As we have all been spending more time than ever at home, it is more than likely that you have embarked in DIY tasks that you would usually enlist the professionals to tackle. However, while simple projects around the house are easy to master as a novice, one aspect that is vital to know is how to handle plumbing-related problems. The plumbing system plays a pivotal role in your home, responsible for everything from your hot water supply to central heating, making understanding the ins and outs of utmost importance. With this in mind, as reputable plumbers in Woburn Sands and the local surrounding areas, we have put together our top seven plumbing maintenance tips. These will not only help you to resolve minor issues but also understand when it is time to call in the professionals.

Our Top 7 Plumbing Maintenance Tips

If you’re new to plumbing, then the complex components and metres of pipework can be somewhat daunting. However, as a homeowner, having even just a basic understanding of plumbing systems can most definitely work towards your advantage should a problem arise. This means that you can not only feel confident about the steps to take to prevent damage, but you can also keep the likelihood of a problem in the first place to a minimum. It is for these key reasons that we have put together a handful of our top maintenance tips, which will help you to begin familiarising yourself with your system.

Plumbing Tools

1. Contact A Plumber If You’re Unsure

First and foremost, one of the most important tips to keep in mind is that, while it is great to attempt a DIY fix, only do this is you feel confident that you understand the process. If you spot an issue and not too sure whether it is severe, then get in touch with a plumber. Having been a plumber in Olney and the surrounding areas for many years, we can confirm that any professional would prefer that you get in touch with them first to ask for advice. From here, we will then be able to determine whether the issue is a small fix by talking it through with you over the phone, or if you would instead benefit from a visit. This is far easier than taking it upon yourself to begin working on the system with no direction to find that you have done more harm than good, resulting in costly repair fees.

Contacting a professional for guidance is particularly crucial if you notice an issue with your boiler or central heating system. Damaged boilers can be incredibly hazardous to both your home and family with carbon monoxide poisoning being the most dangerous of all. Carbon monoxide is known as a silent killer because it is both colourless and odourless, yet can be potentially fatal. For more information on this topic, head over to Boiler Guide.

2. Check The Water Pressure

By definition, the water pressure of your home is how much force is required to push water from the mains supply through the pipework. Fluctuation in water pressure is a common occurrence and can be different from house to house, even those that are next door. However, it is vital to regularly check your water pressure as if it is too high; it can lead to severe problems. Not only does a high water pressure cause your plumbing lines and fixtures to work twice as hard, but it can also lead to a blowout. Checking the pressure means that you can turn it down before it has a chance to cause expensive problems.

Now, before going ahead with checking the water pressure, it is important to highlight that this is different from the water flow. Water pressure and water flow are often mistaken for one another, yet are not the same and therefore, must be tested differently. Unlike water pressure, the water flow is how much water comes out of, for example, your shower or tap, not the force that it comes out in. This can be tested on Water Pressure Problems, which has a handy tool that allows you to submit your data to assess your results. Testing the water pressure, on the other hand, should be completed using the steps featured on The Spruce’s handy guide. For this, you will need to invest in a water pressure gauge, as well as tongue-and-groove pliers.

Turning Tap On

3. Fix Any Minor Leaks

Did you know that leaving a dripping tap unfixed for one year can cost you as much as an extra £100 on your water bills? This is just one of the many surprising facts found on Top Tradespeople, who have estimated how much money a leaking tap can waste. With this in mind, we suggest fixing any leaking taps or showers around the house, which is a job that you can do without enlisting a plumber. This will not only save you money but also prevent serious water damage such as mould and damp.

To fix a leaking tap, you will need to begin by determining whether it is designed with washers or ceramic discs. You can do this simply by turning the tap that you need to work on. If it can turn only a quarter or half of the way, it is a ceramic disc, but if it turns any more, it has washers. Once you know what supplies you will need to use, we suggest using the handy step-by-step guide on AXA which includes essential equipment and a photo tutorial.

Repairing a leaking shower, on the other hand, will depend on whether it is the showerhead or valve that is causing an issue. If it is the showerhead then as you could assume, the lead will be coming from the showerhead itself. Whereas, if it is the valve, then it will be the taps of your shower or the controls fitted to the wall that will be leaking. For a guide on how to fix both, take a look at Victorian Plumbing.

For those who are worried about handling other types of leaks in their home, we recommend taking a look at our previous article on how to stop a small leak.

