Plumbing these's day can be very frustrating if you do not have a bit of experiance, hopefully some of the tips below will help if your trying to do a little bit of repairs yourself and/or save you some money before you call the plumber in.
When toilets are dripping down the back of the bowl firstly you need to take off the lid to see where from.
Some newer toilets have 2 button, some unscrew, some require you to gently lift one button the other will then come out and you will see a large flat screw, unscrew this to removed lid.
If it is the water inlet valve the water will be high and overflowing into the centre.
Some valves we can install a new washer but most of the time it is quicker to install a fluid master inlet valve, pretty simple job ensure you buy a long enough flexible hose connection when you buy the valve or you will find it to hard to reconnect the water.
While your repairing the inlet valve always install a new outlet washer, if that isn't leaking now it will tomorrow.
When installing fluid master adjust it before putting it in the cistern to make sure you get the water level near correct, you can minor adjust once it is fully back together.
If the water level is good then it is the outlet washer (over 100 different sorts) be careful not to break the flush valve itself while getting it out, it will come out some are just a little harder than others.
When installing the new rubber it helps to use a bit of lubricant to help get the washer perfectly center.
Before reinstalling valve check the bottom of the flush valve seat and clean with a rag as this will have old rubber attached to it.
Also look closely at the seat once clean as 1 out of 50 will have a groove and no matter how many new washers you install it will always have a tiny drip.
Shutting the water down can cause the tap to collapse's inside and when turned back on will drip, so turn it on normally then slowly turn it off one or so turns this sometime stops that drip.
Also when you are ready to connect the flex hose to the tap firstly turn tap on and flush out the black rubbish left in the tap, you will see.
Lot of toilets are 2 piece and have a flush pipe with 2 rubbers connecting cistern to pan these rubbers also perish and leak and need to be change, be careful not to break the flush pipe, sometimes it easier to cut the flush pipe exactly where it meets the back of the pan and then it is easy to disassemble and re install.
Put the big flush pipe rubber on the flush pipe and turn it inside out, re-assemble then flick it back onto the pan adjust as required.
You may need to remove the seat to do this work.
Close coupled toilets also leak from here if it hasn't been installed correctly first time, disassemble and buy correct size rubber. I always get them perfectly dry and use a bit or lot of silicon to guarantee it does not leak.
Also check the nuts and bolts or screws as once these have been moved they too can leak put a little silicon on these preferable from the inside of the cistern once it is all back together and before water is turned on.
If you are changing this rubber always install a new inlet valve it is easy while apart and damn hard after.
When changing a tap washer on a normal spindle tap, always renew the black
o-rings (use lubricant) on the o-ring and on the red washer and buy good tap washers. I use hydro seal tap washers.
Always remove the shower outlet and/or the filter on the end of the spout or these will get blocked and you will have no water.
The breach piece in the wall or the tap body must have a new seat cut into it or you will be back changing tap washers again next week.
Use a cordless drill and buy yourself a hydro seal seat cutter.
(This hydro seal cutter will last you a life time if you pack it away correctly, as soon as you have used it spray it with CRC or RP7 and wrap it in a rag soaked of the same)
When cutting a new seat do not push hard, let the tool do the work for about 3 to 5 seconds then take it out and look inside to make sure it is perfectly round with no cuts in the seat still existing. If it does not look perfect give it another cut.
When it is perfect temporary put the tap back in without the tap washer.
You must then turn the water meter back on at this stage and flush away the shavings.
I like to go and turn the water meter on and off 3 times for about 8 seconds each time.
Reinstall the tap body correctly and handles, do not turn the tap off while dry.
Turn water back on to keep flushing any more shavings then you can turn it off, you can reinstall the outlet filter or shower rose.
1/2 turn taps are not repairable, but you can try to cut a new seat and reinstall the tap this only works sometimes and is not permanent.
When installing 1/2 turn taps for the first time it must have a perfect seat to sit on.
Note; you only get one chance to install these taps if it is not done correctly first time you will have trouble with them in the future if not immediately.
When installing new tapware through out an existing house specially with 1/2 turn taps a lot of time the new taps do not fit into the wall correctly being either to deep or too shallow. This really is a fight with some manufactures taps and its a matter of using extensions, maybe a 2nd or third red washer, cutting the brass thread on the outside of the bell section of the tap.
It really is trial and error to make it fit.
This is the reason I will not quote to install new tapware through out a house any more.
