How to repair plumbing issues

At this time of year of all times of year, you might understandably be anxious about any issues that could arise with your home’s plumbing and heating systems. Or you may have even already been inconvenienced (or worse) by certain plumbing problems.

This article isn’t intended to touch on every single issue that you could possibly encounter with your property’s plumbing, or every potential solution; we would therefore advise you to complement the below information with further research.

Alternatively, you could simply call our own Brentwood plumbing and heating professionals at HGM Mechanical Ltd on 01375 803 239, for advice on your situation and a free quotation.

In the meantime, let’s take a look at some of the plumbing issues that could occur at your property, and how you might go about repairing them.

A slow-draining or blocked sink or shower

This is one of the most frequent problems that many people have with their plumbing. It tends to be caused by a blockage that is preventing water from flowing down the drain. In the case of kitchen sinks, such a blockage may take the form of bits of food or congealed fat, while if it’s a bath or shower drain, it is likelier to be knotted hair or soap that is to blame.

Broadly speaking, there are three proven ways to clear a blockage: using natural household items (which is the easiest one, and therefore a good one to try first), a plunger, or a plumber’s snake.

You can get a plumber’s snake from a DIY shop, but it’s the remedy that you should probably resort to last, given that it is a lot more challenging to use than a plunger. Indeed, getting it wrong could risk you causing further damage to your pipes and associated leaks – so if you are unsure, it’s probably best to just call a professional.

A toilet that won’t flush

If you are attempting to flush your toilet and it doesn’t seem to be complying, there are various possible causes of this. Again, it might be due to a blockage, although there can also sometimes be problems with toilets’ flushing mechanisms – or it might be a broken handle.

You can rule out drainage being at fault by taking a look at the water in the toilet bowl; if the water is at its normal level but the water isn’t flowing down from the cistern into it, you will be able to conclude that the problem is in the cistern flush mechanism.

Presuming the problem is with the flushing mechanism, you can fix this with a flat head screwdriver, a sponge and bucket, and a replacement flushing mechanism or diaphragm. You will need to go through such steps as removing the lid from the toilet cistern, turning off the isolation valve to shut off the water, and draining the water tank, before disconnecting the link from the trip lever.

The next step will be to buy a new flushing mechanism from a DIY store, taking the removed old one with you so that you can be sure of matching the size correctly. Once you get home, you will be able to put in place your new flushing mechanism, and hook the end of the chain to a trip lever.

It is at this stage that you should be working the handle or button several times to make sure the tension isn’t either too tight or too slack. After that, it will time to turn back on the isolation valve and replace the cistern lid.

A flushing mechanism in need of replacement, however, is only one of several problems that could be affecting your difficult-to-flush toilet. And you might find that after remedial action, your toilet still doesn’t flush. In that case, it’s a good moment to contact a professional.

A fault with your thermostatic radiator valve

As recently covered in an Express article, a thermostatic radiator valve (TRV) fault is one of the last things you will want to happen in your home at the height of winter. If there isn’t any resistance when you turn the valve, or if your radiators aren’t changing temperature correctly, you can probably conclude that a TRV fault is to blame.

TRVs are fantastic for allowing you to control the heating setting in each room of your property. Incorporated into the valves is a pin that opens and closes in order to regulate the flow of hot water to the radiator; this, in turn, effectively regulates the temperature in the room.

Unfortunately, though, a pin becoming jammed in the closed position – which sometimes can happen if it has been a few months since the heating was last turned on – will mean that little or no hot water makes it into the radiator.

The good news is that it is possible for someone with basic DIY skills and the relevant tools to tackle this problem themselves. However, if you are in any doubt, we would still urge you to place your faith in a professional plumber.

The tools that you will require are a pair of mole grips and some WD40 or comparable lubricating spray. The process basically goes as follows: you take the heat control off the top of the TRV, which will reveal the pin. You then use the flat part of your mole grips to give the pin a push; if the pin doesn’t move, this will confirm that it is stuck. As for if the pin pushes down, this indicates that there is probably something else to blame for your radiator’s failure to heat up.

Presuming the pin is stuck, your next step will be to use the mole grips to pull the pin up and down several times, while taking care not to pull the pin out. If it does end up coming out, you will need to immediately put it back in to prevent the water that sprays out flooding your property.

Finally, you will just need to replace the control head, and your radiators should now be functioning properly again. If not, you might need to bleed the radiators – or again, just get in touch with a professional if you are unsure or unconfident with this.

Three common plumbing problems in the home, with many different and sometimes complex processes often needed to resolve them. If you’re getting overwhelmed by the task of fixing your own plumbing issue, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the HGM Mechanical Ltd team, so that we can advise and guide you, and potentially conduct a site visit to diagnose and help resolve the malfunction.