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Two Plumbing Tasks You Can Tackle Yourself

Recently we went over three easy plumbing problems. Now that you have built up your confidence with those tasks, you might want to tackle some slightly more complicated plumbing projects. Here are a couple that you can accomplish with a Saturday afternoon and parts from your local home improvement store.

1. Replacing a garbage disposal

This is easier than it sounds, but you have to pay close attention and maybe even take a digital picture or two. First, clear the work area under the sink, place a pan or rags to catch leakage, and unplug the power cord. Carefully note all the plumbing connections to the unit (this is where that digital picture will come in handy). Disconnect all the pipes and hoses. Use channel lock pliers if necessary. Support the disposal with stacked magazines, an upended bucket, or a jack, then turn the locking ring at the top counterclockwise to release the disposal. Once it is out, take off the electrical access plate and remove the power cord (you will need it for the new unit). Clean up any old putty, gasket material, etc. before mounting the new disposal. If you have a dishwasher, be sure to knock out the plastic plug in the new disposal where the dishwasher hose connects. Attach the electrical cord, and follow the directions that come with the new disposal for installation. Make sure the locking ring and all plumbing connections are tight, plug in the new disposal and test it.

2. Replacing a kitchen faucet

First, determine the type of faucet, and whether it uses one or three holes (this will save you an extra trip to the hardware store). Turn off the water supply under the sink, then disconnect the supply lines from the faucet with an adjustable wrench. Measure the supply line diameter and connector type, or better yet remove the old faucet (disconnecting the locking nut) and take it with you to the hardware store to match it up with the new one. Mount your new faucet on the sink and attach any locking hardware. You may want to lay a bead of plumbers putty under the new faucet plate before mounting. Put Teflon tape or pipe dope on all the threads, then attach the faucet lines to the water feed lines. Turn the water supply back on and check for leaks. If there are none, turn the faucet on slowly and check again. If everything looks good, you have done the job for a fraction of what a plumber would charge.