BASIC PLUMBING - HINTS & TIPS

Taking the time to check out and familiarize your plumbing system just now will help save time, money and possible damage to your property by Just knowing the very basics of your system. I have provided a form for you to print out and complete during your plumbing survey. Why not make a copy for other member of the family or person who may be looking after your property whilst away on holiday.

Help Topics -

  1. Water Supply
  2. Locate The Stop Cock On The Rising Main
  3. Locate & Identify Other Shut Off Valve
  4. Isolating Gas Supply
  5. If You Think You Smell Gas
  6. Preventing Frozen Pipes
  7. Thawing Frozen Pipes
  8. Protect Your System
  9. Keep Your House Warm
  10. If Your House Is Unoccupied
  11. If Your Pipes Burst
  12. Or There Is No Water At The Taps.
  13. After The Crisis
  14. Office Shops & Businesses
  15. Lead Pipes
  16. Earthing
  17. Water Is Shut Off By Water Board
  18. Water Is Restored By Water board

Water Supply

  • Locate your underground shut off valve, usually found on the pavement or road in-line with your stopcock in the house. This is where the incoming main can be isolated before your Stopcock.
  • Quite often, the mains valve shut-off is covered in mud or stones and may need to be cleaned out to allow the valve to be shut off in an emergency.


Locate the stopcock on the rising main

  • This is the pipe that brings fresh water into your home.
  • The stopcock controls the flow of water and is used to shut off the entire supply in an emergency.
  • The stopcock may be found under the kitchen sink, bathroom, cloakroom, beneath the stairs or in the cellar or basement.
  • Ensure that the valve turns freely, if the valve has not been shut for a period of time it may have become very Stiff, if this is the case use some WD-40 and open & shut the valve several times to try and free it off a bit.
  • Ensure the valve closes fully and actually isolates the water supply!

     
Locate & Identify other shut off valves.

  • Check if there are isolating valves on the low-pressure pipes to taps, toilet cisterns and household appliances - these valves enable servicing to be carried out without turning off the mains.
  • They are usually located next to the storage cistern in the loft or hot water cylinder cupboard.
  • Check to see they are working correctly.
  • Now would be a good time to make a note what valves turns off the relevant water supply in the property. Label the valves know for easier identification later on, after all it might not be you that has to isolate the water in an emergency.


Gas

Ensure your family know where to Shut Off the gas supply at the isolating valve next to the gas meter. If the meter box is outside the property ensure the Gas key to open the door is in a place where every one knows where to find it. If the meter is under the stairs etc., make sure there is clear access to it at all times.

IF YOU THINK YOU SMELL GAS

  • Do not turn electric switches on or off.
  • Do Not smoke
  • Do Not use naked flames
  • Do Turn Off the gas supply at the meter.
  • Do Open doors and windows to get rid of the small of gas.
  • Call Transco Now 0800 111 999
  • Do Not use any telephone from within the property.
  • Contact a Fox & Co to repair the gas escape if Transco are unable to repair the fault. Transco are not Duty bound to repair the escape but will ensure it is made safe.

Preventing Frozen Pipes

  • Each winter frozen and burst water pipes inside properties cause inconvenience and heartache to thousands of people and can result in costly damage to buildings and furnishings.
  • Most of this can be avoided if simple precautions are taken at the right time.
  • Find your main stop valve which turns off the water to your dwelling and is normally situated on the water pipe where it enters the building.
  • Some dwellings have the cold water supplied directly, with the hot water supplied from a tank; others have both cold and hot supplied from a tank. The tank may be on the roof, in the attic space or within the dwelling. In most cases, controlling stop-cocks are situated at or near the cistern.
  • Find out what your system is like and in particular the location of the stop valve and what they control.
  • The hot water supply can also be controlled by a stop valve which is usually located in the cylinder cupboard on the pipe which connects near the bottom of the cylinder.
  • This stop valve controls the flow of water to the cylinder but does not normally empty it.
  • Should it be necessary to empty the cylinder, call a plumber.

Thawing Frozen Pipes

  • Un-insulated pipes exposed to freezing temperatures are likely to become blocked with ice.
  • This commonly occurs in cold un-insulated lofts. Garden taps are also prone to freezing.
  • You may not be aware of the problem until the water refuses to flow when you turn on a tap.
  • Trace the location of the blockage by following the run of the frozen pipe work.
  • Because copper is a good conductor of heat, you can usually thaw a pipe using an electric hair dryer.
  • Warm the pipe gradually, working back from the affected tap or valve.
  • Treat old lead pipe in the same way, but warm the whole pipe evenly.
  • If you cannot use a hairdryer, wrap the frozen pipe in hot towels.
  • Insulate vulnerable plumbing to prevent it freezing again.
  • You can buy lagging bandage to wrap round the pipe work, but the job is much easier using foamed plastic tubes split lengthwise to fit over standard size pipes.

Protect Your System

  • Insulate pipe work in exposed places.
  • Insulate the top and sides of the cold water tank.
  • Do not insulate under it warm air rising from the room below will help stop the water freezing.
  • Insulate external taps and pipes and toilet cisterns in outside lavatories. Fit flaps of carpet, etc., at top and bottom of door to W.C.
  • Have dripping taps or faulty W.C. cisterns repaired or the waste pipe may freeze up and cause flooding.
  • See that taps are turned off properly, especially last thing at night.
  • Put plugs in baths, wash basins and sinks.
  • Stop draughts near pipes and tanks.
  • Close windows.
  • Put a small heater near pipes liable to freeze.

