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Type of engineer

The term plumber covers the whole spectrum of jobs that can arise in this field, as with most professions there are sub-categories that engineers specialise in. These sub-categories include emergency plumbers, general plumbers, gas safe engineers and drainage engineers, getting the correct type of plumber/engineer for what you need is important as they all have different skill sets.

Emergency plumbers are the type of engineer you need if there is a problem at your property that cannot wait they will be with you the same day usually within hours of the call, these are not gas safe engineers and concentrate on wet plumbing and small drainage jobs.

General plumbers do not offer the same response time as emergency plumbers but do cover much the same plumbing areas, these plumbers concentrate on bigger jobs like bathroom installations or day rate jobs. Gas safe engineers are plumbers in their own right and can work with wet plumbing most choose not to and concentrate on the gas side of the trade mainly boilers.

Drainage engineers concentrate on drains and blockages this type of engineer does not do jobs like fixing leaking taps or toilets.

Leaking toilet   

Toilets can be the cause of many people picking up the phone and calling a plumber for a repair. It is not always clear at first sight that there is a problem a simple wet patch on the floor could be an indication there is a problem it is also easy to just dismiss this as spilled water.

This may be the case if it the wet patch reappears it is a sign of a leak and should be acted upon as if left it can turn into a larger problem and cause much more damage, mould and a smell of damp are signs to look out for especially on concealed toilet units.

Below we have listed a few signs to help you identify if you have a leak and what could be the possible cause of the problem. Here is what to look out for-

Water running into the toilet pan     

Water running into the toilet pan at a reasonable speed is a very visual and noisy sign that you have a leaking toilet for most people this is easy to spot and is dealt with by a call to a plumber. Some people do just dismiss this especially older people as they don’t want to bother people about such a small thing; this is a mistake as the problem will only get worse if left alone.

The main causes of this problem are faulty ball valves or equilibrium valves, when looking into the toilet cistern this is the unit that regulates the amount of water flowing into the cistern. Another reason for water running into the toilet pan especially in push button toilets is a faulty cylinder syphon, if the syphon is causing the issue the water level in the cistern will be low as no water is being stored in the cistern.

Brown & black stains

A common sign you have a toilet leak and may not even know about it are brown and black stains running down the toilet pan, most people take no notice and simple clean them away only to find they return on a constant basis, this is a sign of a leak and should not be avoided or ignored as with most things if it doesn’t look right or shouldn’t be there it’s a plumbing problem on the rise.

The amount of times we have been called out to a job like this only because the customer has had a high water bill and cannot figure out why, the first place we check is the toilet and nine times out of ten there are the signs of brown and black stains, if you spot theses give us a call.

Water vibration & bubbles       

Similar to the brown and black stains and normally accompanying them is water vibration in the pan although much more subtle and harder to spot this is another reason high water bills can occur.

The root cause of this is the cylinder syphon’s drop valve washer located at the bottom of the valve the washer over time develops air pockets which in turn means the washer does not sit flush creating a small gap for the water to trickle through.

This small amount of constant water ripples and vibrates the water in the pan near the back of the toilet, tiny bubbles can also be seen in some cases, if you think this is happening but are unsure a trick to test for it is to fold a piece of toilet paper twice and place it on the back of the toilet pan if the toilet is leaking the paper will act like blotting paper and become saturated from the top.

Condensation on cistern

Condensation occurs on a toilet cistern in the same way you find it on your windows on a cold morning the temperature on one side of the glass is higher than the other side this creates condensation.

This is exactly the same principle on the toilet cistern the water on the inside is colder than the room temperature, normally this is not a problem as the water in the cistern acclimatises to match the room temperature so no condensation will occur.

If you have a leak on the toilet which is removing acclimatised water out from the cistern this water is replaced via the ball valve by fresh cold water from outside, as it is a leak this is a continuous cycle of water out water in which means the water never settles and acclimatises therefore creating constant condensation on the toilet cistern.

