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Dealing with Pesky Plumbing Problems Yourself.


You need to act quickly when there is a problem with you plumbing system as water can do serious damage! If you keep basic repair materials in your tool kit and f you know what to do in an emergency, you will prevent most situations from getting out of hand.

Turning off your Power and Water:

If you do get a burst pipe, leaking cistern or flooding the first thing to do is to turn off the electricity supply straight away. You can do this at the consumer unit/fuse box. When the leak has been repaired and you have mopped the water up make sure you examine all your sockets, switches, electrical equipment and ceiling roses in the area to make sure they are all dry. If there is water in them don’t turn the power back on until they’ve dried out.

Make sure you know where all your valves are, especially the main stop valve because this lets you turn off the supply in an emergency or for essential work. Every couple of months you should check your valves to make sure you can open and close them easily. Applying a few drops of oil to a valve shaft will make it easier to open. You should never leave a valve completely open, this will make it seize up which stops you from closing it when you really need to.

How to Fix a Burst Pipe:

A pipe repair clamp is the quickest way to stop water leaking from a pipe, but you should use this as a temporary repair. If you do this, you don’t need to drain the pipe beforehand.

Step 1: Put together the 2 halves of the clamp over the damaged part of your pipe, you should double check that the rubber sealing gasket is in the right place.

Step 2: Secure the screws and tighten them all the way, this will clamp the device down over the damaged section of the pipe.

How to Make a Permanent Repair to a Burst Pipe:

As long as the damaged section is no more than 40-50mm long you can repair a burst pipe with a coupling. If the damaged part is longer than this, you will need to put in a new section of pipe or use a flexible hose connector. Use a mini pipe cutter as this will give you a much cleaner cut than a hacksaw. Make sure you are prepared and you have all the right tools!

Step 1: Turn the water supply off and drain the pipe. If there is space, use a mini pipe cutter to cut each side of the damages area and remove that section of pipe. You might have to free the pipe from nearby clips, so you can rotate the cutter around it. If you can’t do that then use a hacksaw.

Step 2: Using a narrow file remove the burrs from inside the cut ends and burnish the outside of the cut ends with wire wool or a deburring brush. Then slip the cap nuts and metal ring/olives of the pipe coupling onto the ends of the cut pipe. Wrap PTFE tape about 5 times clockwise around the threads of each compression joint.

Step 3: Put the pipe ends into the burst pipe coupling. Hold the coupling with a pipe wrench or water pump pilers, then tighten the nuts with an adjustable spanner.

How to Repair a Pipe using a Flexible Hose Connector

It can be hard to cut and repair a pipe that’s running through noggins and cant be released from nearby clips. A flexible hose with push fit joints on either end may be easier and quicker than fitting a new section of pipe.

Step 1: Using a mini cutter take out a section of damaged pipe, the length of the hose but not the joints. File any burrs from inside the cut pipe ends and burnish the outsides with either a wire wool or a deburring brush.

Step 2: Then put each pipe end into the push fit joint, making sure its pushed in all the way. Make sure you don’t rotate or stretch the hose when doing this.

How to Repair a Leaking Pipe Joint:

Fixing a soldered leaking pipe take some skill, it is easier to use repair putty as this will stop the leak permanently. When the putty is hard you can sand it and smooth it, then paint it.

Step 1: Turn the water supple off to the affected pipe then let it drain down. Let it dry then go over the area you are repairing with a wire brush.

Step 2: Press the repair putty around the joint, make sure you force it into the gap between the pipe and fitting. You will need to work quickly as putty dries fast!

How to Fix an Airlock:

If you have drained and refilled your plumbing system air might have become trapped in the pipe. This will make the taps splutter or could even cut off the flow completely.

To cure the airlock, connect a garden hose to the kitchen cold tap or if you have a direct system you can use any cold tap, this is on the mains pressure and the other end to the affected tap. Open both of the taps then leave it for a few minutes. The main pressure should force the air out of the system, but you might have to repeat the action to fully fix the issue.

How to Fix a Frozen Pipe

All of the pipes you have in your home could be exposed to very low temperatures. They need to be lagged to protect them against freezing, however lagging will only delay the onset of freezing. If the temperature is low enough for a long-time ice may develop and this will stop the flow of water to your taps and other outlets. The worst case would be that the ice will split your pipes or force apart a joint.

It is wise to take precautions if you go away for a long time in the winter. Set your heating thermostat at the lowest setting o if you can use the frost setting as this will make your heating come on automatically if the temperatures drop near to a freezing point. Or you can even turn off the main stop valve and drain the system completely.

To thaw a frozen pipe, it is best to warm it with a hair dryer as this will gradually work along its length from the tap or valve until the water starts to flow again. Another way to do this is to drape a hot water bottle around the pipe or soak hand towels in hot water. You should never use a blow torch as an open flame in a home as this will cause a serious fire hazard. Excessive heat from a blow torch can cause the water inside the pipe to boil then possibly explode.

How to Stop Water Coming Through your Ceiling:

It is more than likely that your water storage cistern and tank is in your loft or the upper floor of your house. If there is a leak then the first thing you will know about it is that water will start poring through your ceiling, you will need to act quickly, or your ceiling could collapse.

Step 1: Turn off your electricity at the main power switch and then the water supply at the main stop valve. Put some containers in place to catch the leaking water. Then turn all of the taps and flush your toilet as this will help you empty your pipes and cold-water storage cistern. They also won’t refill while the main stop valve is off.

Step 2: Investigate the cause of the leak, this could be a burst pipe, a loose joint or the cistern itself leaking or overflowing. If the leak is coming from a hot water cylinder, then you will ned to turn off your boiler and empty the cylinder by running a hose from the drain cock near its base to an outside gully.

How to Identify why No Water is Coming from a Tap:

Step 1: Turn off the cold tap in your kitchen, if you are on a direct system use any cold tap. If there is no flow, make sure the main stop valve is open. If the problem still occurs call your water supplier.

Step 2: If the main cold top is working inspect the cold-water storage cistern in the loft. If it is empty, make sure the ball valve isn’t jammed dismantle and clean the valve or replace it. Your rising main could be blocked if there’s no flow when the valve is held open.

Step 3: If your cold water storage cistern is full but there is still now flow from your bathroom taps there must be an airlock or blockage in the supply pipe from the cold cistern or hot water cylinder.

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