15 May 2020

Sorting out those common plumbing problems

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No hot water, blocked drains and leaks? These are the sort of issues our plumbers deal with everyday, so you don’t have to. We have put together a summary of common plumbing problems, why they occur and how to fix them.

Leaking taps


A tap with water dripping


Most of the time when a tap leaks, it is because tap washer has worn out.  Generally, it is a pretty straightforward job, and if you are confident, legally you can change over tap washers yourself.

How to change a washer

  • Turn off the water supply
  • Turn on the tap to flush out any remaining water from the pipe
  • Plug the sink so small parts don’t go down the drain
  • Change the washer by removing the handle, the flange and then the spindle. Take out the jumper valve and replace the washer. Put the tap back together and test.

Tap still leaking? Call a plumber

Some taps are very old and quite fused together, so the plumber will need to use specialised tools to get them apart without causing damage.

It can be hard to undo a tap without damaging the tap. If you’re not confident and you want to avoid damage, it is best to leave it to the professionals and call a plumber.


Blocked or smelly drain


Water going down the drain


If your pipes or drain is gurgling, draining water very slowly or giving off a bad smell, it is likely there is a blockage. If the blockage is only happening in one place, you can try these simple DIY solutions. If the symptoms are occurring in other parts of the house, this could indicate a mains blockage, which should be left to the professionals.

What to do:

  • Can you see the blockage? Try to remove the obstruction yourself, for example clear a soap and hair mass in a shower drain, or removing and cleaning out the u shaped pipe under the sink.
  • If the material is soft, such as a lump of fat in the kitchen sink, some hot water with a bit of detergent can liquefy the blockage so it drains properly. If you can’t identify the cause, try a natural baking soda and vinegar remedy.
  • Use a plunger if you’re confident in your technique. Beware, though, some plunging can push the blockage further down the pipe.


No hot water


Bathtub in an outdoor setting


There is nothing worse than a cold shower, especially when you were expecting a hot one! Your hot water unit is usually to blame, but there could be a few causes of why it isn’t working as it should be.

  • Check recent use – It may be that someone has just had a very long shower and you have exceeded the capacity of your hot water system.
  • Pilot light – Sometimes a gust of wind will cause the pilot light’s to go out. Usually, the lighting instructions are found on the hot water unit that will tell you how to light it.
  • Thermocouple sensor – The next common is the thermocouple sensor may have worn out. This can be easily replaced by a plumber.
  • Jammed washer – Sometimes you can lose hot because a washer is jammed in the tap. Follow our steps above for how to change a tap washer.
  • Split cylinder – Another reason can be that the hot water cylinder has split. It may be leaking water onto the burner and has extinguished the burner. This stops the water heating.
  • Tempering valve  – Sometimes loss of hot water can be caused by a valve called the temporing valve. They sometimes don’t mix the water properly and you only get cold water.

It is best to call in the professionals for anything to do with hot water units and for your own safety.


Now you know what the problem is, you can call your plumber to find the solution. Here at Expert Plumbing, we provide an after-hour emergency service for fast repairs of any urgent plumbing, gas or drainage problems. Call us today!