Recognising plumbing problems and when to call a plumber

Have you ever laid in bed and heard a drip, drip, drip coming from a tap? As a homeowner, sooner or later you’ll have to deal with plumbing issues, and you don’t realise how much you need plumbing until there’s a problem! Being aware of plumbing problems and how to avoid or solve them helps you to know when to call the experts.

1. Clogged drains or toilets

Spotting slow or clogged drains or toilets is relatively easy and happens when something partially or fully blocks the drain. In sinks and showers, the problem is usually down to hair, but could also be something small, such as a shampoo lid or small toy. In toilets, the problem usually comes when something undissovable enters the toilet and gets flushed. As solid items cannot move through the pipe, they get stuck and make it difficult (or impossible) for water to flow past. You’ll notice this when flushing; the water will back up in the toilet bowl and may even overflow.

How to avoid the problem

You can prevent toilet clogs by only flushing waste that is dissolvable. Watch your children closely to ensure that they do not try to flush toys or other items. If something falls in the toilet, remove it rather than trying to flush it.

In showers, try using a hair catcher over drains and try to keep loose hair out of sinks to prevent clogging.

When to call a plumber

If you cannot easily remove the blockage yourself, it’s time to call in the professionals. Also if you have repeated clogs in the same drain, a plumber should check this. Using drain cleaners over time can cause damage to the pipes, but a plumber may be able to fix the problem without causing damage to the pipe.

2. Leaking taps and pipes

Dripping taps and pipes are one of the most common plumbing problems in homes. Whilst a dripping tap is more of a nuisance than a plumbing emergency, a leaking tap that drips once per second adds up to over 5500 litres of water a year. That’s enough to fill a paddling pool every week for the whole summer!

Leaking pipes can cause major damage if you don’t find the problem quicky. The problem is often spotted after a period of time, when there is a puddle under the pipes, or you can hear a dripping noise.

A dripping tap is usually caused by the washer that forms a seal on the tap becoming damaged. When this happens, the washer no longer seals tightly and allows water to drip. Pipes most commonly leak at joints, which may be caused by deterioration, shifting, high water pressure or other damage.

When to call a plumber

If you are not experienced with replacing tap washers, call a plumber for help. When a pipe is leaking, call a plumber if you are not experienced, or if the job is too large.

3. Water Heater Problems

A problem with a water heater is pretty easy to spot. When you expect a lovely warm shower, only to be greeted by freezing cold water, you know something is wrong! Other signs of a water heater problem could be dripping water, puddles, discoloured water or noises coming from the water heater unit.

Water heater problems can be caused by leaks or not having enough water, in addition to mineral deposits, which can reduce the efficiency of the water heater and reduce the amount of water it supplies. Sediment can also cause your water heater to make strange noises, which are caused by sediment building up on the heating elements and moving when they heat up.

When to call a plumber

Unless you can easily fix the issue, i.e. by relighting the pilot light or adjusting the thermostat, you will need to call an experienced plumber. Water heaters can be dangerous and repairs complicated, so it’s best to let an expert fix the problem

4. Low water pressure

This is a common issue in older houses, but can happen in new properties too. Low water pressure can appear slowly over time, or can happen suddenly, depending on the reason for the problem.

There are a few things that can cause low water pressure, including a water main break or a pipe leaking in your own home. In the case of a water main break, your neighbours will also be experiencing low water pressure. One way to chack for a leak in your home is to not use any water for a few hours and check your water meter. If the meter changes, it is likely you have a leak.

Another cause of low water pressure is a build up of sediment or minerals in the pipes, taps or showerheads which causes the flow of water to slow down.

When to call a plumber

If your water pressure decreases suddenly, or you cannot find the problem, we recommend calling a plumber because you probably have a pipe leaking. If the reduction in water pressure happens gradually, you could have an issue with build up or corrosion in the pipes. A plumber will be able to repair or replace the sections that are affected.

5. Running Toilet

There are many types of toilet problem, but a toilet that is constantly running is probably the most annoying! Not only is the sound of running water bothersome, but it also wastes a lot of water.

A toilet that runs constantly is usually caused by the internal components of the toilet not working properly. This can be due to an imbalanced float, loose fill tube, ill fitting flapper valve or a leak. You can check for a leak by putting some food colouring in the tank. Check after around 20 minutes, and if the colour has travelled into the bowl, you have a leak.

When to call a plumber

If you’re not confident checking or fixing components in your toilet, or if the toilet continues to run after you have tried a repair, a plumber will be required to investigate further and rectify the problem.

Making your own plumbing repairs

Taking care of plumbing repairs yourself can save money, but making a mistake could cost you a lot more. If you plan to attempt your own plumbing repairs, keep in mind these points:

  • Be sure that you understand the problem and the fix required. If you are uncomfortable with carrying out the repair, or the size of the problem, call a professional instead.
  • Have all the tools and equipment needed before you start the repair. There’s nothing worse than starting the fix and realising that you need something else. Make sure that all the components you buy are the right size and compatible with your plumbing system.
  • Turn off the mains water supply at the stopcock to prevent any water damage.
  • Dress appropriately! Plumbing work can be messy.
  • Have the number of a plumber handy, should the project become a bigger problem. don’t be afraid to call a professional if things get difficult.

If you have any concerns about plumbing issues within your home, contact us for a free, no obligation quotation.