On the great list of problems we would all like to avoid, plumbing issues have a special place near the very top. Whether it’s a blockage, an overflow, or a leak, there are very few moments that make your heart sink like the realisation that something in your plumbing has gone very badly wrong. It’s not just the flash of frustration that something has broken at the very moment when you need it to be working perfectly, it’s a security issue, a potential major expense and, more importantly, a possible hygiene nightmare. As we get ready to face the year’s worst weather, it’s important to take a step back and prepare for the worst in some of the most notorious problem areas in any home or business.
A Blocked Toilet
Let’s start with the one we’d all like to avoid if at all possible: the clogged toilet. There’s nothing worse than seeing the level in the bowl going up when it should be going down, and there are several reasons why this could be happening. The first question should be: has anything been flushed that shouldn’t have been? This really should be common sense, but you would be amazed at the number of people who thoughtlessly put any old rubbish in the bowl and hit the flush. One of the biggest culprits is wet wipes but there’s also condoms, nappies, tampons, cotton buds, paint, food, even pets. And while a little bit of food waste probably wouldn’t do any harm, anything that’s got a core, a stone, or bones in it should not go down the loo.
However, it’s not always down to what’s going down. Excessively hard water is a real issue, especially in the southern part of the UK. All that calcium and mineral residue can build up over time in your pipes if left unchecked, creating a smaller and smaller space for waste to pass through. Old pipes can also contribute to the problem. If they’re starting to crack and crumble under the weight of the years, nothing is going to pass through like it should and you could be facing some real problems. Similarly, if your region has been facing a lot of stormy weather, there could be a blockage or a pipe issue further down the line that is affecting your plumbing works.
In the event of a serious blockage, it is always more sensible to call in a professional who knows what they’re doing. Pouring strong chemicals down and hoping for the best is a quick fix at best, and at worst could do more damage to your pipe works.
Leaking Pipes And Taps
It’s the sound that keeps you up at night as you lie in bed and hear the “drip…drip…drip…” of a leaky faucet. While this problem may not be as severe as some of the other items on this list, it should not go ignored. Apart from the loss of sleep and the slow push towards a full-blown temper tantrum that a leaky tap can cause, that wasted water adds up. Over the course of a single year, a leaking faucet could be responsible for gallons of water waste, and nobody wants to be looking for ways to add to their utility bills. When it comes to taps and faucets, a drip or leak is usually caused by wear and tear to the rubber or silicone washer that forms the seal that keeps water from flowing when you turn it off. It’s a very common issue, as these washers will naturally get a bit stiff or dislodged through use, or even damaged. The longer the problem goes unchecked, the worse it will get, so don’t delay. While this can be a problem you might be able to fix yourself with the right tools, it might be a more complicated fix depending on the state of the washer and may need a professional’s help.
Another reason why it’s worth calling a plumber is that this may be a symptom of a deeper issue. If there has been damage to your pipes further down the line, due to bad weather or corrosion, then your water pressure will begin to fluctuate which can cause a leaking faucet. This is admittedly less likely, but it’s certainly not a problem that you can fix yourself.
A Slow Draining Or Blocked Sink
Have you noticed that the washing-up water isn’t going down the plug hole like it used to? Is there a pool of water sitting at the bottom of your sink a good few minutes after you’ve finished running the tap? Well, you’re looking at a problem further down. The most common cause for a blocked sink is, well, what you’ve been putting down it. Most of the time you’re looking at a build-up of grease and fat that hasn’t washed away properly that has now bound itself to the sides of your pipes. Think of it like mortar, a tough substance that won’t let go without a fight. Once that’s in there, anything else that gets washed down after it is liable to get stuck in that gooey matter and further restrict the path of the water that’s trying to get through. Other culprits include hair and other bits of food waste that get put down the sink instead of thrown into the bin. A good way to ensure that this problem doesn’t come up is to make sure that you dispose of excess cooking oils and fats elsewhere. Tipping what’s left in the frying pan after making a bacon sandwich down the sink is just asking for trouble.
Chemicals may help but excessive use can corrode the pipes instead of the greasy mess you’re trying to wash down, so caution is advised and overuse is definitely not recommended. The same goes for drain rods, as the kind you can pick up off the shelf are typically not as high quality as the professional-grade items and can do more harm than good. If the problem persists, it’s important to contact a drain company who will get in there and find the root cause of the problem. Drain Detectives can offer you a free quote and over the phone consultation, and they offer a one month guarantee for any job they do.
Septic Tank Issues
If you home or business uses a septic tank, then “something going wrong with the septic tank” is always going to be a recurring nightmare that you hope never comes true. Septic tanks and cesspits need to be emptied regularly and properly maintained, or you are going to run into trouble very quickly. There can be overflow following severe storms and heavy rain, there can be blockages, caused by something in the pipes or tree roots branching into your plumbing, and there can be an issue with the soakaway.
Anyone who has used a septic tank or cesspit knows to look out for the kinds of overgrowth and damp spots, not to mention the bad smells, that indicate that the soakaway has become clogged. If you fail to act on this problem quickly enough, you’re going to find that the material in your septic tank is going to find another direction to go in, and you don’t want it coming out of another part of your plumbing. Speed is of the essence, so make sure you call a professional as soon as possible.