Toilet bleach blocks

Toilet bleach blocks can cause a variety of plumbing issue’s with a toilet leaking. The blocks that you put into the water in the toilet cistern are the worst type of blocks, mainly for two reasons over time the bleach attacks the rubber seals around overflow pipes and syphon’s weakening the seals and allowing water to leak through, this is not unusual in both push button toilets and handle toilets.

Leaking bleached water can cause a blue (normally) colour discolouration of the floor around the toilet and should be attended to right away before the floor is ruined and needs repairing or replacing.

Another common problem with bleach blocks in push button toilets is as the block becomes smaller it can fit through the cylinder syphon drop valve and get trapped blocking the flush valve from closing causing constant water flow into the toilet pan.

Cistern cracks       

A hair line crack in a cistern can be very difficult to spot, most cracks are caused by something being dropped onto the cistern these are instantly visible and a plumber should be called to replace the cistern.

Although less likely cracks or splits can occur by themselves possibly due to certain area being stressed by a screw or poor installation over time the cistern cracks/splits. A crack tends to be found in ceramic cisterns and splits are more common in plastic and concealed cisterns.

If left this can turn into a major problem or leak if the cistern breaks allowing all the water stored to leak out onto the floor as well as the continuous flow of water from the ball valve which will not stop unless turned off at an isolation valve or the mains stop tap.

 

Toilet not flushing

A toilet not flushing can be a major inconvenience; however there are different signs of an impending flushing failure on different types of flushing systems. If you have a handle or chain style flush you will notice as the flushing begins to fail that you have to pump the handle and pull the chain numerous times to get the toilet to flush.

On a push button style flushing toilet the button will start to stick and the flush will become intermittent before complete failure. If you find the toilet has completely stopped working a plumber is needed as you will need to replace the flushing mechanism.

While waiting for a plumber or if the toilet breaks and you cannot get a plumber simply pouring a bucket of water into the toilet pan will act as a flush this keeps the toilet useable until the repair is complete.

Overflowing toilet  

There is a difference between water flowing into the pan and a toilet overflowing into the pan, it comes down to the speed of the water flow going into the pan, an overflowing toilet is like a tap running into the pan and is nine times out of ten due to the ball valve failing.

Older style toilets have an external overflow pipe this takes the excess water out of the property and dispenses it near an outside wall, sometimes a door. Newer style toilets have an internal overflow this means the water is directed into the toilet pan and down the soil pipe as normal, the water flow will be similar to the speed of a running tap.

Damp patches & smell

The smell of damp or visible damp patches is a sure sign there is water getting in from somewhere. Normally if it is a plumbing issues it is a slow leak that has gone undetected for an amount of time, although easy to spot and smell in most cases, these leaks can prove hard to find.

On concealed toilets it is normally the smell that alerts people to the fact they have a problem as it is not possible to see all the joints that could be leaking. Damp patches on the ceiling, walls or floors should not be ignored as they will only get worse sometimes lifting wooden floors due to the swelling.

Places to look for the source of these signs are at any washer joint ie feed pipes to toilets, hot and cold feeds to taps or washing machines/dishwasher hoses.

Reduced flow in property

If you notice a reduction in water flow to your property it may be that the mains water pipe has burst or is leaking. There are ways to check and narrow down the search for the cause, firstly check if all the taps in the property are affected, is it just upstairs or downstairs.

If it is not all the taps this is isolating the possible cause of the fault on the system. If you find all the taps have been affected check if there is any maintenance being carried out in the area as this can reduce the flow and even after the work has been done and repaired grit and small stones can get into the water mains and reduce the flow.

If no work has been carried out recently ask a neighbour have they noticed a reduced flow of water, if they have it is most likely a united utilities problem. if the neighbour has not experienced a reduction in flow it may still be united utilities problem it depends where the leak is anything outside your boundary wall you do not have to repair it is there duty anything inside your boundary wall is your responsibility and will require a plumber.

