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Monthly Archives: February 2015

10 Things Every Homeowner Should Know About Their Plumbing System

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Whether you’re buying a new home, or making improvements on your current home, there are a myriad of factors to consider. These include: the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the style of home, the size of the backyard, and whether the neighbourhood has good schools and amenities. However, the most important consideration (the one furthest from our minds) is maintaining the plumbing system.
Regardless of whether you’re a home owner or tenant, major plumbing repairs blow a huge hole in the household budget; potentially setting you back thousands of dollars. To prevent the anguish and save your wallet, here are 10 things every homeowner or tenant should know about their plumbing system.
1. Know where water comes into your home and how to shut it off
If a major leak occurs, it is essential to know where the main shut-off valve is located (it is astounding how many tenants are unsure of this). Knowing how to shut off your water ahead of time can save you time and stress, not to mention money from any water damage which may occur.
2. Know where your gas supply is located and how to shut it off
Gas leaks are not to be taken lightly. If you ever smell gas, turn off the shutoff valve immediately and call your gas company for assistance. Knowing where the shutoff valve is located is vital, as anything can happen in the time it takes the gas company to come to your home.

3. Ensure all taps have an accessible emergency shutoff
Knowing where the emergency shutoff valve is located can prove very helpful if you’re ever faced with an overflowing toilet or local fixture repair. Ensuring you regularly check the condition of the valves is equally important, as it can prevent any future problems. Get a replacement if you notice a small leak, or your shutoff valve is outdated.
4. Know whether you use a city sewer or septic waste system
If you use a city sewer waste system, you are responsible for the drain pipes leading from your home to the city sewer main. You should know the point of entry and where your lateral line runs from your home to that point. If you use a septic system, know its location and subject it to regular maintenance (at least once every three years). If not, your backyard could flood with wastewater.
5. Ensure your drains are accessible and subjected to regular cleaning
Sewer cleanouts are just as important as emergency shut-off valves. To avoid potential hazards, such as drain clogs or mainline stoppages, ensure you clean your drains regularly.
6. Know your water pressure and temperature
If the water coming out of your taps is too hot, it can scold skin within seconds. While high pressure can cause water hammering and major pipe bursts. Make sure your plumber checks these vitals at every visit.
7. Know which type of pipes you have and how old they are
Galvanized or clay pipes (typically used in older piping) can corrode or rot. If your pipes are made of these materials, you should replace them. Newer piping materials such as PVC, copper or PEX are made to last. To make your plumber’s next inspection much easier, know which type of piping you have and how old it is.

8. Know which type of water heater you have and how old it is
Most water heaters have a lifespan of 8-10 years. If your water heater is within this age bracket or older, consider replacing it.
9. Make sure there are no water leaks
Damage caused by water leaks is difficult and costly to repair. Check for signs of water damage around your home, and fix any leaks you find promptly.
10. Know what the inside of your pipes look like
To see the inside of your pipes, ask your plumber to perform a quick camera inspection. An inspection can easily detect problems such as: root intrusion or sludge-dogged drains. Learning the severity of these threats, detecting them early and taking immediate action once they take hold, is the best course of action. Otherwise, you may end up with an emergency you can’t handle, like a cracked pipe or a backed-up bathtub.

Toilet training and a blocked toilet, two of the joys of parenthood!

