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Plumbing Advice

Frequently Asked Questions

Sometimes what initially seems a small DIY fix it job, it can quickly turn into a large scale, 2 inches of water in the lounge room disaster.

The best advice is to call a professional plumber in at the early stages to diagnose and fix your problem – saving you time and money in the long run.

Drains

My drain smells! How do I get rid of the smell?

Pour a mixture of baking soda and vinegar down the drain if you can’t see any reason for the blockage. Wait an hour then flush it out with hot water.

If this doesn’t work then you will need to call a plumber.

What is the gurgling sound coming from my drain?

In case if your drains aren’t flushing properly and creating gurgling noises, there might primarily be two reasons behind it:

  • A faulty venting system: Drainage systems come with plumbing vents that enable air to travel through the drains without hampering the water flow. However, when the vents get blocked, the drainage system stops functioning properly. The air pushes against the water, creating the gurgling noises.
  • A partial blockage: In case if a drainage pipe is partially blocked, the water will create a gurgling noise as it strains to push its way past the clog. The clog would also cause the water to flow much slower than usual.

What should I not use to unblock my drain?

There are many chemical ‘drain blocking’ options on the market however it is advisable not to use them as they are not always effective and can cause other issues down the track

What is the best way to unblock my drain?

  • Remove the obstruction yourself if you can see it
  • Pour hot water down the drain if the problem is a lump of fat or solidified oil
  • Pour a mixture of baking soda and vinegar down the drain if you can’t see any reason for the blockage. Wait an hour then flush it out with hot water.
  • Use a plunger

How do I prevent a blocked drain?

Common problems and solutions:

Foreign objects or debris

Choked or blocked drainage can occur when foreign objects or materials such as hair, soaps, fats or food, become caught between the drainpipe and the pipes that flow underneath. Initially the material may not fully block the drain, but over time materials will continue to collect which will prevent water from flowing freely and could eventually cause the drain to block. Toilets regularly block up due to too much toilet paper, sanitary items and even nappies being flushed down them. Young children are often the culprits for blocked toilets. They have been known to flush a full roll of toilet paper, a toy and even the toilet brush! A blocked toilet is really unpleasant and requires immediate action.

Prevention:

  • Do not pour fats/oils down the sink – pour into a container and place in the rubbish
  • In the shower use a hair catcher over the drain or regularly remove the hair from the drain
  • Never flush anything extra down the toilet except toilet paper

Heavy rains or storms

Outside drains may become blocked after storms or heavy downpours collecting leaves, dirt and other matter that can build up and block drains. Blocked drains during heavy storms are very common as they are generally not designed to manage large volumes of water. Blocked outside drains can cause flooding and damage to property.

Prevention: Maintain drain efficiency by regularly clearing leaves and debris away or install a protective gutter guard over the drain to keep them clear

Broken pipes

Another cause of blocked drains can be a broken pipe. If a pipe is broken the water cannot flow freely and it may collapse, causing the drain to block. The most common causes of broken pipes are poor installation, age and tree roots. Tree roots cause enormous damage underground and these types of blockages may require detailed investigation of underground pipes to identify where the problem is occurring. Underground pipe repairs can be disruptive and costly depending on how difficult it is to access the problem area.

Prevention: Check where your sewer and stormwater drains are placed on your property before planting new plants in your garden.

Incorrect pipe installation

With the dramatic rise in popularity of do-it-yourself (DIY) repairs and home renovations, there has been an increase in poorly installed plumbing and drainage pipes. Pipes may become misaligned or completely collapse if installed incorrectly. Incorrect installation is not only dangerous but could also damage other parts of your or your neighbours’ property, causing great expense.

Prevention: Choosing the right pipes is an integral part of any plumbing job and so it is vital that have a full understanding of the pipework required to do the job.

Toilets

Toilets

Clogging – due to foreign objects or debris

Toilets regularly block up due to too much toilet paper, sanitary items and even nappies being flushed down them. Young children are often the culprits for blocked toilets. They have been known to flush a full roll of toilet paper, a toy and even the toilet brush! A blocked toilet is really unpleasant and requires immediate action.

Prevention:

  • Do not pour fats/oils into the toilet
  • Never flush anything extra down the toilet except toilet paper

Water seeping into the tank

If you can hear a continual hissing sound coming from the toilet, it’s likely the toilet has water leaking into the tank from the supply line. We will need to check the refill tube, the float and the ballcock assembly to determine the issue.

Toilet bowl water level high

If the water in the toilet bowl is sitting at a higher level than usual then the problem is water leaking into the bowl. The most likely cause is the flapper and is either a quick fix or low cost replacement.

Toilet bowl water level low

The under rim of the toilet bowl has a series of holes which can become clogged  so with a quick clean of the holes, your toilet will be operating efficiently again in no time.

Hot Water Systems

How do I lower my hot water costs?

  • Set the heater at a lower temperature – set your water heater’s thermostat to somewhere between 50 and 55°C which is an optimal temperature range for taking showers, washing dishes, and doing laundry.
  • Upgrade to a modern water heating system and appliances (incl dishwashers and laundry machines)
  • Check the Energy Rating Label before buying any new heating equipment – try to buy 5 stars and above
  • Electric hot water systems are relatively cheap to buy and install however they are more expensive to run so making more of an investment in the beginning will save you money in the long run
  • Use low flow fixtures which help in reducing your homes water consumption plus bring down your hot water costs.
  • Cut down on your shower time

Fill the sink when washing your dishes instead of washing individually under running hot water

Taps

My tap is leaking. What do I do?