 

Hissing sounds

A hissing sound is a sure fire way of confirming a leak. Hissing generally occurs early on in the process of a larger problem developing ie a burst pipe. If you can hear a constant hissing noise the leak is going to be on a pipe that is under constant pressure for instance a hot or cold water feed pipe on a combi system.

Intermittent hissing sound points towards pipes that are used at different points not always under pressure a good example of this is a heating pipe. When the heating is off the pipes and fittings are contracted this may be enough to seal the tiny leak, as the heating system becomes in use the pipes start to warm and expand creating gaps for the water to hiss and leak through.

Replacing taps

Replacing taps is a standard job plumbers get called out to all the time, some people do try and manage it themselves, there are plenty of videos on YouTube and such places that show you how, the only problem with these videos that must not be forgotten is the setup is all pristine, clean and easily accessible, never are the nuts stuck fast or been bonded on for years this is where many people come unstuck and call for a plumber uttering the words I tried to do it myself but…..

Plumbers come across stubborn taps weekly and have different techniques for freeing these types of taps, basin taps tend to be the easier of the two types of bathroom taps as the accessibility is far greater, bath taps can cause a problem even for plumbers (although they will persist and get it done) as you are working at arm’s length lay on your side cutting/scratching your arms against the wall and fibre bath.

Defiantly not as easy as the 3 minute how to video makes it look, have a go by all means any problems contact a plumber.

Kitchen taps

A kitchen tap can make a big difference to the look of a kitchen. Tap choice is very subjective as it is the eye of the beholder as to what one person likes compared to another. There are many different styles and shapes of taps, below is a list and description of the different types of taps.

If you need help in choosing the correct type of kitchen tap for your sink we can help supplying and fitting, if however you already have a tap we can fit this for you as well.

Types of kitchen taps

There are many different makes and models of taps to choose from, ranging from basic taps right through to designer taps, don’t be taken in or fooled by the price cheap or expensive they all do the same job direct water into the sink.

The only differences between the taps are the quality of materials used in making the tap and the end finish. A tap comes down to personal preference.

Styles of taps 

There are four main styles of tap. On a classic sink with two tap holes the options are pillar taps which are two independent taps; the tap heads come in a variety of styles to change the basic look of this type of tap ie standard, cross head and lever.

Deck taps are a large bodied tap that sits on the sink (sometimes raised) with the hot and cold controls at either side of a central spout these again have a selection of tap head styles. On more modern single hole sinks the choice comes down to the type of monobloc tap there are two different styles.

Double hot and cold control handles or single lever central controls. Both styles are modern and look good the main difference apart from the look to take into consideration is if a problem occurs the double control tap has parts readily available whereas the single lever tap has a cartridge these can prove difficult to locate sometimes especially if there is no part number or make visible.

Dripping tap     

Dripping taps although don’t seem like a large problem if left without repair the amount of water used is substantial and could result in a larger than expected water bill. Imagine if you put a glass under the drip within half an hour or so the glass is full now times that by every hour, day, week and so on it soon adds up to a lot of water.

If it is not the amount of water wasted or the big water bill it will surely be the constant tap tapping sound that will make you get the problem fixed. A dripping tap tends to get worst over time you will notice this as you turn the tap off harder and harder to compress the washer to seal.

A washer is an easy fix but is not always the best option or the root cause of the problem, the tap gland incorporates the washer and is a better choice to replace than just the washer ensuring the tap will work perfectly for years to come.

No water from tap

Opposite of a constant dripping tap is no water coming from the tap at all, there tends to be two main reasons for this to happen to individual taps. If you find the tap head is very hard to turn and won’t turn anymore no matter how hard you try it is likely that the tap gland has failed.

Replacing the tap gland is always recommended when changing the washer as it keeps the tap working smoothly. Tap glands can cease up this is due to the constant flow of water and lime scale deposits they incur in general use especially the hot tap gland.

Another reason you may experience no water coming out of the tap, although exclusively to the hot tap on conventional gravity fed systems are air locks from the header tank into the hot water cylinder. Air locks of this type can be cleared easily by a couple of different techniques a plumber might employ.

