Categories Plumbing

How to unblock a sink

You’re busy enough already, right? It’s not as if there aren’t a hundred other things to do. It’s after dinner, the dishes are washed, and you’re about to settle in for the evening. But what’s that smell coming from the sink? Why won’t the water drain? You let the water run for a while hoping it will clear. Alas you have one of the most unpleasant of all household repairs on your hands. A blocked sink!

We’ve all seen those annoying advertisements for sink and drain unblocker. Some new miracle product which guarantees to have the solution for you within 10 minutes. The problem with that sort of product if you don’t buy it until you need it, and by then it’s too late. No one prepares for a blocked sink. It just happens. 

As you use a sink, dirt and fat from the run of the mill household cleaning builds up over time. The goo and dirt sticks to the insides of your pipe making the drainage hole narrower and narrower. Then one day it just closes and you’re left with the gruesome job of remedying the problem. If you don’t know, or are unsure how to unblock a sink, then follow the helpful instructions below. 

Using this method, you won’t just unblock your sink, but you’ll learn how to unblock a sink without a plunger, or any harmful chemicals. In saying that, if you have a plunger, it’s time to dig it out, because it’s about to make life a whole lot easier.

If you have one, it’ll be at the back of an appliance cupboard or lying under a pile of stuff in the shed. It’s no one’s favourite thing, and hopefully you’ve never needed to use it before. But once located, let’s get to work and follow this guide on how to unblock a sink. 

If your sink is not draining, locate the plughole with your hands and place the plunger over the plughole making a good seal with the rubber cup. If your sink is very full, you’d be advised to remove some of the water using the basin, a bowl or a pot. Dispose of this water down the toilet. 

Once your plunger is located properly of the plug hole and you’re sure you won’t flood the kitchen or bathroom with grey water, hold the plunger firmly and push up and down with a pumping motion. This will force air or water in the pipe backwards and forwards under pressure. If after pumping a few times sink suddenly drains or the sound becomes hollower, you have unblocked the sink. 

This is a good time to fill your sink and drain it a few times to check that the pipes are clear. If you’ve been pumping the plunger for an age with no success, it might be time to find a chemical sink unblocker or call on the services of a plumber.

In saying that, it might be possible that you don’t own a plunger and you’re unable to get one. Worry not, there is also advice below on how to unblock a sink without a plunger. 

Use pressurised water – Blast the blockage away. 

 

Using water under pressure is one of the best ways to unblock a sink without a plunger. Whatever is causing the blockage might break up and flush away if you give it a good blast. 

 

First find an empty fizzy drinks bottle or milk carton you have about and fill it up with warm water. Next turn the bottle upside down with the nozzle over the mouth of the plug hole. Immediately give the bottle a good hard squeeze making sure you keep it over the plughole. This will force a high-pressure jet of warm water on to the blockage. You may need to do this a few times to unblock the sink. 

 

If you’ve done this a few times with no success, it means the blockage is stuck fast in the pipe and you’ll need to find a way of breaking it down. 

 

Use a chemical sink unblocker.

Earlier in this article we discovered that most people don’t have a chemical sink unblocker lying about the house. If this is indeed the case and you can’t get to the shops to buy one, there are some useful everyday chemicals you may have in the house which will get the job done. 

 

Vinegar and baking soda. 

If you have baking soda in the house, add a couple of teaspoons to a cup of vinegar. White vinegar works best, but any vinegar will do. Stir up the mixture quickly and pour it down the sink. Take a couple of minutes to think about why you should buy some sink unblocker to keep in the house the next time you are shopping. After about 5 minutes, pour a kettle of hot water down the sink. Hopefully this will drain away quickly meaning your sink is unblocked and you can get on with your evening. 

 

Household Bleach. 

It might be worth leaving the problem overnight and go back to it in the morning. Take a bottle of bleach and pour some down the plughole just before bedtime. In the morning pour some warm water down the plughole. If it drains away, then it has worked. Otherwise find your rubber gloves – you’re going to need them!

