Simple Boxing in

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Home repair, Plumbing, Remodeling    by: ITC

For many people a simple boxing-in of their existing pipes to keep them out of sight is all that they require. This is a straightforward task and the materials are easily available.

You’ll need softwood battens, usually 50x25mm (2×1 in), with a cladding of hardboard or 3mm plywood for the simplest job. Before you go ahead. however. you should check whether any hot water passes through the pipes to be hidden.

If this is the case and you’re using hardboard for your cladding, you’ll have to condition it first Of it will warp as the heat in the pipework dries it out. This is riot a difficult technique: all youl have to do is brush water onto the reverse (mesh) side and leave it flat for 48 hours in the room where it is to be fixed. The softwood battens should also be left lying flat in the room for a few days so that they. too. w adjust to the moisture content of the air.

If the wood has been conditioned, the two battens should be screwed to the wall on each side of the pipes and the cladding attached to the battens.

Fixing battens edge-on to the wall is not always the perfect answer but by doing so you’ll be able to cover adequately a few pipes that project up to 25mm (1 in) or so from the wall, and the cladding will, in any case, hold the battens steady.

Remember that you should never use glue to fix the cladding to the battens because you might need access to the pipes for repairs or modification at some stage in the future. Pins punched in at 150mm (6in) centres, with their heads covered with filler, should prove adequate; this way the cladding can be prised off if necessary.

Boxing in pipes running in a corner will require two 25mm (1 in) battens which have been chamfered at the front to provide an angled edge. These are screwed to the two walls and the cladding, also with chamfered edges, is then fixed to the battens. For larger pipes you’ll need just a single larger batten fixed to one of the smaller ones; the cladding will be pinned to this and the smaller batten.

Another method is to use a spring clip attached to a piece of 19mm (s/ain) thick timber. Its edges should be planed and chamfered to allow it to fit neatly into the corner, and the spring clip is then fixed to the pipe itself.

If the pipes are in the alcove of a chimney breast you can box them in and then finish off the boxing so that it looks like an extension of the existing wall (see Ready Reference). The boxing for horizontal pipes down near the floor can often be made to look like wide and deep skirting.

A 25mm (1 in) batten should be fixed to the floor itself and one should also run above, but parallel to, the pipe. To the upper batten an additional 50x25mm (2×1 in) batten should be fixed; the cladding is then attached to this and the batten on the floor.

Boxing and Pipework

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Home repair, Plumbing, Remodeling    by: ITC

Every home has a multitude of pipes in it; without them there could be no hot or cold water system, no sewage disposal and no gas supply, but the fact remains that pipework look unsightly if exposed to view. Older houses suffer in this respect far more than modern ones.

Builders used to leave ugly pipes on display all over the place, especially in kitchens and bathrooms. In many older homes, the supply pipes that take water to the bath, basins, sinks and WCs are there for all to see, and there’ll often be waste and soil pipes fully exposed en route from upstairs rooms to the drains.

The demands of modern plumbing in a home can make this problem still more aggravating. It’s amazing, for example, just how much pipework is needed to give even a small home central heating. Just a single pipe running through a room can ruin its appearance.

However, it’s possible to take full advantage of modern plumbing equipment without having an array of ugly, different-sized pipes on view throughout your home, providing you put a little forethought into what you are doing.

Installing and concealing new pipes If you’re installing new pipe runs, you’ll probably find that horizontal ones don’t pose as many problems as vertical ones. Provided you don’t have a solid floor, pipes can usually be run under the floorboards. If, on the other hand. you’re laying a new concrete floor, you could make channels in it to accept the new pipes. You will need to embed some timber battens or, better still, some scaffolding poles in the new floor until it is almost dry.

When they are removed, the pipes can be laid in the channels they have formed. The pipes should then be covered with mortar, ready for the final floorcovering to be laid. It is important in laying such channels to ensure the continuity of the damp-proof membrane in the floor.

Vertical pipes can be more of a headache, and you should aim to conceal these in an understairs cupboard, if you can, or to run them up through the hall. Whatever you do, you’ll want to keep the pipes out of the living room if at all possible.

However, if this proves difficult, a good position for them is at the side of the window: they won’t be immediately visible and you can easily hide them behind ceiling-to-floor curtains extending beyond the sides of the window opening.

The pipes are likely to protrude from the wall by as much as 25mm (1 in) or so, which means the curtains will have to be carefully put up to allow them to operate in front of the pipes. The best solution is to fix a horizontal batten of say, 50x25mm (2×1 in) timber to the wall at ceiling height above the window and each side of the pipes and then screw the track to that. That way the curtains will clear the pipes and hide them from view. Alternatively, you could use a curtain pole, which projects that much further from the wall than the track.

