Simple Ways to Prevent Costly Water Damage
Even though water is essential, it has the potential to damage your property. Water damage is a major cause of property loss, weakening the foundation of your home and the pillars that hold your property together.
Make no mistake, even just a little water can be awfully damaging. Damp the walls causing the paint to peel off leaving the wall utterly weak and unsightly. It also dampens wood and invites mould and mildew as well as carpenter ants and termites. This usually results in serious structural problems.
Clogged leaves and leaking roofs are a common culprit here. Without a proper mechanism in place, water will continue to flow in, flow for minutes, hours or even days before getting noticed.
The problem is, you will only notice the problem when there’s already significant damage. This only puts the house occupants in danger but often costs thousands of dollars to repair.
Besides the damp on walls and roofs, common sources of water damage in homes include:
– Water heaters, washing machines or dishwashers – subtly let out water and cause severe damage when their hose connections or hoses leak undetected.
–Freezing outdoor pipes – can cause basement flooding which destroys the foundation of affected homes.
-Worn out plumbing connections and hoses.
-Indoor sprinkler systems – indoor sprinkler systems that are shoddily installed are more likely to have water leaks.
While water damage can be severe and costly, it can always be prevented with simple proactive measures. Here are simple steps to avoid water damage and save money.
Keep an eye out for water leaks and fix them
A water leak is the most common cause of water damage. But it’s not just from appliances, pipes or the sprinkler system that water can seep in, you should also be vigilant against rain water.
Rainwater can also seep into the house from leaking roofs. If any of these goes on for a while, it can lead to structural rot, mould and mildew. Sometimes it can also attract termites and carpenter ants that like to chew soggy wood because of the softness.
Fortunately, water leak detection should be easily done if you are regularly checking for problems.
How do you go about checking for water leaks?
Inspect your roof at least once every year. Any loose, damaged or missing shingles and cracked fillings can let in water and should be repaired immediately.
Look out for any dark, wet spots under the pipes inside your sink cabinets. Other signs to look for include stains on ceilings, drips and toilets that produce rocking sounds.
Ensure your gutters are constantly clean
Debris build-up in the gutters can stop water from flowing. As a result, water cascades on the side of the house, damaging its siding and ultimately the house’s foundation.
Ensure your drainage system works properly
Good drainage is key to a properly working structure. Normally, poor drainage tends to weaken your foundation fast, as it may cause uneven settling, cracks and pathways trough which water can enter your home.
Your yard should be properly sloped to direct water away from your foundation.
Test your equipment on a regular basis
Pay attention to your sump pump. Remove accumulated water in your water-collecting sump basin located in the home’s basement at least once a year.
Of course, you should check this when there are frequent storms. Here’s how to test your sump pump:
-Slowly add water to the sump pump pit to fill it up. A float similar to the one in your toilet should rise if the pump is working properly. This is what turns on the pump. Then watch to see if the water level recedes to confirm that the pump is working.
-Unplug the main pump then test your backup pump the same way.
-There should also be an outside pipe that would catch water coming from the sump pump. Examine the inside of this pipe for any debris or dirt that could clog the drain.
These simple steps enable you to detect and solve problems promptly. To ensure that your house is safe from water damage, best to enlist professional drain inspectors. We will take preventive measures and address any issue promptly.
The Principle Behind Leaks
A water leak on your property can cause your water bill to skyrocket if not detected and repaired in time. A single leak can result to thousands of litres of water wasted
Water leaks can occur anywhere in your water supply network and drainage system. But it’s in the toilet that leaks are most likely to happen. Here are the common areas where a leak usually occurs:
1.) Toilet flapper valve
A toilet will have a leak if its flapper valves are not working properly. The flapper is the rubber valve that sits on top of the flush valve. It seals the flush valve to prevent water from entering the toilet bowl before the toilet is flushed.
If this rubber flapper ages, it can become brittle, warped or cracked. When this happens, water will flow continuously into the toilet bowl from the tank through the valve.
You’ll need only to replace the damaged flapper in most cases. Or you may have to replace the toilet’s filling mechanism to resolve the leak.
2.) Flush handle
Problems with the flush handle can cause significant toilet leaks. For instance, the flush handle, the chain or the level bar may be getting stuck after each flush, so you need to tug at the flush handle after every use.
When this happens, you need to adjust the nut securing the handle in the toilet tank, or replace the flush handle itself.