 

Manually clear the blocked sink. 

There’s no other way to put it, this method will undoubtedly be unpleasant. You’ll need a few items before starting. 

You’ll need some rubber gloves and some eye protection – especially if you’ve attempted to unblock the sink using bleach or baking soda and vinegar. A mask may be useful to protect you from airborne particles or to guard against the smell. If this is a step too far, use the contact form on our site to get in touch with an expert handyman or plumber who can do this for you. 

Fully empty the cupboard below the sink. Then put down some cloths and old towels to catch the mess. It is also a god idea to place a bucket or basin directly below the U bend of your sink to dispose of the blockage and any dirty water which will come out of the pipe. You may be able to loosen the caps from the U-bend pipe by hand. Otherwise you’ll need a pipe wrench to undo them.

Once these are loosened completely, remove the U-bend from the sink and inspect it. The chances are you’ll find the blockage in the bend. This may be full of hardened fat, matted hair and old food. Definitely not something you want to touch or get on your clothing. 

If you have an old wire coat hanger, use this to poke the blockage out of the pipe. Do this over the bucket, or even better, find an outside tap you can use to finish the job. Once the blockage is removed, clean the inside and outside of the pipe thoroughly using soapy water. 

Reattach the U-bend pipe carefully, making sure to inspect the condition of the rubber seals and ensuring that you screw the caps on to the right thread. Tighten the caps by hand as tightly as you can. If you are using a pope wrench, be very careful not to overtighten the U-bend. You never know – you may have a blockage in future. 

What if the blockage wasn’t in the U-bend? I’m afraid it’s time to bite the bullet and get an expert in. Use our online form to book a quality handyman or plumber who will be able to unblock the pipe for you or diagnose any more serious underlying problems. 

Categories Plumbing

Instructions on how to change a tap washer

Of all the things that can drive you mad around your home, a dripping tap must be the very worst. The constant drip, drip, dripping of a leaky tap is the last thing you need to listen to after a hard day’s work. Even worse, a bathroom or en-suite tap dripping through the night could drive anyone to the edge of sanity. 

There’s good news though, while that pesky dripping is making you crazy, it is usually not too difficult to fix. You probably have nothing more serious than a worn-out washer what needs replacing. We’ve included some instructions below on how to change a broken or worn tap washer below. 

The instructions below will help you to diagnose and fix a leaky tap, but if you are in a rush, or don’t feel able to do to the work yourself, help is at hand. Our team of handymen and plumbers can help you with any water-related jobs around the house or office. Whether you need to replace a tap washer, unblock a toilet or drain, install a filter tap system or just get that washer replaced. 

Get in touch with us today and get a quote for your plumbing needs. Fill in our online contact form to get booked in with one of our highly experienced and professional experts. 

Repairing taps yourself can be risky. Be aware that working with water without following instructions carefully could lead to flooding or a water leak. It is a good idea to get advice before doing this work yourself. If you are unsure at all, get a handyman or plumber to undertake the work on your behalf. It may cost less than you think. 

Tools and materials:

Bathtowel

Sink or bath plug

Medium sized flat head screwdriver

A pipe wrench or spanner

Replacement tap washer

Some wire wool

 

Instructions:

1 – Prepare the work area

 

Before you start you need to make sure the area is safe and prepared. You don’t want to begin only to realise you’ve forgotten something. Firstly, put the plug into the sink or bath. A lost screw or even the new washer down the plughole is not what you need. 

Secondly put down a towel inside your sink or bath to give it some protection. This will give you a second chance if a wrench or screwdriver slips out of your hand. A heavy wrench could crack or break your sink or bath. Even a slip with a screwdriver could leave unsightly and difficult to repair scratch on your bathroom or kitchen fixtures. 

Good preparation is important, prevention is better than a cure. You only want to replace the washer in your tap, not be making endless calls for a tradesman to replace parts of your bathroom suite. 

