Householders’ Guide to Dealing with Plumbing Problems

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If you’re a home owner it’s almost inevitable that you’ll encounter plumbing problems at some time or another. Indeed, plumbing issues cause most home insurance claims. Whether it’s a leak or a blockage or a malfunctioning boiler it’s a good idea to know how to cope with problems even if you have to call in a professional to fix them.

We’ve put together a short guide to the most common issues and some tips on what you need to do before you call a plumber.

Learn Your Valves

The best way of minimising the damage from a leak or burst pipe is to turn off the water as soon as possible. Make sure you know where your stop tap is so that the mains water can be turned off in an emergency. Valves can seize up over time so it’s a good idea to give them a try a couple of times a year to make sure they are okay.

Newer installations will usually have isolator valves on the inlet pipes to cisterns and so on. These can be turned with a screwdriver and allow you to stop a small leak without the need to turn off the water supply to the whole house.

Look After Your Boiler

It’s important to have your central heating system serviced regularly to ensure that it’s safe and in good working order. A reputable company like can do this for you. Make sure too that you understand the boiler controls, how to adjust the water temperature, how to relight it should the gas supply be interrupted and in the case of combi-boilers how to monitor and top up the water pressure.

If your heating system isn’t working at all, make sure you have someone you can call for central heating repairs. London and other cities have many companies to choose from. Make sure you choose a company with qualified engineers and a good reputation.

Guard Against Freezing

In modern centrally heated homes, freezing pipes are less of a problem. If you do have any exposed pipework in lofts or other unheated areas you should ensure that it’s properly lagged. If you’re going away in winter time it’s a good idea to leave the heating on a low setting to protect against frost. If you’ll be away for a long time it’s worth turning the water off and having the pipes drained.

Keep Outlets Flowing

Outlets from sinks, baths and showers are prone to blockages. Hair is a particular problem and it’s a good idea to attend to a problem as soon as you see signs of water draining slowly rather than wait until it becomes completely blocked.

If you can access the trap from below it’s easy enough to unscrew it and clear any problems from there. If the trap isn’t easy to access you can clear the blockage using a plunger.

Your Flexible Friends

Appliances like washing machines and dishwashers are connected using flexible hoses. It’s important to check these every year or so. They can wear if they rub against the sides of cupboards for example. You should also check the connections at each end to make sure there are no drips that may become more serious problems.


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