Tips from a Central Coast Plumber
Many of us ignore the plumbing in our home as it usually involves special tools and knowledge to fix and/or maintain our pipes, taps, hoses – even the toilet and shower.
But having a basic knowledge of your homes plumbing systems can reap huge rewards – especially if you’re able to spot a small issue before it becomes a big one. Please find below, a list of tips supplied by Brent Thoroughgood, a local Central Coast plumber who has been in the business for over 20 years. Thoroughgood plumbing are based in Terrigal, but they service all of the main areas around the Coast including Erina, Gosford, Kincumber and more.
Basic Plumbing Maintenance for the homeowner
1. Know where your isolation valve is located.
If you have sudden leak in the home its handy to immediately know where the main water supply cut-off is. If you need to shut the water down in a hurry you want to be able to get it done quick and not spend hours looking for the meter, make it obvious, colourful, decorate it with tinsel if you must but make sure it is easily accessible and let the tenant or the property manager know about it….imagine a water pipe broke inside the wall… the longer the water is leaking the more damage it will cause.
We also find a lot regarding blocked drains is that the sewer main inspection shaft is buried and not able to located straight away, we can get plans from council and use a locator to eventually find the inspection shaft however that takes time and that time should be spent clearing the drain not walking around searching for the inspection shaft, and guess what, you are paying for that time at a premium rate, blocked drains always come at a higher charge rate due to the risks and hazards involved. Spend the time now, don’t pay for it later.
2.Check your water usage
If no one is using water and you see the dial moving on your water meter, there’s a good chance you have a leak somewhere. The best place to start looking is generally your taps and toilets. If you’re still unable to find the source of the problem, it might be time to call a professional plumber.
3. Hot Water Maintenance
If your home still uses a storage hot water heater, release the TPR (overflow valve ) at least every 3 months to avoid the build up of sediment and debris. This in turn will improve the operating efficiency of the unit and help prevent any dangers that can arise from a faulty TPR valve. We also recommend a more thorough hot water inspection as outlined below, to be carried out by a licensed plumber.
4. Have a plunger handy
Plungers are cheap and easily bought at your local hardware store. They are great for freeing up clogged sinks, drains and toilets.
5. Replace ageing tapware.
Old taps are a common source of water leaks and in turn higher water consumption. Doing this will make the property comply with the 9L / min water saving regulation. Also, a new set of taps freshens up the home.
6. Flexi hoses (easy hookers)
This one is a big one, if you have flexi hoses in your house ( these will be located under the vanity, kitchen, laundry, and toilet cisterns ) you need to inspect these regularly. Almost everyone we speak to have heard a horror story about properties that have flooded due to burst flexi hoses, once these things split it’s just like turning on a garden hose inside the house and leaving it to run for a few hours. I have personally attended a property that had to be demolished due to water damage from a burst flexi hose. The indicators to look for when inspecting these hoses are frayed brading, kinks or bulges in the hose, rust marks or twisting and any kind of water stain or leak. If you see any of these it’s time to act NOW.
Some items to consider getting a professional plumber to do..
1. Consider getting a new toilet cistern.
Any plumber will tell you how much of their job is spent on fixing old or cheaply made toilet cisterns. They are forever replacing washers, valves and fittings. Like anything, a quality made product is a lot more reliable than a cheap and nasty one. Make your home more inviting and save on your water costs and plumbing repairs at the same time. All new cisterns come with a new toilet seat and a link cover that hides the flush pipe that will give the bathroom a clean fresh feel.
2. Get a pressure limiting valve installed.
These are a must for every property. A pressure limiting valve reduces your water pressure down to 500 kpa which is considered a safe working pressure for all you taps, valves, fittings, pipework and appliances. A pressure limiting valve is guaranteed to increase the lifespan of any plumbing fixture or fitting and you will find that almost nothing connected to a water point these days is warranted without a pressure limiting valve.
