Five plumbing maintenance jobs every homeowner can do

  • Smart Plumbing - Plumbing & Heating Specialists

DIY has soared in popularity since we’ve all been spending more and more time at home. We often get called out to very minor plumbing jobs which we are always happy to come to sort out, and we try to give every customer some plumbing advice too. Simple checks and fixes that could keep your heating and water systems in good condition and potentially save you money in the long run.

Here are our top five tips for home plumbing maintenance.

Bleed your radiators

This is a simple job that only needs doing once a year, or if you notice cold spots on your radiators. Feel your radiator at the top – if it’s colder than the bottom, you’ve got a little problem. Trapped air in radiators can prevent hot water from flowing freely through the pipes and can cause the radiator to feel cold at the top. You may even notice some ‘clunking’ or banging noises from your system as it struggles to push the water through the pipes due to the air blockages.

To release the air, make sure the heating is on and simply use a radiator key (available from any DIY shop) to open the valve on the side of the radiator. If there is a lot of trapped air, you may hear a hissing sound as it escapes. Have a cloth and bowl handy as once the air is released, a small amount of water might escape. Don’t worry – it won’t flood out, but a towel or two on standby is a good idea. As soon as it does, use the key to tightly close the valve. Repeat on all the radiators in your home.

Check for leaks

Minor leaks aren’t always easy to spot – until the water builds up or pools and seeps out under cupboards or through ceilings, that is!

To prevent this from happening, carry out regular checks.

  • Look and feel around sink rims and taps for any wetness not caused by splashing – perhaps first-thing in the morning.
  • If your boiler is encased in a cupboard, check below, any piping for drips or wet patches.
  • Press an absorbent cloth or kitchen towel into the carpet directly under radiator pipes to help detect any slow leaks.
  • Check your toilets – a constant dripping into the bowl is a sure sign of a leak. Similarly, if your toilet sounds like it’s always running, it’s likely that a part is not working properly.

Unblock slow-draining plug holes

As soon as you notice your bath, shower or sink is not draining as quickly, as usual, take action. Firstly take out the plug and check for visible blockages – this will almost certainly be unpleasant so have some rubber gloves to hand! A ball of hair can usually be easily removed with tweezers or a long piece of wire. Blockages further down the pipe can often be shifted with a plunger. Place the plunger over the plughole to create a tight seal and then push up and down with force for around 20 seconds.

If this fails to solve the issue, you could try some homemade environmentally-friendly solutions before resorting to shop-bought chemicals. It’s what they used in the olden days – they worked then and they work now!

  • Salt and hot water – pour salt down the plug hole and allow to settle before pouring adding hot water.
  • Bicarbonate of soda and vinegar – pour the bicarbonate down the plughole first, then slowly add vinegar and watch it fizz.

Know where your stopcock is!

This may sound obvious, but we are always amazed by the number of homeowners who have no idea where it is! In the event of a burst pipe, turning off the stopcock will shut off the water supply to your home and eventually, the fountain going off somewhere will stop.

It can usually be found under the kitchen sink or in an airing cupboard. Once you’ve found it, check it for any obvious signs of wear and tear which would need to be looked at by a professional.
Remember where it is in case you need it.

Check your thermostat batteries once a year (summer is good – before you need it to work in winter!)

It’s easy to forget about the batteries in a thermostat but it’s important to make sure they don’t run low. The worst-case scenario is your batteries dying while you’re away on holiday in the middle of winter, meaning the heating doesn’t turn on when temperatures reach the minimum level you’ve set the thermostat to and your pipes freeze! Similarly, it could mean your heating doesn’t turn on at the time you’ve set it for in the morning – an unpleasant, chilly surprise on a cold morning! Most thermostats have a warning on the display to tell you when batteries are running low but if not, check them regularly.

Once you’ve done it, pop it on your calendar for next year!

Keeping on top of these simple jobs and being aware of warning signs of a problem can prevent a small job from turning into a big, urgent one. However, never tackle a job that you’re unsure of, as you could end up causing more damage, and your insurance may not pay out. This is particularly important when it comes to boiler or gas appliance issues as an amateur repair job could prove extremely dangerous; fatal in some cases.

If in doubt with any plumbing issue, get in touch. We’re happy to give friendly advice over the phone or come and carry out any repairs or fittings. We’re Gas Safe and Oftec registered, so you can be assured we will fix your problem safely and professionally.


Smart Plumbing - Plumbing & Heating Specialists

Smart Plumbing - Plumbing & Heating Specialists