cup and dispose of it in the garbage when it hardens.

Pro Tip: Don’t be stingy with dish soap. Dish soap is amazing at cutting through grease, and this can help prevent it from building in your drain.

Garbage and Trash

Watch What You Put in Your Drains
Your toilet is not a garbage can. Although it might be tempting to throw a wrapper into the toilet, use the trash can instead.

Feminine Hygiene Products

Watch What You Put in Your Drains
Sorry, ladies. Tampons are designed to not break down when wet. If they get stuck, they’re not going to dissolve easily.


Watch What You Put in Your Drains
The whole point of condoms is that they’re not supposed to rip, tear, or allow liquid to pass. If these get caught in a minor blockage, they can make things worse.

Paper Towel

Watch What You Put in Your Drains
Although we buy them in the same aisle as toilet paper, paper towels are far more durable than toilet paper and can cause a serious blockage in your drain.

Cigarette Butts

Watch What You Put in Your Drains
Cigarette butts can take between a year and a half and 10 years to dissolve when outside and exposed to the elements. They’re not going to dissolve if they’re caught in your drain for a long time.


Diapers are meant to endure water and absorb it. Flushing a diaper can be disastrous.

Dirt and Swept-Up Debris

When you’re done sweeping, don’t risk a clog by dumping it in the toilet.


Watch What You Put in Your Drains
Plumbers make a lot of money because Lego’s get placed in the drain.


Watch What You Put in Your Drains
Hair is surprisingly tough. Use a hair strainer in your shower and bathtub, and don’t clean your hairbrush into the toilet.

Washing Tools

Watch What You Put in Your Drains
Dirty tools often put dirt, grease, and other matter down the drain.

Food Particles and Matter

Remember to scrape your plates into the garbage before you wash them. Food matter can catch in the drain and build into a full blockage, and food like rice can also expand. Remember to use a strainer when cleaning dishes and don’t mush the food down the drain when you’re finished washing. It’s also recommended that you flush the sink when you’re finished washing with a sink full of soapy water.
Watch What You Put in Your Drains

Flushable Wipes and Diaper Wipes

Although some flushable wipes are designed to break down after flushing, the term flushable is often a flashy marketing term. Plumbers are receiving more and more drain service calls caused by flushable wipes that couldn’t flush.
Watch What You Put in Your Drains

Q-Tips and Cotton Balls

Cotton balls and Q-Tips don’t dissolve. Q-Tips go in the garbage, not the toilet.
Watch What You Put in Your Drains

Dental Floss

Dental floss is very tough and resilient. Not only can it get caught, but it can catch other debris and matter.
Watch What You Put in Your Drains

Tissue Paper

Just like paper towels, tissues are far tougher than toilet paper. Be careful about flushing these down the toilet.
Watch What You Put in Your Drains

Cat Litter

There are many waste management alternatives that are designed for cat litter. Your toilet isn’t one of them.


Like diapers, bandages aren’t designed to break down in the water. It’s best to throw these in the garbage.
Watch What You Put in Your Drains

Objects That Unintentionally Fall into The Toilet

If a small object falls into the toilet that is garbage anyway, it’s best to pick it up and throw it out. This includes bobby pins, clips, and other small items.

Excessive Toilet Paper

Try not to be a 10-ply guy. The more ply you use, the more risk of clogs.
Watch What You Put in Your Drains


Bar soap can solidify in your drain. From there, it can catch all sorts of other material.


Certainly don’t dump extra paint down the drain. But even washing paintbrushes in the sink might cause you trouble in the long run.

Drain Cleaning Maintenance

Over time, it’s very common that soap scum and grease will build up in the drains, even if you’re doing your best to avoid it.

Routinely cleaning your drains with simple DIY solutions can help prevent slow drains and drain blockages.

A common trick is to pour ½ cup of baking soda into the drain, followed by ½ cup of white vinegar. Let it sizzle for about half an hour, before flushing it down with hot water. I’d recommend nearly boiling a kettle of water and dumping it all at once, followed by hot water from the tap.


If you have some grease building in the drains, it can be very difficult to get rid of. Plumbers often offer a Hydrojet Service, where they basically pressure-wash the inside of your drains. This does a great job and blasts buildups away.

Due to the high pressure and velocity of the water stream, Hydro Jetting tends to offer a superior cleaning compared to other methods. Some other methods poke holes in blockages and clogs. Hydro Jetting blasts blockages and clogs to pieces, annihilating them and preventing their recovery.

Our plumbers are local drain cleaning experts. Time and time again, our valued customers praise us and give us kudos for successfully completing a job where our competitors failed.

Hydro Jetting Drain Cleaning

Home Drain Cleaning and Drain Clog Hacks

Tricks to Unblock a Clogged Toilet

If your sink is draining slowly or isn’t draining at all, you might not need a plumber just yet.

Try some of these do-it-yourself drain cleaning hacks before booking a plumber appointment.

Tricks to Unblock a Clogged Toilet

If you experience a toilet clog, there are many at-home solutions you can try before calling a plunger. We advise that you prepare beforehand, by laying newspaper or towels on the floor, in case of an emergency.