Curtains can conveniently be used elsewhere to conceal pipes. If you’ve had to run vertical pipes through the hall, it’s probably best to keep them to one side of the front door where they are not obvious. Ceiling-tofloor curtains could be used to cover the pipes, as well as to provide extra draught- proofing, comfort and privacy — especially if you have a completely glazed front door.

Another place to site the vertical pipes in the living room is in a group down the side of the chimney breast furthest away from the door. This is one of the last places in the room likely to be noticed by anyone entering it.

Once the pipes reach the first floor concealing them is not so critical, as they may pass within fitted wardrobes; in any case not so many people will be seeing them. You may also be able to keep many of them out of view by running them through the airing cupboard. Even so, a lot of pipes are going to be on view in parts of your home where they’ll look ugly and out of place, and boxing them in is one of the best ways of concealing them.

Removing the old radiator

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Electrical, Home repair, Plumbing    by: ITC

One of the great deterrents to anyone wanting to remove a radiator is the prospect of having to drain the whole system. However, this won’t be necessary provided the radiator to be replaced has a valve at both the hot water inlet and the outlet. Once these are closed. you’ll be able to keep virtually all the system’s water isolated in other parts.

At the inlet end you’re likely to find the hand-valve which is the control by which you open and close the radiator. At the outlet end you’ll find what is termed the lock-shield – valve. When you come to inspect your radiator, don’t worry if their positions are reversed — they will still be equally effective.

The first thing to do when removing a radiator is to close these valves. The hand-valve is straightforward, but you’ll have to remove the cover to get at the lock-shield valve. You’ll be able to close this valve using a spanner or an adjustable wrench with which to grip its spindle.

As you turn it, it’s a good idea to note carefully how many turns it takes to close. And you’ll find this task slightly easier if you mark the turning nut with a piece of chalk before you begin. The reason for all this is to maintain the balance of the system. After it was first installed, your system would have been balanced.

The lock-shield valves of all the radiators were adjusted to give an equal level of water through-flow so that they were all heating up equally. So, by noting the number of turns taken to close the lock-shield, when you come to fit the new radiator you can simply open it up by the same amount — so avoiding the somewhat tedious task of rebalancing the whole system.

Once you’ve closed both valves. you can unscrew the nuts which connect the valves to the radiator inlet and outlet. Do these one at a time after having placed a low dish under each end to collect the water and protect the floor.

Use an adjustable wrench to undo the coupling nuts. It’s wise to hold the circulating pipe securely in place with another wrench. Otherwise, if you apply too much pressure to the coupling nut you risk fracturing the flowpipe, and this would cause you a lot of extra work and expense as well as causing quite a mess.

It’s a good idea to get the radiator out of your home as soon as possible-just in case it leaks any remaining dirty water on to your carpet.

Dealing with internal corrosion in radiators

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Electrical, Home repair, Plumbing    by: ITC

Internal corrosion in modern radiators arises from an electrolytic reaction between steel of the radiators and the copper circulating pipes of the central heating system. This results in the production of a corrosive black iron oxide sludge (magnetite) and hydrogen gas.

In a similar fashion, if the original installation of your heating system was somewhat messily done, then copper swarf, produced when the pipes were cut, could have been retained within the circulating pipes.

This will also corrode the steel at any point where the two come in contact — usually within a radiator. Because the raw material from which the sludge is produced is the metal of the radiators, eventually they will leak and need to be replaced. And as the sludge is also attracted by the magnetic field of the circulating pump, its abrasive qualities are a common cause of early pump failure.

Early indications of serious internal corrosion are a need to vent one or more radiators at regular intervals, and cold spots on their surfaces. If in doubt, the diagnosis can be confirmed by applying a flame to the escaping gas when the radiator is being vented. If it burns with a blue and yellow flame, you can be sure that hydrogen is in the system and will have been produced by the chemical reaction of the two metals.

Once you’ve confirmed that corrosion is present within the system, you’ll have to flush it through and introduce a reliable corrosion preventative chemical into the feed and expansion tank. By doing this, you should be able to prevent further corrosion and so save your system.

Fitting the new taps

Filed Under: Bathroom, Do it yourself, Home repair, Kitchen, Plumbing, Remodeling    by: ITC

When fitting the new taps or mixer, unscrew the back-nuts, press some plumber’s putt round the tail directly below the tap body a fit a plastic washer onto the top.

Push the tails through the holes in the base. Slip flat plastic washers over the tails where they protrude from beneath the basin. screw on the back-nuts and tighten them up. Make sure that the taps or mixer are secure, but don’t overtighten them. To make tightening easier, (and undoing, if ever necessary) use top-hat washers.

