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Have you got one (or more) of these plumbing problems?
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Geyser Related

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Burst or Leaking Geyser

Some signs that your geyser is faulty or may be about to burst include low water pressure, a humming or cracking sound coming from the geyser, water marks or dripping near the geyser. A problem with a geyser is a job for a qualified plumber, who will be able to identify and fix the problem, whether it is actually the geyser or another issue like a burst water pipe. The plumber will also give a certificate of compliance if installation of a new geyser proves to be necessary.

Here are the steps to follow in the event of a geyser leak or burst:

  • Find the valve for the main water supply for your property and switch it off. This will stop more water more flooding into the geyser and hopefully curtail some of the possible water damage (although, ensuring that there is a drip tray that can drain leaked water will help prevent damage to your home and/or possessions).
  • Turn off the geyser switch on your main electrical board.
  • Open the hot-water taps to drain the remaining water from the geyser, releasing the pressure in the cylinder and limiting damage from leaked water.
  • Phone your insurer to find out what your policy covers and if there is a preferred plumber you should call. You might also want to check whether the geyser is under warranty, in which case the manufacturer may need to be involved.

NOTE: As IOPSA-registered and PIRB members, at UPP we must ensure that existing geyser installations are SANS 10254 compliant. In addition, we have to issue a Certificate of Compliance confirming this. PIRB randomly audits these geyser installations and holds us 100% accountable for our workmanship.

No Hot Water

No hot water or no water at all coming from the geyser? Essentially whenever a geyser is on and working, hot water should come from the hot water taps connected in the geyser zone. But in some cases you will find that no water is coming from the geyser or from those taps. There are a handful of items that can malfunction or wear out on an electric geyser.

Here are some checks you can do, to get to the root of the problem:

  • Is water still coming out of other taps? If not, then the issue is not with the geyser or hot water. You must check the main supply then.
  • Check the electricity supply in case of an electric geyser. First check the main switch on the hot water geyser and then the fuse or circuit breaker. Sometimes the fuse flips and this could lead to no hot water. Just flip it back to ON to solve the issue. If the fuse has blown, contact an electrician to replace it.
  • No hot water may also mean that your element is at fault. See if you can locate your problem and whether it is practical for you to get it resolved.

Electric geyser troubleshooting involves checking wiring that has a significant amount of current. In fact, the combination of volts and amps in an electric geyser can be lethal. You really do need to have the right skills and take the right precautions. With geysers, unless the problem is obvious and fairly simple to resolve, we absolutely recommend contacting a professional.

Low Water Pressure

First things first, contact your neighbours to see if they are experiencing a similar problem. If so, the issue may be with the municipal water system.

If that’s not the case, you may need to consider clogs – over time, your pipes can develop a build-up of mineral deposits. In extreme cases, the diameter of the pipes decreases, preventing the water from freely flowing through and leaving you with a weak drip in the shower or a trickle from a tap (also see our Blocked Drain and Burst or Leaking Pipe sections for possible other causes).

While extreme cases can require that you replace sections of pipe, you can at least take care of clogs at your system’s exit points by dissolving any minerals that have collected there. We can help to assess and correct this problem.

The next solution requires little more than a few minutes of investigative work. Your house has a main water valve, usually located near the meter, which controls the flow of water into your home’s pipes. Find the valve and check to see if it’s completely open. Sometimes the valve gets accidentally turned during routine repairs and maintenance. If, for example, your drop in pressure coincides with recent work you’ve had done on your home, your contractor may have turned off the main water supply and at the end of the job only partially reopened the valve. Fortunately, the valve is easy for you to adjust yourself.

It may also turn out that the problem isn’t you, but where you are situated. Gravity and distance are two main factors that negatively impact water pressure, so if your household water supply is forced to travel uphill or over a great distance from the municipal water source, its pressure may be hindered. To increase the flow rate of the water when it reaches your home, you may need to consider installing a water pressure booster pump.

Burst or Leaking Pipe

The first thing you need to do when you find a burst or leaky pipe is shut off your water. The sooner you do this, the better your chances of minimising water damage. Your main water shut-off valve is likely located near your water meter or outside, where the water comes in. Once the water has been shut off, you should open your taps to drain the remaining cold water in your pipes. This will relieve pressure in your pipe system. Then, flush all the toilets in the house. Once water is no longer running from the taps, any leaks should stop.

