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Plumbing advice

Whenever you move into a new home or new commercial property there are a few things you should do. These few tasks will pay dividends, especially in an emergency.

Water supply; mains valve and rising main.

Make sure you know where the underground shut off valve for your water supply is. It can usually be found in front of the property on the pavement or road, in a straight line from the stopcock inside. This valve is the point where the incoming water can be totally isolated between the main and the stopcock.

You will often find that the mains shut-off valve gets covered in dirt or debris. You may need to clean around the valve to make sure it can be shut off in the event of an emergency.

Find where the stopcock is on the rising main.

The pipe that connects your home to the main is called the rising main. It brings the fresh water to your home and it is important to ensure that it is maintained in good condition.

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Remember that the rising main is YOUR responsibilty. The mains pipe is the responsibility of the water company, but from the shut off valve on, any faults or leaks are up to you to have repaired.

It is important to find the stopcock as it controls the water flow throughout your home. In an emergencu it can be used to shut off the entire supply. It is often found either under the kitchen sink, or in the bathroom bathroom, but occasionally it may be under the stairs.

Once you have located the stopcock, make sure that the valve turns easily. The valve may not have been closed for a while, and it may have become quite stiff. If the stopcock does not turn freely, use a suitable lubricant (such as WD-40) on the thread of the valve. Then open and close the valve a few times to wear off any corrosion or dirt build up. It is also a very good idea to make sure that the valve does actually close fully or it will not properly isolate the water supply.

If you find any problems then it is best to make repairs a priority, any plumber will encounter problems like these often and will tell you that the longer you leave it the worse it will get. And of course, you don't want a major leak to occur before you are able to shut off the water.

Find all other shut off valves.

Check around your home as there may be more isolating valves. These are often found on low-pressure pipes which run to sinks, stand pipes, toilet cisterns and certain household appliances (especially the washing machine supply pipes). These valves enable plumbers to service sections of the pipework without having to shut off alll of your water. These pipes can usually be located near storage cisterns (to be found in the loft) or next to your hot water tank (usually in the airing cupboard).

Again make sure that these valves are all working correctly and turn freely. It is always a good idea to make clear notes on which valves turn off which section of piping. You might also want to label all of the valves. This makes identification much easier later on, especially as it may be someone else that must isolate the water in an emergency.

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Check that you can isolate the gas supply

Make sure that all of your family know where and how to shut off the gas supply. Find the isolating valve (which is next to the gas meter) and make sure that it is good working order. Some meters are in boxes outside of the property, so make sure that the gas key for the door is kept in the same place at all times and that everyone is aware of this.

Some meters are located under the stairs or other typical places. Don't pile junk in front of the meter, you need to make sure that there is clear access to the valve at all times. It is also important to remember that the gas meter itself is a delicate peice of equipment and any sudden knocks will force it to shut itself off.

Gas appliances

Remember that you must not attempt to carry out any repairs on the gas pipes, meter, valves or any gas appliances yourself. Only Gas Safe registered engineers can perform servicing, maintenance or repairs of this kind, by law.

If you smell gas;

Open all doors and windows in the room to ventilate the area. This allows fresh air in and stops the gas from being retained inside.

Switch off the leaking gas appliance immediately and do not reuse it until it has been fully checked over by a properly registered Gas Safe engineer.

Shut the gas supply mains valve to isolate your home from the gas mains.

Now call the gas emergency number;

  • 0800 111 999 for England, Scotland and Wales.
  • 0800 002 001 for Northern Ireland

This number should be written on your gas meter. If you have a bottled gas supply, contact the emergency number that your gas supplier has given you.





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