3.) Overflow tube
For a properly working toilet, the water level in the tank should be at the fill line level, about half an inch below the overflow tube. If the water fills up to the point that it spills out the overflow tube, it should be adjusted.
You can turn the adjustment screw to correct the problem or lightly bend down the float arm so that the water can shut off somewhere below the overflow tube.
Overflow tube leaks are often easy to detect. Dripping water may be loud enough to hear from a few meters away. Other toilet leaks are however silent and may be difficult to detect. Silent leaks can cause significant losses before they are found out. You’ll notice however that most of these toilet leaks are easy and rather inexpensive to repair.
These often leak when the rubber or washer is worn out. On your sink, the washer is usually located right under the handle.
With the right tools, it shouldn’t be difficult to replace a worn washer on your sink faucet. You’ll however have to shut off the water at the main shutoff valve or under the sink before you can commence the work.
Water leaks can occur in concealed places. These are often hidden in walls or underground and can stay undetected for extended periods of time. Depending on the size of the leaking spot, concealed leaks can waste litres of water every day.
Though not traditionally recognised as a leak problem, condensation can be a damaging form of concealed water leak. Mild condensation is okay, but when the water or drainage pipes are excessively porous, they can damage your walls, floors, ceilings and woodworking with time. Consider insulating such pipes to stop or reduce this water loss.
If you know the tell-tale signs of a leaking water system, you can fix it before the water bill skyrocket and keep gallons of water from being wasted.
How will you know when there’s a water leak?
There are a number of ways to know when there is a water leak in your water supply or drainage system.
a.) Look for stains on the ceiling and other surfaces
Evident signs of wetness, stains or discoloration on the ceilings, walls, floors and woodwork indicate concealed water leaks. There could be a cracked water pipe or a damaged joinery somewhere on the walls that’s letting water out. And if you see same on the floor, there is a leak underground.
b.) Extraordinary increase in water bills
You’d expect your water bills to go up if the consumption patterns in the family have recently changed. An increased number of people in the family, recent masonry or construction work in the home; the list of reasons can be long and diverse. But if none of these has recently happened and the bill went up significantly, you could be losing water to a leak.
c.) Food colouring test
Remove the toilet water tank lid and add a few drops of food colouring in the back of the tank. You can swap food colouring with dye tabs from any home centre in your locality. Wait for around 30 minutes then observe the water inside the toilet bowl. You should not flush the toilet over this time. Any sign of colour in the bowl will be a sign of a leaking toilet. There could be a problem with the flapper or flush handle that lets water (with the colour) come through. Clear water on the other hand is a sign that water is not leaking.
Once you are done with the test, flush the toilet immediately to avoid stains from the dye or food colouring.
While it is good to repair water leaks immediately to avoid substantial losses, the best strategy is to have a preventive maintenance check. Contact Austest to schedule this service.
How To Clear Blocked Drains – DIY
How to clear blocked drains? Whether it’s a small house or a big home with the whole family, kitchen and bathroom sinks can get clogged at any time. Considering the amount of waste that gets flushed down household pipes, it’s only understandable that residue will get trapped in the drains from time to time, and you should be prepared to clear a blocked drain pipe, sink, or toilet when it happens. If you’re having guests over, it’s even more important to know how to handle a holiday plumbing issue!
Drains get clogged because of the build-up of debris in your drainage pipes. In a blocked kitchen sink, that can be due to food, dirt, and hardened grease. If you’re dealing with a blocked bathroom sink, that could be caused by soap residue and foreign objects like hair or nail clippings. Although you can avoid a blocked sink or blocked bathroom drain by avoiding washing these types of materials into your pipes, knowing how to clear clogged drains at home is still a worthwhile endeavor.
While the immediate impulse is to call an expert plumber, there are several do-it-yourself or DIY techniques to remove the clog, thereby saving a couple of bucks. There are several household products you can use for clearing blocked drains DIY without using caustic drain cleaners.
The methods for draining a blocked drain depends on whether the clog is partial or full-on. The former, or partial clog, will allow at least some water down the drain. The latter, however, means the drains are fully blocked and no water is going down at all.
Refresh your drains with soda!
Ever heard that a nail put in a glass of soda will dissolve and eventually disappear with time? It’s true. This may take you by surprise – soda is great for vanquishing a clog in your drains. It can even be more effective than many commercial clog removers packed with strong dissolving agents.
Get started with a two-liter bottle of room-temperature soda. Pour the lukewarm soda down the drain and let it fizz for a moment, working its corrosive power for up to an hour or two depending on the strength of the clog. Then run hot water to wash everything down.
