DIY: Can You Answer These Plumbing Questions

About this Quiz

You might consider yourself to be a DIY expert, but what if we get down and dirty? Can you handle a plumbing emergency? What do you really know about sump pumps, ball floats, and vent stacks? If push comes to shove, can you re-light your pilot light? If your pipe bursts, do you know what to do?

Only true DIY-ers can pass this DIY Plumbing quiz! Remember, a good "flush" always beats a full house.

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1. What's the number one rule when starting a plumbing repair yourself?

FotoDuets /
  1. Cover your floors in plastic
  2. Shut off the main water supply
Before beginning any plumbing job yourself, shut off the main water supply to the house to prevent major water damage.
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2. You know your septic system is in trouble when...

andrea lehmkuhl /
  1. Your toilets and sinks drain slowly
  2. The air inside your house makes you sneeze
If your toilets and sinks are draining slowly, something is up with our septic system! Other signs that something is wrong include: pipe gurgling sounds and foul odors.
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3. What would happen to your toilet without a ball float?

photosthai /
  1. Your porcelain tank would crack
  2. Your toilet wouldn't stop flushing
If your toilet doesn't stop flushing, check to see whether your ball float is working or not!
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4. What are the most common causes of clogged drains?

Christian Horz /
  1. Termites
  2. Grease and hair
Other than grease and hair, other common causes of clogged drains include: food waste, mineral build-up, toilet paper, and tree roots.
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5. How can you unclog a sink without corrosive chemicals?

Andrey_Popov /
  1. Use a plunger
  2. Use olive oil
If a plunger -- or snake -- doesn't work by itself, try pouring baking soda and vinegar down the sink. When all else fails, you can resort to a chemical clog remover.
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6. Without a drain trap....

Andrey_Popov /
  1. Sewer gasses would enter your home
  2. Your sink would only release hot water
The drain trap (pictured above) retains a small amount of water as the sink drains. This water, which remains in the curved part of the trap, seals the drain and prevents sewer gasses from escaping and entering your home.
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7. What's the advantage of using a tankless water heater?

KenSoftTH /
  1. It produces hotter water
  2. It heats water on demand
A tankless water heater can save you money in the long run because it only heats water when you want hot water. How much can it save you? Energy Star estimates about $100 a year.
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8. If you have no hot water, that's a sign:

Anelovski /
  1. Your pipes have frozen
  2. Your water heater may have a faulty thermostat
You're in real trouble when the upper thermostat on your electric water heater isn't working. If the lower one is broken, it's not as bad. Your water will heat, but it might not get hot enough.
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9. What does your pilot light do?

mdm7807 /
  1. Keep water flowing in airplanes
  2. Ignite the larger burner when you turn on the gas
Your pilot light is a small, gas flame that ignites a larger burner when you turn on the gas. A pilot light that is always on is called a "standing pilot".
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10. Add THIS to the suction pad to unplug a shower drain with a plunger:

ReaLiia /
  1. Petroleum jelly
  2. Chocolate sauce
Adding petroleum jelly to the suction pad improves the seal of the plunger, increasing your chances of succes!
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11. How can you guard against pipes bursting in the winter?

Paul Tessier /
  1. Reinforce your pipes with gold
  2. Allow water to trickle continuously from your faucet
Running water continuously helps prevent your pipes from freezing during particularly cold winters! You can also avoid burst pipes by not lowering the temperature in your house at night.
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12. To "bleed" a pipe means...

Minerva Studio /
  1. To cut a pipe in half
  2. To release excess air from a pipe
Consider bleeding your pipes -- or releasing extra air in a pipe by opening a valve -- in order to rid yourself of sputtering noises and uneven water flow.
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13. With what everyday pantry item can you clean your shower head?

Grigvovan /
  1. Peanut butter
  2. Vinegar
How to clean a shower head with vinegar: take the shower head off of the shower, and clean it. Then, soak a toothbrush in vinegar and scrub it. Last, soak all the parts of the showerhead in vinegar overnight.
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14. This is a sump pump. What does it do?

Ozgur Coskun /
  1. Suctions water from your wet basement
  2. De-clogs your toilet
Invest in a sump pump if you live in a wet climate, and your basement is prone to flooding. The sump pump will activate automatically when the soil around your house oversaturates.
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15. Why use a water softener?

VVVproduct /
  1. To remove calcium from your water supply
  2. If your water pressure is too high
If your potable water is "hard" -- in other words, if it has a high mineral content -- you may consider installing a water softener. Water softeners remove hard minerals, which can, in turn, prolong the lifespan of both your pipes and home appliances!
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16. While waiting for a plumber, quick fixes for small pipe bursts include:

Monkey Business Images /
  1. Duct tape
  2. Play-Doh
If the leak is really small, you can wrap some duct tape around the pipe, while purchasing the necessary equipment or calling a plumber for a more permanent solution.
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17. If the seal around the toilet drain pipe is faulty, replace your...

