High Water Bills

MY WATER BILL WENT WAY UP! HOW DO I FIND A LEAK?

pressure regulator water leak

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:

1. Taps

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!

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Life expectancy of geysers

How long does the geyser in your home last?

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.

Most homeowners realize too late that they never checked if their insurance covers geyser replacement and water damage. Be sure to check your policy and ask your insurance agent. Continue reading “Life expectancy of geysers”

Plumbing

plumbing

Plumbing Issues

plumbing and blockages
Advice on DIY repairs when a plumbing issue arises!

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That water or sewage leak

We can’t all afford to call a plumber for every small plumbing issue or blockage. Therefore, it pays to know a few plumbing basics.

Get to know your home’s plumbing from water into the house to sewerage out. You should be able to tackle most minor plumbing repairs yourself. You will need some basic tools.

What to do in case of a plumbing emergency

Do you know the location of your shutoff valve? (Do you know what a shutoff valve is?)

A shutoff valve (stopcock) turns off the water supply, either to your home or to a fitting in the home. In addition, look for the main shutoff valve on the property boundary at the water meter or where the water supply enters your home. Turn this off in the event of a plumbing emergency.

Keep the area around the shutoff valve clean, for ease of access. Grease the shutoff valve from time to time to ensure that it does not seize up.

Blockages in the home

A sink or shower drain blockage is fairly easy to unblock.

Most frequently the blockage is in the u-trap behind, or under the sink. Undo the fastener and remove the pipe to get to the blockage.

Do not use caustic soda to remove blockages!

Shower blockages and smells are fairly common. A buildup of hair causes a shower drain to block. Most drain caps are fairly easy to remove. They either clip or screw into the shower floor. Once the cap is off, remove any blockage. Run the shower on hot for a minute or so to clean out the drain.

Plumbing blockages outside the home

Look at the plumbing pipes outside your home. You will see that pipes have a small, medium or large inspection cap (eye). Open this cap to check for blockages that have not been cleared by cleaning out the drain, or u-trap. Use a hosepipe to flush the pipe out after the blockage has been removed.

Remove the grated cover at the gulleys and check for blockages if a plumbing drain outside your home is smelly. Use a drain auger, or cut off a piece of hosepipe to loosen a blockage.

To check the flow, you should know where your rodding eyes and/or manhole drainage covers are. If caught early, you can resolve the problem by flushing out with a hosepipe.

Safety first when drilling into walls

plumbing

When drilling into walls, in a bathroom or kitchen, take care not to hit a plumbing pipe or electrical conduit. Rather use an electronic multi-detector to locate electrical cables and water pipes. They are a lot cheaper than getting a plumber to repair the pipe. Remember, the hole in the wall will need fixing as well!

plumbing blockages
damp
Damp areas on walls are not always a plumbing leak in the wall. It is often rising damp, water splashing up against the walls or even a geyser or roof leak. Before the plumber chops a hole in your wall or tiles I will inspect and identify the reason for the damp for you. At the same time, I will check your geyser installation.

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THE HOME DETECTIVE » leaking geyser

Your Hot Water Geyser can EXPLODE!

Your hot water geyser can explode!

hot water geyser
Approximately 40% of the installations of geysers do not comply with the SANS 10254 specification.

The intention of this article is to inform you, in the interests of your and your family’s safety, what you should and should not see if you happen to stick your head into the ceiling space to check out your hot water geyser. If your geyser installation is significantly different from what is described here, I suggest that you get a reputable plumber to repair it. Check out the videos at the bottom of this article!

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