5 Last Minute DIY Plumbing Gifts

Time is ticking, and Christmas will be here before you know it. Do you still have some people you need to check off your shopping list? If so, why not make an awesome gift yourself and avoid the crowds at the mall?

Believe it or not, you can make some pretty incredible things using plumbing supplies from the hardware store. Check out these quick and easy ideas!

DIY Plumbing Gifts

Hand Painted Washer Pendants

 Hand Painted Washers

Image Source: Artisana Studio

It doesn’t get much cheaper and easier than this! Standard metal washers from the hardware store can be transformed into wearing pieces of art with a little bit of paint, a cord and a bead. This quick and easy craft is great for kids, too.

Copper Towel Rack

 Copper Towel Rack

Image Source: Instructables

With a few hours and some soldering experience, you can turn copper pipes into a stunning towel rack. Customize this project to make a rack that is perfectly sized for your recipient’s bathroom. You could even run heating wire through the finished project to create a heated towel rack. For full instructions, click here

Pipe Cat Shelves

Pipe Cat Shelves

Image Source: DIY For Life

What do you get for the stylish cat lover? Forget the traditional cat tree that clash with the décor, and build these amazing cat shelves using pipes, fittings and wood. This one is made from steel pipe, but you could also go with copper depending on the recipient’s taste.

Plumbing Knob Ornaments

Plumbing Knob Ornaments

Image Source: Salvage Secrets Blog

 Turn old (or new!) plumbing knobs into adorable ornaments in minutes with a little hot glue, paint, glitter and ribbon. This is another project that’s great for kids.

PVC Wine Rack

PVC Wine Rack

Image Source: Martha Stewart

PVC pipes are cheap and incredibly versatile. Pick up some 4-inch PVC pipe, and cut it to length using a hacksaw. After you sand the edges smooth, clean the outside of the pipe with acetone. Prime then paint your desired color. Join the pipes using Velcro straps, and you have a quick and easy wine rack.

From all of us here at Larry & Sons, we would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year! If you find yourself in need of a Hagerstown plumber or HVAC technician this holiday season, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 301-733-5428.

Choosing the Right Plumbing Pipe for the Project | Pipe Types

Under the house, in the walls, and arriving at many different fixtures, plumbing pipes are everywhere.  Pipes run between appliances and out of the house and they come in different shapes, sizes, and materials.  Some of them carry gas and others carry water. Knowing the different plumbing pipes in your home will help you to identify problems before they become problems and choose the right type of pipe for your home.

Plumbing Pipe Types

Knowing which materials are used for which lines is important for DIY plumbing fixes, but it can also help you identify where your problem is to help speed up a repair when you call for service.

Piping Purpose

Every pipe in a home has a certain function and everything from material to location is determined by what function the pipe serves.  Gas lines have different requirements from water lines.  You’ll also find differences in incoming pipes (feed lines) compared to outgoing water and gas lines (return lines).

For example:  Water return lines take advantage of gravity, with the lowest point of any home draining system leading towards the septic or sewer system.  Many of these return systems use large black pipes to clearly identify their purpose and are known as black-water lines.  Theses fat pipes residing in the walls of your home carry wastewater to your private septic tank or into your city’s sewer lines.  Large diameter black-plastic pipes leading towards the basement are usually black-water return lines.

indoor plumbing pipe system
Diagram of your drain-waste-vent system, often called a “plumbing tree” (dummies.com)

Plumbing Pipe Materials

The material used for pipes is often limited to their purpose for code and health reasons.  Pipes for water and gas are either some kind of plastic or metal.  Hot water feed lines can use chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC) pipes, crosslinked polyethylene (PEX), or copper piping while PVC can only be used on cold water applications and is not typically used in water supply lines for homes.

Alternatively, PVC and cast iron piping are used extensively for drain-waste-vent (DWV) piping.  Most of the return line piping you see will be PVC, cast iron, or even ABS plastic. Cast iron, however, can rust.  Call your plumber to replace the rusted sections of your cast iron piping with PVC or ABS piping.

Gas lines are similar, though you won’t find PEX or ABS used for gas.  Most gas feed lines use a black malleable metal (some type of iron) between the outside source and the home.  Once the lines are moved inside they are typically made of copper or polyethylene.

PVC is sometimes used for underground transportation because it is inexpensive and simple to install in large quantities.  Copper is not recommended in all cases since sulfur content can cause flaking in the line which leads to contaminated feed lines and blocked outlets.

Plumbing Pipe Structure

When working with plumbing pipes of any kind it’s important to keep the structural design of your home and your system in mind.  Heavier demand with larger volume requires stronger piping.

When you increase the size and strength of your pipes, their weight typically increases, which means support for the system should increase.  If you don’t support your system with the proper structure and pipe fittings, leaks will develop and some lines may burst.  In the end, it’s always a much better choice to hire a professional to do any repair or retrofit work when installing or replacing gas and water lines within your home.

