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Pipes and gutterings

Maintenance will help prevent damage from burst pipes or blocked gutters.

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Noisy water pipes

There are 3 common types of noise water pipes can make:

  • Whistling: Due to water passing through pipes quickly or through taps that are too small. Tight bends in pipe direction could be the culprit. If practical, straighten the pipes out, or get a plumber to fit a pressure-limiting valve.
  • Chattering: Caused by loose pipes or worn tap washers. Clip the pipes securely or replace the tap jumper and washer.
  • Hammering: Caused by water travelling at high speed through pipes then coming to a sudden stop as the tap or appliance is turned off. Copper or other rigid piping is particularly prone to hammering. Persistent hammering is likely to cause additional wear and tear on the pipes and joints. Hammer arresters can be fitted to reduce this problem. Ask a plumber for advice.

Drains

As a general rule, only water, bodily wastes and toilet paper should go down your drains. Anything else can increase the risk of blockages.

Blocked stormwater drains: Will cause flooding, which could contaminate basements or under the floor. If your drain is blocked you will need to get a professional drain cleaner in to clear it.

Older houses with clay (earthenware) drainage pipes may be prone to blockages. Tree roots can also be a major problem causing pipes to crack and block. If blockages keep occurring you may need to replace the drains with PVC.

Downpipes

Corroded galvanised steel downpipes: Can be caused by moisture being trapped on the surface of the pipe, especially next to a bracket, or in the seam of the pipe.

Sand the corrosion off the pipe, prime with a zinc-rich primer, then a metal primer followed by paint. If the corrosion is serious, or in the seam of the pipe, you will need to replace it.

Guttering/spouting

To clean out your guttering, disconnect the downpipe and hose out accumulated debris. If disconnecting the downpipe is impractical, block it off with a tennis ball wrapped in an old sock before hosing. Afterwards, remove the ball, hose again and check the downpipe for blockages or leaks. You can also put a piece of chicken mesh in the top of the downpipe.

Water ponds: Water collects in the spouting when it is unable to drain away. This can lead to overflowing spouting or corrosion if the spouting is metal. Clear out debris and check for blockages in the guttering, outlet or stormwater drain. Make sure there is an even fall along the guttering to the outlet and that the gutter has sufficient support. For longer gutters you may also need expansion gaps in the run.

Corrosion: Can attack metal gutters if they’re always wet or if water runs from a dissimilar metal into the gutter. Clear out any blockages in the gutter. Make sure any metal debris is cleared away when working on the roof. Follow ladder safety precautions. Address the run off. You can also paint the inside of the guttering.

Bi-metallic corrosion: Can occur if you have two different types of metal on your roof and moisture is present, one metal will be relatively protected while the other will suffer accelerated corrosion. This is called galvanic or bi-metallic corrosion. A similar problem occurs with water flowing over one metal to get to another.

Runoff order for metals:

  1. Zinc/Zinc/aluminium/Aluminium
  2. Steel
  3. Lead
  4. Copper
  5. Stainless steel

In a metal to metal contest with moisture as the catalyst, the metals higher on the list will sacrifice themselves for metals lower on the list.

So it is OK to have run off from zinc to copper but not from stainless to zinc.

Do not use lead flashings on a zinc/aluminium roof. Flashings can be made from the same type of coating system as the roofing or from neoprene, silicone rubber or other products. Contact your roof manufacturer for more information.

Damaged guttering/spouting Can be caused by wear and tear, ladders being leant against the guttering, or overhanging tree branches.

Straighten or replace the damaged section. Address the cause of the damage if possible. Install or add expansion joints or additional brackets. In most guttering systems this will require you to remove the system and reinstall it.

Leaking joints: Could be due to sealant failure or thermal movement. Replace the seal. Form expansion joints in the guttering. Speak to your plumbing retailer if you are unsure.

Mould: Grows unchecked if it is not regularly cleaned out. It is a common problem in guttering. Clean with solution of one part bleach to four parts water. If you collect water from your roof, disconnect the downpipe before cleaning with bleach.

Gully traps

Gully traps are designed to prevent foul air escaping from a drainage system and used to remove the discharge from waste pipes.

The top of gully traps should be at least 25mm above paved ground and 100mm above unpaved ground and be fitted with a grate on the top.

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