Bathroom tap

Much like the choice of a kitchen tap, the taps you choose for the bathroom bath and basin can make a huge difference to the look and finish of a bathroom. There is a large range to choose from and most have matching bath and basin taps in the range as this makes sense to keep a matching theme running through the bathroom.

When purchasing new bathroom taps if you are only replacing one set of the taps it is important you pick up the correct type of tap as the taps have different size inlets for the feed pipes it is easier done than people think to pick the wrong set. Bath taps have a ¾ inch bore on the inlet and basin taps have a ½ inch bore.

 

Types of bathroom taps  

Bathroom taps come in all different styles and shapes with variations on the bath taps including with or without a shower attachment, waterfall feature and the very old globe style tap.

There are plenty to choose from and again the style and look comes down to personal preference, the price can vary wildly from basic taps at around the twenty five pound mark all the way up to hundreds of pounds, again materials, finish and the name are the main differences.

Fibre washer’s vs rubber washers

This very much comes down to the plumber’s personal choice, old school plumbers tend to stick more with fibre washer this is just out of habit, as with everything improvements are made and parts are replaced with better versions.

Fibre washers do still have their place in some situations due to the makeup of the fibre washer which as the name suggests is made up of lots of tiny strands of fibre compressed together, this type of washer works very well if you find the connecting parts are not perfectly flush or inline, the washer can be tightened down to fill in all the gaps as the independent fibres allow it to change to the shape of what is needed.

The downside of this type of washer is that there do perish and in turn leak more than rubber washers. The rubber washer is a one piece unit which makes it unbeatable at sealing today’s modern joints that can always be shaped to be perfectly inline thanks to advancements like flexi pipes.

Although the rubber washer will perish over time they tend to last a lot longer than there fibre counterpart. Most plumbers will carry an assortment of both types of washers for any plumbing situation.

Washing machines & dishwashers 

Washing machines and dishwashers although do completely different jobs in the household are identical in the terms of plumbing, both require a cold feed pipe with appliance valve for servicing and both require a waste pipe to take away the used and dirty water.

When purchasing some companies offer a service to fit your new washing machine or dishwasher, this is a great way of getting the machine in and ready to use, unfortunately problems occur when the installation is not straight forward and as the delivery drivers are not plumbers they often cannot do the job and just leave you with the new appliance.

We have seen this many times and as qualified plumbers we can get your new washing machine or dishwasher in and working in no time.

Appliance valve  

The appliance valve is a mini stop valve to your appliances; they have either a red or blue lever on them. These valves are required to fit your washing machine, dishwasher and in some cases American fridge hoses to them.

A common problem with the valve is that the lever is made of plastic and over time it loses grip on the brass spindle therefore not turning the ball inside the valve to shut off the water, this obviously can cause a problem when servicing the appliance, removing or replacing the appliance. In most cases a simple replacement with a new valve is all that is needed.

Leaking or split hoses   

On washing machines and dishwashers a blue or red hose is used to connect the appliance up to the water feed, these hoses have rubber washers at each end of the hose, as with all washers over time they can perish and start to drip and eventually leak.

The washers can be taken out and replaced although it is recommended to replace the hose as one unit, as over time the washer has become weak and started to leak the hose to is also weakened mainly due to being push up behind the appliances and twisted or kinked.

Splits tend to occur when a hose is kinked behind a machine as the water pressure at the kink puts greater force on the pipe; the inserts at each end of the hose are also a weak point if the hose is kinked.

Installation of waste pipe for washing machine or dishwashers       

There are two types of waste that are used for washing machines or dishwashers to take the dirty water away, the stand pipe and under the sink combi wastes, a stand pipe is a pipe that is specifically for that appliance and generally runs through the wall into a grid, it is about 2ft tall on the inside of the wall the grey waste pipe from the machine is put into the pipe to drain, the stand pipe will have a water trap at the bottom to stop any smells coming back into the house, before going through the wall to discard the water correctly.

