As a homeowner, you’ll come across appliances and fixtures that break down over time. Instead of contacting a repairperson the minute something in your kitchen goes awry, arm yourself with the knowledge that you can do it yourself. Whether it involves a leaky faucet, a temperamental garbage disposal, or a noisy dishwasher, you can fix all three of these items and save yourself money if you follow a few key steps.
Fixing a Leaky Faucet
Tools & Supplies
- Pair of pliers
- Crescent wrench
- Plumber’s grease
- Seat washer
There is something so infuriating about the constant drip, drip, drip from a faucet that can drive you crazy. Not only is it annoying, but it can add unnecessary costs to your water bill. According to National Geographic, you lose on average 110 gallons of water due to leaks. Luckily, fixing a leaky faucet is an easy task to complete.
Before you take apart your faucet, shut off the water via the main line under the sink. Then, cover your sink drain with a rag to catch dropped parts. The most common type of faucet features a compression stem. No matter what type of handle the compression-stem faucet has, whether separate handles for hot and cold or a single handle, the faucet operates with the same basic principles and adheres to the same repairs.
First, pry off the decorative cap on the handle and then remove the handle screw. Pull off the handle and unscrew the packing nut with a crescent wrench. Remove and replace the seat washer. Cover the washers with heat-proof plumber’s grease. Remove the stem out of the packing nut and check out the status of the O-ring and washer to decide if you need new ones. You must replace the original washer with the exact replacement. If needed, take the washer with you to a home improvement store to make sure you buy the same kind.
Carefully reassemble all parts in the opposite order, from washer/O-ring, stem, packing nut, screw, and handle. Turn the water back on through the main line and gently turn the knob to determine if you’ve conquered the leak.
Tip: Tape the wrench jaws with duct tape or other sturdy tape so you won’t scratch any part of the fixture.
If your faucet still leaks after you’ve replaced the washer, take a look at the faucet valve set. Chemicals in the water might have caused residue to gather, or the metal stem might have ground against the seat to leave an uneven mark. Either way, the washer will not fit tightly against the valve seat. You can either replace the entire faucet or insert a seat wrench into the seat and remove it. Just like with the washer, make sure you have the exact replacement on hand.
Fixing an Inoperable Garbage Disposal
Tools & Supplies
- Tongs or pliers
- 1/4″ hex wrench
Although considered a simple machine that you most likely don’t spend too much time thinking about, a garbage disposal can work for years without incident. But if your disposal becomes jammed or inoperable, you can easily get it running again. In fact, one of eight do-it-yourself repairs that every adult should know how to do is how to unclog a garbage disposal.
Turn on the wall switch to hear the motor humming. If you don’t hear anything, check the fuses or circuit breakers to make sure your disposal has electricity. If there is no electricity, press the thermal overload button found on the bottom of the disposal.
If electricity isn’t the culprit, make sure you turn off the electrical circuit that powers the disposal before you start sticking tools down it. For a jammed disposal, use tongs or pliers to find if anything foreign found its way into the disposal. If it still doesn’t work, go under the sink to get a closer look at the appliance. Take a look at the bottom of the disposal to find a hex-shaped hole. Take a one-quarter-inch hex wrench and force it back and forth. Some disposals have a reversing switch, which takes care of this step.
Tip: If your garbage disposal has built-up food particles, fill it with cold water and one cup of rock salt and then turn on the disposal for five seconds. To get rid of smells, throw in a sliced lemon and turn on the disposal while running warm water.
Fixing a Noisy Dishwasher
Tools & Supplies
Turning on a dishwasher should emit a soothing, repetitive sound and not a loud, boisterous noise. But don’t fret if that happens.
Before you get too excited about taking apart your dishwasher, make sure the dishwasher trays and racks are in their correct place. If the fasteners holding these items come loose or the racks are off kilter, the dishes could move during the wash cycle and thus crack or break. Tighten or replace the screws on the fasteners if that’s the culprit. Double-check the spray arms to make sure they work correctly and aren’t impeded by loose food particles.
If you need to check out the motor or other working parts, make sure you disconnect the power source to your dishwasher before you begin removing its pieces. Remove the top and bottom racks so you can easily access the bottom of the dishwasher, and then unscrew the lower spray arm assembly. If this piece isn’t causing the noise, remove the dishwasher screen and any visible food particles.
Tip: Make sure to take good care of your dishwasher. Keep the water jets free of food particles and clean the drainage trap every now and then.
Owning a home comes with responsibility, and there’s no reason why you can’t learn how to add a few basic kitchen repairs to your repertoire.
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