Before calling a plumber, try one or some of these techniques to unclog your drain:

Wait, Then Flush Again

Wait, Then Flush Again
If the clog is caused by too much toilet paper, oftentimes waiting a few hours before flushing again clears the blockage.

Dish Soap and Hot Water

Dish Soap and Hot Water
You’d be surprised at how effective dish soap can be on clogs.

Pour ¼ cup of dish soap into the toilet, and begin heating up water. I like to use a kettle and bring the water to a hot temperature, but not boiling. Boiling water can crack the porcelain.

You may need to heat many kettles, and pour them into the toilet one after the other. But this process works far better than most of us would expect against regular clogs. However, it won’t help much against blockages caused by hard solids like plastic.

Wet / Dry Vacuum

Shop Vacs can work great against clogs. Empty the toilet bowl as much as possible, then insert the vacuum tube as far into the drain as possible. Block the drain around the vacuum tube with a rag, turn on the vacuum, and hope for the best!

If the toilet clog doesn’t want to go deeper into the drain, it might come back out instead.

Toilet Auger

Toilet Auger
Plumbers often use what is called a plumbers auger, or a drain snake. It’s a long and flexible coil that you insert into the drain, that can follow through the curves of your toilet.

You insert the snake into the drain and begin feeding it deeper. Once you feel the blockage, you twist and push the snake through the obstruction. Sometimes you can also pull the obstruction out.

Use an auger that is designed for toilets. They’re reasonably inexpensive and they can often clear a blockage in the toilet. However, be very careful and follow the instructions. Porcelain scratches very easily, and you can easily damage the inside of the bowl which doesn’t look appealing.

Some people find luck with using cutting a wire hanger, wrapping the end with a rag and tape, and using it as a makeshift auger. This might work, but again, be careful with the porcelain.


The first thing most people will try is a toilet plunger and for good reason! A good plunger will unclog your toilet most of the time!

A good plunger makes a big difference in the exciting world of plunging. You don’t need anything fancy, just a rubber plunger with a rubber lip (called a flange plunger).

Insert the plunger into the toilet at an angle, to allow water to enter the inside of the plunger. Place the flange into the drain so that the lip fills the inside of the drain, and begin plunging. The pressure from pushing combined with the suction from pulling will dislodge most clogs. It can take many plunges before clearing the drain. But remember: don’t go nuts. If the clog isn’t budging and you’re hulk-smashing the plunger, you can break the wax seal or even cause a leak in the pipes.

Some people have found luck using a water bottle was a makeshift plunger. Put the mouth of the bottle into the drain, and push down on the bottle, crushing it and forcing water into the drain. Personally, I’ve never tried this trick.

Also, never use a plunger if you’ve put chemicals into the toilet bowl.

Pro Tip: Wear safety glasses and a face mask. Splashback happens.

Enzyme Toilet Cleaner

Enzyme Toilet Cleaner
Harsh chemical drain cleaners can cause damage to the inside of your pipes, especially if you use them regularly.

However, enzyme waste removal products will break down organic materials that have formed a blockage.

The downside is that enzyme cleaners take some time to work. Let them work their magic for a day or so.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

Baking Soda and Vinegar
Similar to sink drains, you can try using baking soda and vinegar to break down a toilet blockage. However, you’ll need more for a toilet.

Pour one cup of baking soda into the toilet and one cup of vinegar. Give it some time to work its magic, and try flushing.

Dumping a Bucket of Water

Dumping a Bucket of Water
If you have a bucket available, fill it with a couple of gallons of water. Lift the bucket higher than the toilet tank, and dump it into the toilet drain as accurately as possible. The idea is that the pressure from the weight and height can force the clog out.

Will this work? Maybe. But a plunger uses the same idea and works great.

If none of these techniques do the trick, you should call a plumber. The toilet blockage might require additional equipment and more work.

Tips to Clear a Blocked Sink Drain

Before you call and schedule a drain cleaning, here are some of the tricks that work on toilets and also work on a clogged sink, but there are some other things you could try.

Dish Soap and Hot Water

Dish Soap and Hot Water kitchen
Kitchen sink drains often drain more than just water. As grease washes through the drain, it can stick and harden.

Pouring a generous amount of dish soap into the drain, followed by some hot water might loosen up the clog and allow it to flush down the drain.


Plunger Kitchen Sink
Plungers work on sinks too. Sink plungers are designed specifically for sinks, but a toilet plunger can usually work, too.

If you’re attempting to plunge a double sink, block the second drain to keep pressure when plunging.

Clean The P-Trap

Clean The P-Trap
Put a bucket under the pipe to catch water, and disassemble the P-Trap. You should be able to unscrew the connectors and remove the pipe. Clean the pipe of any gunk, grime, and matter before reassembling.

If your ring falls down the sink drain, you may get lucky and find it in the P-Trap, too!

