It’s easy to think that you don’t need to know anything about plumbing because you can leave it to the professional plumbers.
But what if you have an emergency? It’s good to know how to deal with basic issues so you can keep them at bay without having to pay for an expensive emergency plumber.
Our top 10 tips are from real plumbers and they aim to help you deal with plumbing emergencies as well as preventing problems in the first place.
1. Fix that dripping tap
Never leave a dripping tap. It might not be causing you much bother, but it will be wasting water. And if you leave it too long, the problem will only get worse.
If you’ve got a leaking ball valve, it will perish eventually if you don’t replace it. You could end up with water leaks everywhere! Change washers on leaks as soon as you notice them. And if you need to use a wrench on a tap, cover it with an old cloth beforehand so you don’t scratch it.
2. Put the plug in
When you’re replacing washers in taps, there are lots of small pieces that can easily fall down the plughole. So make sure you put the plug in before you take the tap apart so you don’t lose any important components.
3. Find your valves
It’s vital that you know where your mains stopcock is so you can switch it off in an emergency. If you know where it is before any problems occur, you won’t be panicking trying to find it when you’ve got a leak.
Find out all the other valves you have in your home and label them. It’s also a good idea to turn them off and on again once or twice a year to prevent them from seizing up.
4. Protect pipes from freezing
Make sure you insulate any pipes that may be exposed to freezing temperatures. A burst pipe is a huge job and is likely to cost you a lot of money. Pipes in the loft or basement are the most likely to be at risk.
If you’ve got an outside tap, isolate it during the cold weather. Turn off the isolation valve on the supply, then drain the water left in the pipe by running the tap until the water stops.
5. Take care of your boiler
It’s imperative that you get your boiler serviced yearly to avoid any dangerous problems. Check the flame on your boiler – if it’s yellow instead, you should get your boiler checked straight away.
Make sure you get a gas safe engineer to do any work on your boiler – never try to do it yourself, as faulty boilers can emit potentially fatal carbon monoxide gas.
6. Check your hoses
No, not just your garden hose. Hoses that connect appliances like washing machines should be checked at least once a year for signs of wear and tear. Check the connections at each end of the hose to ensure that there are no drips.
7. Protect appliances from limescale
If you live in a hard water area, limescale will build up around your taps and shower heads, as well as kettles. Keep your appliances working efficiently by using a limescale remover regularly. You can also use vinegar to remove limescale, which is cheaper than most chemicals.
Limescale can also build up in pipes, washing machines and dishwashers, so try to find appropriate cleaners for these too. If you’ve got the money, you could fit a water softener.
8. Clean your outlets
It’s easy for sink plugholes to get blocked with food or shower and bath outlets to get clogged with hair. Make sure you clean them out regularly to prevent blockages.
Plumbers recommend that you use a plunger to unblock a pipe rather than chemicals. So if you don’t fancy putting in a bit of elbow grease, keep your pipes clean!
9. Emergency flush
If your toilet cistern fails, a good way to flush your loo until you get it fixed is to pour a bucket of water down there. But don’t wait around in getting it repaired!
10. Be prepared
Keep some essentials in your toolbox in case you come across an emergency. LLFA tape is a handy thing to have, as you can seal split pipes with it. Read up on how to fix a leaking pipe so you can stem a problem while you wait for a plumber to come round.
These top 10 tips should keep you prepared for an emergency as well as helping you to prevent problems from occurring in the future. If you’re ever unsure about doing any DIY plumbing, though, leave it to the professional plumbers.