What causes a plumbing problem?
The answer could vary from age, use and location. From experience, plumbing issues could easily be fixed or maintained by doing a regular plumbing inspection.
Most homeowners overlook this as they seem to think plumbing should last forever.
It doesn't and this is why it is essential that plumbing should not be overlooked. By following some of the guidelines below, you will begin to understand what a plumber can do and it's always best to have a local plumbers phone number handy.
9 Main Areas of Plumbing Problems
1. Tpr valves also known as temperature pressure Relief Valve
What does a tpr valve do?
It regulates the build of pressure or temperature exceeding the rating of the valve inside a hot water heater tank by releasing pressure through it and releasing water.
This is why it is commonly seen that moisture drips off the tpr when the hot water system is heating up. The water acts as a safety device so that the system doesn't explode or burst.
The most common rated tpr are 850kpa, 100kpa and 1400kpa, these can go on various types of tanks. Different sized heaters will have their own rated tpr.
The most commonly overlooked problem is that the manufacture recommends these valves be replaced every 5 years to stop premature bursting of tanks. In my experience, I believe that these valves do start to rust as well and cause the tank to start rusting.
Always test/release pressure of this valve by pulling on the lever for 3-5 seconds.
2. Hot Water Anode
A hot water anode is a steel rod that is covered either with magnesium, aluminum or zinc.
It is inserted from the top of the hot water heater, the anode shows signs of rusting before the tank starts to rust. This happens because of the moisture, water will rust everything eventually and what the manufacturers do to extend the life of the heater is install this anode.
We recommend replacing it every year.
Keep in mind that this isn't a manufacturer requirement as they want you to keep buying heaters. This is something a plumber would recommend to service and extend your heaters life.
To remove the anode we would need to turn open the nut at the top of the heater and remove the anode. In some cases, problems can occur where there is no room at the top.
We can fix this by using a flexible type anode.
3. Pressure safety limiting valve
This is where the property exceeds pressure over 500kpa, water pressure and a boundary pressure limiting valve is installed usually at the water meter, Sydney water does not regulate the water pressure because there are too many variables that control pressure in the main.
So it's up to the owner to make the property safer it also states in the Australian Plumbing Standards AS/NZS 3500.1.2015, Section 3.3.4 Maximum pressure within buildings page 19: "Provision shall be made to ensure that the maximum static pressure at any outlet, other then a fire service outlet, within a building does not exceed 500kpa".
From experience, any pressure above 500kpa can cause damages to pipes from water hammer, reduced life of appliances, taps, and fittings, and cause excessive noise in the system.
Next time our plumber is around, we will check the pressure via a garden tap and we will be able to let you know what the water pressure is.
4. Flexible Hoses
These are used all throughout the world, it remains the preferred install to most fixture outlets.
They are used to connect taps under basins, kitchens and toilets suites and many things that are overlooked with this product such as the life span.
Flexible hoses should be replaced every 5 years, when purchasing a flexible hose, check the warranty period on them, visible checks regularly will help make sure that there is no rusty spots or kinks on the flexible hose.
It is very easy to twist a flexible hose in the wrong position so it is always recommended to have a licensed plumber install it to avoid this happening. I would highly suggest turning off the main water supply if going away even if for the weekend.
There are many cases even reported on channel 7 news of how a burst flexible hose can flood and damage properties.
We believe by having a controlled pressure, loss of water will be reduced and even might contribute to saving on your water bill, Have this checked every 12 months and get them replaced every 5 years, this could save you from disaster.
5. Tempering valves
They are essential for the household and is now a requirement for any property replacing a hot water heater or even moving a heater.
What is a tempering valve?
A tempering valve is a valve that is attached to the pipework outside to mix cold and hot water and to keep the temperature under 55 degrees. This is used as a safety device to stop or prevent scalds to human skin.
If any accident occurs, we advise and recommend that a tempering valve installed especially if you have kids that go to the bathroom on there own.
There have been many cases where kids have accidentally burnt themselves from the hot temperature and have been advised from manufactures that the life span of a tempering valve is 5 years and should be replaced in intervals of 5 years.
Regular testing of the temperature of the water is recommended to make sure it doesn't go over set temperature.
6. Dripping toilet inside the bowel
This is a common plumbing issue as no one realizes there is a leak, because the water is clear, it is undetectable.
It will slowly and continually leak this would mean that the water would be used without you knowing at home, work or in a public toilet.
