Plumbing Tips & FAQs
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- Is Sutton and East Surrey Water Services a member of a trade body?
We’re proud members of the two leading trade bodies:
Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors (APHC)
The Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors (APHC) is the leading trade Association for the Plumbing and Heating industry in England and Wales. Find out more at http://www.competentpersonsscheme.co.uk/
Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE)
The Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE) is the professional body for the UK plumbing and heating industry. Find out more at http://www.ciphe.org.uk/
- What do I do if my water pipes freeze or burst?
Plumbing emergencies such as burst and frozen pipes do happen, and the best thing you can do is call for a plumber as soon as possible. While you wait for professional help, the following steps can help minimise damage:
When thawing or repairing burst water pipes, safety is the greatest concern. The first important step is to turn off the mains water supply at the stop-valve and ensure that the boiler is switched off. Some basic steps can be taken to minimise the damage including carrying out visual pipe checks where possible and moving any belongings that might be damaged when the pipe thaws. It’s best to let nature take its course so switch it all off and wait for things to warm up.
PLEASE REMEMBER - although taking this advice will help stabilise the problem, an expert is still needed to fix the problem securely. For your own peace of mind, get an expert in to trace all the pipework for splits. Otherwise, when the weather warms up and your pipes thaw, you may have a costly water leak to deal with.
When a pipe bursts, the first thing you will need to do is prevent the water passing the point of the leak. You can do this by turning off all the stop-valves and opening all cold water taps so that the pipe work and storage system drain quickly.You will also need to switch off the central heating, immersion heater and any other water heating you may have. If water has leaked near your electrics or electrical goods, switch them off at the mains and don’t touch them until they have been checked over by a fully qualified electrician.
- If my sink, basin or bath waste is draining away slowly, what can I do?
Slow running drains are usually indicative of a partial blockage, so the first step is to find the obstruction. In baths and showers, the problem is normally due to the build up of hair and soap scum. If you see hair in the bottom of the drain, you might be able to simply reach in and pull out the blockage. Alternatively, you should use a pair of tweezers or pliers.
If you can’t find the obstruction, it’s time to call in the professionals – visit our drainage page for more information.
You can avoid obstructions building up in the first place by taking the following steps:
- Use strainers in all your drains to stop hair from going down the drain.
- Don’t drop small pieces of soap down the drain. This causes soap scum to build up in drains and pipes.
- Once a month, pour a kettle full of boiling water down the drain. This will help melt any greases or oils and wash them away before they can build up (do not do this for your toilet, as the hot water may crack the porcelain).
- Every three to four months use a half-cup of baking soda in the drain while slowly adding half a cup of vinegar. Let the liquid drain for a few minutes before rinsing with hot water.
- What should I do if water is leaking through my ceiling?
Water leaks in any home can cause lots of damage, from rotting wood to peeling paint. Mould thrives in moist environments, so it is important to find the cause of the leak as soon as possible to prevent further damage being caused.
If you notice a water leak, catch the drips in a bucket. Remember to move all valuables away from the water damage. If the ceiling begins to bulge, punch a small hole in the ceiling to let the water drain out. This can prevent the ceiling from collapsing.
In the meantime, call a plumber to get to the root of the problem as soon as you can – water damage can get structural quicker than you might imagine, so it makes financial sense to address the situation promptly.
- My toilet cistern is overflowing – what should I do?
An overflowing cistern is usually due to one of three possible causes:
- Water levels may be too high
- The ball-valve may be damaged
- The washer may be worn out.
You can easily determine the real problem behind the overflow by checking the water level in the cistern.If the water level is too high, you will need to bring the water down to the level indicated within the cistern. Simply adjust the screw on the valve and washer assembly, until the level of water has fallen. If the ball float is damaged or the washer is worn out, you will need to replace the broken part with a new one. However, remember to turn off your water supply before starting on any home repairs.
If you aren’t confident fixing the problem yourself, why not consider getting our plumbing team in to help?
- Who is responsible for water supply pipes – me or the water company?
- You may not know it, but the water supply pipe that runs to your home is your responsibility. Below are some of the most popular questions and answers relating to water supply pipes, who's responsible and what to do in the event of a problem.
- I share a supply pipe, what am I responsible for?
- The supply pipe is the pipe coming from the principle stop-valve into your property. Most modern houses have an independent water supply pipe into the property, which is the householder’s responsibility. In older properties, there may be a shared supply pipe for one or more properties. You are responsible for leaks and the maintenance of this pipe. If the pipe is shared, so is the responsibility.
- Is it my responsibility to check for my supply pipe for leaks?
- Yes it is. You are responsible for maintaining the underground water supply pipe from the boundary of your property into your home. We recommend that, if you have a meter, you take regular readings to check for possible leaks.
- How can I tell if I have a leak in my supply pipe?
- There are tell-tale signs that give supply pipe leaks away. If your water pressure is slow, your garden is waterlogged or your meter reading is much higher than you’d expect, then you may have a leak in your supply pipe.If you think you have a leak and you have an external water meter, you can do a simple test by turning off the inside stop-valve of your property, opening the external meter and taking a reading. Then leave the stop-valve closed and do not use the water for at least 30 minutes. Check the meter again – if there has been an increase in the reading it is likely that you have a leak.
- What problems can a leaking supply pipe cause?
- A leaking supply pipe can cause many serious problems including: damp weakened foundations and subsidence, waterlogged gardens, damage to driveways, valuable water wastage and metered bill increase.
- What can I do to stop the leak?
As the leak is underground and on a high pressure pipe it requires specialists to fix the problem. If it is a major burst, you can turn off the water at the outside stop-valve to reduce the loss of water until help arrives.
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