4. Know What To Flush & Drain

We have all been guilty of flushing things down the toilet that we know we shouldn’t, whether this may be face wipes or hair. The same goes for pouring liquids down the drain, we know that there are many that are harmful, but we do it anyway for convenience. However, we are here to stress the importance of being mindful towards what you flush and drain, as this can be the difference between a functioning water system and one that requires costly repairs.

So, firstly, let’s take a closer look at what you can and cannot flush down the toilet. In simple terms, the only thing that you should ever flush is either toilet paper or human waste, nothing else. This is because these can be disintegrated before reaching the sewage, meaning that they will not clog up your pipes and cause drainage problems. Commonly flushed items that can be detrimental to your water systems are:

  • Face / Baby Wipes
  • Cotton Pads / Cotton Buds
  • Sanitary Products
  • Dental Floss
  • Nappies
  • Hair

Along with flushing items down the toilet, you should also think twice before pouring anything down the drain. This is not only because particular liquids can block your drains, but things such as chemicals can also contaminate the water. One specific type of liquid that is always poured down the drain but causes significant damage is grease, fats and cooking oil. While all three of these are in liquid form when poured, within just a few minutes, they solidify and clog the pipes. For more information on this, along with a list of other things you should not pour down the drain, take a look at Clovered.

Water Draining

5. Unclog Slow Drains

If you notice that one of your sinks or your bath is draining slowly, then you can attempt to resolve this issue through DIY methods. There are a number of super easy ways that you can break up clogs in pipes and resolve the issue before it has a chance to grow. These include:

  • Boiling Water – Fill your kettle to the maximum it can hold and pop it on to boil. Once boiled, simply pour around one-third of the water down the blocked drain, wait a few seconds, pour another third and repeat. It’s as easy as that!
  • Homemade Drain Cleaner – You can create your own drain cleaner from home by combining equal amounts of baking soda and vinegar. Together, these cause a fizz which is ideal for shifting any build-ups within the pipework.
  • Bent Wire Hanger – A super simple, traditional method is to straighten a wire hanger and create a small hook at the end. Carefully feed this down the drain and move the hanger until you begin to feel any build-ups. You can then start to hook onto any grime in the pipes and slowly pull it out.

As always, if you attempt to unblock a drain with no success or you are worried about trying to use DIY methods, then contact a professional for guidance. They will always be able to walk you through the route that they think will work best or will arrange a visit.

6. Familiarise Yourself With Shut-Off Valves

Although it is rare that you will need to use them, it is vital that you are familiarised with where your homes shut-off valves are located. These are responsible for your water system, which means that should an emergency arise, you will need to know how to quickly find them and switch them off until your plumber arrives.

In every property, there will always be two taps, one which is indoors and another outdoors. Almost all inside valves are either underneath your kitchen sink, in the airing cupboard or just under the floorboard nearest to your front door. The outdoor tap, on the other hand, will be one that you share with your neighbours, meaning that it is likely to be nearby the boundary of your property. If you experience a major leak or flooding, then you should always aim to switch off the indoor valve as this will only impact your home. Should you try with no luck, then you will need to consult your neighbours and then switch off the outdoor valve. Regardless of which one you use, they are both switched off by turning the valve clockwise.

Shut Off Valve

7. Understand The Warning Signs

Being able to spot common warning signs that there is a problem with your plumbing system can mean the difference between a quick fix and an entire breakdown. It also means that should you need to contact a plumber, you are aware of how to describe the problem to them, helping them to diagnose the issue quickly and efficiently. Telltale signs that you should always keep an eye out for are:

  • Damp – If you spot that the flooring, walls or furniture nearby to a water system are damp, then you may be experiencing a leak. It is vital that you resolve this issue as soon as possible; failing to risks the growth of mould, which can quickly spread across your property.
  • Odours – No water system should be exuding a foul odour meaning that if any drains begin to smell, it is likely that they are blocked.
  • Strange Sounds – Banging, dripping, and gurgling sounds are all common warning signs that there is an issue with your boiler or plumbing system. This could indicate anything from a leak to a blockage.

You can find a full guide on how to spot whether you have a problem and require the assistance of a plumber over on our previous article.

Keeping Your Plumbing System In Working Order!

Experiencing a problem with your plumbing system can be incredibly inconvenient and frustrating, meaning that you should always act quickly to prevent the issue from deteriorating. If caught in the early stages, plumbing defects can often be fixed promptly with minimal fuss, so we always recommend to contact a professional if you are unsure. Our team at Bishop Plumbing & Heating are always happy to help with any problems you may be experiencing, whether you have a leak or are interested in another service such as boiler installation in Milton Keynes.

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