What causes a plumbing problem?
The answer could vary from age, use and location. From experience, regular plumbing inspection could quickly fix or maintain plumbing issues.
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 from your clogged toilet, clogged drain, faulty water heaters and water tank, damaged water lines, and leaky faucets to your sewer lines. By following some of the guidelines below, you will understand what a plumber can do, and it’s always best to have a local plumber’s 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 moisture commonly drips off the tpr when the hot water system is heating up. The water is a safety device, so the system doesn’t explode or cause a burst pipe.
The most commonly rated tpr are 850kpa, 100kpa, and 1400kpa; these can go on various types of tanks. Different-sized heaters will have their rated tpr.
The most commonly overlooked problem is that the manufacturer recommends replacing these valves every five years to stop the premature bursting of tanks. In my experience, I believe that these valves do start to rust and cause the tank to begin deteriorating.
Always test/release the 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 covered with magnesium, aluminium or zinc.
It is inserted from the top of the hot water heater, and 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 heater’s life is install this anode.
We recommend replacing it every year.
Remember that this isn’t a manufacturer requirement; they want you to keep buying heaters. A plumber would recommend this to service and extend your heater’s 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 with 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 are usually installed at the water meter; Sydney water does not regulate the water pressure because too many variables 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 damage to pipes from water hammers, reduce the life of appliances, taps, and fittings, and cause excessive noise in the plumbing system.
Next time our emergency plumbers are 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 worldwide and are the preferred installation for most fixture outlets.
They are used to connect taps under basins, kitchens and toilet suites, and many things are overlooked with this product, such as the life span.
Flexible hoses should be replaced every five years; when purchasing a flexible hose, check the warranty period; visible checks regularly will help ensure no rusty spots or kinks on the flexible hose.
It is straightforward 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 for the weekend.
On Channel Seven News, many cases even reported how a burst flexible hose could flood and damage properties.
We believe that by having controlled pressure, the water loss will be reduced and might even contribute to saving on your water bill. Have this checked every 12 months and get them replaced every five years; this could save you from disaster.
5. Tempering valves
They are essential for the household and require replacing or moving a water 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 a safety device to stop or prevent scalds on human skin.
If any accident occurs, we recommend installing a tempering valve, especially if you have kids who go to the bathroom independently.
There have been many cases where kids have accidentally burnt themselves from the hot temperature and have been advised by manufacturers that the life span of a tempering valve is five years and should be replaced in intervals of 5 years.
Regular water temperature testing is recommended to ensure it doesn’t exceed the set temperature.
6. Dripping the toilet inside the bowel
Unlike a dripping faucet and leaky pipes, a dripping toilet is a common plumbing issue, as no one realises a leak because the water is clear and undetectable.
Water is precious, and we must save as much as possible. Signs that you have a running toilet and require toilet repairs would be to hear your cistern filling up continuously.
We would have to open the cistern lid to fix the problem and see where the water flow is coming out. Usually, either the outlet valve or the inlet valve may require replacing.
Most common toilets have readily available parts. Another sign would have 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, like running or clogged toilets.
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, clogged drains and overspilling into the house.
It can cause slow drainage in the stormwater system because the debris and leaves go down into the downpipe and the drain. During a heavy downpour, this can cause emergency plumbing problems.
Many plumbing questions relating to maintaining gutters would be what we could do to prevent this.
The first thing would be to conduct a drain cleaning and have the gutters cleaned regularly by removing them with your hands, blowing in the leaf blower, or even using a high-water pressure blaster in some sections.
Another way to protect your home would be to have a gutter guard to protect the gutters and pipes.
8. Contaminated water
A water filter is essential for providing clean water, and many installation ways exist.
You have the type where the filter spout is on its own next to the sink, and another trendy style is where the filter is connected straight to the taps using a high-flow filter.
Water can contain bugs, chemicals and even lead; Sydney’s drinking water quality is pretty good. However, it’s best to be sure.
These are popular because there are no extra holes to be cut out and fewer taps/spouts on the sink.
Every time you use the sink tap, it’s always filtered. Using the faucet with 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 safe drinking water standards. They help protect you from contaminated water, but the standards are imperfect; 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 environmentally impactful 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 and need a plumbing repair, such as a leaky faucet or a broken pipe causing floods or leaks that can’t wait. You 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 significant problems.
A mini isolation tap valve under your vanity controls the tap supply.
This can be turned off if you have problems just at one fixture; most fixtures would have some isolation, 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 valves? Where could I install new valves to help with plumbing issues or emergencies?
What is a plumbing emergency?
What is considered a plumbing emergency and would need emergency plumbing services would be house plumbing problems like blocked drains. It can be very common to have a blocked drain and cause some severe plumbing problems.
It could flood your house with sewerage or stormwater, which could be unclean and need lots of cleaning.
When the drains have been blocked, plumbing fixtures aren’t possible in some instances. Severe leaking pipes could also be a plumbing emergency.
Leaking pipes could quickly flood a house or backyard and damage a house’s structure if not fixed immediately. It could damage furniture or non-waterproof items in the home, office or commercial premises.
Low water pressure can also be a common plumbing problem as it indicates that there could be a broken pipe somewhere in their home office or premises or a blockage in the pipework that is not letting sufficient supply come out of the taps and toilets.
This could be because of the age of the material the pipes have been installed in.
Gas leaks could be considered very dangerous and aren’t that common, but if they were to happen, many problems could come with them, such as explosions, fires, and even little to no oxygen.
If you are in an enclosed area where the gas leak is more significant than the oxygen supply, this could be very harmful to anyone around your home at the time of the leak.
How do you stop plumbing problems?
The best way to stop plumbing problems would be to call your local plumber and not fix it yourself.
Professional plumbers must repair common plumbing problems. Since professional plumbers are licensed, they know how to do so.
The homeowners are expected to try to fix their common plumbing problems themselves, making the issue even worse.
So when you have common plumbing problems, call a trusted plumber to make the necessary repairs, replacements and emergency fixes.