As we know water is precious and we need to save as much of it as possible. Signs that you have running toilet and in need of toilet repairs would be that you can hear your cistern filling up continuously.
To fix the problem we would have to open the cistern lid and see where the water flow is coming out from. Usually, its either the outlet valve or the inlet valve that may require replacing.
Most common toilets have parts that are readily available. Another sign would be having a higher water bill so always check inside the bowl. If you can hear or see water inside the bowl, call a professional plumber for your toilet repair needs both big and small
7. House gutter
If gutters are not regularly cleaned from leaves, sticks, and debris, the plumbing issues can vary from leaks in the home through the gutter and overspilling into the house.
It can cause slow drainage in the stormwater system because the debris and leaves going down into the downpipe and into the drain. During a heavy downpour, this can cause emergency plumbing problems.
Many plumbing questions relating to keeping gutters maintained would be 'what we could do to prevent this?'
The first thing would be to have the gutters cleaned on a regular basis by removing it with your hands, blowing it out using a leaf blower, or in some sections even using high water pressure blaster.
Some other ways to protect your home would be to have a gutter guard which would protect the gutters and pipe.
8. Contaminated water
A water filter is essential for providing clean water, there are many ways of installation.
You have the type where the filter spout is on its own next to the sink, another very popular style is where the filter is connected straight to the taps using a high flow filter.
Water can contain traces of many different bugs, chemicals and even lead, Sydney drinking water quality is pretty good, however, it's best to be sure.
These are popular due to the fact that there are no extra holes to be cut out and fewer taps/spout on the sink.
Every time you use the sink tap, it's always filtered. By using the tap that has the filter directly connected to it, eliminates having low water pressure from a smaller filter typestyle.
Next time you have a plumber over ask him about options on what kind of water filters you can install at your home or business.
Australia is lucky to have what is called the safe drinking water standards, and they help protect you from contaminated water, but the standards are not perfect, metals like lead and other heavy metals can still be found in your water.
This is always more cost effective than buying bottled water and less impactful on the environment for plastic waste.
9. Maintaining emergency isolation taps
The main valve that could cause problems if not maintained properly is the main shutoff water valve.
This is usually located at the front of the house with the water meter, when you have an emergency situation and need a plumbing repair such as dripping faucets/taps, a broken pipe causing floods or leaks that can't wait and you to need to turn off the supply and wait for a plumber to come and do the plumbing repairs, If you can't find it or it doesn't turn off, this could cause major problems for you.
There is a mini isolation tap valve under your vanity that control the supply to the taps.
This can be turned off as well if you have problems just at the one fixture, most fixtures would have some sort of isolation to them such as toilets, sinks, hot water systems, washing machines, and dishwashing machines.
Some fixtures like showers and baths would have mini isolation valves so next time ask the plumber questions such as 'Where is my main isolation valve?' 'Do you have any mini isolation valve?' and 'Where could I install new valves that could help me when I have plumbing issues or plumbing emergency?'.
What is a plumbing emergency?
What is considered to be a plumbing emergency and would need an emergency service would be house plumbing problems like blocked drains. This can be very common to have a blocked drain and could cause some serve plumbing problems.
It could flood your house of sewerage or stormwater, it could be unhygienic and need lots of cleaning up.
Some instances when the drains have blocked, the use of plumbing fixtures wouldn't be possible. Severe leaking pipes could also be a plumbing emergency.
Leaking pipes could flood a house or a back yard very quickly and could damage the structure of a house if not fixed straight away. It could damage furniture or any non-water proof items in the home, office or commercials premises.
Low water pressure can also be a common plumbing problem as its an indication that there could be a broken pipe somewhere in there home office or premises, or could be a blockage in the pipework and is not letting sufficient supply to come out of the taps and toilets.
This could be because of the age of the material that the pipes have been installed in.
Gas leaks could be considered very dangerous and aren't that common to have but if it was to happen there could be lots of problems that can come with it such as explosions and fires and even little to no oxygen.
If you are in an enclosed area where the gas leak is greater then the oxygen supply this could be very harmful to anyone around your the home at the time of the leak.
How do you stop plumbing problems?
The best way to stop plumbing problems from occurring would be to call you local plumber and not to try and fix it yourself.
Plumbers have the rights reserved for them to actually repair common plumbing problems as they are licensed and have the knowledge to do so.
It is common that the homeowners will try to fix their common plumbing problems themselves and have made the issue even worse.
So when you have common plumbing problems call a trusted plumber to make the necessary repairs, replacements and emergency fixes.