Most of us have been in a situation where some plumbing goes wrong in the house and instead of doing what any sensible person would do and call a plumber. We embark on a self-lead journey to fix whatever the problem is because we’re adults and we should be able to do these things, right? Well, most of the time the answer is no. There are professionals that have specific training for this and we should use them. Messing up home plumbing can end up being a very costly mistake ending up in a plumber coming out any way to fix anything you might have accidentally snapped off.
There are, however, a few exceptions to the rule, if you choose to attempt some DIY plumbing, then make sure you’re capable.
Here are four of the most common problems in plumbing and how to fix them.
The Blocked Drain
Everyone has been in this situation at some point in their life, whether they have realized it or not. Ever flushed the toilet and found the water hasn’t disappeared in the time it usually takes? Or water in the bath is taking an unusually long time to drain away? These are telltale signs that you have a blocked drain on your hands. Common plumbing problems are easy to fix, but leave them up to the experts.
Firstly, don’t panic as the problem might be a very simple fix. Check the local area of the drain, this is around the plug area of your sink/bath, if you or your partner have thick hair, it's a common blockage to find some hair sitting just under the plug. If this is the case, remove and get rid of everything blocking the pipe, then water should start flowing freely again. If this doesn't work, then knowing this useful skill can make everything a lot easier to handle; knowing how to use a drain rod will make unblocking your drain a simple task and get you back on track in no time at all. Just remember to always turn it clockwise, so you don’t lose any pieces down the drain!
Some cases might not be so lucky and if you’ve checked the plugs and nothing is blocking them, then you might be faced with something a little more tricky. Check under manhole covers associated with your house to see if there is a larger problem. This can be pretty dirty, so wear protective gloves and clothes you don’t care about.
The leaking pipe
Hearing constant dripping can be enough to send anyone round the u-bend, and there are a few ways to fix it. If you’re after a quick fix just until your plumber arrives, then plumbing tape is a brilliant way to stop any drips for a short period of time, this stuff self-fuses and stops any water from escaping. Make sure you clean the pipe before applying the tape or it won’t stick, and wrap around 20-30cm around the affected area of pipe making sure to stretch it out as you’re doing so. This will create a seal tight enough to stop any leaking water and will hold for longer than you think, giving your plumber plenty of time to arrive and replace your pipe.
The dripping tap
This is not only one of the most annoying sounds we can hear when trying to get to sleep, but it also hikes up our water bill and causes some significant damage to our sinks and bathtubs.
Firstly, find out if you have ceramic fittings or washers inside your tap, a good way to tell is if your tap keeps turning with a bit of force you’re probably looking at washers, but if it stops completely then there is probably a ceramic fitting inside. Once you’ve gone out and bought some new parts, it’s time to loosen the screws to replace the old with the new. If you can’t find where the screws are, then have a look under the decorative caps on the tap — usually saying hot and cold — they usually hide there. Take the tap head off and loosen the valve with a spanner, replace all parts and put your tap back together.
The running toilet
This is a nightmare for your water bill, you’ve flushed your toilet and walked off thinking it will do its thing only to find upon return that it’s still running water. A non-technical way of stopping this happening is jiggling with the flush. If this doesn’t work, then take the lid off the cistern and check your water level when flushing the toilet, if the water is below the mark then check to see if the water valve is turned on fully. If this isn’t the problem, then check the flapper valve and see if the lid is closed, if not, then flip the lid back down and the problem is solved. Still not? Then the last thing to try before calling a plumber is to try and locate the fill valve and lower it, this will leave you with a lower level of water hopefully stopping your toilet from running.
Obviously, if it’s a fixable problem, then by all means, give it a go. But if it is a major plumbing issue in your house, then don’t try and fix it with some plumbing tape and a wrench; an expert plumber exists to fix that! Being able to sort out the smaller issues in your house will save you a lot of money and will leave you feeling fulfilled.