Depending on the location and size of the leak, you may also need to shut off your electricity. If you suspect the leaking water came into contact with any electrical sockets or your fuse box, this is an important precaution to take.

Cracked or damaged pipes may result in water leaks that siphon off water as it travels through your pipes, leaving you with just a trickle at the tap. To determine if your main pipe has any damage, make sure all the taps, both indoors and out are shut off, then turn off the water valve in your home and write down the number that appears on your water meter. Return in two hours and take the meter reading again. An increased reading is a sign of a leak.

Galvanized steel pipes are particularly vulnerable to corrosion over time, so if you decide to upgrade, choose quality plastic or copper pipes. While a costly project, pipe replacement will help boost pressure and minimize the chance of future leaks. Also, swapping out old plumbing for new can reduce the risk that corrosives will contaminate your drinking water.

Overflow Leaking

First things first, check which pipe it’s coming out of – either the 50mm PVC pipe or 22mm copper pipe. If it’s the PVC pipe, then either your geyser has burst, your pressure valve is leaking or the drain cock is leaking. If it’s the 22mm copper overflow pipe, then it’s the safety and thermostat giving issues.

Also, turn off the water and electricity supply to the geyser. Call us.

Leaking Toilet

It is often difficult to detect and/or locate the problem here, because a running toilet can be a symptom of various plumbing problems. Always check where the leak is coming from by following the source of the water. Most toilet leaks happen when the seal under the toilet fails. Wait until a new puddle appears on the floor, then check to make sure the water is seeping out from under the toilet and not coming from somewhere else, as it could be a waste pipe leaking or ball valve overflowing or even a cracked tank. Either way, water is running and costs are happening, so call us.

Blocked Drain

The most common area for drain blockages is in the kitchen. Grease and fat can accumulate when allowed to stand and cool, which then harden and block pipes. While commercial drain cleaners are readily available, the best methods for keeping drains free from blockages are to scrape plates into the dustbin before washing and allowing greasy items to cool and settle before disposing of the residue in the bin. Also, rinse the drain for a few seconds with hot water after cleaning greasy items.

A plumber’s auger (or drain snake) is an indispensable tool to have on hand for blocked drains. They are readily available and it easy to use. Simply insert the auger into the hole of the drain where the clog is located and manoeuvre until it reaches the blockage. Once you have reached the blockage, rotate the head of the auger until you can feel it latch onto the clog. Once you have a good hold, slowly withdraw the auger out of the drain. You can also push the auger and chew away at the clump. If it is a thick and solid clump, then use the auger to gnaw away at the clog. When you pull the blockage back, it may start to become messy. This is where a bucket and a few towels become handy. Run hot water down the drain for a few minutes to wash away any remaining debris.

If you cannot locate the obstruction, the blockage may be in the main sewer pipe, in which case you will need to call in a professional.

Smelly Drain

Sinks are notorious for developing unpleasant smells, the most common causes being gunk and bacteria (food, hair, grease, soap particles and more). Even if they don’t form a clog, they attract bacteria, which then release foul and stagnant odours. Missing traps or vents, leaks and rotting drain tubes can all cause odours to seep from a bathroom or kitchen sink. With sinks that receive infrequent use, empty P-traps allow sewer gases to rise from the drain.

Once a week, flush sinks with white vinegar or a pot of almost-boiling water. Pour half of it slowly down the drain, wait for a few minutes, rinse the pipe with cold water to solidify any lingering gunk, then pour the rest of the hot water or vinegar down the drain to wash it away.

Lingering smells can be a sign of something more troublesome though. Refer to our Blocked Drain section and/or give us a call.

Blocked Toilet

Most toilet blockages are caused by a foreign object being lodged in the U-bend or too much toilet paper being used. Try rinsing for a few seconds with hot water or use a bent coat hanger to try and retrieve the stuck object.

For other blockages you can try a plunger. While this might seem basic, it remains the best way of unclogging a toilet – every household should have one,

preferably one with a flange because they work best to unblock toilets. Pop on some rubber gloves and insert the plunger into the toilet bowl all the way down into the bottom of the bowl. Once you have a good seal, pump the plunger down and up forcefully while sustaining the seal. Finally, pull it up sharply while breaking the air seal. You’ll notice the water rushing down the drain. If this hasn’t fixed the blockage, repeat the steps until the clog loosens. It may take a few attempts.

If none of the above sorts the problem, call us – we have everything you need to tackle even the worst blockages.