Top 7 Basic Plumbing Tips for Homeowners in the Tuscaloosa and Birmingham Area


Owning a home in the Tuscaloosa and Birmingham area is a long-term investment – but in order for your investment to grow in value, it must be maintained and sometimes improved.

Also Read: Top 3 Things to Do Today to Get your Home Sold in Tuscaloosa & Birmingham Area

To keep home plumbing systems in good working order and to properly maintain your home, a dedicated homeowner in the Tuscaloosa and Birmingham area should learn the basics when it comes to maintaining a home's plumbing, pipes and fixtures.

Understanding the basics of your home's plumbing is the best way to prevent and fix many common problems yourself and save hundreds of dollars. Here at DSEAYCOM, we would like to share these Top 7 basic plumbing tips for homeowners in the Tuscaloosa and Birmingham area to teach you how to spot and resolve small plumbing problems before they become major issues.



1.       Repair Problems Early

When it comes to plumbing, it is often the smallest problems that can mean the most trouble later on. With a few tools and a little knowledge, most homeowners can learn how to handle small plumbing emergencies on their own. With a plunger, a pipe wrench and a sewer snake in your tool kit, you’ll be able to take care of small problems like clogged drains or blocked pipes.

2.       Turn Off All the Water in Your House

Turning off the water is the first step during plumbing repairs, which is why it’s important to locate the main water shutoff valve to your home now before you need it.There is always a shut off at the meter (typically located at the sidewalk or curb) and it would require a water meter key to turn it off.It is a good idea to locate these shut-offs and label them well, so they can be quickly located if and when the need arises.

If you can’t find the water meter, call your local utility company and ask for help locating it. Once you’ve found the meter, remove the cover, and turn the shutoff valve 90 degrees with a water meter key to turn off all the water in your house in the Tuscaloosa and Birmingham area. In a pinch, you may be able to turn the valve with an adjustable wrench if you can't find a cutoff key.

If the shut-off valve or meter is in a dark, hidden, or hard-to-reach place, gather any tools you'll need for a quick shut-off, and store them nearby. There's nothing like the frustration of a missing flashlight or a misplaced shut-off key when water's pouring down the stairs from a broken pipe.

3.       Shutting Off the Hot Water Heater

A leaky hot water heater is a common problem that can cause major damage. Most homes have a gas or an electric water heater. Make sure to turn the control knob from “on” to “pilot”. An electric hot water heater can be turned off by flipping the breaker that controls it.

Once it has been turned off, drain the water out of the unit. This can be done by turning off the cold-water supply valve and then running the hot water from a faucet until the hot water heater tank is drained.

4.       Use a Shop Vacuum to Remove Hard Objects

When a hard object like a toothbrush, comb or toy plugs a toilet or drain, a plunger may not be the solution—it might only push the obstruction in deeper. Instead, suck out the water and the obstruction with a wet/dry shop vacuum.

5.       Use a Strong Magnet to Find Hidden Pipes

When trying to locate a pipe under the floor, attach a rare earth (neodymium) magnet to an electrical fish tape and feed it into drain lines through the clean out plug. Locate the magnet (and the pipe) under the floor using an ordinary compass, which will turn wildly when it finds the strong magnet.

6.       Repair Frozen Pipes

In harsh winter climates, freezing pipes create a sudden household emergency. Insulate exposed pipes in a crawl space or in the garage with easy-to-install plastic insulation.

Before winter comes, remove exterior hoses and apply insulating caps to outdoor fixtures, as a frozen exterior spigot can damage interior pipes. Open the cabinets beneath sinks and bathroom fixtures; warm household air will help prevent the pipes inside from freezing. Opening taps to a bare trickle keeps water flowing and avoids a frozen blockage.

Also read: Bathroom Remodeling 101

If pipes do freeze, shut off the water supply and open a faucet near the blocked area to vent vapors from the frozen water. If you suspect that pipes in the hot water system are frozen, turn off the hot water heater and use a hair dryer to warm the frozen pipe, from the end of the pipe nearest to the tap. You'll know the pipe has begun to thaw when water begins to trickle from the open faucet. When the flow is restored, check the plumbing carefully for cracks or leaks.


There are many plumbing tasks that a homeowner in the Tuscaloosa and Birmingham area can take on themselves. Some of the basic repairs that you can do include fixing leaky faucets, stopping a toilet from running constantly and changing out some of the plumbing fixtures in the home. More complicated projects usually require the help of an experienced, licensed plumber. It is a good idea to know what is safe to do and what is not before taking on a plumbing project.

Well-maintained, good working plumbing systems in your home in the Tuscaloosa and Birmingham area will not only save you money from you water bill, it will also increase your home's value.

Don't forget to read DSEAYCOM's Top 5 Home Improvement Projects that Add Value to Your Home In the Tuscaloosa and Birmingham Area that you can enjoy while increasing the value of your home in the Tuscaloosa and Birmingham area.

At DSEAYCOM, we’re happy to answer any questions you have about buying and selling in the Tuscaloosa and Birmingham area. Call us now or feel free to share our contact information with someone you know that needs expert help buying or selling their home.

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Derrick Seay
Derrick Seay
DSEAYCOM B'ham Branch