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Kyle James
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A few DIY tips for everyone

28 January 2014, 14:18

I think I am going to hop on the (rather too slow) emerging theme on News24; and put something unrelated to do with politics in the user section (*gasp*). While I would love to share something profound and thought provoking, I am rather going to throw some plumbing and DIY tips into the fray. Maybe Jacob can use them to slow the crap overflow that is coming out of his office. I have put them all under neat little headings too, so you don’t always need to call a plumber of something goes wrong.

Noisy Pipes

One of the most annoying things home owners face is noisy pipes. Believe it or not, it can take no more than 5 minutes to sort out. Pipe straps can loosen over time, allowing pipes to creak and groan as water temperature and pressure changes, but you can stop this annoying chatter from the plumbing with a few screws. Simply locate the noisy pipes, and tighten the fittings that hold it to the wall / support beam.

Running Toilets (Not Julius, the thing in your bathroom)

If your toilet is running and you have to jiggle the handle to get it to stop, it can actually be quite quick and easy to fix; often requiring no tools. The most common problem is that the chain connecting the flush handle and the flapper valve is not adjusted properly and gets caught under the flapper valve, preventing a good seal. The water continually leaks out of the tank, and therefore the tank continually attempts to fill.

Another issue is some part of the flush mechanism may be catching on another part. This is not uncommon, especially when a ball float is used. The ball float may catch on the flush handle arm, or even the flapper itself. A slight bend in the ball arm, or turn of the adjustment screw is all it takes to make it operate smoothly again.

If neither issue is the case, the flapper valve itself may be worn out. This is also an easy repair, but you must be sure to purchase the correct replacement part.

Burst Geyser

Normally occurring at 3am, your day off or during a huge cup final that your team is winning; a burst geyser is by far one of the most stressful and expensive things a home owner can go through.

First thing to do is to turn your water supply off. It is recommended that one of the first things you do when moving into a new home is know where your shut off valve is. This can save you vast amounts of time and money if you are able to act quickly. These shut off valves are normally by the kitchen outside wall, or if you have a water meter, it should be just before or after the water meter.

Once water has been switched off, you should turn the electricity supply to the geyser off. This is normally on your electrical board (It should also be marked quite clearly). If in doubt as to which switch is the geyser, switch off the main supply until a professional arrives.

After the power and water is sorted, the last step is to try and empty the geyser as much as possible. Turn the hot water on, on every tap, and get in touch with a plumber. At this point you have done everything you could to avoid further damage.

Burst Pipes

There are four major signs that point to a burst pipe on your property. If one of these are present, it is recommended that you turn off the water supply to your property immediately, and call a plumber.

Water Pressure:

Both CPVC and copper water supply pipes generally flow with pressure between 30 and 60 pounds per square inch, with individual household pressure set at an adequate faucet flow rate that doesn't damage fixtures or pipe joints. If there is a sudden drop in household water pressure, a possible cause is a pipe fracture causing a leak.

Damp Patches

If sudden damp patches are found on either the wall or ceiling , a water pipe may have burst inside the wall cavity. Also, in build up or cellar areas, wet patches on the ground also point toward a burst pipe.

A Sewer Smell

If there is a prevailing sewer smell in one part of the house or cellar/build up area, a break in the sewer line might be the culprit. The strength of the odour will lead you to the proximity of the broken sewer pipe. As leaking sewer waste can become a major health hazard, it is important to find and repair the leak in a timely fashion.

High Utilities Bill

If an average amount of water has been used during the billing cycle, but the water bill is much higher than usual, a broken water pipe might be the cause. Though damp patches will point toward a pipe break in the home long before the bill arrives, a pipe break can occur underground where the main water line runs from the house and connects to the city supply.

Blocked Drains

A stopped sink drain isn't just an inconvenience; it can sometimes be an emergency. It’s always best to prevent clogs before they happen. Be alert to the warning signs of a sluggish drain. It’s easier to open a drain that’s slowing down than one that’s stopped completely. Using the following tips, you won’t need to call a plumber:

Run or pour scalding water down the drain to break up grease build ups.
If hot water doesn’t unclog the drain, there could be some object in the drain.
To check, remove and thoroughly clean the sink pop-up stopper or strainer.
Determine if the clog is close to the sink by checking the other drains in your home. If more than one won’t clear, something is stuck in the main drain.
The most effective way to clear a clog is with a snake.
You can try using a plunger or a chemical drain .

Clearing Drains with a Plunger:

The plunger is a good drain-clearing tool, but it often fails to work because it’s incorrectly used. Don’t make the typical mistake of pumping up and down two or three times, expecting the water to whoosh down the drain. Though no great expertise is needed to use this simple tool, here are a few tips to guide you:

Choose a plunger with a suction cup large enough to cover the drain opening completely.
Fill the clogged fixture with enough water to cover the plunger cup.
Coat the rim of the plunger cup with petroleum jelly to ensure a tight seal.
Block off all other outlets (the overflow, second drain in a double sink, adjacent fixtures) with wet rags.
Insert the plunger into the water at an angle so no air remains trapped under it.
Use 15 to 20 forceful strokes, holding the plunger upright and pumping vigorously.
Repeat the plunging two or three times before giving up.

Using Chemical Drain Cleaners:

Though routine use of chemical drain cleaners to prevent clogs may eventually damage your pipes, these cleaners can be helpful in opening clogged drains. If water is draining somewhat, but plunging has failed to open the drain completely, you may want to try using a drain cleaner. Whenever you use chemicals, do so with caution and in a well-ventilated room. Be sure to take these precautions:

Never use a plunger if a chemical cleaner is present in the drain; you risk splashing caustic water on yourself.
Wear rubber gloves to prevent the chemical from burning your skin.
Don’t use a chemical cleaner if the blockage is total, especially if the fixture is filled with water. It won’t clear the blockage and you’ll face another problem-how to get rid of the caustic water.
Never use a chemical cleaner in a garbage disposal.
Read labels and match cleaners with clogs. Alkalis cut grease; acids dissolve soap and hair.

Safety Tip:

Don’t mix chemicals. Mixing an acid and an alkali cleaner can cause an explosion.
Don’t look down the drain after pouring a chemical. The solution often boils up and gives off toxic fumes.

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

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