Being prepared to protect your home against a sudden burst pipe can save you thousands of Rands in damage. The following tips will slow or stop pipe leaks long enough to get hold of an emergency plumber. However, you may have to wait until the lockdown is over.
The first thing you should do is switch off the water supply. You might find this valve where yourwater supply enters your home or in the valve box on the pavement.
To temporarily stop a pinhole pipe leak on a water pipe, you need to seal the pipe at the leak point. If you have self-tapping screws you may need to widen the hole. Using a small piece of rubber or plastic pipe as a washer screw the self-tapper into the hole.
If you don’t have one or can’t “borrow” one from appliances in your home! Alternatively, wrap electrical or duct tape around the pipe a few times. In addition, if the pipe leak is on a PVC or galvanised waste pipe, almost any type of tape can be used as a temporary fix.
Your high water bill could be due to either a temporary increase in water usage or a leak. To find out if it’s a leak, first shut off all your water-using fixtures in the house. Don’t close the shut-off valve where the water supply enters or below the pressure regulator at your house at this stage!
Take the cover off your water meter box and flip open the protective cover plate on the meter dial. Normally, your metre box will be somewhere along the front property line, often near a corner. You may have to dig down a little in the dirt to find it.
The meter may be a newer one that has a small round or diamond-shaped low-flow indicator near the centre. The low flow indicator may be red or black like in the photo above. It should not be turning. But if it is, there’s a leak somewhere in your plumbing system. At a meter without a low-flow indicator, note the meter reading or take a picture with your cell phone. Check back in an hour or so and see if it has changed.
There are a number of places to check if the meter says you have water flow indicating a leak:
Not just the at the sink and basins taps! Also, check the taps at the washing machine hookup, bath, shower, and the outside hose taps.
2. Toilet Cisterns (tanks)
A flapper valve that doesn’t seat properly at the bottom of the cistern will cause a leak. Check the ballcock arm and overflow tube as well, it may also be defective. Drop a dye tablet (available in most hardware stores specifically for toilet testing) in the tank. Do not flush, and wait for 15-minutes. If the colour shows up in the bowl, the toilet needs repair.
3. TPR Valve at the Geyser
The small valve with a flip-up handle at the top or side of the geyser called a Temperature and Pressure Release (TPR) valve. This important valve is designed to open if the water gets too hot, to keep the tank from exploding. These valves sometimes fail by opening slightly and letting loose a slow trickle of hot water. The water normally runs in a steel or copper pipe to a location at the exterior wall. Find the termination of the TPR valve and check for a drip. NEVER work on these valves yourself! Only a suitably trained and experienced plumber should!
Most homes develop some cracks. Old and new homes can develop cracks as well depending on climatic and physical factors.
However, it is worth getting to the bottom of what is causing the cracking. A crack is actually the visible symptom of a possible problem and not the problem in itself.
What causes cracks?
In new homes, settlement may cause minor cracks. Normal foundation settlement occurs when the underlying soil compacts as a result of construction on previously undisturbed soil, changes in soil conditions and moisture. Typically small, hairline-sized cracking may be the result of the minor settlement, expansion and contraction, or changes in a season or cycle.
Usually, these defects, though often unsightly, are not structurally significant.
Thermal movements between different materials
Different materials such as timber, bricks, steel, concrete etc. have different coefficients of linear expansion. In other words, the differing materials contract and expand differently. This causes stresses in structures where they are combined and may cause cracks to form. The best way to combat these defects in plasterwork is to provide a joint between the different materials.
In older homes, changes in climatic conditions can affect the structure. Houses move with the climate. Heat and moisture will make them expand, cold and dryness will make them contract slightly. This movement is normal and in most cases will not cause cracking. Unusually hot or cold spells can result in increased expansion or contraction of the structure which may cause cracks.
Maintain your home, especially the roof, on an annual basis. If you don’t do the small repairs they could end up as expensive repairs.
Your roof is the most important component of your home, protecting you, your belongings and the structure of the building. Damage to the roof can occur due to rain, wind and hail. You should regularly check the roof of your home for any leaks. Also inspect the ceiling, walls and the area around your home for any water spots, standing water or mould. Dampness on ceilings or walls can mean that there are leaks that you will have to attend to.
Check the chimney
Loose flashings, damaged masonry and loose bricks will allow rainwater in a house. Be sure to give the area around the chimney an inspection to ensure everything is fine. Refit loose flashing or replaced as necessary. Furthermore, chisel out the damaged mortar joints and rejoint, and also repair loose bricks.
Loose, dislodged or broken roof tiles or ridge caps
If you have the ladder long enough, inspect the roof for loose or crumbling mortar along the ridge cap. At the same time, check for cracked or damaged roof tiles while you’re up there. However, if you do discover problems and can’t deal with it yourself, call in a professional roofing contractor.Continue reading “Winter Home Maintenance”
When you buy a new home have you ever thought about how long the geyser may last before you encounter problems? Probably not!
Your homeowner’s insurance may replace a burst geyser. However, be sure to check if you can claim the cost of repairs or if your home is unlivable due to water damage. Some policies allow you to claim for accommodation for the time it takes for your home to be habitable again.
Most geysers will not give you problems for ten years or more in new houses. Check with the seller how old the house is if you are buying a house. Also, check if the geyser has been replaced and when.