Keep Your House Warm

  • Insulation is not the complete answer to freezing up.
  • It only delays the effect of frost. Regular heating of your home is the most effective protection during long periods of very cold weather.

If Your House Is Unoccupied

  • Leave the central heating on for short periods to maintain a reasonable temperature.
  • During winter times it is advisable to have a neighbour regularly check your property to ensure all is well, they may need to increase the central heating temperature to help prevent frost damage.
  • Give your Neighbour instruction about where your water supply shuts off.
  • Alternatively drain the water system.
  • If you drain the system: Turn off main cold water stop valve Open all taps Flush all toilet cisterns Drain pipe work through the draining taps which should be at the low points of your water system.
  • If you do not leave your central heating operating, then also drain this system. Although you may drain down your plumbing / heating system, this is no guarantee that pipes will not burst, as water will usually remain in some of the pipe work and fittings.
  • Be extremely careful when re filling the system and do not leave it unattended during the re filling process and for at least 1 hour after the system is filled up.

If Your Pipes Burst

  • Shut off the water at the stop valve and open all taps to drain the system quickly. Isolate the power supply to immersion heaters, showers , heating system etc. so there is no further damage to the system.

Or There is no water at your taps

  • Do not switch on or light any water heating appliances whether fuelled by gas, oil, solid fuel or electricity.
  • Examine the water system for fractures in pipes and fittings also for any sign of pipes being pulled from joints.
  • The presence of ice on the outside of a pipe is often an indication that it has burst.
  • If you notice any of these symptoms
    TURN OFF THE CONTROLLING STOP VALVE and call Fox & Co .
  • If no damage is visible open all taps and thaw out pipe work with an electric fan heater or hairdryer.
  • Start at an open end and work back from it. Cloths soaked in hot water can also be placed on the pipe
  • . Heat the dwelling generally with appliances not connected with domestic hot water or water-based central heating.
  • If the house has to be left unattended, shut off the main stop valve and drain down whatever can be drained. Call a qualified plumber.

After the crisis

  • If you have been unfortunate enough to have suffered damage or inconvenience as a result of burst pipes and flooding, have you taken action to prevent any recurrence?
  • All underground pipes should have adequate cover of at least 30" or 750mm.
  • The position or location of pipes which have burst or frozen in the past should be re-considered.
  • Perhaps they can be removed from their exposed place to a less vulnerable position, or the area more successfully heated
  • Alternatively can their insulation be improved?
  • Grants may be available from your Local Authority for providing insulation to the recommended standard.

Office, Shops & Businesses

  • The results of burst pipes can be expensive causing damage to stock and equipment, loss of business and inconvenience to your customers.
  • Install trace heating on pipe work and tanks in areas which are difficult to heat and are exposed.
  • If the premises are to be unoccupied for any length of time (e.g.. over holiday periods) ensure that someone is responsible for checking the premises regularly and is able to take appropriate action in the event of sever weather.

  • REMEMBER if you are a metered customer, you are liable for water lost through bursts inside your premises. Take action NOW to avoid future difficulties

Lead Pipes

  • Older properties may still have lead pipe work and some lead could be transferred from the pipe into the water you drink.
  • You may decide to replace your lead supply and lead plumbing. If you do the water board will replace there part of the service pipe free of charge.
  • You will be charged by your plumber for the rest of the work involved, From the boundary of the property to your point of entry into your property..
  • If you have a lead supply pipe you share with your neighbours and you agree with them to replace it, we suggest separate pipes be laid where possible.
  • Although lead is no longer considered to be a major health problem in Scotland, with only very rare cases of lead poisoning being reported, it is still important to ensure that lead levels in drinking water are minimised to prevent possible effects on the intellectual performance of children.
  • Young children may be at special risk because of their high consumption of water.
  • The U.K. Water Supply (Water Quality) Regulations specify a maximum permissible level of lead in the water supply of 50 micrograms per litre or parts per billion.
  • A supply with a level below that figure is regarded as satisfactory by current standards.
  • However, the World Health Organisation has reviewed desirable standards of a number of substances, including lead, in the light of new medical and scientific evidence, and has recommended (in November 1993) a reduction from its present guideline value for lead of 50 micrograms per litre to 10 micrograms per litre.
  • This lower value could in practice only be achieved by replacement of lead pipe work. Any revision of the U.K. Water Quality Regulations is a matter for the Government.

Earthing

  • If your property has a metal water service pipe which is used for earthing, this is no longer thought to be safe, and has not been allowed since 1966.
  • Building built before then may still be earthed in this way.
  • The increasing use of plastic water pipes reduces the effectiveness of your pipe as an earth.
  • We suggest the you get advice from your electrical supply company or another approved electrician
  • . You may have to pay for this service.
  • Safe earthing of electrical appliances in your house is your responsibility.

Water Is Shut Off By Water Board During Repairs To Underground Pipes

  • Ensure that all taps are turned off and are kept that way while the water supply is off. Stopcock's) are normally located where the supply enters your property.
  • These taps should be left in the open position.
  • The Water board can assist you in locating these taps if necessary.
  • Do not drain hot water tanks and cisterns.
  • Washing machines, dishwashers, instant water heaters, water softeners, etc. should not be used while the water supply is off.

Water Is Restored By Water Board

  • The Water Board will inform you when the water supply is being turned back on and will ensure that properties are occupied before restoring the water supply to them.
  • When the water is turned on, run the cold water tap in your kitchen until the water is clear.
  • If you have any problems after the supply is restored contact the local office at the number provided on the water mains relining notice.