The under sink combi waste is directly below the sink waste in the cupboard under the sink, this unit combines a water trap and one or two spouts, these spouts are where the grey waste pipe from the machines connect to usually with a jubilee clip to secure. Both of these types of waste are perfectly fine, most installations are done as the property is being built, if you need another waste installed or there is a problem with an existing waste a competent plumber should be called.

Ball valves and float valves

The ball valve or float valve as it is sometimes called is generally found in a handful of places in the home, all toilets will have a ball valve of some description, if you have a conventional heating system with a cold water storage tank and header tank ball, valves will also be found in these.

A ball valve simple regulates the amount of water that flows into a storage unit be it a toilet cistern or tank and sets the level, if the level drops the valve allows more water in till it reaches its set level again.

Ball valves come in all shapes and sizes with different names ie ball valve, float valve and equilibrium valve, either name can describe the valve although there are differences.

Brass part 1 & 2 ball valves

The brass ball valve nowadays tends to be found in the cold water storage tank or header tank. The part 1 valve fills from the underneath of the valve, this valve is not as common as the part 2 valve and if found should be replaced by the upgraded part 2 valve.

The part 2 brass valve fills from the top of the valve via a plastic spout, this stops any backflow of water into the system if the valve fails and overflows.

Plastic ball valves & equilibrium valves 

These types of ball valves are mostly found in toilet cisterns, they can be bottom or side fill. The plastic ball valve looks similar to the brass ball valve it has a long arm with a ball float at the end and is the classic design.

Most toilets can be fitted with this type of valve as the arm is adjustable for length, in space saver toilet cisterns though this type of valve is too big and a smaller valve is required, the equilibrium valve does the exact same job as the ball valve, it is more compacted with the float at the end of the arm on a standard valve being moved to slide up the inlet pipe of the valve meaning it can be put into much smaller spaces.

Both types of valve have variations on the design and look of them, some have quiet fill systems where the water is introduced under the water level inside the cistern.

Signs of ball valve failure

When a ball valve is close to needing to be replaced there are signs to look out for. Constant drips after the valve has shut off are an early sign that the ball valve is starting to lose its pressure against the water flow, this is a very early sign and is not normally picked up.

If after being flushed the valve is starting to hum and vibrate it is time to get the ball valve changed as this will only get louder and ends up sounding like a fog horn off a ship. The last and most obvious sign that the valve needs replacing is that the water is coming out of the overflow and just keeps flowing.

Radiators

Radiators are an essential part of the heating system, without the radiator the heat produced from the boiler would disappear. The radiator as in the name radiates the heat around the room. All radiators come in lots of different length and height dimensions.

There are 4 main types of radiator. Type 11 radiators are a single panel radiator this is the smallest style of radiator and therefore produce the least amount of heat they are usually found in small rooms or hall ways.

Type 21 radiators are similar to the type 11 apart from they have fins running along the back of the radiator panel this type of radiator is the most common and found in most rooms in the house.

Type 22 radiators are the largest radiators they consist of two radiator panels and two sets of fins running along the inside of the panels. This type of radiator is used to heat large rooms.

Towel radiators are not always considered a type of radiator like the type 11, 21 and 22 radiators; however towel radiators are becoming more popular and come in many different shapes and sizes normally with a chrome finish.

 

Maintenance of heating system

The heating system is not always used all year round, servicing the system and general maintenance can help for when the system is required in the colder months. Checking for signs of leaking on the visible parts of the system ie round the radiator and its valves is a simple and effective way of checking the system.

On a combination boiler system the heating will have a pressure gauge that measures in bar pressure, anything between 1 bar and 2 bars is considered perfect working pressure, if you notice the pressure has dropped the system will need to be pressured up to working level again, this is achieved by the filling loop normally located below the boiler.

Once the correct pressure has been reached the system will now need to be bled of any air, to do this you need a bleed key and have to go round the radiators removing the air, as you remove air the pressure will drop and need topping up once you have bled all the radiators and removed all the air check the pressure gauge is at the working level the system is now ready.

