Plumbing Problems


Many people have written in over the past few months with minor plumbing problems which I have answered by phone, however I thought it might be beneficial to other readers to have the knowledge to carry out minor repair themselves.

Plumbing Problems and How to Solve Them
Washing machine smells
Gel washing machine capsules can block the pipe work within the machine and cause the drum to smell. The answer is to run the machine empty on its hottest temperature for a long programme and then repeat. This should dissolve any remaining gel and clear the problem. Also check the filter and clean at the same time (usually located at the front / bottom of the machine behind a cover plate).

Toilet won’t flush properly
If the water is slow to drain out of the WC when you flush, there may be a blockage in the trap or in the pipe from the loo to the soil stack. A toilet plunger may be enough to fix the problem. Remember to cover the floor around the loo and wear rubber gloves. Hire Shops can also supply wire ‘snakes’ or augers that can dislodge blockages.

Scaled up shower head
If you’re in a hard water area as most of us are here, choose a shower head with a rubber faceplate so that you can rub the scale particles away regularly. A quick DIY solution for a badly clogged showerhead is to remove the faceplate and leave it to soak overnight in white vinegar. A stiff nailbrush or toothpick should clear the loose lime scale.

Banging pipes
If your home sounds like the boiler room of the Titanic, chances are you have what’s called water hammer, the sound caused when water slams against a valve that has been closed abruptly. The force can also make the pipe vibrate and knock against the building, creating even more noise. Water hammer often happens when a washing machine is running, because the machine starts and stops the water flow suddenly.
If you can pinpoint where a pipe is hitting the builing, a good DIY quick fix is to slip a piece of foam insulation around the pipe to cushion it and damp the sound. Otherwise, a plumber can check the system and may fit a water hammer shock absorber to solve the problem.

Boiler not working
Make sure that the power supply to the boiler is on and that a switch hasn’t tripped on your consumer unit. If the switch or fuse keeps tripping, call in an electrician. Assuming your gas or oil supply is ok, the next step is check the programmer is in the ‘on’ position and that the thermostats are turned up high enough to turn on the radiators. One of the most frequent causes of a boiler switching off is the pilot light going out. Follow the maker’s instructions to re-light if so. If there’s still a problem, get a heating engineer to check the system.

Blocked sink
The most probable cause is a blockage in the plastic trap under the plughole. Check to see if the bath, washing machine or any other outlets are draining ok. If they are, the problem is in the trap or pipe leading from your sink to the soil pipe or drain. If nothing’s draining, you have a blocked soil pipe or drain.
First, try forcing the blockage through the pipe with a plunger or pump. Hold a wet cloth over the overflow hole and fill the sink with enough water to cover the rubber plunger. For a better seal, rub some Vaseline around the plunger rim. Pump the handle up and down at least a dozen times to try to clear the blockage. When clear, run both taps to clear any loose material. If this doesn’t fix the problem, bail out as much water as possible, put a washing-up bowl under sink and unscrew the trap to remove the blockage, a messy job. Rarely, the problem is further down the 40mm waste pipe and you may need to unscrew this pipe from the trap and use a piece of stiff wire (an old coat hanger is ideal) to wiggle the blockage free. If all else fails, try forcing a hose down the pipe and then turn on the water to blast away the blockage.

It goes without saying that you should only tackle plumbing repairs that you feel are within your DIY abilities. Basic updating and repairs to taps, pipes and radiators can be tackled without a vast amount of knowledge but you must never attempt to repair your boiler.

John Phillips (F.I.A.S. F.A.B.E. M.I.B.C.O. F.F.B. M.R.S.H. C.M.W.O.B.O. M.B.I.M)
Construction Buena Vista

Contact us

Construction Buena Vista
Urb. Palmeria. Orba 03790


Please call us on


0034 965 577 464 (office)


0034 619 089 281 (mobile)


or use our contact form.



Buena Vista Villas s.l.

Urb. Palmeria. Orba 03790


Please call us on


0034 965 577 464 (office)


0034 629 554 561 (mobile)


Or simply click the image above