No Water Upstairs? Try This

Let’s talk about plumbing. I know – it’s a super exciting topic that you’re incredibly interested in. Okay, maybe not so much two days ago, but you’re at this article, so you’re interested now. Perhaps you have no water upstairs, but it’s running fine downstairs? Or maybe the water for your whole home has simply… stopped? Don’t worry, DreamyHome is here to help out with some quick fixes before you call in the big guns (AKA professional plumbers).

Causes for no water upstairs range depending on the circumstances – it could be an issue with the provider, with your home’s plumbing, or just with the tap itself!

Let’s dive into it, shall we?

No Water Upstairs: Why?

Let’s start with the first step everyone should take – troubleshooting. Knowing where your problem is popping up from will make your job drastically easier, so it’s vital you don’t skip this. Even if you think you know what’s causing the issue, there are a lot of factors to take into account. Let’s start with the easy ones, shall we?

Are Your Other Taps Running?

This should be your first stop. Try to run water in all of the taps of your home. Depending on whether or not they work, it’ll narrow down your search area. If the problem is limited to one floor of your home, there could be an issue with the taps themselves, while if the issue is across all of your taps, there’s another potential cause.

Check your stopcock – this is the small lever located beneath a sink in your home, usually the kitchen sink. Sometimes it can get nudged and block water from coming out in your home’s taps. That’s totally normal and an easy fix. All you have to do is simply turn it back to the open position. If that doesn’t solve the problem (or it wasn’t turned off), move down the list.

Do Your Neighbours Have Water?

By double-checking that the issue is limited to your home, you can begin to troubleshoot further. Take a walk and ask around – if your neighbours have running water, it’s an issue that’s isolated to your home. If they don’t, then it’s time to make a call to your water utility provider. It’s likely that there’s an issue that they’re already aware of and trying to fix.

How Does Your Cold Water Cistern Look?

Once you’ve confirmed that your neighbours have water, it’s time to look at your cold water cistern. Look for the ball valve – it’ll be attached to a float arm, similar to that in your toilet cistern. If the tank is empty, give the float arm a good yank (careful not to break it) and then clean it. Theoretically, this should cause your cistern to fill, solving the issue. To clean your float arm and ball valve, do the following:

  1. Begin by scrubbing with warm water and a kitchen scrubby. This will loosen any buildup and make the next step easier.
  2. Combine 2 parts warm water with one part white vinegar. Dip the scrubby in the solution and liberally scrub the float arm and valve.
  3. If you notice rust or mineral deposits that have built up, add in a teaspoon of baking soda and repeat the process – this should lift any remaining grime and have everything shiny in no time.
  4. Try to refill the cistern. If it works, great! If not, move down the list.

Does Your Plumbing Have an Air Lock?

If you have water coming on one floor or section of the house, but not the other, this is a great spot to check. If you have a lack of hot water, this should move to the top of your suspect list. Signs that your pipes have an air lock are:

  • One floor’s water working while the other doesn’t
  • No hot water
  • Water pressure from one (or several) taps is lower than it should be
    • Especially if it’s slowed to little more than a slight trickle

If this is your issue, skip down to the “Fixing an Air Lock” section.

Are Your Pipes Frozen?

Depending on the time of year, this could also be a cause for having no water upstairs (or downstairs). If your area has been reaching freezing temperatures and you didn’t leave the tap dripping to prevent freezing, this is a good thing to check.

Locate the supply pipe for your home. It should be the main pipe leading from your cistern. To check this, just locate your cold water cistern and press down on the ball valve. If water flows, it’s not frozen. If water doesn’t flow, it is frozen.

To fix frozen pipes, go to the “Frozen or Blocked Pipes” section in our recent article here for a brief guide.

Tap Washers

If nothing else worked, it’s time to take a look at the tap washer. You can tell if this is the issue by turning off the water supply, then turning it back on. If water flows through the base of your tap, it’s fine. If not, your washer needs replacement. Luckily, it’s rather easy!

To fix a leaking tap:

  1. Turn off water to the tap
    1. Make sure all excess water is out by turning the tap to let it drain.
  2. Remove the handle of the tap. This is done with a screwdriver, though some may be able to be done by hand.
  3. Replace the washer. Pull out the washer attached to your tap using a spanner to loosen the nut, and replace it with a new one. Check your valve seating for damage – take note, as you may need to replace the valve seating as well, especially if you’ve had this pipe frozen in past years.
  4. Turn your water back on and test.

Fixing An Air Lock

To do this, you’ll need a hosepipe. If you don’t have one (or don’t even know what that is), it may be best to call a professional for help. If you are dead-set on doing it yourself, though, here’s what to do:

  1. Attach one end of the hosepipe to your broken/nonfunctioning tap. Affix the other end to a functioning tap.
  2. Turn on the functioning tap. This will run water through the nonfunctioning tap, forcing any air locks out with the main’s water pressure.
    1. Leave your tap running for a few minutes. If it doesn’t work, turn off the taps and try again after waiting 5-10 minutes.
  3. When the tap begins to function, take the hose off the highest (elevation-wise) tap. If you don’t, you’ll create an air lock through the vacuum the removal will create.
  4. Remove the lower hose second, draining all water from it.

Final Thoughts

Okay, you came here because you had no water upstairs. Whether that meant that you had no water at all, or it was isolated to a single place, hopefully, this list helped single out the problem. If you experience this again, remember the order to perform checks in. Begin by ensuring your other taps are working and talking with your neighbours.

After that, check your cold water cistern, look for frozen pipes, and then finish by looking for an air lock. Worst case, you may have to replace a tap or its washer, but those are both easy fixes that you shouldn’t need a professional for. However, as always – if you’re uncomfortable with any of this (or feel lost), there’s no shame in calling for help. Professionals exist to make your life easier – so use them!

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About the Author Harry Thompson

Involved in home renovations throughout his life, Harry is an expert in everything to do with home and garden DIY. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking and tending to his garden.