If you think plumbing is all about fixing leaky taps and stopping your toilet running, you're wrong. In fact, plumbers have a range of skills that are not only essential, but are weird and wonderful too. Did you know your plumber can diagnose a problem with your plumbing, just by listening to the sounds of your taps, pipes and valves? Here's how they do it:
If your pipes start to bang when you turn your taps off, your pipes may be under too much pressure. Hammering often occurs when water stops flowing and the built-up pressure hits a valve or tap. To a seasoned professional, this kind of sound requires a special kind of valve, such as an anti-hammer valve or a pressure-limiting valve, to reduce the pent-up pressure before a pipe breaks or an appliance is damaged.
Another cause of banging may be that your pipes are so loose they are actually racketing against your wall cavities as water flows through them. Your plumber can fix this by sleeving or clipping your pipes to keep them in place.
Squealing pipes can happen as water moves from a large pipe to a smaller one and the pressure causes unearthly squeals. Aside from being intensely irritating, squealing pipes, or cavitation, can lead to damaged fittings or pipes, so you need to get this looked at quickly. Usually your plumber can adjust your pressure valve to take care of the problem. In other cases all you need may be a new washer.
Toilets don't have much to laugh about, so if you think your toilet is possessed by laughing poltergeists, take action now. A loo that gurgles and runs simultaneously may need to have the gasket in the cistern replaced. Alternatively, perhaps the ballock, which tells your loo to refill after you flush, is faulty.
On the other hand, if your loo is laughing without running call your plumber on the double! This gurgling may be a sign that your sewer line is backed up. You'll need some professional help to find the blockage before your deposits return.
Screaming and squeaking
Sometimes you'll turn off a tap only to have it scream or squeak at you. While screams can be a sign that a washer needs replacing, a squeak means it's time to lubricate the tap stem. Either is quick work for a pro.
Sure, plumbers are available to install sinks, taps and toilets, connect your sewer or fit your dishwasher. They offer gas plumbing services including connections, stopping leaks and installing BBQs, and will even appear in the middle of the night to stop a burst pipe, but the plumbing world is far more diverse than that. So next time you hear a wail in the walls, spare a thought for the strange skills of your plumber.