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Being a parent has so many responsibilities. You are the one that has to teach your child how to do everything, and toilet training is one of the most important! Of course, part of this is teaching your inquisitive child that the toilet shouldn’t be used as a rubbish receptacle for any unwanted item. One thing we find quite regularly in blocked, overflowing toilets are nappies that apparently are a lot of fun to flush!
I’m not sure why small children are so fascinated with an ordinary, everyday toilet, but judging by the number of times we are called out to fix a blocked toilet, only to find that a child’s toy is the culprit is quite remarkable. Maybe it’s the ‘disappearance’ factor? Drop it in, flush, and hey presto… gone! Until the poor plumber has to come and fish it out!
We can have a laugh about it, but having a blocked toilet can cause immense discomfort and embarrassing problems, especially if you are a one toilet family! Hopefully you know your neighbours well enough to request a ‘pit stop’.
Toilet blockages can be avoided simply by making sure that the only two things that should be flushed down a toilet are toilet paper and human waste.
Unfortunately, people seem to think that wet wipes, paper towels, feminine products, cotton balls, cotton swabs, facial scrub pads and other items can also be flushed away, out of sight, out of mind. Not so, as paper towels can take more than 24 hours to dissolve, and feminine hygiene products and other items can take days, weeks, months or longer and can cause sewage back-ups into your home.
Some wet wipes can be so harmful that they’ve been known to clog not just residential systems, but industrial-grade pumps at water treatment plants! Before you flush any wet wipes, read the label and see if it is flushable. If it doesn’t say that it is… don’t flush it!
Another handy tip is to close your toilet lid if you have a shelf above or beside your toilet. This will ensure that items are not accidentally knocked off the shelf into the toilet and will make it more difficult for small children to enjoy trying to flush their toys.
So, you have done all you can to avoid the inevitable, but here it is. Your toilet bowl is full of heaven only knows what, it smells worse than a boys locker room after a game, and you don’t know what to do.
We recommend that you don’t try to fix it yourself. An incorrectly plunged toilet can flood your entire house, and it won’t be pretty.
The first step towards unblocking your toilet is to stop panicking.
The second step is to call M.J. Walker plumbing, and then sit back and relax while we do all the work. Everything we need to get the job done is in our Van, so we can get to work straight away. We can remove your toilet pan and clean the blockage, re installing your toilet back to the way it was before the blockage.
Happy days are here again! Oh, and good luck with the toilet training!

10 Simple Plumbing Checks

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10 Simple Plumbing Checks for all those who enjoy a bit of DIY:

  1. The first thing you should check is the Temperature and Pressure Relief valve (TPR) on your hot water system. These should be activated every six months to ensure they are functioning correctly. Locate the valve on the left hand side of your hot water system and pull the handle for FIVE SECONDS then release. If water fails to flow from the TPR valve, or won’t stop running after ten minutes, you should call us to replace the valve.
  2. Using a thermometer, check your hot water temperature. If your home has a tempering valve installed, the hot water in bathrooms should be no higher than 50degrees C. If your water is hotter than this, call us immediately to replace or adjust your tempering valve. If you do not have a tempering valve installed, you will need to call us to install one to ensure your house meets the Queensland Plumbing Code and to make sure that no one gets burnt!
  3. Check Toilet Flush. You should flush your toilets and ensure that there is a difference between the half flush and the full flush. Check there are no water leaks behind the bowl and no water trickling into the bowl after the flush. A handy trick we use is to fold some toilet paper and push it against the back of the bowl; if the paper gets wet then you have a slight leak that will add up over time. Call us to repair your cistern valves.
  4. Check your flexi hoses. These braided hoses under the taps can rust, causing unexpected blowouts and flooded houses. Make sure you regularly check these for rust spots or fraying. If you see any evidence of excessive wear, call us to replace them before you come home to a disaster.
  5. Check your drains. Fill your sinks one at a time and then release the water. If the water is slow to drain away, or gurgles, or stands for a period of time, make sure you call us to clear a potential blockage. DO NOT USE DRAINO, BICARB SODA, or ANY other ‘urban legend’ remedy! These are usually a waste of your time and money and may cause further problems!
  6. Check your appliance isolation taps. All dishwashers, Hot Water Systems, toilets and water filter systems should by law have an isolation tap. Turn this tap off and check that the water supply to the appliance does in fact stop. If the water supply does not stop, or leaks when it is turned back on, you should call us to replace. The appliance isolation taps need to be operational in an emergency, so don’t put this off.
  7. Check stormwater system. Place a running hose in your rear downpipe ground connection, or ground drain and check to ensure that the water is flowing through your stormwater system and out from the outlet at the kerb. If the water only trickles out, or the rear downpipe connections overflow, you may have a partial blockage in your system. Call us and we can inspect the stormwater system with our CCTV camera and clear the blockage if necessary.
  8. Check your taps. Turn your taps on and off, one at a time. Check for leaks, loose fittings or any other abnormality. Also check inside your cabinet for any leaks. A couple of small leaks will add up over time and make a difference on your water bill. Call us and we will fix any issues you find.
  9. Check water pressure. High pressure can cause water hammering in pipes, but can even cause major pipe bursts. If you notice that some taps run faster than others or your water flow seems to have slowed over time then call us to check. You may have an issue with your water pressure or the supply to your home, or even just a problem with one particular tap.
  10. The easiest, quickest, most reliable check you can do, is to call MJ Walker Plumbing and we will come to your home or office and conduct a 40 point plumbing inspection on your plumbing systems.