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Sinks in the kitchen and bathrooms stand a chance of getting blocked at some stage with the high frequency of use. This often happens at the worst time possible. Usually this occurs when you are entertaining guests! However, there is no need to worry. Help is right under your nose in your own home.
What you will need
- Baking Soda
- Hot water
If possible, the first thing to do is find the reason for the blockage. There is usually a good reason for a blockage and hopefully this isn’t hard for you to find. By locating the blockage, you have done most the work required to unblock it.
However, if you cant find out where the blockage is occurring, then you need to keep reading on.
Usually when there is a blocked drain in your home you are able to unblock the drain yourself by using a plunger. In this case, no plumber will be required thus saving you money! Should a plunger not do the job, then you will need to use other methods and materials in your home to unblock the blockage.
Other than a plunger, vinegar and soda serve as a great tool and is extremely effective to unblock drains. Most people store vinegar and baking soda in their kitchen cupboards. Follow the steps below to try unblocking the drain:
- Boil water on the stove
- Pour approximately 1 cup of baking soda down the drain
- Pour approximately 1 cup of vinegar down the drain
- Allow the baking soda and vinegar to settle for 10-15 minutes. This should hopefully dissolve whatever is causing the blockage.
- Pour the pot of boiling water down the drain to remove any debris that may still exist.
It’s important that you start practicing preventive measures to stop your drain for blocking again. Many people perform the baking soda and vinegar routine once a month as a precautionary measure. Be sure that after washing your hair, you remove any hair that is lodged into the drain to prevent blockages from occurring. At all times, use a strainer in the sink to prevent food and other debris from clogging up your drain.
If none of the above techniques work, you may have a more serious problem in your drain. You will need to contact a Melbourne plumber to help you rectify the issue.
If none of the above techniques work, you may have a more serious problem in your drain. You will need to contact a Melbourne plumber to help you rectify the issue. A plumber will be able to identify the problem and perform whatever maintenace is required to rectify the issue. Be sure to use a plumber that is licensed and carrier the appropriate public liablility insurance.
Please keep reading below to:
- Identify a drain with a blockage.
- Clear out a blocked drain.
- Prevent blockages in the future.
- Know your responsibility for unblocking public and private drains.
Find out the initial steps you’ll need to take if you face a blocked drain.
- Locate the problem
If the water in your bath or toilet is not draining away properly, this is likely to be the result of a blocked drain.
- Do not use the drain
It may seem obvious, but don’t put any more water into the drain! This will only make the problem more severe and more difficult to resolve.
- Safety is a priority
Before tackling the blocked drain, make sure you stay safe by wearing full protective clothing (this includes gloves, goggles and overalls). Always remember to remove and clean your protective clothing after you’ve finished work.
Before you begin, make sure you have a set of drain rods, which can be hired or purchased at most hardware stores. Once you have placed on your protective clothing, follow the steps below:
- Clear the cover
Firstly remove the inspection cover on the drain. If the cover is rusted shut, use a screwdriver to scrape away the rust and then lift the cover off. If your drain cover has a useable handle, tie some string or wire to it, then pull the cover open.
- Remove the obstruction
Use a rod with a plunger attachment to remove the blockage – this may take several minutes of elbow grease by twisting and turning. Alternatively, you may want to try using a standard kitchen mop handle although this is unlikely to be as flexible as a purpose-made drain rod.
- Flush with water after removal
Once you’ve removed the blockage; flush the drain thoroughly with water to remove any remaining debris.
Unblocking a drain can be a difficult process, which is best avoided in the first place. Here are a few tips for preventing future drain blockages:
- Regularly monitor your drains
By checking your drains on a regular basis; you should be able to catch the start of any minor blockages before they get worse.
- Dispose of waste in the right way
Remember to dispose of rubbish in the right manner. Never flush away items such as face wipes, nappies or cotton wool, as these are likely to block your drains on a regular basis.
- Keep your drains clear of plants and roots
If possible, try to keep drains clear of roots and plants. If your garden is particularly leafy, try fitting drain guards to help prevent plant matter from falling in and causing blockages.