Deep Desert Photography /
  1. Wax ring
  2. Floors
You should only have to change your toilet's wax ring every 20 - 30 years! If you notice sewer smells coming from the toilet, that might be a sign that it needs changing.
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18. Installing a new bath tub? Use this kind of sealer:

maxuser /
  1. Silicone
  2. Coal tar
If you're looking for a good waterproof sealer, try silicone. Silicone is stable in both high and low temperatures. Keep in mind that you'll need to let it dry for around 24 hours!
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19. What is Mary using?

Narin Eungsuwat /
  1. A snake
  2. A pig
Mary's using a snake. If you have a clogged sink, consider using one yourself!
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20. Why are water pipes copper?

Algirdas Gelazius /
  1. Copper doesn't rust and lasts a long time
  2. Copper is really cheap
Copper piping, usually used for drinking water, is preferred because it is rust-resistant and lasts a long time. If your copper pipes are leaking, however, that's a sign that the pipes may have corroded at their solder joints.
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21. If your sewer system is backed up, what should you check?

forestpath /
  1. If your pipes have overheated
  2. Whether or not roots have invaded your pipes
The three main causes for a backed-up sewer system include: clogged drains due to grease and larger objects (diapers, napkins, etc.), tree roots invading and/or crushing pipes, and old sewer lines collapsing.
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22. When should you use a pipe reducer?

Golf_chalermchai /
  1. To make a long pipe shorter
  2. To connect two differently-sized pipes
Pipe reducers join differently-sized pipes by reducing the bigger pipe's diameter to match the smaller pipe's diameter.
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23. How can you avoid low water pressure?

ronstik /
  1. Install a filtration system to prevent mineral build-up
  2. Don't use faucets more than twice a day
Installing a filtration system will keep minerals out of your pipes to avoid future build-up. This will not only prolong the life of your pipes, but it will also prevent low water pressure.
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24. What is "gray water"?

Yanik Chauvin /
  1. Wastewater from non-toilet fixtures
  2. Water that is suitable for drinking
Gray water is any wastewater from non-toilet fixtures (e.g. sinks and bathtubs). Caution! Never drink gray water, it may carry bacteria.
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25. Toilet won't stop running? Blame...

Wandeaw /
  1. Your step parents
  2. The flapper valve
A toilet that won't stop running is mostly the fault of a faulty flapper valve. Don't ignore it! You can lose up to 200 gallons of water per day to a continuously-running toilet!
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26. Use plumber's putty to...

Jeffrey B. Banke /
  1. Plug major leaks in drains
  2. Seal joints
Get yourself some plumber’s putty to seal joints between fixtures and metal pieces. Why use it? It's watertight, but not adhesive, meaning that you can still remove a fixture or drain part when you need to replace it.
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27. Faucet won't stop dripping?

Lipskiy /
  1. Replace your internal washer
  2. Replace the entire sink
Dripping faucets aren't unsolvable problems. In most cases, if a faucet is dripping, your internal washer may have become stiff, worn, or dislodged. The good news? There are plenty of tutorials that will guide you through replacing them by yourself.
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28. Of the following, what is considered a "bridge" ?

Elena Elisseeva /
  1. Your stairs
  2. Your sink
Fixtures that are the middlemen between supply and drainage systems are "bridges". Want an example? Toilets, sinks, and bathtubs.
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29. How can you unjam a garbage disposal without the disposal's key?

Maria Dryfhout /
  1. Pour milk down your sink
  2. Use an Allen wrench
Can't find the key to the disposal? An Allen wrench will do. Simply turn the wrench in both directions in the hole where the key should go, and that should free the motor!
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30. Leaky pipes can damage floors and might lead to...

Lane V. Erickson /
  1. Cockroaches and other bug infestations
  2. Birds nesting in your walls
Leaky pipes shouldn't be ignored! Not only can they damage your floors and furniture, but they also can cause a general dampness that encourages cockroaches and other bug infestations!
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31. Installing a dishwasher? To prevent dirty water from flowing back into the machine:

Andrey_Popov /
  1. You'll need a lot of luck
  2. Install a "high loop"
Plumbing codes almost universally require dishwashers to be installed with a high loop in the drain hose. Without a high loop, the water might settle in the hose and back up into the dishwasher.
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32. Find sediment:

Ohms1999 /
  1. At the bottom of your water tank
  2. It's in the air!
In plumbing speak, sediment refers to the debris that settles at the bottom of water tanks. If enough has settled at the bottom of the tank, your water may not heat up as effectively.
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33. What is a downpipe?

