Know when to Hire a professional plumbing service
Every homeowner should equip themselves with a basic knowledge of plumbing and sewage, but, it’s likely that at some point you’ll need to hire a professional plumber. If you’re in an emergency situation or you’ve been dealing with a persistent problem, it’s time to call an expert. Search for your local tradesmen who will be able to deal with the problem in the safest and most efficient way.
- Low pressure: although having low boiler pressure is not a serious issue, it can have a real effect on how well your shower runs and the cost of keeping your house warm.
- No hot water: if you’re certain that the fuse box hasn’t tripped, you’ve reset your boiler and your thermostat is high enough, then you need a plumbing service to assess the problem.
- Sewage problems: bad smells coming from your drains could suggest that you have a blockage somewhere in the sewage line; this is one of the most common problems in plumbing. Blockages can be caused by flushing the wrong items down your toilet and drain, or even having tree roots growing in your sewage.
- Burst pipes: if frozen water blocks your pipes during the winter, then this can lead to cracks in the pipes as the water expands, or, even worse, major flooding. If you do experience this, call a plumber immediately who will be able to pinpoint the source of the leap and repair any cracks in the pipes.
Be aware of how to prevent plumbing problems
Contrary to what people might think, not everything can be flushed down the toilet or washed away in the sink, even if the label says so. Disposing of the wrong items this way can cause serious problems within your home; items stick together and can block pipes that lead to floods, not to mention the harmful effect these materials can have on the environment. Toilets and sinks should not be used as an alternative bin; take responsibility and dispose of items correctly to save you from repair costs and to keep the wider environment safe.
The most commonly flushed items include:
- Sanitary products: these are designed to absorb liquid and not to break it down, so flushing them will only help them to expand more.
- Grease, fats and oils: pouring fats and oils down the sink can severely clog your sewage pipes. Instead, you should let them solidify (by pouring them into a container and keeping them in the fridge), wipe excess grease with a paper towel before you wash up or, if you want to be really environmentally friendly, search online for instructions on how to create a bird feeder!
- Hair: if you’ve noticed that your shower is flooding, then this could be due to your pipes being blocked with hair. Try investing in a drain cover that will trap hair, or regularly flushing out the plug hole with a baking soda mixture.
- Wipes: even ‘flushable’ wipes will not disintegrate in the same way that toilet paper does. They also contain small plastic fibres which can harm marine life, or, potentially end up entering the human food chain.
3. Identify breakages and problems
Being able to spot tell-tale signs of a plumbing problem will save you a lot of time in the long run. When you call a plumber to come and fix the issue you’ll be able to explain what’s wrong so they can waste no time in diagnosing the problem.
Typical things to look out for include:
- Dripping and gurgling: a dripping or gurgling noise coming from your toilet can be very annoying, especially at night. There may be a leak at the base of the toilet, if so you should be able to see it. Luckily, dripping toilets are usually easy to fix and can be done by your local tradesmen.
- Floors and walls are moist: if the surrounding areas around a shower or any other water based appliances are moist, this is an indicator that there could be a leak somewhere. Mould can appear as black, grey, green or yellow spots and, when left untreated, can spread rapidly throughout your home.
- Slow draining sink: this is usually a sign that the pipes are blocked. If you’ve already tried DIY solutions with no luck, it’s time to call a plumber who will be able to remove deeply lodged items and materials.
- Banging: loud noises coming from your pipes usually occur after your tank refills. However, when the water rushes through the pipes without anywhere to go, this generates a shockwave, meaning the water supply has become clogged. If you hear this regularly it’s a good idea to call a plumber out to check everything is okay, and drain your system if needed.
- Smell: nobody wants odd smells coming from their plugholes, especially when the stench is coming from your sewage. Don’t let this problem go untouched, as some of the gases can be harmful and lead to serious respiratory issues.
4. Don’t ignore leaks
According to Scottish Water, a dripping tap uses at least 5,500 litres a year. In a year that’s enough to fill a whole paddling pool every week for the whole summer. Getting a problem like this fixed as soon as possible will soon reflect in your water bill, and contribute to aiding environmental issues around water waste.
You can spot leaks by:
- Taking regular meter readings to make it easier to spot changes in your usage
- Being aware of waterlogged areas in your garden
- Looking out for lower water pressure from your shower or taps
6. Plumbing and drainage systems: what landlords need to know
If you’re a landlord, then it’s your responsibility to maintain the functional aspects on your property such as electricity, plumbing and heating. It’s important that you make sure these are all in proper working order before each of your tenants enters a lease with you; everyone is entitled to a safe and comfortable living environment. You may have contact with the building contractor who can help recommend a professional plumber, or, contact your local tradesmen to find out about their services.
As a landlord you are usually responsible for:
- Making sure that blocked sewers and waste pipes are cleared given that they are not the result of the tenants misuse.
- The maintenance of boilers and hot water cylinders.
- Pipe work, radiators, fittings and valves.
However, this does not apply to all situations, and tenants should flag anything that they are unsure about, or any potential problems throughout their tenancy.
7. Know where your shut-off valves are
In the case of an emergency such as flooding, you will need to know where the valve is to shut off your water supply. There are two taps: one inside your home and one outside. You should be able to operate the internal tap yourself; it is usually located under your kitchen sink, airing cupboard or under the floorboards near the front door. Once you have located it, simply turn the valve clockwise to stop the water supply.
If you cannot find this tap or it’s not working, then head to the external stop tap which is usually located near the boundary of a premises- be aware that this may be shared and turning the valve could disrupt the water supply of your neighbours. You may also need to seek permission from your water supplier to be able to operate this tap, or to have your water turned back on afterwards. If you have successfully turned off the water supply, you should always contact a plumber immediately to identify and fix the cause of your problem.
8. Know what a plumbing company can do for you
Knowing exactly what plumbing companies or local tradesmen can do will help you identify which kind of expert you need. At John Mutch, the Aberdeen based company for household repairs, we have a team of top-quality professionals for any job big or small.
Services include but are not limited to:
- Fault finding and repairs
- Plumbing and heating installations for domestic and commercial applications
- Drainage services
- Appliance installation
- Boiler services
- Shower repairs and installation
- Faulty WC repairs
- Water bylaw works
- Hot water cylinders repaired and installed
- Points of use water heater
9. Get clued up if you’re moving into a new home
Apart from finding your internal stop tap like we’ve already mentioned, there are some other important things you should get clued up on. Moving house is stressful enough, so follow these tips to make sure everything plumbing related goes smoothly.
- Find out when the boiler was last serviced. You should be able to find this out from your estate agent and, if a service is due, always use a Gas Safe registered engineer.
- Check if the property has lead pipes as these are often found in older homes. It’s now illegal to use lead pipes in those that run water, and although there are things you can do to prevent harm to yourself and your family, the surest way is to get them replaced.
- If you plan on having a new kitchen or bathroom fitted, be aware that work on some plumbing systems may need to be approved by your water supplier -always check the regulations.
10. If you’re unsure never attempt plumbing work yourself
Bottom line is, if you’re inexperienced or simply have no idea what you’re doing then always call a plumber. Messing around with pipes and boilers could lead to bigger costs than the initial problem would have incurred. Find your nearest plumber, tradesmen or building company to get the job done properly.
John Mutch Building Services: Aberdeen’s plumbing experts
Do you have a blocked sink or leaky tap? Then get in touch with John Mutch today, where our expert team can fix your plumbing problems, service your boiler or install your new appliances.
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