Sutherland Shire is one of the unsung heroes of the metro Sydney areas. It definitely deserves more recognition. The Shire is the birthplace of modern Australia. It’s where Lieutenant and later Captain James Cook first landed in 1770. It was also meant to be the site of the first British settlement, but Sydney Cove was ultimately picked during the First Fleet expedition.
Sutherland is a great place for young families and first-time home buyers. It’s both affordable and only a 30-minute commuter train ride from Sydney CBD, allowing you to upgrade from a tiny apartment to a family home with a yard and pool for the kids while still getting to work without too much hassle.
If you’re the outdoorsy type, you’re going to love living here. You’re close to Cronulla beach and The Royal National Park, Waterhouse National Camellia Gardens and the Towra Point Nature Reserve. There are lots of other smaller parks all throughout the Shire.
It’s a nice, quiet, family-friendly area with a strong sense of community. You can go to the weekly Shire Farmer’s Market for fresh produce, and there are always events like Music in Peace Park or Wine and Beer Tasting Festival in Peace Park, which give you a chance to meet your neighbours and make new friends.
There are plenty of reasons why you’d want to move to Sutherland Shire, and if you’re reading this article, it means you’re either considering it, or you’re already here!
It also means that you want to learn more about residential plumbing issues in this area – things like clogged drains and toilets, leaky taps and pipes and low water pressure. So without further ado, here is our list of the most common residential plumbing issues in Sutherland Shire.
Clogged Drains and Toilets
Sometimes when you’re taking a shower or emptying a sink, you’ll notice water backing up. This is a sign that you have a clogged drain. When you have a toilet clog, the signs are usually more anxiety-inducing. You go about your business as you normally would, and then you flush. Instead of everything going to plan, the water in the toilet bowl backs up and may even overflow. Not a pleasant experience!
Slow or clogged drains mean you have something blocking them, either partially or completely. Hair is the most common cause in sinks and showers, although it’s also possible you have small objects like the cap from a shampoo bottle blocking the drain.
When it comes to toilets, they’re only designed to handle a certain type and quantity of waste. If you use a lot of toilet paper or you throw things in it that you shouldn’t, such as wet wipes, it will get clogged.
You can often fix clogs yourself. You can start with a trusty plunger. We recommend the ones with an extension flange at the end since they give better results. Plungers work by creating air pressure to loosen the clogs. You put the plunger over the drain and create suction by moving it up and down.
If the clog is caused by hair, it might get close enough to the drain that you can take it out with tweezers.
If the plunger doesn’t work, you can buy chemical drain cleaners at home improvement stores or even regular supermarkets. Just make sure you follow the instruction carefully. When not used correctly, they can harm both you and your pipes. They can cause skin burns, and the fumes can hurt your eyes and mucous membranes. They can also soften PVC pipes and corrode older metal piping.
Your next option is using a plumbing snake for drains or a toilet auger for toilets. Toilet augers are similar to plumbing snakes, but they have a rubber sleeve to protect the toilet bowl from scratches. You can buy both plumbing snakes and toilet augers from hardware stores or order them online. They can be a bit tricky to use, so it’s better to watch a few video tutorials beforehand. If you’re not feeling particularly confident about your home repair skills, consider getting help from a plumber.
In general, you should let a professional handle this if you already tried unclogging the drains or toilet yourself and it didn’t work or if you keep having these issues. They can find the source of the problem and resolve it, so you don’t have to keep dealing with clogs, and you don’t risk damaging your pipes.
You can prevent clogged drains by putting a hair catcher over the drain in the shower. To keep the toilet from getting clogged, you should avoid flushing things that don’t dissolve in water. Keep an eye on your kids because they often flush things they shouldn’t. If something accidentally falls into the toilet, it’s always better to get it out instead of flushing.
Leaky Taps and Pipes
Leaky taps and pipes are another common plumbing issue in Sutherland Shire. For most people, they’re not as inconvenient as a clogged drain or toilet, but they can increase your utility bills and cause other problems.
In Australia, the average household uses around 340 litres of water per person per day. A leaky tap with a slow drip of only 10 drips per minute will waste three litres of water per day, and this can go up to 21 litres per day. This may still not sound like much, but it’s just per day. It adds up.
Leaky taps are easy to detect. The water drips out even if the faucet is off, and you can hear the drips. Leaking pipes, on the other hand, are harder to spot and can lead to more damage.
The most common cause of dripping taps is damage to the tap washers that seal them. Tap washers are also known as packing washers or sealing washers. They’re simple devices – disks with a hole in the middle – and they’re usually made of rubber, nylon, polythene or fibre. Their role is to help seal off the main water flow behind a tap when the tap head is in the off position.