Wild_Strawberries /
  1. A pipe that has been torn down
  2. A pipe fixed to the building that carries wastewater or rain water
Downpipes that carry wastewater are usually fixed to the inside of the house, while downpipes meant for rainwater can be found outside the building.
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34. A build-up of sediment and mineral deposits in your faucet's aerator...

  1. Reduces its flow and pressure
  2. Makes the water taste better
If your water isn't flowing normally, then you may want to check if mineral deposits have built up in your faucet's aerator. The aerator is located at the end of the faucet and, as the name suggests, removes air to reduce splash.
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35. To meld copper pipes together, you'll need...

joserpizarro /
  1. Tinder and matches
  2. A propane torch
If you want to meld (or "sweat") your copper pipes together by yourself, you'll need to invest in a propane torch. We recommend you call in professional help.
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36. Use a gasket to...

asadykov /
  1. Hold plumbing tools together
  2. Create a water-tight seal
Gaskets are flat rubber or fiber rings that create watertight seals between metal fixtures.
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37. Without a closet flange...

Timofey Manzyuk /
  1. Your toilet might move around
  2. Your wardrobe fixtures would leak
Closet flanges keep toilets in place, over their drain pipes. If you're shopping around for one, make sure it has a good seal, to prevent leakages. You might consider buying one that has an extender so that you can adjust the flange's height in case of bathroom renovations.
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38. Invest in a drain auger...

nito /
  1. To clear up clogged shower drains
  2. To make your drain bigger
Drain augers, or flexible stainless steel cables with corkscrew tips at the end, are the equivalent of sink snakes, but are meant for bigger drains.
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39. Keep your hot water tank at...

Kzenon /
  1. 212 degrees Fahrenheit (boiling)
  2. 120 degrees Fahrenheit
To save energy, the EPA recommends you set your hot water tank to 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
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40. Can you relight the pilot light yourself?

Mike Fig Photo /
  1. No, only highly specialized plumbers can
  2. Yes, there's a reset button!
If your water has suddenly gone cold, check your pilot light! How? You can often find a pilot light reset button in the pilot light assembly. If this doesn't work, there are plenty of YouTube tutorials that explore the next steps.
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41. Live in an old house? Watch out for...

  1. Corroded pipes
  2. Ant colonies in pipes
In older houses, older pipes tend to corrode and break. These so-called "galvanized pipes" are made from iron and coated in zinc. When the zinc corrodes, leaving just the iron, pipes can break.
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42. Plumber's tape...

  1. Prevents leaks
  2. Covers up rusty-looking pipes
Don't try taping two pipes together with plumber's tape, but do wrap the tape around pipes to prevent leakage!
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43. When does hydraulic shock occur?

Luis Molinero /
  1. When water supply is suddenly cut off from your sink
  2. When a pipe bursts and sprays water in your face
When the water supply is suddenly cut off from a fixture, it causes a pressure surge, otherwise known as hydraulic shock.
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44. To separate oil and grease from drain systems, you'll need:

Murugesan Sundaram /
  1. An interceptor
  2. A bucket
Interceptors, which separate oil and grease from drain systems, are mostly used in restaurants and supermarkets where water can flow at more than 50 gallons per minute.
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45. Why is a vent stack important?

Artography /
  1. It stores fumes from your sewage system in a basement tank
  2. It releases fumes from your sewage system
Vent stacks, part of your plumbing vents, are what keep your house from smelling like sewage! How? By releasing gasses into the outside air. You can usually find them poking out of your roof.
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46. Hot and cold water pressure in your shower depends on...

nikkytok /
  1. The size of your bathtub
  2. The scald guard
Your shower's scald guard is a valve that maintains the balance between hot and cold water pressure in your shower. It also typically restricts the flow of hot water to a pre-determined level, preventing you from scalding yourself as you take a shower.
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47. Your pipes may need changing if your water comes out _____.

Grigvovan /
  1. Discolored
  2. Clear
Signs you should re-pipe your home include: strange noise, discolored water, water pressure issues, leaks, corrosion, and the inability to change your water's temperature.
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48. If your sump pump has failed...

Ozgur Coskun /
  1. It's okay! It's not an essential part of the house
  2. Turn off all electricity and check the pump's plug
Repair your sump pump as soon as possible to prevent flooding in your home. A sump pump older than 10 years is more likely to fail and should be replaced.
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49. What can you do with a tap shut-off valve?

kosmos111 /
  1. Shut off your water directly from your fixture
  2. Water your plants
To control the amount of water that flows through a particular fixture, you'll need a shut-off valve. If it's leaking, tighten the packing nut with a pair of groove joint pliers.
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50. When is it time to call in professional help?

Rob Hyrons /
  1. A major pipe leak
  2. A leaky faucet
If you are experiencing major pipe leakage, turn off your water supply. Then, call your insurance company and a plumber.
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