 

2 – Turn off the water supply to your tap

 

Modern homes have isolator valves below the sink or bath which allows you to switch off the hot and cold-water supply. If you are replacing two tap washers or are unsure which pipes are supplying your tap, it is probably best to isolate both hot and cold water. 

Older homes may simply have a hot and cold mains valve somewhere in the bathroom or kitchen. It is important you turn these off and check that they are off before stripping the tap. Run the taps for a few seconds which will drain any water our of the pipes saving any unnecessary leaks. 

 

3 – Dismantle the tap

 

Most hot and cold taps will have a cover plate on them. This is usually circular and on the top of the tap. Remove this with your flat headed screwdriver. Once removed you will see a screw on the top of the tap. This is the release screw which will remove the tap handle.

Once removed, the handle should just lift off. It isn’t uncommon for these to stick, so you may wish to apply a small spray of WD40 or a similar product to help ease off the stuck handle. 

Removing the handle will reveal the tap valve head. This is held in place by a bolt head. Adjust your spanner to the right size and undo it. Please note that your tap must not move while you remove the valve head. You should hold the tap in place firmly using your free hand while you undo the valve head. 

Removing the valve head should let you at the worn washer. Some valve heads however have a retaining nut beneath the washer. This will need to be removed before replacing the washer.

 

4 – Replacing the washer

 

Your troubles are nearly over. That little disc of black rubber is the thing that has been giving you headache. Now that you’ve removed this it is a good idea to clean the seat for the valve with some wire wool. A good seal is essential, so it is important to remove any dirt and grime that may have accumulated over time. 

Replace the old washer with your new one and put the tap back together. 

 

4 – Reassemble the tap

 

Now that you have the washer replaced correctly, you can go ahead and re-assemble the tap. Replace the retaining screw if you have one and replace the valve head. Pay special attention to getting the valve head on to the thread correctly. A threaded head is the very last thing you need at this point. 

Once you have the valve head on the right thread, go ahead and tighten it up with the spanner. Remember to hold the tap firmly in place as you tighten the tap assembly. The tap head should be tightened firmly. Do not over tighten the head as this may damage the tap. 

Once tightened, put the tap handle back in place and insert the head screw. Put the tap cover back on. At this point test your tap a few times to make sure it is turning off and on properly. 

 

5 – Turn on the water supply. 

 

You’ll need to turn the water supply back on before the job is done. Carefully turn on the water supply and inspect the tap to make sure there are no leaks. Once you are satisfied that there are no leaks, test the tap a few times to see if it is working properly. 

If it’s a kitchen tap, fill the kettle and make yourself a well-deserved cuppa. If it’s the bathroom, use the tap to run yourself a lovely hot bath so that you can sit and admire your handiwork. Well done!

If you feel you are doing the job wrongly, or you need some extra help, please get in touch with our team. Our handymen and plumbers could be come and do the job for you or conduct a proper inspection of the job for future peace of mind. Please use our contact form to call out an extra pair of hands.

 

Disclaimer

We recommend that all plumbing or water works are done by an expert handyman or plumber. If you are doing the job yourself, we strongly advise you take adequate safety precautions to avoid accidents or flooding. Read any instructions and follow them closely when undertaking any work. It is essential you follow any manufacturer’s instructions when doing any works around your home. Ensure that tools and equipment are fit for purpose before using them.

In every instance, we aim to assist you in giving you correct and clear instructions to follow. This is to enable you to do any project around your home or office with minimum fuss or expense. Please note however that we provide guidelines only and information should be followed keeping in mind that your particular product may differ from our general advice. 

You are entirely responsible for determining your capability for undertaking such work, and while we believe our information is of high accuracy and quality, we cannot be held responsible for any accidents or damage that may occur due to incorrect installation or faulty parts. 

Prior to undertaking any DIY job, it is important that you are aware of, and have studied, any regulations relating to the electrical, water, gas or other building works you are completing. If you are unsure of any of the information above, or require any further information, please contact our team who can put you in touch with an expert handyman or tradesman who can do the work for you. 