Baking Soda and Vinegar

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again. If you’re experiencing slow drains or blocked drains, try pouring some baking soda into the drain followed by some vinegar. Let it sit, then flush it down with hot water.
Baking Soda and Vinegar

Fish it out with a Wire Hanger

A straightened wire hanger can make a great poker for a clog near the sink drain. If pushing it and breaking it doesn’t work, you could try bending the end to make a hook, and try to pull the clog out.
wire hanger kitchen sink

Wet/Dry Vacuum

Just like using a ShopVac in a toilet, wet/dry vacuums can sometimes help suck a clog caught in the drain. Insert the vacuum tube into the sink drain, cover the gaps around the hose with a rag, and turn the vacuum on.
Wet Dry Vacuum kitchen sink

Store-Bought Drain Cleaners

Chemical drain cleaners can often break through a clog, but they may only open a hole in the clog to allow the chemicals to pass through. The remainder of your clog may continue to cause you grief.

Furthermore, chemical drain cleaners may cause damage to the inside of your pipes.

On the other hand, Enzyme Drain Cleaners are designed to be safe in your drains. They take longer but they can work. But they will only work on organic material. Plastic objects will remain stuck, even with enzyme drain cleaners.

Chemical drain cleaners

Why are Fruit Flies Coming Out of my Drain?

They’re probably not fruit flies, they’re likely drain flies.

Drain flies are drawn to food particles and other organic material that is stuck in the drain. If you notice fruit flies, you likely need to clean your drains.

Drain fly eggs can be especially difficult to kill, so it may take some effort to get rid of all of them.

drain fly

Backflow Prevention – Do I need it?

backflow preventer

A backflow preventer is a one-way valve that prevents sewage and wastewater from coming back through the drains. They protect your home from sewer overflows during heavy rains and spring thaws, as well as other sewer issues.

Considering the amount of damage that a sewer flood can cause, they’re an extremely valuable protective plumbing device.

Toilet Repairs and Hacks

toilet hacks

Arguably one of the most useful inventions in history, the toilet has become an important part of our homes and our lives. Whether you’re using it as a seat while you catch up on YouTube videos or you hug it after a rough night of drinking, it’s hard to imagine how different our lives would be without them.

When your toilet gives you grief, there are a few tricks you can try to give your throne a little TLC.

Running Toilets – If your toilet is running, you better go catch it!

running toilet
Dad jokes aside, a running toilet can cost you in the long run if you don’t deal with it. But it’s usually a pretty easy fix!

First things first, you’ve got to diagnose the issue.

Step 1) Lift the tank lid.

Step 2) Observe. Is water continuing to flow through the overflow tube? This probably means that you have an issue with the Fill Valve.

If that’s not the issue, try using a stick to press down on the flapper. If the water stops running, then you probably need to clean or replace your flapper.

Adjusting The Fill Valve

If you have determined that your running toilet is caused by the fill valve, you can probably fix it with a screwdriver.

First, lift the float valve to ensure that the water stops when the float valve goes up. If it does, then you probably just need to adjust the height of the float.

You’ll notice a screw that runs along the side of the valve. Turn it counterclockwise to lower the float cup. This will adjust how high the water goes inside the toilet tank. Lower the water level so the float rests below the overflow tube.

If this doesn’t solve the problem, you may need to replace the fill valve. Simply, buy a new one, turn the water supply off, empty the tank, follow the instructions to install (pretty easy), and turn the water supply back on. This should fix your problem.

Adjusting The Fill Valve

Replacing The Flapper

If water is leaking through the flapper and causing the running water, you can easily replace the flapper.

First, buy a new flapper, turn off the water supply, empty the tank, and install the flapper. You’ll want to make sure that when you reconnect the chain to the handle lever, it’s not too short. You want the flapper to remain closed when you don’t turn the handle!

Why is the water so low in the toilet bowl?

Why is the water so low in the toilet bowl?
The first thing to check is that the fill tube is positioned correctly in the toilet tank. The fill tube should be placed in the overflow tube.

If the fill tube is positioned correctly and your toilet uses a float, try adjusting the float. You can adjust the float to allow the proper amount of water into the tank.

If neither of these solves your problem, you may have a partial clog in your drain and your toilet is unable to flush properly. Try some of the steps in the drain cleaning section above to solve this problem.

Why do I need to hold the handle down to flush?

If your toilet only flushes to completion when you hold down the flush lever, there are two things you can try.

First, try adjusting the chain connected to the flapper. You want the flapper to lift when you flush, and you want it to seal when not flushing. A slight adjustment could make the difference for a good flush.

Another thing you can try is ensuring that the flush handle is properly tightened. Use an adjustable wrench to tighten the handle. Don’t tighten it too tight!

Why do I need to hold the handle down to flush

How do I fix a loose toilet seat?

How do I fix a loose toilet seat
This one is pretty easy. You’ll just need an adjustable wrench and a screwdriver.

First, pry the bolt caps up. Insert your screwdriver into the bolts to hold them, and use the wrench underneath to tighten. Voila! Your toilet seat should be stable.

How to stop an overflowing toilet?

If your toilet is about to overflow, you need to act quickly!

First, lift the toilet tank lid, grab the float valve (or float), and lift. This will immediately stop more water from entering the toilet.

Next, shut the water off at the supply valve beside the toilet.

Now, you should have time to fix the cause of the overflow.

How to stop an overflowing toilet

Fix a Weak Flush

A weak flush can usually be fixed by adjusting the water level in the tank. Most toilet tanks have an indicator from the manufacturer where the water level should be. Increasing the water level should strengthen your flush.

