General hints on blocked pipes, faulty faucets, taps, drains, and more.
Sweating Copper extolling the virtues and advice on using the magic metal.
Slow Draining Sinks — If your sink drains are chronically slow and you live in an older house, the problem may be an accumulation of sludge in the lines. No amount of plunging and chemicals is going to fix this. What’s needed is to climb up onto the roof of your house with a metal snake (preferably one with a business end looking a bit like a ballpeen hammer) and ram that snake down each of the drain lines, entering through the vent stacks, with a fair amount of force. It may require 50 or 100 motions for each stack. A licensed plumber will charge you about US$250 or, you can venture it yourself. You should also snake out any drain clean-outs you can find at ground level. — Mark Gilman Note: Climbing onto your roof can be very dangerous, better to get someone else to do it, – preferably someone with good experience. – ED
Tips on Pipes. If you have a split pipe, instead of draining down the whole system you can buy ‘pipe freeze’, (I know this product is available in the UK but not sure about anywhere else), It comes with a jacket that you wrap around the pipe and you spray something very cold into it and it freezes the pipe for about 30-40 mins. Saving time and money. — Kevin Rockell Kevin @ No Worries Plumbing …….UK
Blocked Tap. Make sure you turn the water off at source before attempting to clear a blocked tap by taking it apart. — Adam Le Gresley Adam you sound as if you are talking from experience ? – Ed
Blocked Sinks. If you are using a plunger, trying to unblock a blocked sink, cover up the overflow holes with a damp cloth. This helps build up the pressure. — Janet Adamson, Washington DC.
Repairs. Ensuring you have the correct tools for the job is essential. If you don’t have a piece of heavy duty machinery for a job it is usually possible to obtain one through equipment leasing. It’s usually a cheaper alternative than hiring a contractor or buying it outright. — Anon
Toilets. If your toilet ball float is leaking and filling with water here is a useful trick I learnt to tide you over until you can get a new one. Take off the float (by unscrewing it), empty it, then screw it back on and wrap it in a plastic bag. — Anon.
Starting Threads on Pipes – When threading pipes it is sometimes difficult to get started. You can make it easier by cutting slots in the end and then cutting off the end later — Richard Heffer. Camberley UK
Leaky Toilets. If you think that your toilet might be leaking slightly, check to see if the problem is not due to condensation before calling out a plumber. If you have condensation problems they can be solved by improved ventilation when bathing or showering. — Y Chan
Leaky Cistern – A clever way of checking to see if your cistern is leaking is to put in some food coloring. — Anon
PTFE Tape. Remember to use PTFE tape when fixing a leak or making joints. The tape should be wrapped around the thread of the pipe. Clockwise when viewed from the end of the pipe is the correct way to put it on — Robin Gill Southall England
Good Practice – If you are installing tanks and fitting pipes to them be sure to cover the ends of the pipes with tape to stop pieces of plastic and swarf from dropping down them, the bits and pieces will block taps later on and cause all kinds of problems.- Talking from experience — Richard Heffer. Camberley UK
Showers. If the water pressure is very poor in your shower it may be due to lime-scale build up. If you live in a hard water area you should clean your shower heads every three months or so. If the scale is too bad it may be an idea to get either a new hose, or a new shower head. — Scott Edmunds
Water Hammer – If your water pipes sometimes make a loud “hammering noise” after the toilet has been flushed or sink, etc. Ask at the hardware store for something for “waterhammer”. It’s a fitting or somesuch thing which is easily installed in the line. A common problem and not very expensive. – – Anon
Hammering water pipes. This is caused by a pressure build up of water in the pipes. The simplest solution is to turn down your water pressure at the stop-cock — Alan Brighton
Repairs to low pressure water pipes can be carried out while the water is held back by stuffing bread up the pipe. It should remain in place long enough for a repair to be made — Handy Andy. (Andy Hand-Davis Hedge End, Southampton England)
Frozen Pipes. I find that the best way to melt the ice in frozen pipes is to put hot water bottles over them. I hear that using a hair-dryer is good as well. — Jon Simpson
Split Pipes. If your water pipe has split, a temporary fix you can do whilst waiting for a qualified plumber is to wrap torn strips of fabric very tightly around the break. Keep a large saucepan or bucket underneath the join to catch any drips. — Harry James.
Taps. If you are removing nice tap fittings (such as gold ones) for maintenance reasons, use a thick cloth to protect it from the jaws of the wrench, otherwise you’ll get a load of scratches on them. — Geoff New
More good advice. When taking a tap apart, always keep the plug in, to prevent anything useful falling down the plug hole. – Larry Brown, LA.
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