Please ensure any safety checks and testing are undertaken by an appropriate tradesman before signing off as complete on any project around your home or office space. 

Categories Garden

How to lay a patio

The sun has poked its head out from behind the clouds and the cold frosts are gone. It’s time to start thinking about laying that patio. You might be tidying up the garden of your new home, or it’s been a project you’ve been planning for a while. Either way there’s no time like now to begin drawing out, selecting materials and building a new patio in your outdoors space. 

A good bit of imagination, some good hard work and anyone can build a patio using the right DIY methods. At once effective and simple, our guide will have that tired bit of your back yard looking great with a brand-new patio. 

If you’re looking at the project, but you’re not too sure, advice is on hand. Contact us using the form below and we’ll connect you with an expert landscape gardener or handyman who can get the job done for you. You may feel like you’re biting off more than you can chew with a project this size. You might know how to lay a patio but need some help to get the project going. Get in touch for a solution to your patio problem. 

 

Making plans for your patio

It’s a essential that you measure your garden and make a plan on paper. Take into account things that you want to keep in your garden. It may be the case that you want to keep a feature wall, a plant or a shrub. You might want to move some of your plants. Good planning, showing exactly where you want to build your patio is important. 

Once you’ve made your initial drawings, you will need to accurately work out how much construction materials you require to get the job done. Doing this will not only remove some of the stress once you get to the builder’s yard but will help immensely in working out the overall costs of the project. It might not be cost effective for you to build right away. A few more months of saving may be needed to bring the project to life. 

You might already have patio furniture or are thinking about buying some to finish off your new patio. It is essential you consider where the furniture will go once construction is complete. This will help plan where the patio will go. If you already have patio furniture, it may need to be moved or stored during the patio build. 

There is a lot of planning. If you decide you need someone to complete the work for you, use our contact form to get in touch with a professional handyman who can get the work done for you. We have every sort of expert tradesman. We have builders, plumbers, joiners and general repairmen. We can get most jobs around your home or garden done with minimum disruption. We have the right expert who knows how to lay a patio for you. 

We also have handymen who can help assemble new garden furniture, or flatpack furniture for you home or garden. From sheds to garages, slabs to grass lawns, chips to block paving, we can get it done. 

 

Different styles of paving

There are a bamboozling range of different paving available for your patio project. As well a learning how to build a patio, you will need to select the right style for you. It is essential you study the costs of different materials to find the right ones to suit your budget. Our guide will show you how to lay a patio on sand, or how to lay a patio without cement. You might want simple slabbing, block paving or even costly flagstone paving. Modern or traditional, follow our work steps and you’ll get the job completed well. 

 

You might want to add some additional features to your patio project. It might be an idea to plan space for possible future projects like a lawn, a greenhouse, shed or even your own goldfish pond. Even if it’s a stone pizza oven or barbecue, you will need to take account of the space you will need, and where the feature will go. If you already have these items, do they need to be moved or stored? These are considerations you will need to make. 

 

Preparation is key to completing the project. You may know how to lay a patio on sand but getting the ground prepared is essential. You may need to lift existing slabbing or turf. You might need to break up slabs or concrete. The new build may require new skills like learning how to lay a patio without cement. Either way, you’ll need to make decisions on how to remove unwanted material or structures from your existing space. 

 

While you’re selecting materials and making plans, think about picking up some new wood stain or exterior varnish to give a facelift to any existing garden furniture to show off your new patio at it’s very best.

 

Marking out the patio

It is essential to mark the layout of your new patio with string and pegs. Getting the height right is an important step too. Make sure the pegs and string mark out the right height. You may need extra material to backfill the space to get to the desired level. 

Your house will have a damp proofing course. This will be a wide area of cement of concrete within the brickwork of your home. Older buildings might have a slate layer. Your patio needs to be constructed below this level. Ensure that the patio is a minimum of 150mm lower than the damp proofing level. 

