Handy Hints

The most common plumbing problems experienced by a householder are blocked drains, dripping taps, leaking toilets and non functioning hot water units.
These problems are not only annoying but contribute to a waste of water and money.

Minor problems can be rectified by the householder but major problems and new installations should be left to a plumbing contractor who has years of experience and training.

The following tips and hints are provided to assist householders maintain their plumbing systems.


The most common plumbing problems experienced by a householder are blocked drains, dripping taps, leaking toilets and non
Blockages are normally caused by one or more of the following;

  • Tree roots invading external lines;
  • A build up of grease, sludge, hair etc in the lines; and
  • The flushing of non bio-degradable materials such as disposable nappies, paper towels and sanitary pads down the toilet.

The first sign of a blockage would be the slowness of sink drains to clear or toilet bowl backing up. Early attention to these problems could see the blockage fixed relatively quickly and cheaply but if the problem is left unattended as it is “not too bad” major work may be required including replacement of sewer lines.


Clean roof gutters allow rain water to disperse quickly through downpipes to stormwater drains.
A build up of dirt, leaves and other debris in the gutters can cause a blockage in one or more downpipes and restrict the ability of water to escape.

Any backup of water during heavy rain will invariably overflow into the roof eaves and ceiling space causing considerable water damage.

It is wise to inspect and clean gutters at least quarterly.

Downpipes can be checked for blockages by running a hose down the pipe and ensuring a free flow to stormwater drains.


The average householder takes the home hot water unit for granted and probably doesn’t give it a second thought while there is hot water.
While the life of hot water units will vary most are effective for at least 10years but some major unit components have a much shorter life. Most householders only become aware of a problem with their hot water unit when they detect a physical leak or they have no hot water.

Other leaks from the actual water cylinder itself normally only occur when the units is aged and in most cases means the unit needs to be replaced.

Other leaks can emanate from the Temperature and Pressure Relief (TPR) valve and also the element gasket. These leaks can be repaired although part replacement may be necessary. The TPR valve prevents the excessive build up of pressure inside the unit. While effective for a number of years they do wear out and have to be replaced. A sign the valve is not functioning is the continual running of water from the relief line. An ineffective valve will drive up electricity costs as the unit will be continually heating.

There can also be electrical problems associated with the unit’s thermostat resulting in no hot water. If you are unsure whether the problem with your units is plumbing or electrical related it is advisable to have the unit assessed initially by a plumbing contractor.


Cisterns are simply designed with the most modern ones having a dual flush set up to minimise water usage.
Unfortunately problems do occur from time to time eg: water continually running after flushing or cistern not filling.

These problems normally relate to either inlet or outlet valves and are easily fixed in the majority of cases.

It is suggested that if toilet ducks are used for cleaning purposes that the cistern type duck is used in preference to the type that attach to the bowl as these can be easily dislodged and cause a blockage.


From time to time householders will notice wet patches in lawns or on pavers etc and wonder if they have a leaking water pipe.
The simple way to test for a leaking pipe is to take a meter reading at a specified time when no water is being used in the household and a further reading in a few hours time. If the meter reading is higher the second time you have a leak and should arrange for it to be fixed ASAP.

Bear in mind that if the leak is on your side of the water meter it is your responsibility to fix, if it is on the street side it is the Councils responsibility.


Householders occasionally find that their water is discoloured and are reluctant to use it for washing clothes and drinking.
As a general rule if the cold water is dirty it means that the Council or other authority has been working on the water lines in your area and sediment has been disturbed. This will be a short term problem.

If the hot water is dirty or rust coloured it is more sinister and generally means that the hot water units has rusted out and needs replacing.

Water conservation has become a burning issue over recent years and the average householder is very conscious of excessive water usage.

Dripping taps, Leaking toilets, long showers and taps left running can waste many thousands of litres of water per year. Please be aware of water issues in your home environment with a view to minimising wastage.