Plumbing Repairs: 4 things that the DIYer needs to know

So you have finally decided to tackle that plumbing DIY project!  This post will tell you what you need to know before you start. Understanding how the water system works and know to turn it off in an emergency is very important before you tackle a small plumbing job on your own.  This will mean finding the mains stopcock before doing any plumbing repairs. You don't always have to turn the water off to do every plumbing job (e.g. change a ball valve) but if something goes wrong (and it does) you need to know how to control the situation to prevent damage to your home.

1. First things first: find your stopcock

Water can be turned off from from inside and outside your house. It's a good idea to familiarise yourself with where both your stopcocks are before there's a great spouting leak causing irreparable damage. The inside one is usually found under your sink in the kitchen (however, if there's one truth about DIY it's that NOTHING IS EVER CERTAIN, so although it's likely to be located there, it may not be. Do take a look around.

You may find that you have two stopcocks next to each other. One will not work, and is likely to have been left behind from a former plumbing job. Test to find out which one works by turning them on and off. To close a stopcock, simply turn it clockwise. In a dire emergency you should also know where your house main is located.

2. Find out which water system you have

In a direct water system, your water is fed directly from the mains water. In an indirect water system, the water is fed from a water tank. You are likely to have a cold water storage tank somewhere in your house (probably in the attic).

In an indirect water system you have a hot water storage vessel and a cold water storage vessel. You may have turned your mains off, but you could still get water flowing out of these tanks unless you turn off the gate valve that sits under both of them.

It's often the case that you don't want to turn off your whole mains for small jobs, such as fixing a dripping tap. So under sinks, attached to taps, there are usually isolation valves (sometimes called 'service valves').

3. Draining the system

When cutting through a pipe/changing washers, drain down by opening a lower tap or furtherest tap from source.. For example, if changing a bathroom tap washer, turn off water mains then open downstairs tap then open bathroom tap. If you hear a suction noise, then you know the water's drained.

4. Filling the system

When turning back on, check for air in each tap you've opened so your wife does not get wet when she turns the kitchen tap on. Always release the air from the lower tap or furtherest tap then the other taps.If he water is cloudy it means there is still a potential for an air lock so keep running the water. The last and most important step : Always fill the kettle before you turn the water off, Because if something goes wrong and you need to call a plumber at least you can make him a cup of tea.

Not so sure about DIY and need a professional plumber?

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