When replacing or repairing the pipes in your home, new trenchless technology makes it possible to easily replace your pipes for the same or less money and minimal environmental impact and disruption to your home, lawn, and routine.

If you have any questions about trenchless or no-dig technologies, give Larry & Sons Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning a call today!

If you spot any signs of trouble in any of the pipes in your home, contact the professionals at Larry & Sons at 301-733-5428. Our Frederick, MD plumbing experts are available 24/7 to assist you, and we won’t rest until the issue is properly dealt with.


Life Skill: How to Fix a Running Toilet

A running toilet is sort of like a bad comedian; it just doesn’t know when to stop. Whether it’s running sporadically or constantly leaks into the bowl, your toilet is wasting a lot of water and the sound of water running is probably keeping you up at night. Depending on the size of your leak, you could be losing between 30 and 500 gallons of water per day for silent leaks and potentially much more for leaks that you can hear.

Fix a Running Toilet

In most cases, it is possible to fix a running toilet without needing the expertise of a licensed technician. There are just a few simple steps to follow.

Before diving in, first turn off your water (silver knob located on the wall behind your toilet) and then cover the basics.

Get to Know Your Toilet

Toilets have remained virtually unchanged for the past 100 years. Well, in America that is…Japan is a different story. In order to figure out which part of your toilet is leaking, it’s important to know what and where each component is. You may be wondering if the water in your tanks is dirty. Well, it’s not! The water in your tank is clean, so it’s perfectly all right to adjust parts without having to wear protective gloves. Although, if you want to, by all means.

How to Fix a Running Toilet

Image: apartmenttherapy

A. Toilet flush lever

B. Rubber flapper blocking the tank water from descending into the bowl. It is connected to the toilet flush lever above.

C. Pump that refills the tank after it empties.

D. Float that raises and lowers with the water level to tell the pump when to go and stop.

E. The overflow tube, which sets the high water level in the tank.

So now that you know where each part is located, it’s time to figure out where exactly the problem is. Let’s start piece by piece.

How to Fix a Running Toilet

1. Rubber Toilet Flapper (B)

Do a visual inspection first. Does it look warped, damaged, or corroded? Next, push down on the flapper and try to create a seal around the drain at the bottom of the tank. If you are unable to create a seal and water continues to drain out of the bottom of the tank, you probably need to replace your rubber flapper. Another good test to see if the flapper is the cause of your problem is to put a few drops of food coloring into the tank and wait 15 minutes to see if the color appears anywhere in the toilet bowl itself. Click here to buy a toilet flapper. Make sure the replacement flapper is the right size. Watch this video for How to Replace a Toilet Flapper:

2. Toilet Chain

While inspecting your toilet flapper, you probably noticed the chain that connects the flapper to the toilet flush lever. The chain should be short enough to not get stuck between the flapper and the drain and long enough to be able to be able to lower the flapper over the drain without much tension. We recommend having about a half inch of slack. And clearly, if the chain has come undone or disconnected, you will need to reconnect the chain to the handle and the toilet flapper. You can readjust your chain with wire cutters or needle-nosed pliers. Test your toilet chain by flushing the toilet and jiggling the handle.

3. Ball Float (D)

If your ball float is full of water or shows signs of damage, leaks, or cracks, you will want to replace the float to fix your running toilet. If your ball float looks good, the next thing you want to look at is the water level. Is the water overflowing into the overflow tube (E)? That means that your ball float is positioned too high. To adjust the height of your ball float, and thus your water level, follow these steps:

  1. Get your screwdriver and locate the the screw adjustment above the pump (C), which is connected to the float ball rod.
  2. As you tighten the screw with your screwdriver, the ball float should lower, which will hopefully solve your water level problem.
  3. On the other hand, if your ball float is too low, you might not be getting enough water in your bowl, making it difficult to flush everything in one go. In this case, start unscrew the screw a bit to loosen tension on your ball float and raise it up to the correct position
  4. Ideally, the water line should be between 1 inch and a half an inch.

Before you replace any piece of equipment:

  • Make sure the water is off. Close the valve that located below the toilet. If there visible mineral buildup, you can try using some vinegar and a wire brush to clean it off.

fix a running toilet

Source: artofmanliness

  • Drain the tank by flushing the toilet. If you closed the valve underneath the toilet, no water should fill the tank back up. You can use a cloth or sponge to soak up any excess water in the tank.
  • Now that the toilet tank is dry, you can replace any part you need.

After you have done the necessary repairs or adjustments, try turning the water back on and flushing the toilet to see if you have fixed your running toilet problem.

If you need to make a bigger repair, like replace the fill valve pump, see this Family Handyman article.

For more information and facts on toilet and other plumbing leaks, see this EPA page.

If you are still having trouble finding or repairing your running toilet, there may be a more serious issue at hand. Give Larry & Sons a call at 301-733-5428.

Check out our maintenance plan; we provide fall and spring HVAC tune-ups, provide 15 % off all repairs, and much more!

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