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Why We Need to Be More Aware of What We Put Down The Kitchen Sink

Sadly, we are ALL guilty of, at one time or another, putting something down the sink that we shouldn’t. It’s a lot easier just to pour, or let something go down the drain, after all, it can’t hurt, can it?

While your drains are probably working quite well now, it’s only a matter of time before all that grease and grime starts to build up, and then clogs your drain for good.

There are certain items that should never be poured down the sink.

FLOUR – your sink isn’t a bin. If you have ever made a cake, you know that flour and water make a gooey mess, imagine what happens when flour and water meet inside your drain. If you want to avoid a blocked drain, don’t pour flour down the sink.

MILK – while you might be surprised at this one, any dairy products poured down the drain can have an impact on the environment. This is because milk needs large amounts of oxygen to be broken down in the environment which deprives other organisms of the air they need to survive.

COFFEE GROUNDS – coffee smells good, and a lot of people think that pouring coffee grains down the drain will help make it smell a little nicer, but instead, it leads to problems. Coffee grounds stick together and over time can easily block your pipes, add them to your compost heap instead.

FRUIT AND VEGETABLE STICKERS – those pesky, tiny stickers can cause BIG problems. If you have been tempted to let one of those stickers wash down the drain – DON’T. While they look innocent enough, they take years to compost down, which is bad news for both the environment and your pipes.

SEEDS AND GRAINS – seeds, nuts and grains also cause problems for our drains, and this includes cherry pits, corn kernels and chia seeds that expand in water. To keep your pipes clean don’t throw any seeds down the drain instead throw them into the bin or add them to your compost.

RICE AND PASTA – both pasta and rice will continue to absorb liquids – even after being cooked and will turn into a hard-to-break down, sticky mess.

PUMPKIN – cutting up a whole pumpkin is great until it comes time to clean up the mess. You are left with a stringy, orange mess that is hard to clean up, imagine how your pipes would cope if you tossed it down the sink? Add your leftover pumpkin scraps to the compost bin, or garbage bin.

If your drains are blocked call your emergency plumber on 1300 896 508 today.

 

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If you have decided to tackle a renovation of your bathroom, laundry or kitchen, there are a few things you need to think about.

When you call out for your plumbers in Sydney, these are the top questions to ask:

Does my renovation need a *development application*?

If you want to add anything major – such as an extra bathroom at the back of the house, you will need to ask council permission. For most other work – a straight swap/replacing old for new you should be okay, but it’s best to ask your licensed plumber first. After all, it would be costly to have to undo any work thanks to a legal problem.

What are the warranties on the products supplied?

Buy the best fixtures you can afford, they generally come with longer warranty periods.

Do the fixtures meet Australian standards?

As always – buyer beware. Do your research. There are still loopholes that allow for the sale of items that don’t meet Australian standards, so always make sure you use or buy quality products.

Do I have an up-to-date diagram?

You would need to contact your local water authority to obtain a copy of your property’s *Drainage diagram*; this will show you where all the pipes are (or where they SHOULD be). If the house has been previously renovated, make sure the current layout matches the diagram because if it hasn’t been updated, you could cut through a pipe by accident and end up with a wet mess. Don’t forget if YOU are carrying out any renovations and have made changes to the outlay of pipes – update them on the diagram.

This document is a bit like a time-machine and dates back to when water pipes and drains were installed on the property. With these you can *see behind* the walls, it lets you know what – if anything has been done to the house and if everything is up to standard.

A drainage diagram is an official document that shows the layout of the property and the location of pipes, including where it connects to the waste-water system. There are different types of drainage diagrams, but the one with the best view of your property is the sewerage system diagram. It lets you see where all the original plumbing was and if they have been moved. If they have been moved it’s important to know.

Your home may have a brand-new kitchen or bathroom already, or an extension or new deck has been added, but has the diagram been updated? Have pipes been moved? Should they have been moved? It could be a sign the work wasn’t done by professionals.

Call our professional plumbers on 1300 896 508 before beginning any renovations, use the drainage diagram when planning changes to your home, and ensure they are properly and professionally updated and kept up to date at all times.

