When I first sat down in the basic plumbing workshop at The Goodlife Centre, I didn’t have the foggiest idea about anything to do with pipes, water systems or fixing leaks. And I certainly couldn’t tell you the difference between an isolation valve and a ballcock valve.
But by the end of the session, I was a changed woman – I knew I would never have to call a plumber again for the most common problems to strike the home.
It was all pretty useful information to store as basic plumbing skills are indispensable and can save you a lot of time and money. The good news is that for the vast majority of your plumbing problems you don’t need to call a plumber – you can just do it yourself.
Here are some of the lessons I learnt…
1. Plumbing is effectively all about water in and water out. And there are two types of water systems in the home – direct and indirect. You need to know which system works in your home so you can stop or allow the flow of water in the right place. This can also determine water pressure in your house and will affect how you carry out the plumbing.
2. There are lots of valves and cocks when it comes to plumbing – isolation valve, gate valve, stopcock, float valve, syphon valve and ballcock valve, to name a few. And it’s very helpful to know the differences.
3. Always turn the water off at the isolation valve when attempting to fix a problem in a specific area of the home. You don’t want to be caught unawares by sudden spurts of water from what you’re trying to fix.
4. When your tap drips from the spout you need to change the washer, a soft rubber material which is screwed down onto the valve seat. When your tap drips from the collar you need to change the ‘O’ ring, a washer found around the top of the spindle.
5. If your tap won’t turn on or off, the internal tap mechanism needs to be replaced.
6. To find your way into the internal tap mechanism, you need to unscrew the outer parts. There are all sorts of tap designs, so it depends on the make, but the access point can usually be found underneath the temperature indicator – for example, the ‘H’ or ‘C’ on top of the hot or cold tap. Just pop this out and you’ll see a screw.
RESEALING A BATH
7. Silicone is a better option than grout for sealing along your bath, as the former is more flexible while the latter is more brittle and hard.
8. The best way to get rid of mouldy and blackened sealant is to cut it off with a razor blade or Stanley knife, being careful not to damage the bath. Sealant remover fluids are not as effective as they promise.
9. And always make sure your bath is dry before applying new sealant.
10. Use a sealant gun to apply. A useful tip is to cut the nozzle tip at a 45 degree angle so application to the corner of the bath is easier.