Please note that we do not provide plumbing services
Although you may not need to turn your water off for years at a time (if at all) when you do need to shut it off – you need to be able to do it quickly to avoid water damage to your property.
Make a point of finding out where your mains water supply tap is located. You will usually find your mains tap in a pit with a cover which may or may not be marked as such. This pit is most likely located close to the front of your property and contains your water meter and a stop cock or tap which will turn the water supply off and on. It is also possible that it may be located somewhere else on your boundary and could be hidden by foliage.
Its a good idea to have an emergency plumbers card handy just in case. The fridge magnet works well.
Brisbane plumbers are required to be licensed to provide services to the public. Brisbane Handyman are not currently licensed to carry out plumbing work but the following essential DIY plumbing guide provides some basic tips on things to look out for and some useful solutions.
Plumbing Emergencies And How To Avoid Them
Hot water flexible hose blow-off – Most copper pipe terminates before the tap and the last connection is made with specialised hose fittings . The connections on these hoses are similar to a garden hose in that they insert into the tap and pipe and are held in place by a composite rubber ring seal. Unfortunately, some cheaper imports have inferior quality seals which can be compromised by excessively hot water. A combination of a faulty seal and the shock created by a sudden tap shut down can cause the hose to blow off. This can cause severe burns if you are unlucky enough to be standing in front of the sink at the time.
Tip; To avoid the above problem ensure that your tapware and hoses meet the Australian Standards and check that your thermostat is set to the minimum 60 deg as required for hot water storage. Your plumber can help with this but remember, for safety reasons, 60 deg is still about 10% too hot so you might also ask your plumber to install a hot water temperature control device (tempering device) to reduce this to 50 deg which is much safer.
Broken or punctured pipes – Water in your pipes is under pressure so even a small hole can create a substantial leak. Don’t panic – just go straight to your mains tap and turn it off and call a plumber. This sort of thing usually happens when you are renovating or being over enthusiastic with a hammer and nails mounting pictures. Invest in a stud finder and go easy with those demolitions in bathrooms and kitchens. Old galvanised piping is also prone to rust which can cause failure.
Hot Water Safety
New homes are now required by law to have tempering devices installed and set to 50deg (or less) for all bathrooms and ensuites. The law also states that improvements and renovations to existing bathrooms must also include these devices which are inexpensive and extremely effective at eliminating scolding events. Kitchens and utility areas can be serviced directly at 60deg but please be aware of the following;
- A serious burn can occur in about 1 second at 60deg.
- At 55 deg a serious burn would take about 10 seconds.
- It would take 5 minutes to get a serious burn at 50deg.
Around 3 young children are presented at hospitals around Queensland every week for treatment for scalds mainly caused by hot water. Tip; Consider buying some inexpensive tap covers which will make it far more difficult for them to get into trouble.
Water Hammer & Ceramic Taps
Brisbane Handyman is receiving some interesting complaints from our customers about noisy pipes (we don’t do pressurised pipework) and this has prompted some research into this problem.
Before the age of mixer taps you had what could best be described as soft washer screw taps. That’s right, you had one for the hot and one for the cold water and guess what… little or no pipe noise! Alright, you might get a little whooshing noise as the water circulates but no loud knocks or clanging noises. So what’s changed so much that it can turn your house into a scene from the Hunchback of Notre Dame at bath time with clanging pipes instead of bells!
The simple truth is that modern mixer taps turn off and on very quickly partly because of their ceramic washers and partly because of the lever action which begs to be squashed. This sudden shut down results in a shock wave speeding along your pipework causing havoc at every turn.
In our opinion, modern plumbing practice has not caught up with modern hardware as this constant hammering over time can cause pipework to become dislodged or ruptured. If we are to accept that ceramic washers in mixer taps are here to stay we would suggest that you have a word with your plumber regarding the following solutions.
- Check and reduce your incoming water pressure if it is excessive. The less pressure the less hammer – its a trade off that does reduce but not solve the problem.
- Unfortunately you have to disassemble your home to get at pipes so it is vital that your plumber takes the following steps if you are doing any new work. Remember, he will do the minimum required to pass the code inspection and he does not have to live there.
- Use twice as many clips as usual and ensure they are the correct size for the pipe. Tip; Place a blob of silicon at regular intervals as this will act as a shock absorber when dry. A few plumbers do this – most do not.
- Mixer taps that are used the most frequently or late at night etc. – ask your plumber to insert a vertical pipe (well sealed at the top) about 600mm high into the cold water system as close to the tap as possible. This short pipe will fill with air and act as a shock absorber and reduce the shock wave flowing back to rattle your pipes.
Tip; Check to see if you have one or more of these in place already, especially if your pipes are getting noisier over time, by shutting the water off at the mains and draining your system completely by turning on all the taps, paying special attention to taps on the lower levels. Close taps and turn the mains back on – this should reinstate any air chambers that have leaked air over time.
- Commercial water hammer arrestors are available and these have the advantage of being compact for tight areas under sinks etc. Water hammer arrestors operate on the same principle but use a spring loaded chamber instead of a compressed air buffer.
FIX A TAP
There is nothing worse than a dripping tap – its wasteful and annoying so lets fix it. The chances are that the tap washer needs replacing and this is a simple process if you have the right tools. The following video will explain the steps to follow:
Video – how to replace a tap washer