 

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If you suddenly find you don’t have hot water, it could be that one of the elements in your hot water service is at fault. Electric water heater element testing is one way to determine if one or both elements have failed.

In a typical electric water heater, you have four parts that could have failed, any one of these can result in less hot water or no hot water at all. The first thing to check is the elements themselves. The other common problems are with the thermostats.

How hot water elements work

Most electric water heaters have two elements, and both have their own thermostat. If your thermostat isn’t working the elements won’t heat up. The upper heating element and thermostat control the lower heating element and thermostat, and if the upper element and thermostat have gone bad, you won’t have ANY hot water at all. If you don’t have enough hot water, it could be a sign of the lower element and thermostat going bad.

What can you do? If you have a multi-meter and a voltage tester you can check yourself. If you don’t, call your emergency plumber on 1300 896 508 and book an appointment.

There are a few simple things you can do

  • Check your circuit breaker first and make sure it hasn’t been tripped. The electric water heater should be on a dedicated two pole circuit in your breaker box. See if it has tripped – no power – no hot water. If the breaker hasn’t been tripped you will still need to see if you have power in the hot water system, shut the breaker off for the water heater.
  • Many thermostats have a reset button – you will need to shut off the power and remove the covers to reset them.
  • Only perform a water heater element test when the power is OFF. Electric water heaters have a powerful current in them, and you can be seriously hurt from a shock. The current can also ruin your testers – make sure the power is OFF.
  • Checking your water heater power is a must on an electric water heater, unlike gas water heaters, electric units don’t work when the power is off.
  • Remove the covers for the upper element and thermostat, remove the insulation and protective cover, the two hot wires should be at the top of the thermostat. Turn the power back on and CAREFULLY use a non-contact tester to check for power. Make sure the tester is working – so check it on something you know is ok first. Do you have power?

Make sure the power is OFF before you look at or check any electrical devices, and remember to call our 24-hour plumbers if you have any issues you are uncertain of how to tackle.

 

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Pipe straps can be used to help quieten noisy pipes. If your pipes are rattling, squeaking or banging it doesn’t necessarily mean that your pipes need to be replaced. The air inside the pipes the can cause noises. Another source of noise is the water that is flowing into the pipes – if its level is too high and any air in the pipes isn’t enough to cushion the pressure. Alternatively, the noise can be due to old pipe straps that have loosened. There are a few things you can do to decrease or stop the noises made by banging pipes –

  • You can fix existing pipe straps that are loose or damaged
  • You can install pipe straps, or add additional straps
  • You can call in a plumber

What Are pipe straps?

Pipe straps are also known as pipe clamps, and they are used in the installation of pipelines for several reasons. Mostly, they are used to anchor pipes to the surface where they are being installed to prevent them from falling apart. They are also used to control the vibrations and movement of the pipes as water pressure pushes it towards the edges. If pipe straps are constantly subjected to high amounts of water pressure, it can cause them to loosen. Pipe straps can also become less effective if they have been installed many years ago. It’s important that you maintain your pipe straps to avoid having to endure those irritating sounds coming from your pipelines.

Where to buy pipe straps

Pipe straps are available from plumbing supply stores, and hardware stores, with prices varying between brands and sizes. They can also be made from different materials including metal and plastic. You can call your local plumber from Plumbers Direct on 1300 896 508 – for advice on the type and size of strap you need to purchase.

How to install pipe straps

If you know how to do it, connecting a pipe strap is quite easy.

  • Determine the location or locations where the banging sounds are being heard – this is where you place your additional pipe straps
  • You can choose to set pipe straps every meter on vertical pipelines or every two meters on horizontal pipes.
  • When you purchase your straps, make sure the bolts are included
  • Install the pipe straps using the metal clamps and tighten the bolts
  • You can also apply some insulating plastic pipes if you need further protection.

Pipe straps can also be supplied and installed by your local plumbers. Along with installing pipe straps, you can also avoid noisy pipes by turning your taps on and off slowly – this way you are regulating the amount of air within the pipes.

