Tips & Hints



Let’s avoid a plumbing Emergency in your Sydney household. One thing we all know is that when there is a plumbing problem in our home it often occurs at the most inconvenient time. This often results in the need to call an emergency plumber out of regular hours, or have time off work to meet a tradesman during the day. It can end a being a costly experience.

To save you time, money and headaches down the road, Vital Flow Plumbing Services have collected our favourite Tips and Hints for solving common household plumbing problems. Most of these tips make use of things that cost less than $20 and these little Plumbing secrets could save you an expensive out of hours service call!

The Vital Flow Plumbing team carries out many different plumbing services throughout the North shore, Northern beaches, Hills district, Inner west, Sydney CBD and Central Coast on a daily basis. Here is a brief rundown of some emergencies that may arise with tips on how to solve them yourself ! Before it’s too late!

    Whether it’s a clogged toilet, blocked stormawater drain ,Blocked kitchen sink, or blocked sewer drain here are a few pointers to help get you out of trouble.


    • Avoid Tree Roots

    While the shade of large trees is enjoyable, it means that you must be careful of your plumbing, as tree roots are known to be a hazard to underground pipes. They grow much more quickly than you realise, ree roots can occupy an area 2 to 4 times the diameter of the crown of the tree. Particularly in established suburbs of Sydney. Tree roots are opportunistic and will seek air and moisture wherever it is. Just as tree roots seek air and moisture under a footpath and cause it to raise up, tree roots will seek air and moisture that is found along a pipe. Even when the pipe has no leakage, roots will be there because the pipe temperature is most likely different than the soil temperature and water vapour will condense along the pipe surface.

    Blocked drains and sewers due to tree root ingression is a regular occurrence. Tree roots can easily twine their way around your pipes, find a tiny hole and keep growing right up the pipe, eventually blocking it completely.Tree roots are so strong that over time they can force the original small hole to become much larger, allowing water and sewage to seep out. In fact, once this happens even more roots will be attracted to the moisture and nutrients in the area in order to support the tree’s continued growth.

    • Avoid planting large trees on top of drains.

    Where is the area that you think your sewer or storm water may run? Try to avoid planting trees in this area at all costs! They will eventually ruin your drains! A Tip to tree roots blocking your pipes are slow drainage and water glugging as it goes down the pipe. A hint that your water pipes are leaking underground may be a spot in the lawn that is always greener than the surrounding area, a damp place in the garden that is not caused by natural run-off and a water bill that is larger than you expected.

    • Clogged Toilet

    Buy a Wet Vacuum to remove hard objects causing a clogged toilet! When a hard object like a toothbrush, comb or toy plugs a toilet or drain, a plunger may not be the solution—it might only push the obstruction in deeper. Instead, suck out the water and the obstruction with a wet/dry shop vacuum.

    • Blocked basin sink

    You can remove the sink trap! The blockage is usually on the water seal. It will more then likely be food scraps, a fork or Chinese chop sticks! Before you remove a sink trap, give the drain a few plunges with a toilet plunger. This will push most of the water out of the trap, lessening the mess when you pull the trap. If you have a double sink, be sure to plug the other drain to contain the air pressure. If the strainer isn’t a screw-down style, you’ll have to hold it down while you plunge the drain.

    • Blocked Toilet

    Does one particular person keep blocking your toilet ? Maybe this person uses to much toilet paper always resulting in a frustrating clogged bowl?? Try Using a Bucket of water to flush the toilet! Poor it into the bowl from height and usually the pressure from the water going into the pan will flush through the clog!  All without with out using a plunger!

    • Slow draining Kitchen Sink

    Is it Blocked further down then the removable water seal trap? Run hot water into the sink, the hotter the better, even boiling. If the sink has a disposal unit, turn it on. If this doesn’t clear the obstruction, try using a plunger, making sure the plug on the drain on the other side of the double bowl doesn’t pop loose. It’s good practice to apply a thick layer of petroleum jelly to the rim of the plunger before using it to ensure a tight seal, thus greater suction. If your sink drains are chronically slow and you live in an older house, the problem may be an accumulation of sludge in the lines. No amount of plunging and chemicals is going to fix this.