If they get damaged, they can no longer fulfil their role effectively, so small amounts of water start leaking from the faucet. Damage to the tap washer can mean tearing, dislodging or stiffening.
Over time, this can also damage the valve seat. The valve seat connects the spout – the part you see the water coming out from – and the tap. A faulty washer may have enabled the metal stem to grind against the valve seat, causing damage, or it may have been because of sediments.
When it comes to pipes, they usually leak at the joints. It may be because of normal wear and tear, clogging, high water pressure or other types of damage. The joints are the most vulnerable points in your home’s piping system. They consist of separate curved parts that connect to straight pipes on either side to reroute water around your home.
Extreme temperatures and high water pressure can damage pipe joints over time. They can also get damaged from underground movements. For example, small earthquakes can shift the placement of your pipes, causing damage and leaks.
As we’ve mentioned before, clogging can damage the pipes as well, especially if you use chemical drain cleaners or other corrosive substances. It’s difficult for the water to flow past the clog, which makes the pressure build up and cause structural damage. If you add corrosive substances, they also get stuck in the same spot because of the clog, and if they can’t dislodge the clog fast enough or at all, they will end up causing further damage.
And sometimes, the problem is not the pipes themselves but the seals. Whenever you install an appliance, the contractor applies a sealant around the connection to the piping system, but it can degrade and break with time leading to leaks.
To fix leaky taps, you will need to replace the washer, the valve seat, other components or the whole tap. The complexity of the repair varies. You can try to do it yourself, but you’ll need to buy the right tools and watch a few video tutorials. Once again, if you’re not feeling very confident and you don’t like learning about home repairs, it’s better to call a plumber.
Fixing leaky pipes also varies in complexity, but the more complex repairs have a higher risk. If you’re not experienced, you definitely should hire a professional because you might make mistakes that will cause further costly damage.
Low Water Pressure
Low water pressure is a common plumbing problem in older homes, but it can also occur in newer homes. Even though high water pressure can damage your pipes, low water pressure is annoying and can make your life difficult. Imagine taking a shower and not having enough pressure to get the shampoo out of your hair. And it makes it difficult to rinse anything.
This issue can happen suddenly or gradually – it depends on the cause, and there are several possible causes.
If your neighbours are having the same problem, it could be a water main break that’s reducing the pressure in your home.
However, low water pressure could also be caused by a leaky pipe in your home. To make sure, you’ll want to shut off all the taps and then check your meter. Don’t use any water for several hours, and then check the meter again. If it has changed, showing that you’re still using water, you most likely have a leak.
Another possible cause is the accumulation of minerals and sediment in the pipes, as well as in the faucet aerators and showerheads. This build-up will interfere with water flow, slowing it down and causing low pressure, but it happens gradually.
If it happens suddenly, it could be a leak or a problem with the pressure regulator. Since high pressure can damage the pipes, some homes have pressure regulators to keep the pressure at a safe level. Pressure regulators can also get damaged and malfunction, which can cause either a significant spike in water pressure or a sudden drop.
If you have low water pressure and the problem is isolated to a faucet or a showerhead, you can try fixing it yourself by removing them and soaking them in vinegar or specially designed products sold in home improvement stores. If you can’t remove them, you can put the vinegar in a plastic bag and tie it around them.
The other issues are more difficult to fix. If you’re not experienced, we don’t recommend you try it by yourself. The cost of the damage you can cause is often greater than the cost of hiring a plumber.
A running toilet still works, but it wastes a lot of water. We mentioned before that in Australia, the average household uses around 340 litres of water per person per day. Around 30% of that water goes on flushing the toilet. A running toilet can waste between 200 and 400 litres of water per day.
The cause is usually something related to the flushing mechanism. There’s a disk at the bottom of your toilet tank called a flapper. It’s connected to the flushing lever, so when you press it, the flapper gets lifted, and this allows the water in the tank to pour into the bowl. If it’s damaged, it can no longer perform its role effectively, and the result is a running toilet. Other possible causes are a leak, an imbalanced float or a loose fill tube.
Flappers are inexpensive as most parts of the flushing mechanism, so if you can identify the cause, it’s fairly easy and inexpensive to repair by yourself. Turn off the water supply to the tank from the shut-off valve, flush the toilet to remove the water in the tank and lift the tank lid to look inside. Inspect the flapper to see if it’s damaged as well as the chain connected to it and the float that signals to the fill valve to shut off. You also want to make sure that the fill valve is still attached and working properly.
The flushing mechanism can differ, but it follows the same principles. Once you take a look at yours, check online for the different versions. You’ll find pictures of them showing what each component is called. This information will allow you to find the right tutorial that shows you which component is faulty and how to change it.
If you’re not sure how to do it, you can hire a plumber and this way, you will learn what kind of mechanism your toilet uses and see how the process of replacing faulty components goes.