All that remains to be done is to conned the swivel tap connectors to the tails of the new taps or mixer. You will see that a tap connector consists of a lining — with a flange — that is inserted into the tap tail and is then secured by the coupling nut. This nut provided with a washer to ensure a watertight connection. When renewing taps you may well need to renew this small washer.

It is possible that when you come to connect the water supply pipes to the taps you will get an unpleasant surprise. The tails of modern taps are slightly shorter than those of older ones and the tap connectors may not reach. If the water supply pipes are of lead or of copper it is quite likely that they will have enough ‘give’ to enable you to make the connection but, if not, there are extension pieces specially made to bridge the gap.

If you’re replacing existing bib taps with those of a more modern design. it’s a relatively simple matter of disconnecting and unscrewing the old ones and fitting the new taps in their place. However, it’s quite possible that you’ll want to remove the bib taps altogether and fit a new sink with some pillar taps. This will involve a little more plumbing work. To start with, turn off the water supply and remove the taps and old sink.

If the pipework comes up from the floor, you’ll need to uncover the run in the wall to below where the new sink will go. You should then be able to ease the pipes away from the wall and cut off the exposed sections. This will allow you to join short lengths of new pipe, bent slightly “if necessary, to link the pipe ends and the tap tails.

Alternatively. if the pipes come down the wall you’ll have to extend the run to be,row the level of the new sink and use elbow fittings to link the pipe to the tap tails. In either case it’s a good idea to fit the taps to the new sink first and to make up the pipe- work runs slightly overlong, so that when the new sink is offered up to the wall you can measure up accurately and avoid the risk of. cutting off too much pipe.

Rather than having to make difficult bends you can use lengths of corrugated copper pipe. One end of the pipe is plain so that it can be fitted to the 15mm supply pipes with either a soldered capillary or compression fitting: the other end has a swivel tap connector.

Taking out old basin taps

Filed Under: Bathroom, Do it yourself, Home repair, Kitchen, Plumbing, Remodeling    by: ITC

When replacing old taps with new ones the most difficult part of the job is likely to be— with so many plumbing operations removing the old fittings. Let’s first consider wash basin taps.

You must, of course, cut off the hot and cold water supplies to the basin. The best way of doing this will usually be to tie up the float arm of the ball valve supplying the cold water storage cistern so as to prevent water flowing in. Then run the bathroom cold taps until water ceases to flow. Only then open up the hot taps. 1 his will conserve most of the expensively heated water in the hot water storage cylinder.

If you look under the basin you will find that the tails of the taps are connected to the water supply pipes with small. fent/ accessible nuts, and that a larger — often inaccessible pack-nut secures the tap to the basin. The nuts of the swivel tap connectors joining the pipes to the taps are usually easily undone with a wrench or spanner of the appropriate size. The back- nuts can be extremely difficult – even for professional plumbers!

There are special wrenches and basin or ‘crows foot’ spanners that may help, but they won’t perform miracles and ceramic basins can be very easily damaged by heavy handedness. The best course of action is to disconnect the swivel tap connectors and to disconnect the trap from the waste outlet.

These are secured be undone. Then lift the basin off its brackets of hanger and place it upside down on 1:4-* floor. Apply some penetrating oil to the tag tails and, after allowing a few minutes for it tir soak in, tackle the nuts with your wrench a crowsfoot spanner. You’ll find they arc much more accessible. Hold the tap when you do this to stop it swivelling and damaging the basin.

Replacing Taps

Filed Under: Bathroom, Do it yourself, Home repair, Kitchen, Plumbing, Remodeling    by: ITC

There may be a number of reasons why you wish to replace the taps supplying your sink, basin or bath. They may continually drip or leak, where new taps would give efficient, trouble-free service. Perhaps you want the advantages that mixers have over individual taps or perhaps it is simply that the chromium’ plating has worn off leaving the taps looking incurably shabby.

It is more likely, however, that appearance, rather than malfunction, will be your reason for changing. There are fashions in plumbing fittings as in clothing and furniture. Taps of the 1950s or 60s are instantly recognisable as out-of-date in a bathroom or kitchen of the 1980s. Fortunately, fashions in sinks, basins and baths have changed rather less dramatically over the past three decades. There is probably no more cost-effective way of improving bathroom and kitchen appearance than by the provision of sparkling new taps or mixers.

When you come to select your new taps you may feel that you are faced with a bewildering choice. Tap size, appearance, the material of which the tap is made, whether to choose individual taps or mixers and for the bath — whether to provide for an over-bath shower by fitting a bath/shower mixer: all these things need to be considered.

Size is easily enough dealt with. Taps and mixers are still in imperial sizes. Bath tap tails are Sin in diameter. and basin and sink taps ‘/ in in diameter. There are, however, a few suppliers who are beginning to designate taps by the metric size, not of the taps themselves, but of the copper supply pipes to which they will probably be connected. Such a supplier might refer to bath taps as 22rnm and sink and basin laps as 15mm.