If not, you may need to replace the flapper.

If neither of these solutions helps, you may have a clog in your toilet drain. Follow some of the steps above to eliminate the clog or blockage, or call a professional drain cleaner (like John The Plumber!) to fix the problem.

How to Keep a Toilet Clean

If you find that your toilet persistently appears dirty, here’s a trick that might help.

First, clean the toilet the best you can. You can buy toilet bowl cleaners, or use vinegar, and work away at the grime with a toilet scrubber.

For the more persistent stains, you can try using a 2000-grit sandpaper or a pumice stone. Use sandpaper to scrub the porcelain. 2000-grit is strong enough to clean stains, but should be gentle enough to leave your porcelain in good condition.

You may also want to consider cleaning the jets. First, heat up a couple of cups of vinegar in the microwave for around 30 seconds. Pour this heated vinegar into the overflow tube. Let it sit for half an hour to an hour.


Next, use something thin and hard to manually clean each jet, like a wire hanger. Be careful, as porcelain is fairly delicate. You’ll want to do this to each jet around the rim as well as the main jet at the bottom of the bowl.

Cleaning the jets like this might increase the strength of your flushes, taking away the opportunity for the matter to stick and build up.

pumice stone

DIY Faucet Repairs

Leaky Sink Faucet

Dealing with a Leaky Sink Faucet

A drip here and a drip there adds up. A leaking faucet should be addressed sooner than later!

You will need to buy new faucet cartridges or a faucet repair kit. Purchase the kit or stem that corresponds with the faucet or faucet brand.

If you’re not sure what cartridge or stem to buy, follow the steps below to remove the cartridge and bring it to the hardware store.

turn off valve
The first step of the repair (excluding the purchase of materials) is always to turn off the water. You’ll usually find valves underneath the sink. Shut off the water at each valve, hot and cold.

If you don’t have a supply valve near the sink, you can turn off the main water shutoff for the entire house.

After the water is shut off, turn the faucet handles to drain water in the line.

We’d advise that you place the stopper or a towel in the sink, to protect you from losing pieces down the drain during the next steps

faucet handle
Next, you need to remove the handle. You may find the screw under a screw cover on top, or behind the handle in the back. You may need an Allen key to unscrew it.

After the screws are loosened, pull the handle to remove it.

After the handle is removed, remove the cartridge by loosening the nut with a wrench and pulling it out.

After the cartridge is removed, clean and dry the area with a cloth or towel.

If you purchased a repair kit, now is a good time to replace the O-rings.

Insert the new cartridge, and put it all back together.

Lastly, turn the water back on and test.

How to Clean a Shower Head with Vinegar

This is an easy trick seen all over the internet.

To clean a shower head very easily, you can fill a plastic bag with vinegar, lift it up so that the shower head sits in the pool of vinegar, and tie the bag around the shower head.

Let it sit for a few hours, then rinse the shower head off and run it.

This will clean your shower faucet and it may increase the consistency and pressure of the water flow.

How to Clean a Shower Head with Vinegar

Cleaning the Aerator

loosening the nut with a wrench
The aerator on a faucet is a fitting at the end of the faucet where the water sprays from. It helps keep the water flow steady and consistent by adding air to the water as water flows. But sometimes, the tiny screen can become clogged with minerals.

Cleaning it is quite simple, just be careful not to damage it during removal.

The first thing you’re going to want to do is place the stopper in the sink. You don’t want anything going down the drain!

Next, to remove the aerator, grab the aerator with your hand and turn it clockwise. If it’s stuck, you can use pliers, just be extra careful not to cause any damage.

After the aerator is removed, disassemble the parts, but remember how they fit together.

Once disassembled, clean the parts. You can rinse them, and even use a toothpick to clean them.

The metal parts, like the screen, can be cleaned by soaking them in vinegar.

If some of the grime remains after soaking, use a toothbrush or a scrubby to clean them off.

Lastly, rinse the parts, reassemble them, and put the faucet back together!

Voila! Your faucet should again have a steady flow of water from the tap.

How to Fix a Pop-Up Sink Stopper in a Bathroom

A stuck sink stopper is pretty irritating. Unfortunately, the stopper is probably broken. But the good news is it’s not too difficult to replace!

The way the stopper is meant to work is there is a rod behind the faucet that pulls up and pushes down. This rod is connected under the sink to a lever that connects into the drain.

If everything appears to be connected properly and it’s still not working, you probably need to replace the stopper in the drain. You should be able to find a replacement in your local hardware store.

unclip the lever from the rod underneath the sink
First, unclip the lever from the rod underneath the sink that connects to the lift arm. After unclipping the lever, loosen the sealing nut connected to the drain. Once you loosen the nut, you can remove the lift arm (the rod connected to the ball). The metal bar should extend beyond the ball by a couple of inches. If it doesn’t and the bar is broken, that’s the problem.
Next, insert the replacement part into the drain, short end first. You’ll want to test it before you reconnect everything, as the metal bar needs to go through a hole in the stopper.

