little boy under a sink applies a wrench to the pipes
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3 Quick Plumbing Fixes Under Pressure

What to do before the plumber rescues the day

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You don't need to be a pro to handle a plumbing emergency (though it's smart to keep the number of a good one on hand). These quick fixes will buy you some time until help arrives

Pinhole Leak
When a nail gun misses its mark on a wall or ceiling, it can lead to a big mess. The long-term fix: Replace the damaged section with new pipe. But if you can locate the leak now, you can temporarily stop it by driving a self-tapping screw into the hole through a rubber washer.

Clogged Drain
The first line of defense is a plunger; spread petroleum jelly around its rim for a better seal. In double-bowl sinks, or with drains that have an overflow, stuff a rag into the opening you're not plunging. For serious clogs, try a toilet auger, which has a rubber boot that won't scratch the porcelain.

Leaking Toilet
When water pools at the base of the toilet, it's often the result of a failed wax seal underneath. To be sure, dry the floor around the toilet and wait to see where the water leaks from. If the tank isn't sweating, and the gasket between the bowl and tank is intact, try using a wrench to tighten the bolts on either side; turn a bit at a time so as not to crack the porcelain.

little boy under a sink applies wrench to pipes
Photo by Orlando/Stringer/Getty Images

You don't need to be a pro to handle a plumbing emergency (though it's smart to keep the number of a good one on hand). These quick fixes will buy you some time until help arrives

Pinhole Leak
When a nail gun misses its mark on a wall or ceiling, it can lead to a big mess. The long-term fix: Replace the damaged section with new pipe. But if you can locate the leak now, you can temporarily stop it by driving a self-tapping screw into the hole through a rubber washer.

Clogged Drain
The first line of defense is a plunger; spread petroleum jelly around its rim for a better seal. In double-bowl sinks, or with drains that have an overflow, stuff a rag into the opening you're not plunging. For serious clogs, try a toilet auger, which has a rubber boot that won't scratch the porcelain.

Leaking Toilet
When water pools at the base of the toilet, it's often the result of a failed wax seal underneath. To be sure, dry the floor around the toilet and wait to see where the water leaks from. If the tank isn't sweating, and the gasket between the bowl and tank is intact, try using a wrench to tighten the bolts on either side; turn a bit at a time so as not to crack the porcelain.

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