Dealing with Drain & Sewer Problems, Drainage

Avoiding drainage problems

A cake of fallen leaves, bird droppings and other debris collects in gutters. The space for water is reduced and this can cause overflowing during heavy rain. Once a year remove this rubbish with a trowel – put it into a bucket and not down the pipe. Cover the mouth of this pipe with a ball of wire netting.

The kitchen waste pipe is most at risk – do not put peelings, tea leaves, melted fat etc into the sink. You must install a waste disposal unit, if you wish to enjoy the luxury of washing away kitchen waste. Washing soda in hot water will remove grease from the pipework. lf blockage has been a problem, use a plunger about once a year to prevent further trouble.

Dealing with drainage problems

First of all, check that only one sink, basin or other fitting is affected. lf more than one is blocked, your problem is in the soil pipe or a drain. A frozen trap in winter will prevent water from draining away. Thaw gently with a hair dryer or use rags soaked in hot water. lf ice is not the problem, suspect a trap blocked with kitchen waste, hair or other household debris. The first step is to use a plunger. Press it down firmly and pump up and down rapidly about adozen times. Pull off to break the seal and then repeat the pumping action until the sink empties.

There are several symptoms of this distressing and often difficult problem. Several fittings may refuse to drain or one fitting may fill up when another is emptied. There may be an unpleasant smell or a gully may overflow. Put on old clothes and an overall before working on faulty drains. Wear glowes. Call a plumber if the problem is not a simple one. When the trouble is a blocked gully, remove any rubbish which may be covering the grid before removing this protective cover. Use a stick to break up compacted debris – flush with a hosepipe when water starts to run away freely. The problem may be in the soilstack or pipe.

The most likely cause is a blocked trap. Buy or hire a special WC plunger – this is larger than the standard sink model and has a metal disc around the base of the suction cap. Alternatively, use a mop with a polythene bag tied overthe head. Bale out some of the water so that the bowl is only about half full. Move the plunger or mop up and down rapidly about a dozen times. A gurgling sound will tell you that the trap is cleared – flush the cistern several times.

Hard Water

Most of the water in S and E England is hard. The cause is the presence of dissolved salts of calcium and magnesium, in the presence of soap a curd or scum is formed.Bathroom and kitchen fixtures are stained, washed woolens are matted and soap does not lather properly.
stained shower head
The serious problem starts when the water is heated above 40 degrees Celsius. Kettles develop fur and hot water pipes develop scale. This scaling increases the cost of running the system and can cause damage to the boiler and immersion heater. Proprietary descalers are available for kettles and the hot water system can be descaled by putting chemicals into the cold water cistern.

It is much better, however, to avoid scaling rather than trying to cure it. Install an Indirect cylinder to replace a Direct one, and avoid water temperatures appreciably over 40 °. A number of chemical water softeners are available, but the most satisfactory solution is to fit a water softener. This works on the ion exchange principle, sodium being added to the water in exchange for calcium and magnesium. It must occasionally be regenerated by adding salt. The unit should be fitted to the rising main above the cold water tap in the kitchen by the plumbers.