While some aspects of plumbing can be tedious, there are some ways to make them a little bit more straightforward. There are also plumbing tips which may not only make a job easier, but potentially save your property from thousands of pounds worth of damage. Here’s a selection of useful plumbing tips we think are worth bearing in mind.
The most important of all plumbing tips…
Clockwise opens it, anti-clockwise closes it!
Use a magnet to check pipework for corrosion. Copper pipe is not magnetic, whereas any iron compounds that have formed inside a pipe will make the magnet stick.
The perfect pipe edge
When cutting a new piece of copper pipe with some pipecutters, cut a tiny piece off at the end. Instead of the flat, blunt edge, you’ll have a nice tapered edge – perfect for a compression fitting.
Save your copper scraps
…but don’t forget to save the piece you cut off! Take your old bits of copper to a scrap metal dealer – never throw it away! An old hot water cylinder may fetch anywhere up to £100.
When using PTFE tape, always thread the tape in the opposite direction of the thread of screw. This will ensure that it stays in place and doesn’t unwrap when you do up the fitting.
Lead pipe smoothing
Got an old lead pipe you need to sand down? Heat up a stanley knife over a flame and cut it smooth – it’s much quicker and easier.
Immersion heater safety
Make sure your immersion heater thermostat is the new type, which cuts out when it fails. Older ones can fail in the on position, boiling the water in the hot water cylinder, and overwhelming the cold water storage cistern with boiling hot water. In such circumstances, an improperly supported cistern may split, scalding or even killing residents in bedrooms below.
Know where your stopcock is
In the event of a leak, you don’t want to be wasting time finding the stopcock while a leak is busy damaging your property. Take a moment to find it – it’s usually under or nearby the kitchen sink – and test that it works.
Know where your outside stopcock is
In the event that your inside stopcock is inaccessible, you can’t afford not to know where your external stopcock is. It’s usually in a small hatch in the pavement in front of your property. Most importantly, you will need a stopcock key in order to operate it – you can get a basic one from your local DIY store for less than a tenner. It’s absolutely worth it getting one: in the event of a burst water main behind the internal stopcock, if you can’t turn off the outside stopcock then you will simply have no way of turning off the water until the emergency plumber arrives.
Get a spare ball valve
While you’re in your DIY shop, pick up a spare ball valve – you can pick up a decent Part 2 valve for around a fiver, if that. Leave it in the loft, and in the event of a leaking overflow pipe, you should be able to fix the problem as soon as it occurs.
Put inhibitor in your central heating
You absolutely can’t afford not to inhibitor your central heating. Inhibitor is a chemical which stops oxidisation occurring – basically, it stops your radiators from rusting inside out. A bottle of radiator inhibitor costs around a tenner – the cost of replacing multiple radiators can cost hundreds or even thousands of pounds.
The power of vinegar against limescale
Vinegar is an effective descaler – use it to remove limescale stains in the bathroom or even for descaling the shower head. Make sure to use distilled white vinegar, as other types – malt or white wine – may leave stains.
Get your boiler serviced
Whether it’s a combi boiler, a system boiler, or a heat only boiler, get your boiler serviced, especially if you’re the one who paid for it to be installed. In addition to a standard one year warranty, many boilers come with an extended warranty that can last anywhere from 7 to 10 years as long as they have been installed by an accredited engineer. Missing out on an annual service could cost the boiler its warranty – and you a lot of money, if it breaks down later.
Protect your hot water cylinder when removing an immersion heater
When removing an immersion heater, leave as much water in the hot water cylinder as possible. Sometimes a lot of force is required to unscrew an immersion heater. By leaving a mass of water in the cylinder, this will help to prevent the cylinder from warping as you unscrew the heater from its boss.
Broken ball valve float? Here’s a temporary fix
Isolate the valve and unscrew the float from the float arm. Drain out the water inside, and put it in a freezer bag. Screw it back onto the arm of the valve and tie the bag in place. This will serve as a temporary fix before you get a replacement float.
Remember your lockshield turns
Whenever you have to close a lockshield valve on a radiator, e.g. for cleaning or replacing a radiator, make sure you remember how many times you had to turn the valve. The lockshield should be set to allow the right amount of hot water to pass through the radiator so that it heats up evenly. Remembering the number of turns will save you from having to balance the radiator.
So there you have it – 16 plumbing tips which may not only make your life easier but could save you a pretty penny in the long run. Be sure to bookmark this page as more will be added in future!