Generally, there are things that can be done to prevent major plumbing catastrophes and a little maintenance can help to save homeowners thousands of pounds, particularly during seasonal extremes that winter can bring.
Whilst they are common sense to professionals, here are a few general tips and tricks to keep plumbing and heating systems in top condition, which could at the least put you at the top of a homeowners list for any major plumbing work….particularly if you’ve helped to save them money.
KNOW YOUR HOME
It is always advisable to know your home well. By identifying and labelling all the valves and stopcocks, should anything then happen, you will know where to go to switch something off in an emergency.
DRAINING COLD WATER
If a system needs to be drained the water has to be turned off from the mains supply via the stop cock. Normally a stopcock is located near to the sink. Once water supply is off, taps then need to be drained of excess water before beginning any plumbing work. Ensure that you keep this tap well maintained, by occasionally adding a lubricant to keep it from becoming brittle and difficult to turn.
REMOVING AIRLOCKS IN A TAP
Take a hosepipe and attach it to the tap then attach the other end to one that works. Secure it tightly. Open both taps to allow the mains water pressure to build, which will then force the air back out through the pipes. After a couple of minutes, turn off the tap with the airlock, followed by the other tap. If this has not cleared the problem, repeat again, which should work. Detach the hose and allow any excess water to drain from it into the sink. Should problems persist then contact a plumber.
INSULATE PIPE WORK
Use foam tubes to protect pipework in your property. This is manufactured in standard lengths which can be easily cut to size and then secured by insulation tape to secure any gaps. Always ensure you invest in a quality product that comes with a guarantee, as this will help to protect your home from the bitter cold and frost.
FLUSH TOILETS WITH A BUCKET OF WATER
Should your water need to be turned off for any length of time, it is possible to still use the toilet. Before work begins, fill a few large buckets full of water and then tip these into the bowl to flush when needed.
DON’T LET ODOURS DRIVE YOU ROUND THE U-BEND
Plumbers can call the U-bend in your sink, a ‘trap’ with good reason, as it is designed to stop nasty smells from reaching your kitchen through the drains. If odours are getting through it could be because there is not enough water in the U-bend for it to trap them. The simple solution is to run the cold water tap for a few minutes for it to fill back up.
KILL THE LIMESCALE
Limescale is a recurring issue and its escalation causes various problems in pipes, taps and domestic appliances. Overnight soaking a shower head in a cup or plastic bag full of vinegar will completely remove the mineral build up. This will help to increase your shower pressure and returns the shower to nearly new. To remove limescale from taps, soak a towel in vinegar then wrap this carefully around the tap, cover it with clingfilm and leave it on for around 12 hours. The following morning the taps will be as good as new.
To remove limescale from a kettle, just fill it with cold water and then add a few tablespoons of water softener. Then let it boil for a few minutes. Hopefully, this should remove the limescale, however, if it is stubborn, repeat the process but add a few drops of lemon juice to give a little added strength. Refill the kettle with fresh water before use.
KEEP THE PIPES CLEAR
DO NOT pour fats or cooking oil down the kitchen sink. Cooking oil and fats solidify in the pipes which cause blockages. Also if you have a garbage disposal unit, turn it on before placing food inside it, then run the taps for around 30 seconds before and after use. By doing this all waste will be flushed away down the main line.
If you do have any particularly interesting or useful tips for homeowners then do send them onto us and we will gladly add them.