Our plumbing is something so many of us take for granted, but without it, our home lives would suffer immeasurably. That’s why we would always recommend calling out a plumber in the vast majority of cases when dealing with plumbing problems.

Because if you make a mistake, you might end up not only making things worse but could invalidate your home insurance.

However, as they say – knowing is half the battle and if you know how to cope with these problems then you are more likely to prevent them from happening in the first place.

So, we thought we’d put the spotlight on a few of the more common plumbing problems that can blight a home at this time of year and explain what they are, what signs to look for and how to handle them in the short term before the professionals arrive.

Common problems

Dripping faucets – The granddaddy of all irritating plumbing problems; a dripping faucet is the kind of thing that can not only prove costly if left to continue dripping but can drive you mad. This is one instance, however, where you might be able to get away with fixing it yourself.

Nine times out of ten, the problem is a worn-out washer, which can quite easily be replaced. If this doesn’t fix the problem, however, there might be some more serious corrosion or a poor installation, in which case you’ll want to reach out to someone trained.

Leaking pipes – As with dripping faucets, this is a problem that can be often overlooked as a mere irritation, but if left unchecked a leaking pipe can lead to some serious problems.

Not only are you losing water (and money) but you’re potentially damaging your home, as those leaks can build up and result in damage to your floorboards and even ceiling collapses if the water is left to rot the wood. The most common cause of a leaky pipe is a clog, which you might be able to fix yourself using a plunger or drain unblocking solution.

However, if the pipes themselves are damaged or laying improperly then simply unblocking them won’t achieve much and you’ll need to call in the pros.

Frozen pipes – During the winter months, it’s not uncommon for the pipes in your home (and outside your home) to freeze, particularly if they are poorly insulated.

You can help to prevent this by ensuring the pipes are well insulated, that cabinet doors are open to let the heat flow to them and that space heaters are used to direct heat to the pipes on especially cold nights.

Also, ensure your taps are running for at least a few seconds a day to provide some motion in the pipes.

What to do in case of a disaster?

When the worst does happen, panic-mode can often set in. But aside from being aware of the most common problems, perhaps the most important thing for any homeowner is to be aware of how to cope if a pipe bursts. Here’s our handy guide to remaining calm in case of a plumbing disaster.

  • First, make sure the water is shut off at the stopcock. This will prevent any more water from flowing into your home and will prevent a flood. You should always be aware of where your stopcock is but it’s generally found in the kitchen. Your electricity should also be shut off. Because electricity and water do not mix well!
  • Remove any excess water using towels and buckets (if necessary) then go over everything with a vacuum to get rid of the moisture, particularly in the carpets. Your carpet should then be dried as thoroughly as possible to prevent any damp patches, which can lead to mould. Dry out your home by turning up the heat in your home (once it’s safe to do so) and using a dehumidifier in the most heavily affected areas.

Call in a professional plumber to evaluate and fix the problem. Because if a pipe has burst then it’s really not something you’re going to be able to fix yourself.