    What’s needed is to use a metal snake down each of the drain lines. You should get us to do this for you.

    Quite often, the problem here is simple. Hair tends to collect at the drain itself and can be easily removed to clear the obstruction. If there is a screen over the drain, remove it and insert a bent wire such as a coat hanger to fish out any hair or debris that may be stopping the drain.

    If there is a pop-up drain, raise it and try pulling the debris right out. If this fails to clear the obstruction, try using the plunger. But you will need to plug the opening at the bottom of the overflow plate to keep the pressure from escaping there.

    Taps, showerheads, Roof leaks, hot water systems and pipes can all spring a leak or even burst, potentially causing water wastage or damage. Here are a few TIPS AND HINTS to Hopefully get you out of trouble.


    Tips that you may have a Concealed Burst Pipe is that it can cause rising damp and mould. If you are experiencing recurring problems with any type of drain, mould or notice rising damp or water ingress in your home you most probably have a water leak. Some more signs of a concealed water leak in your home is that it can cause the household framework to rot or the ceiling or walls to become stained. It can also cause mould and mildew to form which can be a health hazard.

    • Broken leaking or blocked drainage issues
    • Concealed water pipe leaks
    • Burst water pipes
    • Roof leaks
    1. If we determine the rising damp may be from a drain issue it may take a CCTV camera inspection to locate the problem and enable repair. The method of this pipe blockage diagnosis is to feed the CCTV camera down the sewage or storm water pipe until the cause of the problem is clearly seen on a live colour monitor. Once the fault has been found we use a locater to verify the exact geographic location. This takes all the guess work out of the process, allowing a much more accurate fix to the problem, saving both time and money.
    2. If we determine its a water pipe leak. We can do appropriate checks including pipe line pressure tests and pipe tracing locations to rectify the problem before it becomes a major issue! Check your meter periodically. If no water is running in the house, all dials on the meter should be stable. A movement in one of the dials may indicate a water leak, probably in a toilet. This could cost you dearly over time.
    1. Make sure you are familiar with the location of the incoming main water supply and shut off valve.(In the event of an emergency shut off the mains water quickly to prevent property damage!)
    2. Locate, identify and label all other shut off valves and check periodically if they are working correctly.
      (This helps to prevent any water leaking situations as well as emergency problems.)
    3. Make sure to know and be familiar with the location of the drain valves on your heating units and hot water heater.
      (This allows for proper maintenance during not heating seasons.)
    4. At the onset of dripping ball valves and taps, call us right away. Do not hesitate; it could possibly make a simple problem turn into a disaster.
    A common issue a lot of households face with their pipework is the plumbing pipes making irregular noises.
    • water hammer.
    • loose or broken mounting straps.
    • high water pressure.

    Water hammer is exactly as the name describes – A loud bang which can continue vibrating through a pipe when its tap is turned off. The cause is specific air chambers needing replenishing and can be fixed by turning on the water source at the highest point in the house. Water hammer can eventually over time cause pipes to wear out and burst causing an emergency water leak.

    This is what we are trying to avoid for you!

    • Over time mounting straps can corrode and become loose which if in handy spots can be fixed with a little know-how, although difficult to reach areas may require specialist help to ensure a pesky noise is silenced.
    • High water pressure can produce an annoying noise and can also lead to a waste in water. Some modern buildings are fitted with water pressure regulators and can be easily adjusted to match the water pressure of the location. If you have this problem and your home is not fitted with a regulator they can be easily installed by an experienced plumber.
    • Our best tips and hints to repair noisy pipes that you can do yourself without calling Vital Flow is attempt the crawl under the house or in the roof space of the house where the noise may be coming from and clip the moving pipes so they are solid other than that you should call a licenced plumber.
    Whether internal or external a gas leak can result from damaged appliances or leaks in a line.


    If you suspect you have a gas leak the best thing to do is turn off your gas meter! Call Vital Flow Plumbing Services and We can inspect your appliances to ensure they a free from leaks and damage. Whether external or internal a gas leak can result from aged and damaged appliances or poor installations. If you smell gas or your appliances are not working correctly we can assess the situation for you before it gets out of hand. We can do pressure testing and use gas leak detection devices that can locate a leak and stop it before its an emergency.