They are relatively inexpensive to install and require no maintenance, they are usually installed at the water meter and a simple pressure test at the property will confirm if you have a valve installed or if you require a valve to be installed. Like anything today nothing lasts forever but it still a lot cheaper than replacing a dishwasher or washing machine that’s not covered under warranty due to high water pressure.
3. Sewer and Stormwater inspection
Blocked drains at a property can be a big inconvenience, even more so if it happens after hours or in an emergency situation. It is a good idea to have both your stormwater and sewer drains inspected to search for possible future issues, or to check if the drains are even connected to the correct services. A blocked sewer drain inside a property can be devastating, not only a health hazard but something that could cost you a lot of money in repairs, cleaning and possible temporary relocation… who wants to be cleaning up poop???.
Stormwater issues is something that can sneak up on you without any warning. Your stormwater pipework may be in good working order in a light shower but in a heavy storm……boom massive flood, and sometimes it’s all too late, as this stage, the damage is done. Another stormwater issue we come across is downpipes not connected to the stormwater drains, this can lead to excessive water pooling under the house or even undermining the house piers not to mention the mould or pest issues that can arise from this.
I always say as a rule of thumb, if you think it’s not right…get it checked, trust your intuition it will save your back pocket in the end. Sure we can rectify the problem and make any repairs necessary, but prevention is better than cure.
4. Hot Water Service Inspection
Your hot water service is something you should have checked at least every 6 months. You should have an inspection for any water leaks, damage to the cylinder and stability of the hot water service (if it is leaning over). If you notice any water leaks from the outside of the cylinder you will need a replacement as it isn’t something that can’t be repaired.
You will often see small rust marks around the bottom of the hot water service, usually this is just surface rust and is ok but if the rust looks severe or to be a structural issue or if you have rust marks running down the side of the hot water service then replacement is necessary. If you find the hot water service leaning over it may be something that can be fixed with a replacement concrete base, however it is something that should be dealt with straight away, these things can weigh up to 550kg’s, if that falls on you ……it’s game over.
If you’re purchasing a property have a look at the hot water service, you will find a compliance sticker around the top of an electric hot water service that will tell you the date of manufacture, anything over 10 – 15 years old is on borrowed time and possibly something that should be noted in the purchase report, saying that though, if the hot water service is not leaking, sitting up nice and straight and is in good condition you don’t really have anything to worry about.
5. Roofs, guttering and downpipes
GET THEM CHECKED!!! This is something so simple yet so many people neglect their roofs, out of sight out of mind. A roof, gutter and downpipe inspection should be done every 6 months. This will ensure you have no blockages in your guttering and downpipes and prevent pooling water ( assuming your guttering has correct fall ) that will lead to rust and structural damage of the guttering. A blocked valley on the roof ( Roof valleys are the Vee shaped metal channels that run up and down the ‘folds’ of a roof ) can easily cause flooding inside the roof in a storm or heavy rain, when was the last time you checked your roof valley………… as I said, get them checked and while we are there we will also look for rust on the metal roof or cracked roof tiles, all things that can prevent disasters by getting onto it early.
6. Check for water stains on the floor
Water stains on the floor outside of a bathroom or mould around the bathroom – Another common issue we find in bathrooms are leaking showers. If you notice a leak on the outside of the shower or a water stain on the floor on the outside of the bathroom we can conduct a shower pressure and dye test that locates the source of the leak. It is important to catch these leaks early, a prolonged leak inside a wall cavity can lead to major water damage, wood rot and is a perfect spot for termites to breed. Have a look around the outside of bathroom, inside adjoining cupboards and check skirting boards, if you notice any water stains or water marks book in to get a shower test done, it will save you a lot of money in the long run.
7. Water hammering or noisy pipework
This is an easy one; simply walk around and turn some taps on and off and listen for a noise, if you hear a knocking noise or a vibration when you either turn the taps on or off you should get it checked by a plumber. This could be something as simple as a tap washer or as extensive as loose pipework inside a wall cavity, both problems can usually be repaired or at the very least quietened down.