- Rinse plates before loading your dishwasher
Always rinse your plates and cutlery before loading your dishwasher. Any excess food will end up in your drains and could build up to cause an unwanted blockage.
Find out your responsibilities as a homeowner or renter and who to contact if you experience a problem with a public drain or sewer.
- Drain Responsibility
Homeowners and renters are generally responsible for their property’s drains, up to the property boundary. Your home insurance may or may not cover you for some drainage problems.
- Sewer Responsibility
Public and private sewers are the responsibility of waste and sewerage companies – not private homeowners or renters. You should immediately contact your water company if you encounter a problem.
- Reporting a blocked drain to the authorities
If a neighbour’s drain is overflowing and the water has leaked onto your home, contact your local council who’ll advise you on what action to take.
Owners of apartments, big and small houses, and even dorms need the services of a emergency plumber to check on their toilets, drains, hot water system and kitchen pipes regularly. People who want to save on plumbing try to do the job by themselves, but when they break something or have done it incorrectly, they decide to call a qualified emergency plumber. This always costs the person more. At the very start, if you think you can’t do the job well, especially if you’re a first-timer, it’s wiser to let a plumbing professional do it for you. It can be very dangerous to perform plumbing wok yourself.
Why you need an emergency plumber:
- At anytime, a faucet could leak in your home or a clog could happen in your bathtub. When you can’t close the faucet anymore and the water keeps flowing, it’s time to call an emergency plumber. Close the main line while the emergency plumber is still on the way.
- When there is a damaged pipe somewhere causing water leakage. Keep in mind that this is not a DIY job because you’ll have to replace the pipe perfectly with a new one, without creating a leak in connecting both ends. Moreover, a plumbing company has special tools to do the job.
- For mounting or fitting of needed equipments to create proper functioning of your sewage, natural gas, and water connection systems.
- When you have a problem on leaking fixtures like sink, drain pipes, sewage, and other leaking fixtures.
- You need emergency plumber for installation and maintenance of new piping system or fixtures.
- Especially, if you want your heating system installed, fixed or maintained.
- Instances where your hot water system no long works and you are now having cold showers. Oh boy!
How to find a qualified plumber
Finding an expert emergency plumber may not be as easy as you think. You can find a lot of them out there, but finding the best one may be difficult. Ask referrals from your family and friends, and search the Internet. When you have short-listed a few plumbing companies, check on their background, previous clients and prices.
Make sure that you only get trusted and reputable people to work inside your home. Read online reviews from their clients.
Before any troubleshooting is done, make sure to prepare safely for the job by doing the following:
- Turn off power to an electric water heater system. Do this by turning off the circuit breaker or fuse powering the heater.
- Turn the gas pilot control valve to “pilot” setting.
- Shut off the water supply to the water heater.
Let’s take a look at each problem and what possible causes and repairs exist.
No Hot Water Flow
- Faulty gas pilot
- Faulty gas thermocouple
- Faulty gas pilot control valve
- Check that the gas pilot flame and pilot is operational.
- Re-tighten, reposition or replace the gas thermocouple.
- Replace the gas pilot control valve.
Insufficient Hot Water
- Hot water system is undersized for water heating demands
- Broken or damaged dip tube allowing cold and hot water to mix in the tank.
- Faulty plumbing installation has crossed cold and hot water connections
- Gas supply or control problems
- Make sure the hot water system is not being overtaxed by hot water supply demands. The hot water system should have 75% of its capacity as hot water (e.g., a 40 gallon WH should be used for a demand of 30 gallons).
- Undo the cold-water inlet and pipe nipple and remove dip tube. Check the condition and replace if required.
- Check for crossed connection by turning off the water supply to the hot water system. Open a hot water faucet. If there is water flow, then there is a crossed connection somewhere. Check for a hot water line connected to a cold-water connection on the water heater or appliances such as washer, dishwasher, faucet or shower valves.
- Check for a proper flame from the burner. A natural gas flame should be bright blue with the tip of the flame having just a tinge of yellow. A propane flame should have a bluish green flame with a tinge of yellow at the tip.
