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Plumbing Tips For First-Time Homeowners

You’ve come to the right place if your a first-time homeowner looking for plumbing tips on how to unclog a drain, including some ideas for a clogged drain home remedy We understand that you might be a bit unsure about what to do. Don’t worry, we’re here to help.

How to Fix a Running Toilet

Here’s your first plumbing tip. Does your toilet sound like it’s constantly running or refilling? This kind of sound can occur intermittently or every minute. It usually means your toilet is losing water. If you are experiencing a running toilet, you may have an internal/external leak or an issue with your flapper. Follow these simple steps toward finding a solution!  

  • Test if your flapper is leaking by marking the water level of your tank with a pencil. 
  • Turn off your water supply and wait for a minimum of 25 minutes.
  • If your water level drops below the pencil mark, you have a leak in your tank. 
  • Leave the water off for a couple hours to see how far the water level ultimately drops. 
  • If the water level drops down to the flapper, your flapper is leaking and needs to be replaced.
  • If it drops to a point on your overflow tube or your tank drain completely, your flush valve needs to be replaced 
  • If your tank is not leaking and your toilet is constantly running or water is rising into flush valve overflow tube, your fill valve is malfunctioning and needs to be replaced or serviced.
Drain tips for first-time homeowners - diagram of toilet

Pro Plumbing Tip: Before replacing any damaged parts, shut off the water to your toilet by locating the valve in the wall behind it & turning it clockwise. Flush the toilet and remove the part, then take it with you to the store to ensure you buy an exact match. The sound of running water is now a thing of the past — and you’ll have the lower water bill to prove it!

How to Clean Hair Out of a Shower Drain

No matter how hard you try to avoid it, hair will inevitably end up down your shower drain. And you’ll never think about it until you’re standing in a pool of water that just won’t drain. Or even worse, your shower drain begins backing up. Talk about an icky mess.

If this happens to you, try this clogged drain home remedy:

  • Turn to baking soda before you use harsh chemicals. White vinegar and boiling water are also good options. However, don’t use chemical products like Drano and Liquid Plumr. Over time, they will eat away at your pipes and cause worse problems.
  • If you have easy access to the clogged drain, try to remove the blog by hand or with tweezers. It’s probably ideal to use gloves during this, so you avoid touching any of the clog with your bare hands. If this doesn’t get rid of the clog, you might want to try another method. 
  • A popular method for removing clogs is a plumbing snake. This trick tends to be one of the most successful at clearing your shower drain. 
  • You can’t avoid shedding, so you may want to consider brushing your hair before you shower or purchasing a shower drain hair catcher, that way you can prevent the hair from even going down the drain. 

You can read a more detailed article for two hair-removal methods here.

A plumber's snake or wire hanger is a great way to retrieve hair out of your drain and clear that clog.
A plumber’s snake or wire hanger is a great way to retrieve hair out of your drain and clear that clog.

How to Unclog a Drain

And here are four solid plumbing tips for your drain. Consider each of these a clogged drain home remedy that anyone can handle.


Watching what you put down your sink, toilet, and shower drain is the best way to avoid a clogged drain disaster. An accumulation of food, hair, soap, baby wipes, and other debris can all cause a drain blockage. Tree roots can also bore their way through sewer lines in the right conditions.

Sometimes, these problems are unavoidable, but a conscious awareness of what goes into your plumbing system can stop a clogged drain in its tracks.

The Plunger Method

If you have a sink or toilet clog, place the plunger over the drain completely. Run the water for a second. In fact, it’s best to make sure there’s about 2-3 inches of water in the sink or toilet bowl. Then place the plunger directly over the drain, covering it entirely, to make sure you get a good seal.

Begin to plunge — up and down, up and down, up and down, until you feel the sink unclog. You may have to repeat this cycle several times. Be vigorous but don’t overdo it. We’ve had to fix pipes that busted due to overly aggressive plunging.

Did you know that there are different plungers for different clogs?
Did you know that there are different plungers for different clogs?

Wire Clothes Hanger

This is the ultimate clogged drain home remedy! The most common cause of a blocked shower drain is the buildup of hair (I’m talking to you, long-haired ladies). You can usually find a quick and easy solution right in your own closet. Straighten a wire hanger but make sure to leave the hooked end so it can grab the clump of hair.

Once you remove as much as you can fish out, immediately run hot water down the drain to flush the rest. This method can also be used for stuck food in your sink. If you don’t want to use a wire hanger, consider this technique using a plastic drain snake (or hair snake).

Remove the P-Trap

No tools are required to remove a clog under your sink as long as you know how to locate the P-trap (see image below). P-traps are requirements in homes to prevent sewer gas from leaking into your air (learn more about them here), but they can also be perfect for accumulation of hair, small objects, or that piece of jewelry you can’t find.  

  • Before removing, be sure to turn off the angle stops so no one else in the house can turn on the water and splash you.
  • Place a bucket under the trap to catch water.
  • Unscrew the two nuts carefully while holding the trap and let the water drain into the bucket. Remove the clog with a gloved hand.

Your blockage problem should now be solved.

Metal P Trap underneath toilet sink
The P-trap gets its name because it is in the shape of the letter “P” on its side.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, use this list for immediate solutions to problems you might have as a first-time homeowner. These are great plumbing tips that can be a great referral to minor issues you might have in your new home.

Call 1-Tom-Plumber if You Need More Help

Don’t hesitate to contact or call us at 1-Tom-Plumber (1-866-758-6237). We will immediately handle any emergency plumbingdrain cleaning and drain clearing, and water damage problem, including excavation of underground water lines and sewer main lines.

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