 

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Your toilet is used every day, so you need it to flush, time and time again without fail. Unfortunately, the toilet can clog, which always seems to happen at the most inconvenient time, and if your toilet is starting to overflow, it’s even worse.

Unfortunately, if your toilet does start to overflow, there frequently isn’t much an amateur plumber can do about it, apart from calling out emergency plumbers at Plumbers Direct on 1300 896 508.

In the meantime –

Stop it at the source

If your toilet has started to overflow you need to stop the flow of water coming from the toilet. In most bathrooms, the best place to find this is at the toilets main shutoff valve. You can often see the water line from your toilet to the bathroom wall; there will be a handle located along the line. If you don’t see a handle, it could mean that your valve has been placed below your floor tiles or behind a wall. If this is the case when your emergency plumber arrives you may need to talk to them about rectifying this for you. Other than shutting the water to your house at the main water valve, the only way to stop the flooding is to turn off the toilets shutoff valve.

Because this valve probably hasn’t often been turned, it may have become sticky or rusted which will make it harder to turn. It’s a good idea to turn the valve every few weeks and then ensure it is accessible, should the unthinkable happen.

 

If this doesn’t work

If your toilet is still overflowing and you can’t get to the shutoff valve, you need to open the cistern. Remove the lid on top of the cistern and check the flapper. If the flapper is open, reach in and close it manually – this should stop the flow of water. If the flapper isn’t open, or it won’t stay closed manually, find the float ball. This is the part that floats on top of the water to stop the cistern from filling at a certain level. If you lift the float ball to the top of the tank, the water will shut off.

 

Fixing the clog

Now the flooding has stopped, it’s time to look at the clog. The best way to tackle this is to use a plunger. If you are unable to remove the clog utilising the plunger you need to call in an emergency plumbing and have a professional look at the issue and get it sorted for you. The blockage may be somewhere in the sewerage line and could be anything from tree root damage to just a blockage of toilet paper.

 

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Of all the fixtures in your home, the kitchen faucet is probably the fixture we use the most, in most households the humble kitchen tap is used up to 40 times a day. From washing hands to rinsing plates, washing vegetables, filling the kettle or washing the dishes, at the end of the day, the kitchen tap gets a real workout. When it’s time to buy a new faucet, our Plumbers Direct team know you need to choose a new fixture that will not only *do the job*, but will keep doing its job for many years to come.

First, you need to decide what *look* you are aiming for – something new and contemporary? Something rustic? Traditional? Antique? Elegant? Copper or bronze coloured faucets are great for a country old world style kitchen. Pewter or nickel coloured taps look great in a traditional kitchen while chrome or stainless steel has a very contemporary look.

Now you have chosen your style, next you need to know your hole configuration. Most sinks come with holes drilled into them ready for the placement of a new faucet. A sink with one hole is made for a single-control faucet, while 3-hole sinks have been designed for a hot and cold-water handle and your tap, while a 4-hole sink has been designed for single control or two handle sinks and accessories (these could be – a soap dispenser, sprayer or filtered water faucet). If you have an under-mount apron front sinkholes are drilled into the countertop behind the sink.

Types of kitchen taps

The right faucet for you depends on personal preference.

  • High-arc taps – if you have a big, roomy sink or fill a lot of large pots, our Sydney team of plumbers believe a high-arc or gooseneck faucet is for you. They give you more room to work. And have tapered handles and flowing curves that can become the focal point of your kitchen. This style is best used in a deep sink, if your sink is shallow you’ll get a lot of splashing.
  • Pull-out and pull-down taps – pull out faucets have a spray head that pulls out towards you, while a pull-down faucet has a spray head that pulls down towards the bottom of the sink. Both options help you water plants or clean the sink. Pull-outs are popular because they are the perfect combination of function and style.
  • Single Handle taps – these faucets are basic and have a single handle that controls flow and temperature.
  • Two-handle taps – (one hot and one cold) provide a classic look that looks great in period style kitchens. They are not as popular as a single handle faucet as they aren’t as easy to use.
  • Touch taps – are growing in popularity and are *hands-free* taps that turn off or on with the touch of a hand.

Call Plumbers Direct today on 1300 896 508 for help with choosing and installing your new taps in Sydney.