We used to allow approx 15/20 minutes to install a pair of new taps now sometimes it takes a hour.
Kitchen and basin flick mixers usually can have the cartridge replaced this is sometimes successful providing that was the problem.
Mixers are made of soft brass and if this has been stretched it will leak around the base and can not be repaired.
If the mixer is starting to get old it is advised to install a new one instead of wasting time and money attempting to fix the old.
Some of the newer shower mixers can be repaired with new cartridges, the older makes are past there time and trying to chase up a cartridge is difficult.
Usually you have no choice but to get into the wall and replace with a new one, sometimes we can do this from the back as it better to renew plaster and paint than destroying tiles.
Garden taps are fixed in the same way as above you just need to be super careful not to damage the pipe in the wall when undoing the top, sometimes it better to take the tap completely off the wall than break the pipe.
With basins and vanity's getting the existing tap out can often damage the pipe under the sink.
So firstly tighten up the big back nut on the vanity then get your spanner with a really good grip on the body of the tap with the spanner and your hand and with the other hand give it one or two good hits anti clock wise this usually does the trick than trying to swing off the tap which will only damage everything.
Repair taps as above.
Once you have finished the vanity you must check for leaks under the sink in the cupboard, a drip here is very common and needs to be fixed or it will quickly destroy your vanity.
I usually put a little silicon around the tap and chrome bell where it comes through the vanity top as once this has been disturbed it is also prone to leak into the cabinet.
Always turn a tap on before you try to remove it from the breach in the wall or tap body.
If you only have a little water coming out of any tap the problem is the strainer or the restrictor.
You need to remove it from the end of the outlet and clean it from rubbish or remove the tiny O ring this usually works.
Some mixers have this restrictor in the flexi hose under the sink, if it is not in the spout it is here.
Every showers also has them it is either in the head or in the inlet or outlet of the chrome section on the wall, it is there!
Vanity/Basin blockages mostly are caused by build up of soap and tooth paste with a bit of hair, Because of water restrictors in tapware theses days there's not enough water to help flush this rubbish away, once it has been broken up this can usually be flushed away with a good plunger. if this doesn't work the next thing is to put hand rods down the pipe under the sink. If this also fails then there is a problem in the main 100mm drain.
Some pop up plugs are so small it takes forever for the water to drain away, this is not a blockage just the water can not get air behind it to flush correctly.
Try unscrewing the top of the pop up and see if how good the water drains away.
The trick here is to keep this top section spotless of soap and toothpaste even a little starts to slow the water down.
Kitchens can often be the same problem first try plunging.
Often in Canberra the blockage is in the gully just outside the kitchen this gets full of fats and grease and in winter freezes, there are special plungers for gully traps or be very careful and try the mop head and lots of hot soapy water.
Anything more than this then there is a different problem, probably tree roots or a broken pipe in the main drain.
A totally different job and requires a electric eel and more investigation.
Sometimes a single toilet gets blocked usually when this happens there are tree roots directly in the inspection opening directly behind the toilet outside.
Regardless of what is there this is where it needs to be dug up. sometimes its only 200/300mm deep others 500 or a meter.
Again regardless or depth this is where it needs to be dug to gain access to the drain.
Once you have found the pipe and IO carefully lift the cap off and you will see it is full of roots. If you cant reach them or get them out an electric eel will be required.
When there is a leak under the sink it is either the S and P trap rubbers have perished its a matter of taking it all apart clean and install new rubbers.
It sometimes can be the plug and washer itself, if this has been moved it will leak every time.
Take it out, clean and completely dry it then when reinstalling use silicon as a gasket.
Water could be getting under the tap bodies and sneaking its way into the cabinet.
Loosen tap from underneath, clean and dry then use a bit of silicon and re-tighten tap again.
The sink itself could of come loose from the bench, only way to fix this is to take it out completely clean it up and reinstall with lots of silicon and try to get the clamps to hold again.
Failing all the above it can only be a leaking water pipe or quick connect nut on one of the pipes.
Get a torch and paper towel and search to locate drip.
Some brands of the mini stop taps used under sinks also leak try turning on all the way then turn back off 1 or so turns sometimes this can sometimes stop the drip.
With a leaking shower first thing to do is to check the tapware and shower rose,
fix these first.
Check for the leak again, cap off the shower rose pipe at the wall and turn the water on.
If water is coming from these areas then there is a cracked pipe inside the wall.