Making sure your patio is at this level will ensure that you avoid problems with dampness in your house. The way water runs off or is drained from your patio may affect furniture you have on it, or the state of your slabbing. If your patio needs cleaning, contact us using the contact form and we will send a handyman round to get all your garden cleaning work done with no fuss. Even if it’s simply jet washing the paving once done – no job is too small. 

 

Getting Drainage Right

While you want your patio to look completely flat to the naked eye, is should be pitched on a slightly sloping away from your home. It is one thing to know how to lay a patio on sand but having it at the right angle will make the difference. Patios are commonly pitched at 1:40, but some larger patios will require a minimum slope of 1:80 to ensure efficient water drainage. 

Measure the correct pitch when you are pegging out the project. This will act as a guide to laying the patio correctly with water running away from your home. A completely flat, or wrongly pitched patio could be a disaster. You could end up with flooding, or worse, a damp home. 

Once pegged out correctly, place a wooden batten on the pegs to mark out the area and the correct angle. Adjust as necessary. 

When the pitch of the patio is measured properly and at the correct angle, you will be able to see the volume of material you need to remove or backfill to prepare the ground properly. The ground should be prepared low enough to take into account the amount of sand and the depth of the slabbing you will lay. As well as having lines marking the final height, you should use lines to mark this initial depth.

 

Digging out the area

You should dig through the topsoil, reserving it to flatten out parts of the build below the desired height. Once dug out, flatten the entire area as much as possible in preparation for the sand layer. 

If you are reading this to learn how to lay a patio on sand, you should take note that a 50mm layer is the minimum depth of sand for light slabbing. For heavier slabbing or stone, we strongly recommend you use a 50mm damp cement and sand mix. 

 

Lay the patio foundation

If your patio will receive heavy use during its lifecycle you will require at least 75mm of hardcore beneath the cement and sand mix. This finely crushed stone and brick layer should be laid a compacted thoroughly to ensure a solid and stable foundation. 

Measure the volumes of the required sand, cement and hardcore prior to ordering material. You can usually buy this by the ton or half ton from a building supplier. 

You may need to hire some specialist tools to get the foundation flat and compact. An electrical or petrol vibrating compactor is best to achieve a solid and stable base. If laid properly, your patio will remain properly in place for may years to come. 

 

How to lay a patio without cement.

You should begin laying your slabs from one of the corners. If you plan to use your patio for light use, you should place down the first slab on to the sand layer. It is essential that the corner slab is firmly in place, so you might want to cement it. This step is optional. Us a builder’s hammer and spirit level to make sure it is at the correct angle in every direction. 

Heavily used patios require the slabs to be laid on a minimum of thickly mixed cement. This provides for correct support, minimising slab breakage r sinking over time. 

If you have carefully prepared the ground, you should be able to lay a light use patio on sand. Place several battens down at spaces on the sand, ensuring they are at the right pitch and level. Mark out the edges making sure they are straight. 

As you lay each slab, make sure it is at the correct angle and level, removing or placing material as required. It is a good idea to lay the initial slabs parallel to the wall of the house. You should then continue along a side making sure you are working to the correct depth and angle. 

As time goes on, some slabs may move slightly. These may need relaying or cementing in place to return them to their original position. This will also help minimise the occurrence of weeds or invading plants. 

 

Cutting the slabbing

Lay the slabs which will not need to be cut first. It is useful to leave slab cutting to last. This minimises waste as you may get 2 or more pieces from a single slab if you cut carefully. You may wish to borrow or hire a heavy grinder for this job. Otherwise score the slabs well and cut using a bolster chisel. 

If you are cutting using a chisel, the slab will need to be raised slightly at one side. Score the slab well with the chisel and tap the slab with a bolster hammer. The slab should break to the desired size. 

Once you are finished, you might want to tidy up the rest of your garden. You have learned how to lay a patio. Indeed, you may have learned how to lay a patio on sand or how to lay a patio without cement. Regardless of how you completed the job, well done.