Woolf Plumbing & Gas

Expert Tips

Fat-free pipes and drains

If you pour fats and oils down your drain, you are asking for trouble. They are the main culprits for drain and pipe clogs, and this includes oils that are not solid at room temperature. When you've finished cooking, allow the fat/oil to cool in the pan. If it solidifies, wipe the pan with a paper towel and dispose of it in the bin. If you are using a fat or oil which doesn't solidify when cool, put it into a sealable container before putting it into the bin.

Q: There are strange noises coming from my hot water storage system. What could it be?

A: You’re probably hearing sediment or hard-water scale that’s accumulated at the bottom of the tank and broken off. In this case you’ll have to drain the tank and clean out the sediment. According to all major water heater manufacturers, the storage tank in your water heater needs to be drained and flushed free of sediment every 12 months. To make sure that this is done correctly, you should call a licensed plumber.

Q: Why is my tap still dripping even though I've changed the washers?

A: Many home owners will go about replacing their own tap washers, only to find the tap still drips after the new washers have been installed. It’s best to call your local plumber to take a look at the problem. He will have a special tool that can be attached to their drill which will clean the tap seat to make sure the washers sit flat when the spindles are pushed against them. If it is something else causing the problem – he’ll be able to diagnose and fix that too.

Q: Why is the water pressure low in my shower?

A: It might be time to change your showerhead. If you haven’t changed your showerhead in decades or if you’ve installed a low-flow showerhead, this could be the reason why you’re experiencing lower water pressure. Another reason could be corrosion inside your pipes. Over a period of time corrosion and build-up can happen inside the old pipes, especially if they’re galvanized. Replacing old and corroded pipes can drastically improve your water pressure. Call your local plumber to take a look and they can advise the best course of action.

Q: I’ve got a flexible hose under my sink, and have heard that they can easily burst. What should I do?

A: Flexible braided hoses can definitely be a ticking time bomb underneath your sink and cause a lot of damage if they burst. They last for around 5 years, so the main thing to do is make sure that they are checked regularly for any damage, and make sure any new ones are correctly installed by a licensed plumber. Ensure that everyone in your home knows where the main water valve is located so you can turn off your water in the event of a burst pipe.

Q: My gas storage water tank is running out of hot water a lot sooner than it used to. What could be causing this?
A: If you are getting some hot water, but not enough, your tank might need to be drained of sediment (caused by mineral deposits in water). Other causes could be the thermostat, a faulty thermocouple or a faulty pilot light. Gas water heaters can be dangerous, so finding the problem is a job best left to a registered gas plumber.

Q: My water bill just keeps going up. How can I reduce water usage in my home.
A: There are lots of things you can do around your home to reduce water consumption. You could install water saving shower heads, a dual- flush or a AAA rated toilet, limit showers to 5 minutes and don't leave taps running. But one of the effective things is to have leaking taps (especially garden taps) and toilet cisterns repaired quickly.

Q: How long should a storage gas hot water system last?
A: A traditional storage tank water heater should last for 10-12 years, but there are things you can do to extend its life. The sacrificial anode in your tank protects it from the naturally occurring chemicals in the water. If you have this anode replaced every 5 years, along with an annual service, your storage heater could last for an extra 5-10 years.

Q: The water pressure in my house has suddenly dropped. How do I find out what's causing it?
A: Water pressure can drop for a  number of reasons including malfunctioning water valves, leaking pipes caused by breakages or corrosion, blockages in the pipes or a build up of sediment. The best thing to do would be to call a  licensed plumber. who will be able to investigate the problem and provide a solution.

Q: Why is the water in my kitchen sink draining really slowly?
A: If water isn't draining from your waste outlets efficiently, you could have a blocked drain. Don't pour a harsh chemical cleaner down the drain though, as this can damage your pipes and cause an even bigger and more costly problem. Drain blockages can be caused by a number of things from hair to tree roots, so it's best to call in the professionals. They have the expertise and equipment to discover the problem, and fix it.