These are some things I learned from experience over the last few weeks. My top tips for fixing plumbing problems:
1. Get advice
Advice from family or a friend is ideal, but a close second is to use forums. The online forums such as http://www.diynot.com/forums/ and http://www.ukplumbersforums.co.uk/ are full of helpful people that will answer your queries.
When posting on a forum remember to provide as much info as you can. If you post something that says “my heating is not working. What’s wrong with it” then don’t expect much help. At least describe it as much as you can. Is it just radiators? Was it working before. Do you have a combi or conventional boiler. New or old. etc.
2. Take photos before you start
Once you’ve taken the pipes apart, or especially if you have done some rewiring, you may think you’ll remember how it goes back together – but don’t risk it. One of my top tips for fixing plumbing problems is to take a photo on your mobile before you start.
3. Plan the order
If you need to fix a leak, and repair a valve, and also clean a radiator then those things all need the system to be drained. So do them all in one go. There’s nothing worse than refilling the system, bleeding all the radiators, adding in the chemical inhibitors that you’ve just bought, and then you realize there’s a leak and you have to start again.
4. Use a helper
Any job is easier with a helper. Plumbing involves holding parts and undoing things often with very little room around you. Having someone to pass you tools or even just hold the light is a huge help
5. Plan for future maintenance!
In everything you do, think about the next time. If you’re adding a valve, angle it so you can reach it easily when other pipes go in. If you’re cutting a pipe anyway, then add a simple stop valve / isolator valve in. It will cost you a pound or two more but can be save so much time in future.
Unfortunately in my house the previous plumber didn’t do any of this. Even the feed tank in the roof was totally boxed in by a new water tank, so a simple job of cleaning it out took over two hours and involved cutting three pipes, lots of muscle power and some extreme contortion. At one point I was seriously considering knocking down a wall to get to it – though in the end I just about managed to do it without any major damage.