How to Understand Plumbing


Although your home will probably al­ready have water and electricity in­stalled when you arrive, from then on it is your responsibility to use them cor­rectly. Make sure you know how the controls work and find out where the supplies can be turned off in an emer­gency: if an emergency does arise, you may not have time to go searching for the controls. It is a good idea to label the main switches and stopcocks so they can be instantly recognized. Keep a list near the telephone of the names and tele­phone numbers of local plumbers, electricians, etc, who provide emer­gency services, so that you can get in touch with them immediately should you need them.

Basic plumbing tool kit

Plumbing is often best left to the ex­perts, but if you want to tackle any plumbing work yourself you will need a basic kit which can be extended, de­pending on the jobs you want to do. Tools such as screwdrivers, hammers, measuring instruments and a plunger are general-purpose tools used in plumbing and which you will no doubt already have in your tool chest. Il­lustrated on the right are a few plumb­ing tools for more specialized jobs.

Safety with water

The most damage water can do in a home is to destroy it – it will probably leave you intact, unless it combines with electricity when it can be fatal. The one time you must be careful with water and human lives is with children. Never leave a child alone with water and certainly never let a child bathe alone. Do not leave the room even to answer the front door bell -children can drown in as little as three inches of water.

Flooding

There are safeguards you can take to keep water under control. The most obvious is not leaving the room to make a telephone call when running a bath. Another is to stop flushing a blocked toilet, otherwise you may cause a flood. And remember to remove the sink plug if your washing machine empties its water into the sink.

Taking precautions

Any electrical appliance that uses water (dishwasher, washing machine, etc) should ideally be situated in the bottom floor of your home. If this is not po­ssible, it is worth considering placing the appliance in a specially-made metal box with an overflow pipe – just in case it does flood.

An overflowing cistern in a top floor toilet can cause a great deal of damage, especially if your cistern overflow pipe is blocked. So check it regularly to ensure it is not. Unfreezing a frozen pipe in the attic too quickly can also cause a flood if ice has cracked the pipe. If there is a flood in your home you must act fast as water is very heavy and can quite rapidly cause ceilings to collapse.

Avoiding blockages

All baths, basins and sinks should have a grid over the waste outlet to stop solids from blocking the trap or waste pipe below. But even small solids, such as tea leaves, hairs, vegetable scrapings and greasy and fatty liquids, can pass the grid and trap and block the sink.

Do not empty tea leaves into the sink or toilet. Always run hot water with a little detergent after pouring hot fat down the sink to make sure it cannot solidify in the bend of the trap. Never put disposable nappies or sanitary pads down a toilet bowl. Regularly pour a handful of washing soda and some boil­ing water down your drains to clear them, and every now and again clean out your kitchen sink trap. Not only will this help to prevent blockages, but it will also stop any unpleasant smells arising from trapped matter.

Making a sink plunger

It is useful to have a sink plunger, but you can always make one by covering the end of a broom handle or long stick with a thick sponge or cloth-pad which should be firmly secured. Pumped firm­ly up and down over the plug hole, this helps to shift blockages.

Bathroom maintenance

As with everything, keeping your bath­room well maintained will save you money in the long run.

Damp

Try and minimize condensation: keep the shower doors closed whenever you are having a shower and open the windows a little during or after a very steamy bath. It helps lessen steam if you run the cold water into the bath first, followed by the hot. If all your family enjoy long, hot baths twice a day and do not want to keep the window open, install a window ventilator or extractor fan in the bathroom.

It is important that water does not seep between a wall and the edges of a bath, shower or basin where it could cause rotting. Most sealants come in colours to match basins and tiles or are transparent to match anything.

Toilet

If your toilet seat and cover are loose these must be fixed, all the screws tigh­tened and the washers replaced if they have disintegrated. Broken seats and covers should be replaced as they are very unhygienic. Measure the sizes of the holes in the pan and their distance apart when you go to buy a new unit.

Basin and bath

Older baths were often made of cast iron painted with enamel. These can be re­painted if they become worn or chipped. If you have a modern cast-iron bath covered with vitreous enamel, do not try and re-enamel it yourself. In­stead, ask your plumber.

Taps

If your tap drips you need to change the washer. A dripping tap wastes water and, if it is a hot water tap, it is wasting energy and your money as well. Some modern taps do not need you to turn off the mains water supply when repairing them, but always check before starting work.

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  4. How to Install a Washing Machine or Dishwasher
  5. How to Avoid Accidents in Bathrooms

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About the Author: Jason Prickett loves to write about home maintenance and stuff you can do yourself instead of hiring any professional. His step by step guides will assist you in completing your home maintenance tasks.

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