If these are good and it is still leaking then check around the base of the shower tiles and shower screen, see if you can pin point the area.
If it is leaking from the shower screen your lucky and you can take the whole shower screen out clean it good and reinstall with lots of silicon. Clean up the excess with turps.
If its not the screen then its the water proofing if it had any in the first place, this has failed.
You can temporary cut out all of the silicon and grout around the corners and edges, completely dry with a heat gun and re silicon, this may last 2 or 4 years then you can do it again.
There is only one good solution and that's the shower tiles need to be removed the area dried out and properly wet sealed and re-tiled.
Gutters and Downpipes
Gutters need to be cleaned out 2 or 3 time every year depending on what trees you have around you to stop debris building up and blocking the down pipe and then blocking the drain pipes.
If the drains start filling with dirt and debris trying to put the electric eel down to clear becomes impossible and then it either needs to be dug up and renewed or we can run completely new drains.
Pits and channel are great ways to stop rubbish getting into the drain pipe, But note if they are not cleaned out at least once a year then the same problem occurs.
There are many things called gutter guard some very expensive to buy and install and some cheap.
I come across this all the time and personally the big metal ones that are expensive do exactly as some good heavy duty plastic ones that fit inside the gutter at 1/10 of the cost and are so much easier to clean the gutter and reinstall.
Note; gutter guard the name itself gives the customer false hope.
While it will stop you from needing to clean a roof gutter 3 times a year, every few years it still needs to be removed, gutters cleaned of fine silt and reinstalled.
In the event of your drains being blocked underground you can break the cement at the bottom of the down pipe to release the water, its better to have the water flooding the ground than it destroying your eaves, you can also cut a hole in the down pipe itself to do the same.
When you notice banging or the water pipes or shuddering in the pipework you have water hammer.
This can sometimes take 30 minutes to fix to many hours.
First thing I do when attending to this is to check everywhere it is coming from to start repairs.
Sometimes it can be as simple as adjusting the position of the inlet tap on your water heater.
Often it is the tap washers so repairing all your taps through out the house correctly will fix the problem.
It can also be from dripping taps or from a dripping toilet,
A drip at one end of the house can make water hammer when water is used at the other end of a house.
Some times you need to try and re clip the pipe work as it has not been done properly in the first place or after many years the clips have come loose.
Next thing to try is to install hammer arrestors at or near the noise, under the sink or at the laundry or at a garden tap this helps to stop the pipes in the wall from banging.
These days and for the last 10 years in Canberra on any new house's and extension's the pipe work is required to have pressure limiting valves to (500kpa) while it helps save a little bit of water and is good for the environment it can be very inconvenient in the garden or when filling a bath or laundry tub.
If this is the case it can be removed with a little modification to the pipe work.
In some case's if it has been installed and there was not enough pressure in the first place they tend interfere with the whole water system and restrict water flow and must be removed for normal water operation.
In some of the newer suburbs of Canberra there isn't even enough water pressure from the mains (approx. 360kpa) and there is nothing the government will do to fix this. If a pressure limiting valve has been installed here in this situation there will be never ending problems.
Sewer and Stormwater ties (Government Connection)
When Canberra was first built they did not bring the sewer and storm water ties to the surface, this has become a very costly mistake for the government as now if it is dug up and brought to the surface and we can prove the blockage is in Icons mains they not only need to cover the cost of their own repairs but the costs of the home owner for bringing in the plumber to raise the tie.
This goes for both storm water and sewer ties.
Your sewer and storm water location can be found on your drainage plans or you can go to Actpla directly or to Actpla's web site and do a (tie search) and download it to your computer.
Every house has its own sewer and storm water tie, although some of the very first suburbs where your house is connected to your neighbour's you may have a shared tie.
In some suburbs some house do not have storm water ties and the water from the property is taken directly to the road curb side.
Sewer and Stormwater Plans
Sewer plans can be purchased from Actpla in 8 Darling St Mitchell they now prefer you to do it online so you can go to their web site and fill in the online application pay for it and it will be emailed to you in a usually in a few hours or the next day.
Actpla web site is here:
For sewer plans
- Go to forms
- Go to sanitary drainage plans
- Fill in application and pay the fee.
Storm water is similar they may or may not have any stormwater plans or tie points so you will need to contact Icon in Mitchel they should be able to supply a tie point.
Then its a matter of a little bit of investigation onsite to determine how the drains have been laid.