 

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A dripping toilet can be a major annoyance, especially if it never seems to want to stop! It can also lead to a big waste of water so you should get to the bottom of it as soon as possible. Follow these steps to fix your dripping toilet by yourself at home.

Step 1: Is the overflow tube being triggered?

Inside your toilet tank, there will be a few different contraptions. You should first find the overflow tube and check whether the water is going over the top of this tube. If it is, then it might be your ballcock’s inlet vale or an issue with the float. If it’s not, then move along to step 4.

The role of the float is to float as the water goes up, which, will in turn, indicate to the inlet valve to close, thus stopping the water from continuing to fill. An issue with either of these means the water is too high and it will keep running instead of turning off properly.

To check, flush the loo with the top of the tank open. When the water has gone most of the way up, you can grasp the top of the float mechanism that’s attached to a rod and pull it until the water stops. Many times this will work, and it means the float is the problem – not the inlet valve.

Step 2: If the float is the problem

Sometimes you will need to fiddle around with the level that the float sits in the tank. This way you can get it to trigger before the water starts pouring into the overflow tube. There will be a little screw on the ballcock that you can twist that will do exactly this, so have a play around and see if this makes a difference. If it does not make a difference, then it is probably the float itself that needs changing. You can pick up a new one (and the rod) from your local hardware or plumbing service store.

Step 3: If the inlet valve seems to be the issue

If the inlet valve appears to be the issue rather than the float, it’s generally just easier to replace the whole ballcock rather than trying to fix the inlet valve itself. You need to switch off your water either at the valve at the toilet, or the water mains if you can’t find one. Then, flush the toilet until all the water is gone and drain the tank completely by scooping any leftovers out and drying up.

To remove the ballcock, you’ll need to unlock it from the tank itself. On the outside of the tank, you’ll see a nut where the ballcock is secured which you will need to undo. Reach into the tank and take the ballcock out from where it has been secured at the bottom – by pushing up from the outside. Put the new ballcock back in where the old one was and then screw on another nut to secure in place.

Step 4: Is the flapper the problem?

If water isn’t going into the overflow tube on flushing but there’s still dripping or leaking in the bowl then there might be an issue with your flapper. Switch off the water at the valve (or at the mains if it is hidden) and then wait to see if the water level in the tank subsides (about 15 minutes should show results). This might indicate your flapper chain is too tight, or there is a leak.

Change the flapper by draining the tank (outlined in step 3), and then check the flapper seat itself is not dirty, cracked, or damaged and the flapper fits tightly in place. If need be, just pull the flapper out and put back in a new one.

Step 5: It’s time to call a professional

If none of these solutions seemed to fix the issue, and you are finding that your loo is still running, dripping, or leaking, then it’s time to get in the plumbers to take a look at what could be the problem instead. They are experienced with uncovering more obscure causes of leaks in loos, pipes, and sinks. You have put in a good amount of effort in trying to get the job done yourself, but now and then it’s just going to be something crazy that’s the issue that you’d never heard of. There is no shame in getting an emergency plumber to assess the full situation for you!

 

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If you notice a leak in your ceiling, there’s a probable hole in your roof. But if it hasn’t been raining, it’s far more likely that there’s a problem with the plumbing. By the time water comes through and starts dripping on the floors, the problem is pretty severe.

Usually, you’ll notice the beginnings of a leak through discoloured patches or maybe mould. Your walls and floor might get damp, and there may be bubbles in the wall paint. But if it’s gotten to the point where water is spilling, put a bucket under the hole to catch the drips. This can prevent slipping or further damage to the floor or carpet.

The point where the water is dripping isn’t necessarily the source of the leak. The water may have rolled down a sloping section of the roof before soaking up one part of the ceiling. If the flow is a steady gush rather than a continuous drip, it could be a burst pipe.

Clearwater also suggests plumbing issues, since rainwater is likely to be brown. It will collect mud and dirt as it flows down the roof, giving it a distinct colour. Another tip is to get into your attic and check the insulation. If it’s dry in the area above the leak, then it means the problem is the piping inside the ceiling, rather than external rain damage.