The soda is loaded with phosphoric acid. That’s why it can effectively break down build-up which often clogs drain pipes. It can remove harder substances like the limescale that are often difficult to remove with regular cleaners. The soda method can work well to clear blocked sink drains, especially if you’ve noticed a gradual decrease in draining speed likely caused by buildup rather than a foreign object.
This isn’t just a blocked drains DIY – you can also use soda periodically to “flush” your drains to help avoid blockages!
How to Clear a Blocked Sink with Boiling Water
This is an easy DIY method of unclogging a blocked drain pipe. The high temperatures in hot boiling water should be able to do the work.
Hardened grease and soap residue are some of the most common substances that build up over time and clog your drainage pipes. That’s why you might be surprised to find your kitchen or bathroom sink clogged even after you’ve been so careful about not washing down food particles or chunks of bar soap.
The hotter the water, the more effective it will be. Pour hot boiling water down the clogged pipe and allow it to work for some time. The hot water will dissolve any organic matter in the sink and melt away any hardened grease.
Grease and accumulated soap residue may hold some food particles creating a strong, solid build-up in the pipes. Once the hot water dissolves the grease holding the particles together, the solid residue in the sink can then easily be washed away even by cold running water from the tap. You can use boiling water to unclog your sink several times in a row, repeating as necessary until the clog dissolves.
Caveat: Don’t use hot boiling water to unclog a PVC pipe – the heat could cause the joints of the PVC to loosen. This will result in additional cost due to repairs, but it’s easy to avoid: Just check under your sink beforehand. Neither should you pour boiling water into a porcelain sink bowl directly, as it can crack. Be sure to pour the water straight down the drain.
Use vinegar and baking soda to remove clogs
Pour half a packet of baking soda down the clogged drain without adding any water. Then add half a cup of vinegar down the pipe. Use a metal stopper or some rags to stop up the drain and let the two substances react for 30 minutes. Remove the stopper and pour hot water down the drain.
Plunger for more stubborn clogs
A hand plunger may be necessary for a sink or toilet that has a large, stubborn obstruction. The suction action of the plunger can help to dislodge clogs so they can be washed away down the drain.
Plunging a Blocked Sink or Tub Drain
Yes, a plunger is not just meant for use on a clogged toilet, it’s a great tool for use on a clogged sink, too. Start by filling the sink halfway, a bathtub to about four or five inches. Having removed the metal strainer or stopper, place the plunger over the drain and ensure you have a firm seal. Then force the debris down the drain using quick sharp plunges. Check to see your progress from time to time.
A sink plunger is what you often see in cartoons – they tend to be smaller with a shallower, cup-shaped plunger cup than a toilet plunger.
DIY Blocked Toilet Plunging
The plunger is the go-to tool to clear a blocked toilet. The soda and hot water methods can help loosen the obstruction in a clogged toilet if using the plunger alone doesn’t work at first.
A toilet plunger has a bell-shaped rubber cup with a flange to create a tight seal around the toilet bowl drain. A clogged toilet likely already has some water in it – if not, add enough to cover the bowl’s drain. Insert the plunger into the drain, but don’t try to form a seal yet – let water enter into the drain below the plunger. This pushes out the air under the plunger to form suction.
Similar to plunging a sink, you want to use quick, sharp plunges to dislodge the debris. To help avoid toilet clogs, avoid flushing unnecessary things down the toilet!
Types of Plungers
It’s ideal to have both a sink plunger and a toilet plunger available in your home. Although a toilet plunger can be used on bathtub and sink drains, the smaller size of the sink plunger can be easier to use, and you won’t have to worry about sanitary issues.
Drain snake – the ultimate DIY tool
This piece of equipment gets the job done on any type of drain clog. It is a long, flexible metal rope with a metal spiral at its end. You can get one inexpensively from your local hardware supply stores. The long steel wire will spiral its way into the drains, effectively removing any clogs built up in there by brute force!
You can twist the snake once it is up against a blocked drain to remove the clog. The steel wire is often designed to allow for it to bend around most pipes without a problem. This is the ultimate tool for clearing blocked drains, but can be intimidating if you’ve never used one before.
While these DIY home techniques can be extremely effective in getting rid of sink clogs, sometimes you might be unlucky enough to run into something unexpected. If that ever happens, consider hiring a professional to help resolve the problem. Aus-test has seasoned experts that will come to your aid immediately when you contact them.