Once you’ve tested that it’s working, reattach and tighten the sealing nut. Don’t overtighten, but make sure that it’s tight.

insert the replacement part into the drain

Attach one side of the clip to the lift arm before connecting the arm to the rod.

The rod under the sink that connects to the faucet rod has several holes in it. Based on whether the rod is pulled out behind the faucet and the position of the stopper in the drain (closed, I assume), you will find a hole in the rod that fits the best. Insert the lift arm into the appropriate hole, and attach the other side of the clip to the lift arm behind the rod.

After everything appeared to be fixed and connected properly, go ahead and test the stopper by pulling the rod behind the faucet and pushing it back.

Adjust it so the stopper blocks the drain, and pour some water in the sink. If the drain holds water and the drain is sealed, you’ve nailed it!

If the drain holds water and the drain is sealed

Water Heater Tips and Maintenance

Water heaters are a necessity, and they’re not cheap. But a couple of adjustments here and a bit of maintenance there can save you money on utility bills and save you from a water heater repair or replacement for a while longer.

The Ideal Temperature for a Water Heater

The Ideal Temperature for a Water Heater

According to the CPSC, you should keep your water heater set to 49 °C (120 °F). This will keep the temperature hot enough to prevent anything dangerous from growing in the water, but it’s safe enough that you won’t burn yourself.

Adjusting the Water Heater Temperature

Calling a plumber to adjust your water temperature costs money. Even if it only takes a couple of minutes, a plumber must account for travel expenses and time, and the opportunity cost. After all, he did have to schedule an appointment for you instead of someone else.

Instead of calling your plumber to adjust the temperature, you can easily adjust it yourself.

Adjusting the Water Heater Temperature
Adjusting the Temperature on a Gas Water Heater

Adjusting the Temperature on a Gas Water Heater

Adjusting the temperature of a gas water heater is easy, simply turn the knob. Every model is different, so consult the instruction manual if necessary. The knob should have a marker indicating the manufacturer’s recommended setting. The different letters on the knob indicate 10-degree temperature changes.

Adjusting the Temperature on an Electric Water Heater

The first step is to shut off the electricity to the water heater.

Next, remove the thermostat covers and insulation. There is usually a cover and thermostat for the top element and the bottom element.

Using a flat-head screwdriver, you can adjust the water heater temperature. You should see temperatures marked around the knob. Adjust the temperature to 120°. Set the top thermostat to a slightly hotter temperature than the bottom thermostat.

Adjusting the Temperature on an Electric Water Heater

How to Flush a Water Heater

How to Flush a Water Heater
Your water heater should last for years with very little maintenance. But, doing a routine flush can extend the life expectancy of the heater and might increase its efficiency. This is because there is a variety of minerals and sediment in the water, and over time, this matter can build up and settle in the tank.

Flushing the tank once or twice a year is a good goal.

Although flushing the water heater is relatively easy, it’s wise to have a licensed plumber come from time to time for the flush so that he can inspect the hot water tank for rust or other issues.

But if you want to save some money and take on the task yourself, follow these steps:


Cut the power. You can shut the water heater off at the breaker or unplug it if it’s an electric water heater, or you can shut the gas valve if it’s a gas water heater. If the tank is emptied but the power is on, your water heater is going to have a bad time.


Now that the power is off, turn off the cold water supply to the water heater. This valve will be on a pipe near the water heater, usually near the top of the tank.


To prevent a vacuum in the plumbing system during the flush, open the hot water in a faucet. We’re going to leave this open during the entire flush.


Place a bucket underneath the pressure relief valve, and open the valve. If water doesn’t pour out of the valve, you likely need to replace the pressure relief valve. Remember that this water is hot, so be careful!


Connect a garden hose to the drainage spigot near the bottom of the tank. Run the other end of the hose to a drain or outside, as a lot of water is going to pour through it shortly. The drain you run the hose to must be lower than the spigot on the heater, so floor drains are a good idea.


When you’re ready, open the drainage spigot to begin draining the water tank. Again, remember that this water is hot and be careful!


Drain the water for a while. It might be worth keeping an eye on the colour of the water to see if there’s still a lot of matter to drain. When the water is clear, you’ve probably gotten most of the sediment out.


Next, open the cold water inlet to the water heater to allow more water to flush through the system. Keep draining this water through the drainage spigot for a few minutes to flush out the system.


When you’re satisfied with the appearance of the water, it’s time to put everything back to normal. Close the drainage valve and remove the hose.


Next, close the pressure relief valve.


Close the faucets you’ve opened to pour hot water.


Once the hot water tank is full, open the pressure relief valve and let out any air. Close it once any air is released.


Turn the hot water on a faucet back on to remove air from the system.


Turn the power back on. You may need to relight the pilot light on a gas water heater. Switch on the breaker if it’s an electric heater.


Shut the faucets you’ve opened.


After 20-30 minutes, you should have clean hot water ready for use.

Test the Water Heater Pressure Release Valve

A hot water tank is a big container that fills with water and heats it. As matter heats, it expands. To prevent any incidents relating to a container filled with hot pressurized water, every hot water tank should have a functioning Pressure Relief Valve.

