Plumbing tips and tricks

Some handy plumbing tips and tricks to save you time, late-night or early-morning calls to our plumbers and headaches.

On occasion, we receive calls from panicked homeowners and are left shaking our heads and thinking to ourselves,If only they hadn’t done that.”

It’s not uncommon for our plumbers to receive desperate phone calls on Mondays to fix plumbing problems that materialised over the weekend. Mondays can often be one of the busiest days of our week. This is often due to people taking on major plumbing jobs themselves.

No matter how DIY savvy you are, if you aren’t a plumber by trade and there’s a big plumbing project you’ve never tried before, it’s best to leave it to the experts. Our skilled, experienced plumbers can save you more money. How? Because they’ll be cheaper than the mess it’s possible to create will cost you.

That’s why we’re going to share some FlowFix plumbing tips and tricks for solving common household plumbing problems.

Five of our plumbing tips and tricks

1. Find your main shutoff valve

You should know where the valve is before a plumbing emergency happens. Your main water shut-off valve is called a Toby. Normally, it is located in the toby box at the boundary of your property. It normally has a blue or black lid and may be under a metal cover and sits between the council water main and your private water pipe. To turn off the water, simply lift the cover and turn the handle of the toby. If you can’t find it, we recommend you ask one of our plumbers to show you where it is and how it works.

2. Don’t overtighten fittings

If you have a connection that’s leaking, it’s easy to tighten it. However, hand tight is right. Continuing to turn past that point can lead to trouble. Overtightening connections is a very common mistake of ‘home plumbers’. When you overtighten connections, you can crack threaded nuts, ruin rubber seals or warp the rubber plumbing fittings inside the pipes. This increases the risk of leaks. You should start by making the connection finger-tight and if you’re using pliers, don’t go more than about one-eighth of a turn beyond that.

3. Be nice to your taps

Nobody wants to live with a drip. Lying there listening to an endless drip is almost torture. So, what do we do? We make sure the taps are turned off as tight as they can go. But no! Don’t do that.

Turning taps off too tightly is bad for taps’ seals; it wears them out more quickly because of the increased pressure every time it is turned too tight. Think of it like a pencil; the more pressure you put on it, the more worn down it gets.

Therefore, only turn the tap until you feel the natural stopping point; don’t force it closed.

4. Using plumber’s tape

Plumber’s tape is used to create a watertight seal between joints. It is also used to make threading smoother and joints easier to disassemble. It is recommended for use on threaded connections that don’t have a built-in rubber seal. If you find that a pipe’s joint is leaking, it may be because the tape has worn out, or there is no tape at all. Plumber’s tape is very easy to use, but like just about everything in life, there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about it. The trick is to wrap it around the pipe in the proper direction. When the pipe is turned into the fitting, the friction of the two threads should work to tighten the tape around the pipe, rather than work against it. So, wrap the tape around the pipe in the same clockwise direction as the pipe turns into the fitting. This way, it won’t unravel while making up the joint.

Here are some guidelines for putting tape on a threaded fitting:

  • Clean the threads thoroughly first.
  • Place the plumber’s tape on the second thread from the end.
  • Hold it in place with a finger or thumb. The tape should lie flat (not bunched up) over the threads
  • Wrap the tape in the same direction as the pipe will be turned.
  • Keep consistent tension to ensure a snug fit, and work away from the end of the pipe, overlapping the tape as you go.
  • Do about five wraps around the pipe, finishing near the end of the threads from where you started.
  • Break the tape by pulling sharply; it breaks easily. Smooth the loose end down over the threads.

5. Using plungers the right way

Plungers are good for sorting out small blockages. But, as with most things, different types of plungers are designed for specific jobs. For example, use a sink plunger only for a sink and a toilet plunger only for a toilet. For a stubborn clog, you can also rub Vaseline around the rim of the plunger to form a more effective seal.

If a plunger doesn’t do the job, do not use caustic drain cleaners, such as Drano. These popular commercial products use harsh chemicals to dissolve the obstructions in your pipes and can do some pretty nasty damage to plastic pipes. They can even corrode metal pipes. When it comes to toilet bowls, Drano can be especially harmful. The chemicals can settle into the porcelain heat up over time and crack the bowl. Caustic drain cleaners are also harmful if you inhale them or accidentally get them on your eyes or skin. We recommend you call our plumbers, and they’ll unblock your drains.

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Our Office

Hatfields Beach, Orewa,

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We have used Dave and Colette for a few emergencies and also to help us fit our new kitchen. They are brilliant! Always happy to help and offer advice. They went out of their way to ensure I had a functioning kitchen sink on Xmas eve! I highly recommend this family run team for all your plumbing needs. No fuss, friendly, professional and good honest work. Thank you

Kerry Burt Johnson


Would happily recommend Dave for excellent and prompt service on checking/fixing gutters at my place and dealing with other plumbing issues – will definitely call on him again in future.

Louise Engelbrecht


Highly recommend Dave as an efficient well priced plumber, he has just completed supplying and installing 2 new toilets and reconfiguring pipe work in our workshop at very short notice…..and between Xmas and New Year! Top job by a top guy!

Grant Ogilvie

FlowFix Plumbing are the trusted plumbers Orewa, Warkworth, Whangaparaoa, Millwater and the North Shore homeowners and business call for renovations, new builds or emergency plumbing. To arrange a call-out or for no-obligation quote, contact us on 027 265 4949.