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Plumbing Hazards

By: John Beith - Updated: 21 Apr 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Home Safety Plumbing Pipes Leaks

Small jobs like changing washers, replacing taps, or replacing a ball float in the cistern may be undertaken if you have the know how but if you don't know what you're doing when it comes to fixing a plumbing problem in the home, call an expert who does. It's very easy to make a wrong connection and contaminate your drinking water, leading to a major health hazard.

If you are capable of attempting more complicated plumbing work, then make sure you take any necessary precautions to ensure your safety. Wear eye protection if cutting pipes, if you are using any electrical equipment wear rubber-soled shoes and hold the equipment by its insulated handle-the area may be damp or wet and an electric shock could occur.

Be careful when reaching into areas where there is any housing, or pipes. Sharp edges on metal pipes or corners of units can cause quite serious injury.

Knowing what to do in a plumbing emergency before the plumber arrives may be the difference between a small hindrance and a major problem. Here are some temporary solutions to the most common plumbing emergencies:

Burst Pipe
Shut off the water at the mains .Reduce pipe pressure by opening the taps at the lowest level of the home, usually the basement. Then, identify the exact location of the problem. If the problem is the hot water, turn off the water supply to the water heater, then turn the main supply back on so cold water can be used while the pipe is being fixed. If the water is going to be off for any length of time, turn off the water heater.

Frozen Sink drain.
Fill the sink with very hot water and a handful of table salt. If the ice in the pipe is close to the sink, the salt can penetrate to melt the ice.

Frozen Pipes
You can try and thaw frozen pipes by using a hairdryer. Don't try and thaw pipes using an open flame. If you are unable to thaw the pipe, phone a plumber, they have specialised equipment they can use to thaw frozen pipes.

Clogged Sink Drain.
Most sink clogs are due to grease. Simply pour boiling hot water with a few teaspoons of ammonia down the drain. Wait a few minutes then use the plunger. For dual-bowl sinks, hold down the drain stopper in one bowl while you plunge the other side.

Bathtub Blockages
Try plunging the drain, but stuff a rag over the overflow so as not to blow the air out.

Sewer Problems.
Sometimes drains block due to sewer problems. To check, flush the toilet. If water foams up in the sink at the lowest level in the house, the sewer is backed up. Use water sparingly to allow ample drain time. If the sump pump pumps into the sewer, unplug it or sewage will pump through the sink.

Blocked Toilet.
For a small to moderate blockage, use a plunger. If the toilet is packed and overflowing, do not try to flush. Turn off the toilet's water supply using the valve on the water supply pipe under the toilet.

No Hot Water.
When there is no hot water, one of three things is probably wrong with your water heater. If there is no loss of water pressure, but the water supply is cold, it's no doubt a burned out pilot light or a blown fuse. Check a gas-fired unit to see if the pilot light is off. Follow the unit's instructions to re-light. For an electric unit, check the fuse panel and flip the correct circuit breaker to "on."

Reduced Water Pressure
If there is a reduction in water pressure, check your water heater for leakage. If leaking, turn the valve on top of the heater off. Next, shut off the fuel. Turn the gas control valve off for a gas-fired unit, or flick the circuit breaker to off for an electric unit.

Plumbing and Drainage
With the exception of a few minor tasks, such as changing washers and taps, all plumbing work should be carried out by a registered plumber. This is for health reasons - even one wrong plumbing connection might allow a back-flow of dirty water into your drinking water.

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