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Useful tips for a plumbing emergency

Although we seem to be getting through the winter without too many frosts, it is by no means over yet and summer or winter, a plumbing emergency can occur. In the unfortunate event that an emergency does happen it is as well to be prepared for this with some useful tips.

Firstly always know just where the main stop tap is that turns off the cold water feed to the house. This can be in the road outside, under the kitchen sink, or in a downstairs cloakroom or under stairs cupboard; this should always be known to as many people as possible within the household. Also where is the feed for the hot water to be located, there will be a way that this can be isolated. It is normally a wheel valve or a tap which cuts off the supply to the cold tank which can be found usually in the roof space. Of course it will not usually prevent the tank still feeding the system until it is empty, although many houses have a valve that is fitted to the hot water outlet on the hot water cylinder. If there is no obvious supply cut off, the ball valve on the cold water tank will have to be tied up in order to prevent the tank from filling.

Temporary leaks on a pipe or joint can often be stopped by applying tape such as a duct tape or similar until a plumber can repair it. Bleeding radiators is a simple task, but you will need to have the key to turn the bleed valve. The key looks very much like the ones used to wind grandfather clocks.

Leaking compression joints can often be effectively repaired by the use of plumbers’ grips or wrenches, all which is required is to tighten the nuts on the joint, remembering to turn them in opposite directions or into the joint.

Vet often a competent person can repair a broken radiator valve by either replacing it, or using a blanking nut to replace the valve, remember of course that you will not be able to turn the radiator off completely if you do.

Toilets sink and showers can become blocked and a very simple and effective way to clear the blockage is by having a plunger at hand. These are not expensive and it is worth while having on in the garage or shed. Simply put the plunger over the sink or shower outlet and move it vigorously up and down and by magic the blockage should clear. Similarly a toilet bowl can be cleared in the same manner by butting the plunger down the bowl and working it in an up and down motion. If the plunger method is not successful the drains will have to be investigated and possibly cleared with rods.

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