The most common reason for a leaking or dripping tap is because a tap washer has worn out. This is one job that it is ok to DIY it yourself.

How to change a washer:

  1. Turn off the water supply
  2. Turn on the tap to remove the last of water from the pipe
  3. Put the plug in the sink so you don’t lose any small parts down the drain
  4. There are many different types of taps on the market, but most taps will need you to remove the handle, flange and then the spindle.
  5. Take out the washer and replace it with a new one.
  6. Put the tap back together.

If your tap is leaking after this then it is time to call a plumber.

My tap has low pressure. Why?

Here are a few reasons why you might have low tap pressure:

  • Your pipes are frozen – a problem during the winter months
  • There could be a problem with the external water mains – ask your neighbours if they are experiencing the same problem. If the answer is yes then call your local water supplier or council to report the problem
  • Too many water systems running at once – an increase in demand will impact the flow of water coming from your taps
  • Your stop valves aren’t fully open – this will restrict the flow of water to the house. The stop valve is usually found under the kitchen sink – make sure it is fully open by turning the tap anti clockwise as far as you can.
  • A calcium and sediment build-up in the aerator
  • There could be a bigger problem at play with your internal plumbing that will need to be looked at by a plumber to diagnose the extent of the problem.

General Plumbing

How do I turn my water off my home’s main water supply?

Chances are there’ll come a time when you’ll have to turn off the water supply in your home. You may need to do so for a scheduled plumbing repair or before leaving on a long trip. Then there are the emergency situations—such as when a pipe bursts somewhere behind the drywall or your bathroom is flooded with water—at which point there’s often very little time to react. What’s more, closing and re-opening the valves periodically will prevent them from getting stuck in place and allow you to inspect them for corrosion or broken connections.

  1. Locate the valve
    The location may be dependent on the age of your home. There are two types of valves:
  2. Turn off the water
    The gate valve will need a few turns clockwise until you can’t turn it any longer. For ball valves, turn the lever clockwise 90 degrees.
  3. Run the taps
    Relieve the pressure in the pipes by draining the water that’s already in them. Turn on a sink located in the lowest level of your home, so water in the pipes from the floors above drain all the way down. Make sure to open both the hot and cold taps and run them until they empty fully
  4. Turn the water back on
    When you are ready to turn the water back on, twist the valve counter clockwise. To check, turn on the faucet and wait a few minutes for the water to reach.

I think I have a leak somewhere. How do I know for sure?

If you aren’t certain that you have a leak, then turn off the water at the main water supply or temporarily turn off any water outlets.

Then check the indicator on your water meter – if you have turned off all water outlets and the water indicator is moving, then you most probably have a leak somewhere.

Other signs you may have a leak are:

  • Pooling water in an area – eg carpet, under kitchen sink, at the base of your toilet or beside your bath (missing grout or caulking at the edge of the tub is another indicator)
  •  A shower tile may be coming loose
  • Water stains on the ceiling

How to use a standard drain plunger?

Incorrectly using a plunger can make the situation worse by pushing the reason for the clog further down the pipe.

A clogged drain is one of the most common plumbing problems a homeowner can face. It’s also one of the easiest DIY repairs. In most cases, such clogs occur because hair and soap scum block the drain trap—the curved section of the drainpipe that lies directly below the drain opening. Such clogs are usually easily cleared by using an ordinary drain plunger.

  • Use the right type of plunger. The best type of plunger for a sink is a standard cup-style drain plunger. And for a toilet is a closet plunger.
  • Protect yourself from bacteria infested drain water splashing up onto you by wearing eye protection and gloves.

Understand how the plunger works

  1. Plunging a drain uses the forces of hydraulic suction and compression. When you pull up on a plunger, it pulls water in the drain upward, beginning the process of loosening the clog. When you push down on the plunger, water is forced downward, moving the clog in the other direction. After a few up-and-down strokes, this push-pull effect loosens and breaks up the clog so the water in the drain can carry it down through the drain system (and out of your life). Keep the two forces in mind when plunging your drain.
  2. Position the plunger correctly – Place the plunger cup over the drain opening so it covers the opening fully. Run a small amount of water in the sink—enough to cover the cup of the plunger.
  3. Pump the handle – Thrust the plunger in an even up-and-down motion. The suction force of the upstroke is just as important as that of the downstroke. Maintain the seal between the rubber plunger cup and the sink surface throughout this action. You may actually be able to feel the moment when the clog loosens, as the plunger handle may suddenly get easier to pump.
  4. Check for drainage – Pull the plunger away from the drain opening after about six pumps of the plunger, and see if the water drains away. If it does, you have successfully loosened the clog. If not, then repeat the process.If the drain isn’t clear after several attempts at plunging, the next step is to snake the drain, a process that will require you to disassemble the drain trap. But in most cases, you will have cleared your clogged drain without even getting your hands dirty.
  5. Flush the drain – Once the clog is freed, run hot water for several minutes to flush any debris down the drain. This can dissolve soap scum and help prevent new clogs from forming.

Contacting Beachside Plumbing will ensure the job is done properly and save you money in the long run.

Call (03) 9512 0007

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