Rise of Common Plumbing Problems in the Home

Is that tap still dripping your kitchen? The radiator still clicking in your bedroom? You’re not alone – these are some of the most common plumbing problems found in houses and with a bit of DIY you’ll probably find you can solve these issues without having to call out your plumber.

If your tap is dripping and you can’t seem to stop it then it may just need a new washer, and even though the thought of taking your tap apart may seem quite daunting, it really is straightforward. Firstly, turn off the water supply at the service valve of this leaking tap or turn it off at the mains. Next, put the plug in to ensure that no small pieces will be lost when you dismantle the tap. You’ll then need to take off the top of the tap, and you can do this by either removing the centre cover on the tap and releasing the screw or by pulling it.

Once you’ve done this you’ll need to wrap a towel around the tap and hold it with a wrench; then, using another wrench you’ll need to unscrew the headgear nut of the tap. You may find that this is particularly stiff so try to loosen it with some WD40 or other penetrating oils.

After the headgear nut has been removed you should be able to locate a washer that can be prised away using a screwdriver. Once you’ve removed this you can then place the new washer in its place, putting the headgear nut back on (make sure you don’t tighten this too much). Put the tap back in place and turn the water supply back on to see if the problem has been solved.

My taps still dripping, what do I do?

If the above guide hasn’t stopped the dripping of the tap you may need to clean the part of the tap under the washer as limescale can build up here or it can become scratched and damaged. To resolve this problem you’ll need to purchase a re-seating tool, which can be found in your local DIY store or plumber’s merchants.

The tool will clean the metal as you push it into the tap and twist it round and it can be purchased in a package with a washer – which may save you more time and money in the first place.
My tap has ceramic disc taps instead of washers.

If you have relatively new taps then you may find they have ceramic discs rather than washers (for example, if your tap only needs twisting by a quarter, this is a good indication that you will have a ceramic disc tap). This is just as easily replaced as a washer, so you will need to follow all of the above steps, instead removing the valve to get to the ceramic cartridge. If you then take this disc to your local DIY/Plumbing store, you will be able to find a match for your disc as these do vary and have right/left-handed versions. It’s also worth bearing in mind that the thin rubber seal that surrounds the cartridge may also need replacing.

What to do if your radiator clicks.

Clicking radiators can be a cause of constant irritation but in a lot of cases it can be easily solved, restoring peace in your home! During the warmer summer months we tend to forget that we have central heating, which is when a lot of the air can build up in your radiators, leading to them being far less efficient than they should be. Statistics have shown that this can lead to payments of up to 35% more on your heating bill.

The clicking sound that your radiator may be making can be caused by air locks, which will click as they move through the valves in the radiators. Nevertheless, even if you don’t have this irritating clicking sound in your radiators it is a good idea to check the tops of your radiators for any cold patches as this can be an indication of air building up in the system.
If your radiators are clicking or you have cold patches then you’ll need to bleed your radiators to get rid of these air pockets. This shouldn’t be a regular job that you have to carry out and if you find that you are having to then you may need to seek professional advice to ensure that there aren’t any other hidden problems in your heating system.

How to bleed your radiators.

To bleed your radiators you will first need to turn off your central heating and turn up your thermostat to the highest temperature on the dial to open up the valves. Secondly, you’ll need a radiator key which can be purchased for several pence from your local DIY store.

Make sure you have a towel on hand to catch any drips of water that may escape whilst you are bleeding your radiators.

Begin bleeding your radiators in the upstairs rooms as the majority of the air that is trapped in the system will be up there. Locate the square valve at the side of the top of your radiators and put the key into this, turning slowly anti-clockwise.

A hissing sound will escape the radiator if there is air trapped in it, let this happen until water starts to drip out (catching this in the towel). Once this happens, close the valve. Do this with all of your radiators and once finished turn your heating on one of the highest settings for fifteen minutes to make sure that none of the valves you have opened are leaking.

My radiator has cold patches at the bottom?

If your radiator has cold patches at the bottom rather than the top, the problem is slightly more serious but one that can potentially be rectified with simple DIY tips. These cold patches could be a sign that sludge/rust is building up in the bottom of your radiator. If so, you may need to remove your radiator and give it water treatment or flush it out with a hose – you will need to check with your boiler supplier/instructions before carrying this out, and always seek professional advice if you are unsure.

Some of my radiators are hot and some are cold?

If you find that some radiators are getting piping hot whilst others aren’t getting as warm then you may find that they aren’t balanced properly. This will generally mean that those radiators nearest to the boiler are taking more hot water than they should be from the system. Unfortunately, this is a job that will need a professional plumber or heating engineer. Other common plumbing issues…

Smelly Washing Machine

If you find that your washing machine is starting to smell then you may have a blockage in the pipework which can be caused by gel washing tablets. To try and get rid of the smell, run your washing machine on the hottest, longest cycle on empty and repeat. This should help to clear the issue by dissolving any of the gel that may have resided in the pipework. Equally, give the filter of the washing machine a clean too.

Toilet Won’t Flush Properly

If the water in your toilet doesn’t flush out very quickly then you may find that the pipe or trap from the toilet to the soil stack has a blockage. A simple toilet plunger may be able to rectify this problem, but always remember to cover the surrounding floor around the toilet and to wear gloves. If this doesn’t work fully, you could try a wire coat hanger to dislodge the blockage with.

Blocked Sink

If your sink has blocked you may find that the plastic trap underneath the plughole has become blocked. Firstly, check that other draining outlets such as your bath, other sinks and your washing machine are draining properly; if they are then this indicates that the problem is the pipe that leads to the drain from the sink. If none of these are draining properly then this shows a blockage in your soil pipe or drain.

Try to get rid of the blockage using a pump or plunger. To do this most effectively, cover the overflow hole with a wet cloth and put enough water in the sink so the rubber plunger is covered. To create a better seal, rub the plunger rim with Vaseline. Then, pump the handle of the plunger up and down about 12 times to try and free the blockage. When unblocked, run the taps to get rid of any loose debris that may be in the pipes.

If you find that this doesn’t work, then you will have to get rid of as much water as possible from the sink before putting a bucket/washing-up bowl underneath the sink and unscrewing the pipe under the sink to find the blockage and remove it. It is only in rare occasions that the blockage will be more than 40mm down your waste pipe; so you can get to this by using a wire coat hanger to try and ease the blockage free. If this doesn’t work, try putting a hose into the pipe and blasting water through to try and free it – but be careful not to flood the kitchen!

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Comments are closed.