Rust Colored Water
- Corrosion occurring inside glass lined tank
- Sacrificial anode rod is failing (anode rods dissolve slowly to prevent rusting in the tank)
- Replace the sacrificial anode rod with magnesium anode rod. Anode rods are available from a plumbing supply house.
Rotten Egg Smell
- Bacteria in the tank sediment fed from hydrogen gas created from decay of sacrificial anode.
- Flush the hot water system using a hydrogen peroxide solution of 2 pints 3% peroxide to 40 gallons of water, treat tank and run some of the solution into water lines.
- Let peroxide solution set in the tank and pipes for 2 hours. The Solution is not toxic and requires no rinsing.
- If the problem persists, replace the anode with a zinc-alloy anode.
- If the problem still remains, replace the hot water system with a plastic lined tank type.
Low Rumbling or Popping Noise
- Noise heard is the sound of boiling water. Excessive buildup of sediment in bottom of the tank is causing overheating of the tank bottom and boiling of water to occur.
Remove sediment by flushing the hot water system
Water Leak Around Base of Heater
- A faulty T&P (temperature and pressure) relief valve
- The T&P valve leaks due to excessive pressure, overheating or is stuck
- A leak from overhead or nearby plumbing connection
- A leaking water tank (corrosion likely)
- Place the bucket under overflow pipe. Open and flush T&P valve clear of debris. If the leak remains from the valve, replace the valve.
- Reduce the thermostat setting to prevent tank overheating and opening T&P relief valve.
- Inspect bottom of the tank by looking through the combustion chamber. If water marks or heavy rusting is noticed or if water is noticed setting in the combustion chamber bottom, then the water heater needs to be replaced.
Tools and materials
The tools and materials you need to change a washer are available from hardware or plumbing supply stores. You will require: adjustable spanner to fit tap nut Valve or tap washer Body washer O-ring Silicon lubricant or Vaseline Needle nose pliers
1. Turn off the water mains: this stops all water flowing into your house. The tap & water meter for homes will probably be out on the street or in your front yard adjacent to the street. If you live in a flat or townhouse the mains tap will probably be inside, for example in the bathroom or a cupboard. Turn on a tap in or around the house to make sure that the water has ceased to run. (If the water has not stopped running, it will be necessary to call a professional plumber). If the mains tap has not been used for many years, you may need a pair of multigrips to help turn it off. Ensure you need to know where the mains tap is to be able to turn the water off in an emergency. If you are not sure where it is, even if you don’t need to change a washer, find out now!
2. Undo the head nut: once the mains water has been turned off, undo the head nut on the leaking tap.
3. Replace the washers: you could just replace the tap washer, but it is a good idea to replace all three washers at the same time. These are: The large washer around the head nut, which is called the body washer (usually orange in colour). It should lift off quite easily. The O-ring on the spindle. To change the O-ring, you need to fully close the tap until the O-ring appears. Then, with a pair of needle nose pliers (or a screwdriver or a sharp knife), prise or cut it off. The new O-ring should easily stretch and roll on to the spindle.
Lastly, replace the tap washer. It may simply slide out of the spindle or stay sitting in the body of the tap, in which case you will need a pair of small pliers to remove the washer.
4. Reassemble: first ensure the spindle and the threaded areas are lubricated with a silicon lubricant or Vaseline.
5. Turn the mains back on: once the tap is reassembled, open it half way and then turn on the mains. When turning the tap off after the washer has been replaced, use gentle finger pressure. Over-tightening will cause a lot of damage to the tap seat. A tap should only be tightened until the water flow stops, no further. (Note: If the tap is still leaking after you have replaced the washer, it means the seat is “pitted” and you will need a plumber to regrind the seat for you.
Most of inside taps take 12mm (1/2″) washers; while outside taps (garden taps) take 3/4″ (18mm). Washers cost around $2.00 to $3.00 each. The most popular washer (used by most plumbers) is a heavy-duty washer suitable for hot and cold taps, with a copper base and a yellow top (Delaware valve) – approximately $3.00 each. This same type of washer is good for outside garden taps – 18mm costs approximately $3.00 each.
If your taps are very old, take the worn-out washer to the hardware or plumbers’ supply store so that you get the right washer for your tap.