Inhibitors and descaling products can be used but are not essential.

Radiator valves   

There are two main types of radiator valves. The lock shield valve is mainly used on conventional systems. This valve is very simple as it is normally open or closed, it can be made to restrict the flow of water into a radiator, and this is done when balancing the system, the valve itself has a turn head on it with no set positions and is fairly small to look at.

The TRV or thermostatic radiator valve is found on the combi systems it is used in conjunction with a lock shield valve at the opposite end of the radiator; this valve gives you greater control over the restriction of water to the radiator therefore changing the heat the radiator will emit.

The trv has generally 5 different settings; it is a much larger valve to look at making it easily identifiable from the lock shield valve.

Power flushing a heating system

Power flushing a system can have a significant effect on the efficiency of the heating system and is recommended if the system has not been used for years as the sediments in the system can settle and block and restrict the heating pipes flow.

If maintained and used correctly power flushes are very rarely needed on systems however in some older systems oxidisation and sludge build ups can affect the running of the system, if you notice cold spots at the bottom of a radiator in the middle that is a build-up of sludge, cold radiators at the top are nothing to be concerned about and just need to be bled.

The power flush machine is connected to different radiators in the home one after the other, high pressure water combined with inhibitors is forced through the system descaling and forcing any unwanted dirt and sludge out, as the machine goes to different radiators none of the system is missed, once flushed the system is filled back up and pressurised and will now run as if brand new giving much more heat and efficiency.

Lead pipe        

Lead pipe work is still found in many older properties, it is not cost effective to have it all taken out as when installed it is often buried in walls and would involve removing plaster all around the house.

Lead pipe is known to leak normally at a joint where either lead meets lead or copper has been installed and a sweated joint has been made, this type of joint is not used anymore as there have been advancements in fitting which allow you to fix to the lead at one end and to copper or plastic at the other these types of fittings are called lead locks and in some cases philmac fittings.

Fixing these is a pretty straight forward job as long as you have the correct size fittings and can isolate the flow of water. If the flow cannot be isolated a freeze kit can be used there are two types of freeze kit a one use freeze can and a machine that can be used time and time again, both of these create an ice plug allowing the pipe to be cut further up for the fitting to be connected.

With the can the ice plug tends to last for only around half an hour so it is imperative a competent plumber is doing the job. The machine will freeze for as long as it is needed.

Showers

There are 3 main types of shower, electric, thermostatic and power showers. When choosing a shower it depends on where you want to put the shower, what system is the shower going on and do you have enough head of water for the shower to work.

The electric shower is a good all-round choice, it only needs a cold water feed as it heats the water up inside the unit and an electrical supply. With needing only one cold water pipe this shower can be placed anywhere it is needed, the electrics can be installed anywhere to the shower, behind the tiles or in conduit pipe. The electric shower produces a good flow of water.

The down side of this type of shower is hotter you want the shower the more flow rate is compromised as it takes longer for the shower unit to heat up the water. Thermostatic showers are a common sight in most new build homes they can be fitted inside the tiled walls (enclosed) or on the outside of the tiles (exposed) they offer a constant flow of hot and cold water direct from the boiler the flow rate is hardly compromised at all the more you increase the heat of the shower giving a steady shower.

The shower requires a hot feed and a cold feed making it more difficult to place anywhere unlike the electric shower. Bar showers are also variations on the thermostatic shower.  The power shower is a combination of both an electric shower and thermostatic shower.

This type of shower is installed on conventional systems not combi systems it requires hot and cold feeds and electrical installation to power the unit, the shower is designed to give to give high flow on gravity systems. This style of shower is not as common as the other styles.

Shower impeller pumps    

If you do not want to have a power shower installed with a gravity system it is possible to install a shower pump. The pump uses impellers to suck in the hot and cold water and pump it to the shower feeds at a much greater pressure than just gravity, giving you the same pressure as a power shower. The pump can also be used to power taps depending where the pump is installed on the pipework in a gravity system, Some pumps are also suitable for negative head of pressure.

