Prevent Central Heating Seizure.
In the Spring and Summer months, don't be tempted to turn off your central heating system and forget about it until next winter. It is always a good idea to turn on your heating periodically, just for a few minutes, to prevent the system components from becoming stuck.
Every 6 months or so, turn your Stopcocks and Gate valves to prevent them from sticking. These are usually located in cupboards under the sink or stairs and/or airing cupboards. If they do not turn easily then they will need to be replaced.
PLAN to have any maintenance work done in the fine weather months, not as the cold weather is about to return. A plumbers busiest time is when people switch the heating back on. Maintenance work might include having Thermostatic Radiator valves fitted, the corrosion inhibiting chemicals in the central heating system re-dosed or a Boiler Service.
Turning off your Gas and Water.
Make sure you know where to isolate your Gas and Water supply.
GAS:- Make sure there is a handle on the incoming gas supply by your gas meter that you can turn off. Sometimes the handle has fallen off and needs replacing. Your gas supplier should be able to carry this out as a free service.
WATER:-You may or may not know where your main stop cock. Make it your business to find out where it is and that it works! If you ever have a serious leak, being able to isolate the water will reduce damage done and cause you less stress!
Try to keep your room stat at 19 or 20 degrees. This saves energy for the environment and money for you! Reducing the thermostat by 1 degree, can save you 10% on your gas bill.
If you’ve turned on the outside tap after the winter and the water flow is very poor or does not exist it’s most likely that the non-return valves have become jammed.
Many outside taps now have two small plastic non-return valves fitted that will become damaged if the water in the tap freezes during cold weather.
There’s little you can do with these, you will probably have to replace the tap. The best solution is to fit a non-return valve to the internal pipe work that feeds the tap, along with an isolation valve that you can use to turn off the water supply, to the outside tap in winter months.
A common problem in the autumn, as heating systems are turned on after the summer, is that of stuck TRV’s resulting in cold radiators.
It is often a simple job to release them and once you know how it is done you’ll have no need to call a plumber. There is no need to turn off the water or drain the heating system. In all cases you will have to remove the thermostatic head from the body of the valve. This may be held on by a threaded ring, grub screw or some other similar method. To aid removal of the thermostatic head, rotate it's setting to the highest number, but don't forget to return it to the original setting (when you replace it). Once removed you should be able to see a central pin that enters the body of the valve. It is this pin that sticks and very often all that is needed is to gently move up and down with the aid of a pair of pliers to release it.
A single w.c can often be unblocked with a 4” drain plunger and rod but if the outside drains are blocked (check the manholes) it will require more rods and more effort.
The good old traditional plunger is still a very useful tool for unblocking sinks and showers etc. but remember to cover overflow holes or your efforts will be wasted.
Washing machine waste pipes can be difficult to unblock and often lengths of pipe will need replacing.
Prevention is better than cure. Check the lagging on all pipes and tanks in unheated spaces.
Know where your main stopcock is located and periodically check that it works.
The most important action to take is to turn off the main stop cock and run the taps allowing the all the water to drain. Be careful of wet electrics and if necessary turn off the power to be safe. While the water in a pipe is frozen there is danger of a flood but it’s when it thaws that the fun really starts, so if you believe a pipe is frozen act straight away turn off the water and check for signs of pipe splits or blown joints, repair if possible or call a plumber.
If during a cold spell the worst happens and you have a burst pipe, you will not be alone and it is at this time that plumbers can be very busy indeed, so if you know how to turn off the incoming water supply and how to drain the roof tanks you will spare yourself a lot of grief!
Double-check the position of pipes before nailing down floorboards!
One easy way to save water if you have an older WC cistern that flushes nine litres or more is to add a 1 or 2 pint, plastic milk bottle, which ever will fit best. The flush will be reduced by the volume of water displaced by the plastic milk bottle . You should fill the bottle with water and place the bottle so that it does not impair the movement of the ball valve float.
Newer cisterns only flush six litres of water so adding a milk bottle or other water saving device is not worthwhile and may cause you to use even more water, with repeated flushing necessary but many have dual flush buttons ;small button reduced flush; large button full flush.
While all of the above tasks should be within the capability of a competent DIYer things can wrong. Plumbing may seem to be straight forward but the knack is really to know how to solve the unexpected problem. Changing a tap washer may appear to be an easy job but what if the stop cock under the sink won’t turn because its not been touched for years, immediately you’ve another job on your hands. Onyx Plumbing Ltd, accepts no responsibility for any information on this website.