Some plumbers will advise you to poke a small hole in the ceiling using a screwdriver or something similar. The idea is that widening the hole will reduce the water pressure, and could keep the rest of the wall from collapsing. It’s probably not something you want to do on your own though since you might damage the structure of your house.

Ceiling leaks can be a challenge for the average homeowner because there’s no easy way to get into the ceiling and find out where the problem is. And even if you do, you might just see a confusing network of pipes and beams with no clear indication of how to fix it. For apartments, the leak source might come from the home above you.

The best way to deal with a leak in the ceiling is to call a plumber. They have the right tools and equipment to identify, diagnose, and resolve the problem, and some offer 24-hour service in case of emergencies. So if you’re concerned your leak could lead to flooding, or if it can’t wait until morning, you can give the plumber a call.

Start by trying to find the cause of the leak. What’s in the space above the leak? If it’s a bathroom, it could be a shower or toilet leak that’s coming through the floor. Toilet leaks can happen when the wax ring is worn out. The ring connects the floor to the bottom of the toilet so when it gets old, the water may seep through when you flush.

Since the toilet is flushed frequently, the water will accumulate and can eventually seep through the floor. It’s a simple thing to fix. You can get a new wax ring from any hardware store and replace the old one. If the position of the leak is closer to the shower, check whether it while someone is using the shower.

If the ceiling leaks while shower water is flowing, the bathroom floor tiles might have a crack in them. If the shower continues to leak even after the water is off, it’s more likely to be a problem in the piping. In that case, you’d have to call a plumber to access and inspect them.

You could start by lining the shower floor with silicone caulk to see if you can prevent overflow from the shower cubicle to the rest of the bathroom. You could also use caulk to fill up any cracks in the floor tile. Check the shower drain, unscrewing it to see its condition. If it’s old and worn out, replace it, or use putty to seal it temporarily.

A ceiling leak isn’t a minor repair job, so all these measures will only help you to confirm its source. Once you have a better idea of what’s causing the leak, call in the professionals and let them sort it out for you. Pick a plumber with excellent references and affordable rates, so that you get a good deal on your repairs.

 

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When it comes to your toilet, there are some guidelines that you should follow to make sure that you aren’t doing damage to your systems and our underlying waterways, too.

10 Things You Should Never Flush Down the Toilet

  1. Tampons: While it might seem convenient to flush tampons down the toilet, these are not to be flushed as they are extremely expandable and can clog up pipes.
  2. Pads: This one should go without saying, but pads are also not to be flushed. Make sure to put them in the bin.
  3. Condoms: Rubbers down the toilet? No way. Make sure to wrap them up and place them in the bin.
  4. Cigarette butts: If you’re having a sneaky smoke in the toilet just butt it out and throw it in the rubbish instead of flushing.
  5. Floss: Stringy plastics have a habit of getting snagged in drains, and your loo is no different. Floss can be particularly hard to fish out, especially if you’ve been flushing it regularly.
  6. Hair: Similar to floss, your hair also gets snagged and then has other nasties catching onto it on the way down, all leading to a particularly unpleasant build up.
  7. Baby wipes: Baby wipes, bathroom wipes, and makeup wipes are all, despite appearances, not supposed to be flushed down the toilet. The material of the wipes doesn’t break up as toilet tissue does.
  8. The toilet roll: Toilet paper is fine, but the toilet roll? If you have gotten to the end of the roll and you’re too lazy to chuck in the bin when you’re changing it then just wait for the next person and leave it on there – it’s the safer option.
  9. Band-aids: Band-aids are unhygienic, we know, but that doesn’t mean that you need to dispose of them as soon as possible in the most environmentally unsafe manner. Wait until you find a bin and then remove the band-aid.
  10. Cotton wool: Despite their natural composition, cotton wool buds are not safe to flush down the toilet. They swell up and get waterlogged when you put them in water – which can end up clogging your pipes.

If you have already flushed one of these items and you’re finding that you have a blocked drain, then there is no need to panic – as 24-hour plumbing is available with Plumbers Direct. Give us a call on 1300 896 508 and we can sort out your blocked toilet in no time.

 

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