One of the more common issues with hot water tanks is the pressure relief valve is no good. If it doesn’t work, the tank can’t regulate the pressure inside. This can be dangerous.

It’s wise to test the pressure relief valve every 6 months or so.

Water Heater Pressure Release Valve
bucket of water
First, you’re going to want to place a bucket underneath the relief valve to catch water as you test.

Next, simply lift the valve up and down. Water should eject through the relief valve into the bucket. If water pours out, everything is good.

If no water ejects, or water only a trickle pours out, you’ll need to contact a plumber to replace the pressure relief valve.

Insulate the Hot Water Tank

A hot water tank is a large container of hot water. Heat is always escaping so the heater must use additional energy to maintain the desired temperature.

Although new technologies are coming out every day with higher efficiencies, your water heater may still have years of life left and not require a more efficient replacement. But don’t worry, you can easily and affordably increase the efficiency of your water heater by insulating it.

Your local hardware store likely carries water heater jackets. You can purchase an insulated jacket for your water heater based on the size of the tank (e.g. 60 gallon).

They’re inexpensive, easy to install, and can save you money on your utilities.


Insulate the Hot Water Pipes

Just like heat escaping through the water heater, heat can also escape through the waterlines.

To reduce some of that heat escape, you can purchase foam pipe insulation from most hardware stores. It’s fairly inexpensive and very easy to install. Just be careful when you’re installing it not to manhandle the pipes, as you don’t want to unintentionally damage your system.

Going on Vacation? Should you turn off your water heater?

If you’re leaving for only a week or two, it’s probably not going to save you much money as reheating the water takes far more energy than maintaining a temperature.

Furthermore, turning it off and starting it up is harder on the machine than maintaining a temperature.

We recommend turning the temperature down instead of shutting the unit off. Better yet, if your system has a Vacation mode, use that instead!

Should you turn off your water heater?
Plumbing Hacks

Home Appliance Care

Home Appliance Care

Washing Machine Plumbing Care

Like any water-using appliance, washing machines pose certain risks to your home when things go wrong. In fact, water damage from a leaking water machine is a common insurance claim.

To avoid this, check the hose once a year. If the washing machine hose looks weathered and worn or if it has any blockages. If it’s clogged, clean it, and if it doesn’t look too good remember that it’s far cheaper to replace a hose than to deal with a leak.

Washing Machine Plumbing Care
When pushing the washing machine back into its place, position the hose so that it’s as unbent as possible to prevent kinks or damage.

Also, check the condition of the seal if the unit is a front-loading machine from time to time. Again, if it appears to be in a vulnerable state, replace it!

Changing your Refrigerator Water Filter

Refrigerator water filters usually need to be replaced every 6 months. If your water filter goes unchanged, you risk bacteria growth and mineral deposits – both of which can taste unpleasant and potentially add health risks.

Your refrigerator instruction manual should tell you what filter model number you should purchase, or you can look online by searching the refrigerator models information.

Once you’ve acquired a new filter, follow the instructions in the refrigerator instruction manual to replace the filter. You’ll need to locate the water filter, turn off the water supply at the valve, remove the old filter, and install the new filter before turning the water back on.

Changing your Refrigerator Water Filter

Unblocking a Garbage Disposal

Unblocking a Garbage Disposal
If your garbage disposal is blocked, the first step is to cut the power. You can turn the power off at the breaker.

Don’t skip this step!

Once the power is off, remove the blockage with tongs or pliers.

If successful, you can turn the power back on and test it. You may need to press Reset on the machine.

Sump Pump Maintenance

Your sump pump is your primary guardian against rainstorms. When water is trying to get into your home, your sump pump fights against it.

However, we don’t often think about our sump pumps – so a problem can go unnoticed.

We recommend periodically testing your sump to ensure that you don’t require a sump pump replacement.

Sump Pump Maintenance
Sump Pump Maintenance

How, you ask?

Find your favourite water bucket, fill it, and dump it into the sump pit. Once enough water is in the pit to activate the float trigger, it should kick on and rid the water. If it works, fantastic!

If it doesn’t, call John The Plumber for a sump pump service!

It’s wise to clean the sump pit regularly. If you see debris floating around, skim it before it gets stuck in the pump.

Furthermore, it’s a good idea to periodically turn off the sump pump, and clean it by rinsing it with a hose. Remove any caked-on matter manually as necessary.

Remember that sump pumps usually last around 7 years. Don’t wait to find out the hard way that it isn’t working!

We recommend installing battery backup sump pumps. A secondary sump pump can protect you if the primary pump fails, and a battery-backup will protect you when the lights are out.

clean sump pump

Outdoor Faucet Winter Preparation

Outdoor Faucet Winter Preparation

When winter is around the corner, do yourself a favor and protect your outdoor faucet (and you from frozen pipes!).

The first step is to remove the garden hose.

The second step is to shut off the water supply to the outdoor faucet. This valve should be in your basement.

The third step is to open the outdoor faucet when the water supply is off to drain the line.

outdoor faucet protector
Lastly, purchase an outdoor faucet protector. This is a foam cover that is easy to install and covers the outdoor faucet. This will help protect against the elements.

