Emergency plumbing callouts – preparing for the unexpected

leaking ceiling

Emergency callouts are a common occurrence for heating and plumbing installers, which can often present tricky and unpredictable scenarios. But how do you properly ensure that as a heating and plumbing engineer you’re sufficiently prepared for an emergency callout?

In this blog, we’ll discuss how the push-fit technology can greatly help installers in unexpected situations and the best practice for avoiding future emergencies.

Ready for any situation

From frozen and burst pipes to poor water pressure, leaking boilers, leaks in underfloor heating and more, attending emergency callouts is a big part of the installers’ job and being prepared for any situation is key.

An unknown problem can prove particularly challenging, especially when the customer is having trouble to pinpoint to the cause of the fault. Add to this the unknown layout of the customer’s plumbing system and the job becomes even more complex.

However, emergency callouts can equally be an opportunity to make systems better, and to ensure that the fix is reliable and permanent going forward. To do this, it is essential to select pipesvalves and fittings, whose design and materials are engineered to be fit for purpose.

essential speedfit push fit connection

Push-fit your way out of an emergency

Typical causes of leaks and emergencies in plumbing and heating systems include broken or loose seals and corrosion around fittings – especially in older homes where the copper pipework hasn’t been replaced in several years.

In an emergency, the speed of installation is crucial to resolving the issue as quickly as possible. This is where push-fit solutions like those from RWC’s JG Speedfit and SharkBite brands ensure simple and quick leak-proof connections when replacing old, corroded pipework.

In comparison, traditional methods are much more time-consuming, where practices that involve soldering need for the fittings to be completely dry, cleaned with flux and then blowtorched, while solutions such as compression fittings need special tools, which can prove challenging in tight spaces. With push-fit, however, all that is needed is the simple action of inserting the pipe into the fitting, locking it into place, which makes the installation that much quicker, safer and futureproofed.

Push-fit makes pipework reconfiguration easy

As we all know, going on a callout is much different to working on new builds or new projects.

Instead of facing the blank canvas of an empty cupboard under the sink, installers are usually met with an array of pipes, valves, and fittings that have been mismatched together in an unfathomable knot over the years of maintenance.

Thankfully, push-fit helps save space and allows for easy pipework reconfigurations. Our JG Speedfit ranges have many clever fittings that are demountable, simple to use, smaller in size and faster to install.

For example, the JG Speedfit Double Check Service Valve is a push-fit solution that combines two features into one – backflow prevention and isolation, providing for a fast install when a section of the circuit needs to be isolated for repair and maintenance during an emergency callout.

Avoiding future callouts – Pipe practice

Frozen and burst pipes are another key reason for emergency callouts. When water freezes within the pipework, it causes expansion and can split the pipe, leading to flooding and homes being left without access to running water.

For installers on such a callout, once the initial leak or burst has been rectified, there are a few best practices to help ensure this does not happen again, such as correct pipework placement, pipework protection and overall prevention.

  • Firstly, placement of pipework is a way to safeguard against freezing. Pipes should avoid being routed through areas of the building that are prone to sub-zero temperatures. For instance, avoid putting pipework in lofts or basements.
  • Next is protection. If pipework must be placed in areas prone to freezing, then make sure they are lagged effectively. Lagging will provide the pipe with insulation, and ensure better protection against sub-zero freezing temperatures.
  • Finally, prevention. Often the best way to avoid frozen pipes is to prevent the water from freezing in the first place. To do that, installers can recommend smart thermostats to homeowners for better heating system management, and also advise that any pipework that is likely to freeze and is not needed to be in operation during the winter months can be drained down.

Installers should also consider replacing copper pipes with plastic ones. Plastic pipes are much better at handling expansion and contraction, and so are less likely to split. Our JG Layflat polybutylene pipe is a great example of this, featuring a blue coloured oxygen barrier which reduces the effect of corrosion on metal components within the system.

PRV in the hands of a plumber

Avoiding future callouts – Pressure problems

Another common cause of emergency callouts is when a pipe has burst from a sudden surge in pressure.

Normally, there is a Pressure Reducing Valve (PRV) fitted by the water authorities to regulate the pressure of water coming into the building, which for domestic homes is usually between 1 bar and 3 bar. However, if this PRV fails for any reason, a surge in pressure could then cause fittings to blow in the home.

To avoid these circumstances, it is highly recommended that an additional PRV, such as RWC’s Reliance Valves 312 Compact PRV, is installed to protect homes from any failures in the water authority’s pipework. These valves should be fitted at the point where the mains pipework first enters the property, and usually, these lead into the kitchen. RWC’s 312 Compact PRV also comes with push-fit connections, making installations and servicing easier than ever before.

For best practice technical advice, call RWC

Emergency callouts are part and parcel of plumbing and heating. Dealing with these challenging scenarios can be difficult though, especially when facing many unknowns and variables.

Here at RWC, alongside our complete portfolio of pipes, valves, and fittings, we have one of the largest technical teams in the UK to help with such challenges, available to provide best practice and advice on how to tackle different installations and help troubleshoot.

Need advice?

For installation guidance and advice on best practice, contact our technical team here.

Richard Bateman Headshot

Richard Bateman

Product Marketing Manager Plumbing and Heating

About the author

A highly experienced and passionate professional, I have over 15 years' experience as a commercial and domestic plumber and hold NVQ Level 3 qualifications from City and Guilds

Since joining RWC in 2015, I began as a technical engineer, utilising my extensive knowledge to provide exceptional support. Currently, I am thrilled to be working with the marketing department as a Product Marketing Manager. 

This role allows me to combine my technical background with a keen eye for market trends, ensuring that RWC's products meet the evolving needs of the industry. With my wealth of experience and commitment to excellence, I am proud to serve as a spokesperson for RWC, sharing our innovative solutions and contributing to the growth of the plumbing and heating sector.