Top Tips and Safe Advice

Get to Know Your Valves 

Find out where your outdoor and indoor mains water valve or stopcock is so that it can be switched off in an emergency. It’s so much easier to do this when you’re not under pressure with a pipe leaking away. Take the time to find out what other stop valves you have in the house and label them. Valves can seize up over time if they’re not used so get into the habit of turning them off and on again a couple of times a year to keep them in working order. Another tip here is to leave them a fraction less than fully open to minimise the chance of them sticking. 

Deal with Drips 

Don’t leave a dripping tap or ball valve. It’s far better to address the problem early rather than leave it till the problem gets worse. A perished washer on a ball valve in your water storage cistern in the attic, for example, is only going to fail eventually if you don’t replace it and you’ll end up with water pouring out of the overflow or worse. If you need to use a wrench on items like taps, cover with an old rag first to prevent scratches.

Look After Your Boiler

Regular servicing of your boiler and heating system each year is vital. This will ensure that it’s working at its best and safety checks will be carried out to make sure there are no poisonous gases escaping. If you can see the flame in the boiler it should be a clear, strong, blue flame – a yellow flame would indicate a problem and should be checked. Only ever have work on your boiler (or any other gas appliance) carried out by a Gas Safe Engineer our Gas Safe registration number is 510831 please feel free to check us out on the Gas Safe register. If you have a pressurised system, check the pressure regularly to ensure it is within the specified range. This is usually around 1 to 1.5 bar but check the manual, if your pressure drops regular you may have a problem please don't hesitate to contact us. 

Guard Against Freezing 

Make sure any pipe work which may be exposed to freezing conditions is properly lagged. Check pipes in the attic and basement if you have one. There are other less obvious places – for example a pipe running past an air brick or wall vent. If you have an outside tap, isolate it during the cold weather. Turn off the isolation valve on the supply then drain water from the pipe by opening the tap until water stops flowing. 

Machine Hoses 

The flexible hoses connecting appliances like washing machines should be checked annually for signs of wear. These hoses can suffer from a fair bit of pressure as the water is drawn and closed off. Check the connections at each end of the hoses as well to make sure there are no drips which could develop into a more serious problem. 

Waste Outlets and Gullies

In order to keep waste water pipes flowing freely they should be checked and cleaned at regular intervals. Bath and shower waste outlets are prone to clogging particularly from hair. Don’t leave it until they become blocked. Many waste outlets have a removable gauze type filter which can be removed and cleaned quite easily. If you need to clear an outlet, use a plunger rather than chemicals. Clearing a Blocked Shower Waste gives more information. On baths and basins, cover the overflow with a damp rag when using a plunger, otherwise air and water simply get pushed out there instead. An outside gulley gets easily blocked with leaves etc. Fit a leaf guard if possible and run a hose to check flow once a year. 

Hard Water

If you live in a hard water area, you’re likely to have lime scale deposits build up around taps and shower heads. Use a suitable lime scale remover regularly to prevent the problem becoming too bad. Vinegar is a great alternative to expensive cleaners. There are plenty of other less obvious areas where lime scale can build up – pipes, washing machines and dishwashers, and boilers and heating systems. Additives for heating systems can be used to protect them. If you have the budget, consider fitting a water softener. 

Going on holiday or working away?

Always ensure that you isolate your water from the mains valve/stopcock when your away especially during the colder months, I have seen some preventable horror stories in the past years just due to an overflow in the header tank to a full on burst mains pipe, and while your not there, the house could be filling up full of water. If your stopcock is stuck we could free it for you and also install an easier method of isolation.

Do you know where your drains go?

Its always very handy to know where your manholes are , in the event of a blockage it will be easier and cheaper to know exactly where your drains go, a large amount of jobs in the past are mostly prolonged due to accessing and locating manholes/access points. 

Its only oil! 

Its never a good idea to pour any oil or fat down a drain as soon as it contacts cold water it will solidify and over time block your drain, unblocking a drain full of fat is one of the worst kind of blockages and could be expensive. also washing powder, coffee and food could be just as bad so make sure they go to the bin. 

Buying a property? 

If you are buying a property it will probably be a requirement to carry out a pre purchase survey, this will usually not cover the plumbing system or heating system in full, its strongly advisable to get an independent specialised survey done for this as it could cost you after contracts are exchanged and you get lumbered with the problems, after all you wouldn't buy a car without a service history or mot. 

Energy Saving 

Heating your house can be a pretty massive utility drain, while you might be tempted to save money by turning it off when you’re not home, it may be better to simply turn it down instead. Turning the heat off entirely in your home means your house is largely subject to environmental factors. This may not be a huge deal for a well-insulated flat with neighbours that keep their own heat on (maybe), but most of the time, your house will cool down so much that heating it back to a comfortable temperature when you get home wastes more energy than letting it run. Instead, turn your thermostat down to about 15-16 degrees. If you don’t want to spend the time and effort manually changing your thermostat every day, you can get a smart thermostat to manage it. However, remember that many thermostats can be programmed already. Even if yours can’t, it only takes a few seconds to change it before you leave in the morning and when you return at night. The savings can be well worth the time spent.