The most important advice is to install a Frost-Free Outdoor Hose Bib if you don’t have one already. These are specially designed outdoor faucets meant to help protect you from water damage on the faucet and inside your home.

Leak Detection and Repair

Leaky Sink Faucet

Signs of a Hidden Water Leak

While most leaks have obvious signs such as a puddle or damaged drywall or ceilings, some leaks are a little more subtle.

While some leaks are sneaky, pay attention for these signs:

An inexplicable increase in your water utility bill. While it may be nosey, you can ask your neighbours for a rough idea of their water utility costs. While everybody’s usage is different, a big discrepancy may indicate an unseen leak.

Lower Water Pressure

Unpleasant odours


Unusual sounds coming from pipes, behind walls, and in ceilings, such as drips or bubbling

Discoloration in floors, walls, and ceilings

Unexplained water

Remember that water moves around. The signs of a leak, such as puddles or wet drywall, aren’t always directly under a leak. Water can travel along the lines and structure of your home to mysteriously move into weird places.

How to Confirm an Invisible Water Leak Using your Water Meter

If your water bill has gone up and you have no idea why turn off every fixture that uses water. You can turn them off at the supply valves to be extra sure. Next, find your water meter. Make note of the current water usage. Wait a few hours and check back. If the water usage has increased and you haven’t used any water, then you very likely have a leak somewhere.
If your water bill has gone up and you have no idea why turn off every fixture that uses water. You can turn them off at the supply valves to be extra sure.

Next, find your water meter. Make note of the current water usage.

Wait a few hours and check back. If the water usage has increased and you haven’t used any water, then you very likely have a leak somewhere.

Common Causes of Water Leaks

Clogged Drains

Clogged Drains

While your drains may work fine when water is running smoothly, the pressure that builds during a clog may force water through tiny leaks you may not otherwise notice.

Faucet Leaks

Depending on the faucet leak, it may need a new cartridge, a tightening, or something else. Pull-out faucets can start to leak around the handle over time.
Faucet Leaks

Toilet Leaks

The toilet tank, bowl, water supply, and drain can all leak in their own way. Sometimes it may puddle around the toilet, but it may also escape into the room below.
Toilet Leaks
Loose Connections

Loose Connections and Traps

Sometimes tightening the plumbing system can save you from needing a plumber.

Damaged, Corroded, or Frozen Pipes


Using Food Colouring to Find Which Drain is Responsible

find a Leak with Food Colouring
If you are noticing water or water damage and you can’t identify the source, pour water you’ve coloured with food colouring into different drains.

For example, flush some blue water down the toilet in one bathroom, orange water down a different toilet, and green water down the kitchen drain.

If the leaking water changes colours, you can use the colour to identify which drain is responsible for the leak.

Test your Toilet Tank for Leaking with Food Colouring

If you want to test your toilet tank for leaking, pour some food colouring in it and let it go unused for some time.

If the water in the bowl changes colour, your toilet tank requires some attention.

food colouring for leaks

How to Stop a Leaking Pipe

A pipe with a major leak often requires repair or replacement.

However, sometimes you can get away with a quick fix.

Stop the water. If it’s a leaking drain then stop using the drain and if it’s a water supply, shut the valve leading to it.
Tighten the coupling nuts if it’s a leak at the P-Trap. Loose connections are a common cause of leaks.
If the leak is caused by something else, dry the area very well, and apply a self-fusing silicone tape. Wrap and rewrap, and make sure that the tape is tight.
You can also try using plumber putty. Dry the surface before applying the putty and give it time to dry.

If you experience a leak, these solutions may help you in the moment – but they’re not a permanent fix.
You should still consider having a plumber address this problem.

Don’t Hang Things From Your Pipes

Don’t Hang Things From Your Pipes
Like many things on this page, this isn’t so much a hack as it is a recommendation…

Don’t hang things from your pipes.

While it may seem like a convenient place to hang wet laundry, your plumbing system is designed to carry weight in its system, not hang weight. You can easily damage the joints and pipes in the system if you hang anything from your waterlines or drain pipes.

What Plumbing Issues to Inspect for When Purchasing a Home?

Before purchasing a home, we recommend hiring a professional plumber to do a thorough inspection on the home when possible.

A plumber can test the fixtures, inspect the pipes, check the appliances, and do a camera inspection to ensure that the unseen pipes won’t require any immediate and costly repairs.

That being said, if you don’t want to hire a professional, you can do a quick inspection yourself.


Flush the toilet. Place some toilet paper into the bowl and test the power of the flush.
Check the stability of the toilet and ensure that it is secured properly to the floor.
Have someone in the basement or room below pay attention when the toilet is flushed and ensure there is no leaking.
Inspect the watercolour and water pressure to ensure satisfaction.
Run the water and inspect under the sink for leaks.
Test the showerhead and bath faucets.
Test the water supply valve beside the toilet and make sure it can shut off the water.
Inspect the floor for water damage.
Test the sink faucet that both the hot and cold water are functioning properly.
Test the pop-out stopper.
Look for water damage under the sink.
Ensure that the water is draining properly when testing the shower and bath faucets.