A good example of negative head pressure is the hot water cylinder in the airing cupboard the outlet of the hot water at the top of the cylinder is going to be lower than the working height of the shower head, this is called negative head pressure, installing a shower pump will boost the pressure once it gets to the pump therefore removing the negative head of pressure.

Outside tap/ bib tap 

Many houses now come with outside taps already installed. These taps are great for connecting hose pipes to water the garden or jet washers for cleaning the car and a whole range of other uses. Installing an outside tap can be done by anyone competent at DIY.

Many hardware stores sell outside tap kits, these kits although will do the job are a poor style of installation using hoses instead of pipe reducing the flow from the tap. It is always a better choice to have the tap installed correctly using suitable materials.

When installing an outside tap an isolation valve should always be installed inside the house or at any point before the pipework goes outside, this is done so that in winter the water can be stopped internally so it will not freeze and split the pipe outside.

Lagging of the external pipe and the tap should also be done this will give protection against any hard freezes or frosts during the winter months and reduce bursts.

Drainage

The drains from your property carry away all the unwanted wastes, any waste from the house hold is carried to the drains via waste pipes and then the soil stack, waste pipes take all waste away from sinks, basins, baths, showers and toilets.

All the waste is taken to a large down pipe usually on the external of the house (some are internal) this is called the soil stack, the soil stack delivers the waste into the local drain which in turn takes it to the main drain. Any drain or waste inside your boundary wall is your responsibility if any blockage should occur.

One of the biggest causes of drains blocking is due to toilet wipes, these wipes display on the packaging they are suitable for toilets this is not the case the wipes are not made like toilet paper and do not break down in the water, these wipes get stuck and cause the pipes to back up. Wipes should always be disposed of in the bin not down the toilet.

Cracked drains are another problem as the edges of the drains catch material as it is flowing to the main drain again cause waste to back up behind creating a blocked drain. Cracked drains are usually caused disturbance around the drain, ground works can cause a drain to crack, if the drains are situated near trees, the roots of the tree can crack and in some cases enter the drain and cause a blockage.

Soil stacks downpipes

Soil stacks are the most visible pipe on the property (if external as most are). These days most soil stacks are made of plastic with push fit joints, near the bottom of the soil stack it is common to find an inspection access point making it easier to fix any problems.

On older house the soil stack tends to be made of cast iron with collar joints and no inspection access point over time these pipes corrode and rust which creates a rough area for toilet paper to catch on and start the beginnings of a blockage, if a problem occurs in this type of stack it will sometimes need to be cut open and repaired, this can be repaired by a simple sleeve that fits over the soil stack or if the stack is beyond repair it can be change to a modern plastic soil stack.

Blocked toilets

All sorts of items are put into toilets to be flushed away, some items nobody has any idea how it got in there. A common reason for a blocked toilet is too much paper being flushed at once culprits for this tends to be small children.

Toilet wipes are another common cause of blockages in toilets as they do not soften and break down like toilet paper. A few more obscure things that can cause blockages are hang over toilet bleach blocks, these have a habit of being knocked into the toilet just because it has gone around the u-bend does not mean it has cleared, it is very easy for paper and waste to get caught on these and block the toilet, if you want to use a type of toilet cleaning block the stick on style is by far the best as if knocked off it will just flow away.

Nappies are another cause of blockages this is pretty self-explanatory, nappies should be disposed of correctly not flushed down the toilet.

Boilers  

Boilers are the most important part of the central heating and hot water system, it is important you regularly get the boiler serviced to keep it working efficiently and safely for you. A service once a year is recommended, in the service the engineer can check for any potential faults and rectify them before they develop into a problem.

As with all mechanical appliances boilers suffer from wear and tear, a full service will check the efficiency of the boiler general maintenance is normally carried out in a service cleaning of parts that suffer from being clogged with bits on gunk and debris from the system.

