Overflow pipes are “warning pipes”
Overflow pipes should really be called warning pipes
We may install, repair and service boilers and central heating systems, but we also do a lot of plumbing maintenance which includes everything from overflow pipes, dripping taps to defective shower pumps!
There are many different components in a domestic plumbing system which require no maintenance, like waste and drain pipes (other than getting blocked occasionally) but many things do wear out or deteriorate with time.
Let’s start with overflow pipes, these should really be called warning pipes because they are often the first sign of a problem with a ball valve, filling valve or pressure relief valve. It’s always important to get an overflow problem dealt with quickly because usually the pipe work and fittings connected to the overflow pipe have never been tested for leaks and, in many cases, the water can leak inside the property without you knowing.
Overflow pipes are installed on cold water storage tanks in lofts and this includes central heating feed and expansion tanks. The cause of a tank overflowing is usually the Ball valve (but not always). When the problem is a ball valve then, as long as the mains water supply to the tank can be isolated, it can be replaced usually within an hour.
Overflows are also connected to toilet cisterns, not always, but I will explain that later. If a toilet Cistern with an overflow discharges then it’s a matter of replacing the filling valve or the diaphragm washer in the valve, of which there are many different types. Toilet Cisterns that do not have overflows are usually more recent installations and do not have overflow pipes running to the outside of the property but any overflowing water runs into the toilet pan, this is another warning that something is wrong.
This can be caused by the filling valve “letting by” or the flushing mechanism not sealing properly. In recent years there have been many different types of flushing and filling valves installed and it can sometimes be difficult to track down spares for these.
Another thing that an overflow pipe does is act as a safety valve which can discharge due to over pressuring or overheating of water storage equipment and central heating systems. Again if these discharge then it’s a warning that something is not right. If an overflow discharges from a storage tank and the ball valve is not defective then further investigation will be required.
If you have any issues with any type of overflow discharging water let us deal with it quickly and efficiently because with water, if you wait and see, you can get your feet wet.