Test the faucet and sprayers to ensure both hot and cold water function properly.
Watch the draining water to ensure it is draining quickly. A slow drain can indicate grease and debris buildup.
Test the supply valve to ensure it closes properly.
While running water, inspect under the sink to ensure that the drain pipe and water lines aren’t leaking.
Check any other water supply valves their pipes to ensure proper function, such as for refrigerators and dishwashers.


Test the main water supply valve.
Check the pipes for leaks and signs of water damage.
Smell for unpleasant odours that may be related to water damage or leaks.
Check out the age and condition of the water heater. Test the pressure release valve and ensure that it works.
Test any supply valves to ensure they work properly including: valves to the water heater and valves to the outdoor faucet.


Test the outdoor faucets to ensure they work properly.

Throughout the inspection, listen carefully and smell for any signs of issues. Strange sounds when using fixtures may indicate issues, and your nose may identify underlying issues that have been covered up.

Tips to Save Money on your Water Bill

Plumbing Hacks: High-Efficiency Fixtures

High-Efficiency Fixtures

Modern plumbing fixtures are often designed with water conservation in mind. Replacing old fixtures with high-efficiency fixtures may save you money down the road.

Motion-Activated and Touch-Activated Faucets

Motion-activated faucets aren’t only for public washrooms. You can purchase motion-activated and tap-activated faucets for your kitchen and bathroom. Not only can they save money, but they can help prevent the spread of germs.
Plumbing Hacks: Motion-Activated and Touch-Activated Faucets
Water Heater Affordability

Water Heater Affordability

Take advantage of water heater lease options offered by plumbing companies, as the rent-to-own financing might be a solution to get a water heater replacement affordably.

Should You Put a Bottle of Water in the Toilet Tank?

Some of you might know about this trick to save water. You fill a water bottle with water, store it in the tank, and save that amount of water with every flush.

Does this trick work? Yes.

However, be careful, because using less water in the flush means a less efficient flush. And, a less efficient flush may lead to a buildup of matter in your drain system.

Plumbing Hacks: water bottle toilet tank

What is Causing the Banging Noise in my Plumbing System?

Plumbing Hacks: fix banging pipes

How to Stop It

If you’re using a water-using appliance or a plumbing fixture and you hear a loud bang when the water stops, you’re experiencing a water hammer.

This can happen when a high-pressure waterline closes. The high-pressure water flow crashes when the valve closes, causing the pipe to jerk and make a racket.

Not only can the sound be annoying, but it can also cause damage to your plumbing system over time.

But there are solutions!

Water Hammer Arrestors can be Installed!

But, what is a Water Hammer Arrestor, you ask?

Well, a Water Hammer is a banging noise that happens because flowing water suddenly comes to a halt. The force of the water bangs the pipe.

Water Hammer Arrestors are nifty little attachments that absorb the energy when the flowing water comes to a complete stop. So, instead of loud and surprising noise every time you shut off the water supply, your pipes will sound and work normally!

Plumbing Hacks: Water Hammer Arrestor

How to Save Money on Plumbers

Monday is the Busiest Day

Bulk Pricing with Plumbing

Good Maintenance is Cheaper Than Repairs

A Good Reputation Matters

Plumbing Companies Need Insurance Sometimes. Make Sure They’ve Got it.

Flat Rate Pricing Vs. Parts and Labour

Customer-Supplied Fixtures

Hiring a Good Guy versus a Cheap Guy

After Hours and Emergency Plumbing

Satisfaction Guarantees Are Important

Just Because It’s Easy Doesn’t Mean It’s Cheap

The Costs of Water Damage Can Build and Build

Almost Every Industry Offers Loyalty Programs

DIY Tips

Remember your safety goggles

Familiarize yourself with local plumbing codes

Install Teflon Tape in a clockwise manner

Use flame shields when using a torch

When removing toilets of drains, use a rag to block sewer gas from entering the room

Remember to remove the rag before installing the fixture or any new pipes

DIY projects and alcohol is a dangerous idea

Prepare everything beforehand, including towels and cleaning supplies

Remember to hang your pipes with proper support. Pipes should be supported every 6’ or so

Remember to install P-Traps. Every drain should have a P-trap to protect from sewer gas entering the home

Plumbing can get dirty, remember to bring a pair of gloves

Don’t Overtighten

Remember to shut the water off when doing work!

When cutting holes for pipe, always double check the other side for cables

If you don’t know how to use a tool, read the instructions or watch a video on Youtube

Don’t light anything if you smell gas

Remove jewelry and loose clothing when doing work

Be careful if reusing hoses. Old hoses have caused many insurance claims

Align the threads of pipes properly. Start out by hand. If it goes in smoothly, then it’s likely aligned correctly

Keep a bucket on hand in case you need to catch water when working on pipes

Do you know some cool plumbing hacks or tricks that you don’t see here? Help us get it out there! Email us by clicking here!

Plumbing Hacks

Our Plumbing Service Area

John The Plumber is proud to have grown and satisfied the needs of countless Ontario homeowners.

We’re excited about the opportunity to serve our neighbours far and wide, offering a level of service that few plumbing companies can match.

When you’re dealing with drain issues, remember that John The Plumber offers:

When you need a plumber, John The Plumber is the last plumber you’ll ever call!