5 Ways to prevent plumbing problems in your home.
Updated: Oct 16, 2019
Regularly Cleaning Your Drains
Now this doesn't have to be as difficult or as messy as it sounds. So long as you regularly dose your kitchen sink, bathroom sink, bath and shower traps with a strong drain cleaner every 3 months or so (depending on usage) you'll reduce the risk of ever having a blocked drain.
There are loads of chemicals you can use to do this, we personally recommend Mr Muscle sink and plug hole gel as we've had some great results with this in the past, but try some others out and see what works best for you. Remember to always follow the instructions and use all necessary PPE required, such as eye protection, gloves etc.
Also remember, don't pour grease or hot oils down your sink as this will harden and clog up your drains really fast. Put it in a cup or heat proof container, wait for it to solidify and throw it in the bin.
Avoid flushing wet wipes down the toilet as well as any sanitary items. This can really build up and cause serious problems not only to your property but to the surrounding area, wildlife, rivers and the sea.
Insulate Your Exposed Pipes
Just like you would use a coat or put on a jumper when you go outside, your pipework needs protection too. You'd be surprised how cold it gets in your attic or basement, especially in the winter, and cold pipes become brittle, they can split and burst and suddenly you have a torrent of water coming through the ceiling or flooding the basement.
An inexpensive solution to this is to buy some pipe lagging or pipe insulation from a DIY store such as Screwfix and protect your pipes from the cold. It's very easy to do, it will help stop any pipes from freezing and bursting and it will also help keep the heat in when it comes to hot water or central heating, saving you money as the heat won't escape, creating a more efficient plumbing system.
Also, please, please, please, don't use exposed pipes to hang things on. Especially when they're not clipped efficiently. They're not designed to have weight hanging from them and will deform, pull out of their fittings and potentially cause a huge problem for you when they finally give up.
Service Your Boiler and Central Heating
Just like a car, your boiler is a machine that needs servicing annually to ensure it's working efficiently and correctly. If not, it's simply an expensive repair, or replacement waiting to happen all too soon than it should.
Keep up to date with your boiler service, ensure the central heating system is regularly topped up with inhibitor as this helps keep the system clean from magnetite and other depositories that will erode your boiler and radiators internally.
I highly recommend getting a central heating filter installed in your home. This collects all the magnetite, rust and other metallic depositories that can erode inside your heating system and keeps it all contained in a specially made housing until you, or your plumber services the filter and cleans it all out.
Some of the newer models will even link with your smartphone keeping you informed of the amount of build up and can pick up on potential problems that may occur if left to get worse.
If you don't have a service record for your boiler download and print one here to keep with your operating instructions. If you don't have operating instructions for your boiler email us firstname.lastname@example.org with the make and model of your boiler and we'll send you some.
Getting Your Central Heating System Cleaned
This is generally called Power Flushing, or a system flush. Essentially it is a way of cleaning out your central heating pipework and radiators so that it works much more efficiently, increases the life of your radiators and associated pipework and valves, prevents any untimely damage to your radiators, boiler and central heating system.
There are several systems being used in the market, we use the Adey MagnaCleanse as it works along with their central heating filters and is essentially a huge version of the filters. Along with the VibraClean head that taps away on your radiators, dislodging the magnetite, sludge and rust particles and the MC5 Rapid Flush System Cleaner it really does improve the quality of your homes central heating.
This isn't really something you can do yourself, you need to know what you're doing so we would recommended getting a professional who you trust to do the work. It's not something that has to be done regularly, every few years depending on the quality of the water within your central heating should suffice.
Although it is something that should be done whenever you have a new boiler installed, as not doing so can void the manufacturers warranty, as you're simply installing a new boiler into a potentially harmful central heating system if not.
Get A Pressure Reducing Valve Fitted
Now this isn't designed to stop you having nice showers. For those lucky enough to have good water pressure please don't feel that this will hamper your plumbing system by reducing your pressure to simply a trickle. These are designed to increase the life of anything attached to your plumbing system. Most fittings are tested to certain pressures, but a lot aren't really designed to be used continuously under the strain of high water pressure, so things like toilet inlet valves, boilers, some taps and shower mixers, ball cocks and isolation valves will deter quickly over time if the water pressure is too high.
Installing a pressure reducing valve will keep your home at a constant pressure, eliminating any spike in pressure which could result in a potential problem.
Bonus Tip!! Thanks For Getting This Far
Find Your Stop Tap and Check If It Works
You would not believe how many home owners don't know where their stop tap is. You should have two of them, one at the boundary, in a small box in the ground that looks like this picture. Another should be in your home, generally by your front door, but to be honest in UK properties they are generally found anywhere, from the garage, to a downstairs cloak room, to the dining room, we've found them everywhere. Find yours.
Once you've found them both check to see if they work, turn them off, run a tap and see if they stop the water completely. If they don't work, get them fixed. Better to do that now when there is no problem, than when you have water pouring from the ceiling and no way to stop it. If you can't find your boundary box, or the tap inside it doesn't work then call your local water service provider, for those in Bristol it could be Bristol Water as it is their responsibility to ensure it works and is installed correctly. Anything from that boundary tap to your home is down to you.
This last tip could potentially save you hundreds of pounds in call out fees and repair bills, so we cannot stress to you how important it is to know the plumbing in your home.