    Old and New what to look for and tips to help you!


    Working capabilities of your hot water heater these days is anywhere between 10 and 12 years only! An old faulty cylinder could split and give way at any time causing water damage to the household and become an expensive costly experience. Unfortunately an old faulty hot water cylinder can be a time bomb if not given the attention by an experienced professional know how technician at Vital flow plumbing Services.

    You should Schedule in advance maintenance and servicing of your hot water heater system as soon as you experience any of the following.

    These are clear indications and Hints that your hot water heater is about to give way

    • The tank leaks, you hear a rumbling noise.
    • The efficiency is down from where it was previously
    • Hot water has been coming out of your taps dirty or a little brown and decoloured?
    • Do you have a lack of water pressure?
    • Have you had a hefty water bill lately?


    1. Turn of the mains supply
    2. Once the main water supply has been turned off, turn on all hot water taps to drain remaining water in the pipes.
    3. Call us! We will inspect you hot water system and ensure if there is a problem it is contained and fixed with minimum fuss. We can repair or replaced your hot water systems with same day service!

    If you believe your toilet is about to overflow, quickly remove the tank lid, reach down and push the flush valve closed. It covers the tennis ball-sized opening in the bottom of the tank. That keeps the bowl from overflowing while you clear the obstruction.


    Remove tank lid, add food colouring to the water in the tank. Check the bowl in ten or fifteen minutes. If you see colour, the valve washer may be leaking. This should be done every few years. Most such leaks are silent and most simply required a rubber seal to be changed on the seal or seal of the outlet valve.


    If the water pressure is very poor in your shower it may be due to lime-scale build up. Always clean your shower heads every three months. If the scale is too bad it may be an idea to get either a new hose, or a new shower head.


    The simplest but sometimes the most stubborn of clogs is hair! Occasionally, hair will collect at the surface of the drain grate, but more often, it will be deep inside the pipes. Problems can often be prevented here by installing a supplemental screen in the drain to prevent any hair from passing through. If you think its draining slowly and hair has gotten inside your shower drain then you can try  removing the shower drain grate and get a coat hanger, bend a little hook over on the end and try to fish out any hair that may be stuck on the water seal trap of the drain.

    General plumbing areas that we recommend to keep maintained.
    • Taps (‘O’ rings, jumper valves)
    • Toilet Systems (perishable rubbers, leaking)
    • Hot water units (release relief valve every 6 months
    • Guttering and Downpipes (regularly clean leaves)
    • Water Filtration Units (change filters every 6 months)
    • Waste disposal units (flush regularly)
    • Stormwater pipes (slow discharge indicating blockage)
    • Sewer Pipes (slow toilet flush indicating blockage)

    Check your meter periodically. If no water is running in the house, all dials on the meter should be stable. A movement in one of the dials may indicate a water leak, probably in a toilet. This could cost you dearly over time.

    Schedule in advance maintenance and servicing of your heating and/or cooling system. This keeps everything running in good shape and helps the life expectancy of your appliances.


    (This keeps your units running in top-notch shape and prolongs the life of your appliances.)

    1. Put coffee grounds in your sink drains
    2. Hang a knick-knack shelf over your toilet.
    3. Pour hot water into toilet. It could crack the bowl.
    4. Put any mechanical cleaning device in your toilet tank.
    5. Throw disposable diapers in toilet.
    6. Keep wastebaskets under sinks. Bumping drain pipes cause leaks.
    7. Throw sanitary napkins in toilet.
    8. Run the dishwasher if disposal unit is full of food waste.
    9. Use drain cleaners containing dye.
    10. Use toilet tank lid for a shelf.
    11. Let children play in bathroom with small toys.
    12. Hang a shelf for heavy objects over a sink.
    13. Plant trees or large shrubs over sewer lines
    14. Dig deep holes or trenches in your yard before locating water, gas, and sewer lines
    15. Place cornhusks, artichokes, onionskins, celery, or other high-fibre material in a disposal unit.
    16. Pour fats or cooking oils into your sink.
    17. Hire a plumber to do work without understanding precisely what he plans to do.
    18. Leave water turned on to hoses for washing machines, dishwashers, and garden hoses when not in use.



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