A well maintained boiler will give years of service and also keep the energy bills down as the more efficiently it runs the less gas is burned to reach the desired effect. Boilers that are A-rated are the most efficient on the market to be A-rated they must be at least 90% efficient meaning greater savings in the future.

There are many different makes and models of boiler on the market, here is a selection of some of the better-known ones. We work on all these models and more if you have a problem give us a call. Baxi, Worcester, Main, Vailliant, Buderus, Ferroli, Glow worm, Grant, Heatrae sadia, Potterton, Viewssmann and Vokera.

Types of boilers

There are three main types of boiler that are in use today older systems such as back boilers are not as common in today’s high efficiency market place. The conventional boiler system requires a hot water cylinder and a cold water storage tank usually in the loft although they can be combined, this style of system works on gravity and can take up a lot of room in the house, with this type of system you are able to store a large volume of ready to go hot water due to the hot water cylinder, and this is especially helpful for households that require plenty of hot water due to lots of people and bathrooms in use at once.

The combi boiler is a much neater installation and only requires the space for the boiler, no cold water storage tank or hot water cylinder is needed, with this system the boiler can be located almost anywhere in the property or even in an external building like a garage saving space throughout the house. As combi boilers are point of source hot water meaning hot water is only created when a source such as a tap or shower is in use, making it far more efficient.

The water comes straight from the mains into the boiler and leaves at the same pressure meaning your hot water and cold water are balanced unlike in a conventional gravity system. The system boiler is a combination of both of the previous systems.

This system still requires a hot water cylinder so the storage of a large volume of hot water is possible if needed, however the rest of the system is built within the boiler saving the need for a cold water storage tank.

Gas appliances

All your gas appliances should be serviced and maintained not just the boiler. Cookers, hobs, fires and wall heaters are subject to wear and tear with constant use leading to a reduction in efficacy and performance.

An appliance service consists of the checking of each appliance, general maintenance and cleaning; any faults can be brought to your attention and rectified. It is recommended having boilers and appliances regularly serviced once a year.

Landlord safety certificate

All landlords need to have an up to date landlord safety certificate if renting out a property with tenants this certificate is issued annually after a full check has been completed and all the appliances have met the required level of safety.

It is the landlord’s responsibility and duty to provide a safe environment for the tenants to live in. on completion of the checks by a gas safe engineer a landlords safety certificate will be issued.

Plastic pipe vs Copper pipe

These two materials are the most commonly used today; copper has been used for many years more than plastic.

Plastic is now becoming the preferred  material to use in new build house this is down to two main factors the cost to produce is less than the copper pipe and two the speed of installation is much faster due to the flexibility of the pipe around corners and in tight areas. Both pipe materials perform very well, an advantage copper pipe has over plastic pipe is the look and finish of a job if the pipework is visible, copper pipe can also come chrome plated giving a great finish.

Plastic pipe however comes into its own in repair work or when the pipework is not visible the fittings are bigger and the finish is not as high quality, out of sight this does not matter and makes installation and repair job lengths shorter, saving the customer money.

Free flowing drains try this tip

Many times our team of University plumbers attend blockages of pipes from areas of the home such as kitchen sinks, bathroom basins, baths and showers, these pipes build up muck, gunk and grim over time and eventually become blocked.

This can cause a major inconvenience for you having to search around for a plumber to attend. A simple and effective tip from University plumbers is to use boiling hot water from the kettle it sounds too good to be true but by using boiling water the muck and dirt will break down much quicker, clearing your drains ready to be used again.

For really stubborn drains you can combine our handy little tip with other products such as Mr Muscle drain clear or thick bleaches. Simply pour the product into the drain via the plug hole follow it down with boiling hot water and leave for five to ten minutes after you have given the product time to take effect pour more boiling hot water into the drain to flush the drain clear.

University Plumber Man Greater Manchester, North West, M13 9, England

Brunswick, Hulme, Infirmary, Ardwick, Moss Side, Manchester, Ancoats, St Georges, West Gorton, Longsight
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