Most taps are made of chromium-plated brass, though there are also ranges of enamelled and even gold-plated taps and mixers. Although taps and mixers are still manufactured with conventional crutch or capstan handles, most people nowadays prefer to choose taps with ‘shrouded’ heads made of acrylic or other plastic.

In effect, these combine the functions of handle and easy-clean cover. completely concealing the tap’s headgear. A still popular alternative is the functional `Supatap’, nowadays provided with plastic rather than metal ‘ears’ for quick and comfortable turning on and off.

There is also a very competitively priced range of all plastic taps. These usually give satisfactory enough service in the home, but they cannot be regarded as being as sturdy as conventional metal taps, and they can be damaged by very hot water.

So far as design is concerned the big difference is between ‘bib laps’ and ‘pillar taps’. Bib taps have a horizontal inlet and are usually wail-mounted while pillar taps have a vertical inlet and are mounted on the bath, basin or-sink they serve.

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Catering for Drain Pipes

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Home repair, Plumbing, Remodeling    by: ITC

An important consideration when building an extension is the position of any drainage pipe run — either an existing one from the house or any new waste pipes from fittings in the new extension. You must sort out the route the pipes will take before the walls are built since they will pass through them below floor level, and openings must be left in the walls as they are built.

Lintels will need to be incorporated to support the wall above the openings. If the extension is to have trench-fill foundations, ducts should be made in the concrete to allow the passage of pipes. A simple method is to set slightly larger pipes in the concrete as it is poured and then run the pipes through these round openings later.

The positions of the inner and outer leaves of the walls should be marked centrally on the concrete of the foundations with chalk. The center lines of the wall and foundations being within lin of each other.

As the walls are built, stringlines are stretched between the corners to make sure each course of bricks or blocks is laid in a straight line.

Although you can use brick for both inner and outer leaves of the wall, in practice it makes more sense to use lightweight concrete blocks for the former since these will provide a certain amount of insulation — a requirement of the Building Regulations.

With this type of construction, the inner leaf is the load-bearing part of the wall, carrying the weight of any floors and ceilings so lintels must be fitted across doorways and windows. Steel boot lintels are best since they are relatively lightweight and their shape ensures that any water that penetrates the outer leaf of the wall is prevented from reaching the inner leaf and is channeled out over the toe of the boot.

The two leaves of the wall should be constructed simultaneously, laying a few courses of each at a time. As construction proceeds, the two leaves must be linked together with metal or plastic wall ties to prevent them leaning away from each other.

Ties are designed to prevent water running across them to the inner leaf but they must still be set in the mortar joints so that they slope downwards slightly towards the outer leaf. Ties should be set about 18in apart vertically and 3ft apart horizontally, the positions in each horizontal row being staggered with those above and below. At door and window openings, ties should be set one above the other at 12in intervals.

Water penetration must also be prevented from below and this is achieved by inserting a flexible bitumen damp-proof course (DPC) in a horizontal mortar joint around the base of each leaf, at least two courses of bricks above ground level.

When the floor is laid, a damp-proof membrane (DPM) is taken up the walls and tucked under the DPC. Strips of DPC must be fitted in the vertical mortar joints where the inner leaf is turned to close off the cavity at windows and door openings, and below the threshold of the door, linking to the DPC in the outer leaf.

The walls must be toothed into the existing house walls at alternate courses to ensure permanent stability.

Fitting Services in a Partition Wall

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Electrical, Home repair, Plumbing, Remodeling    by: ITC

Careful planning is essential when arranging a partition — this extends to working out cable and pipe runs and installing them as you build.

The time to put either cables or pipes into a stud partition is when the framework is finished.

Whenever installing cables or pipes in any kind of wall, remember that they must always run vertically or horizontally directly to or from each fitting.

To run cable through the framework of a stud partition, bore a 3/4in hole through either the head plate or sole plate into the ceiling or floor void as appropriate and, depending on the direction from which the cable is to come, drill similar holes through the centers of any bracing that cross the cable route.

Feed in the cable. leaving plenty of excess. Cut a hole in the drywall for the fitting and feed the end of the cable through this as you fit the drywall in place.

Working in the same way. make sure the holes you drill through the framework are larger than the diameter of the pipe. This will make maneuvering them into place easier and allow them to expand and contract as the temperature fluctuates. Keep the number of joints inside the partition to the bare minimum and make sure you test any plumbing system before you finish the cladding; if there is a leaking joint you will be able to rectify it. If the pipes are to drop down from the ceiling you could remove a floorboard in the room above and feed them down through the partition from there.

Alternatively, pipes can be clipped into notches cut in the edges of the bracing and studs. Using a back saw and bevel- edge chisel, cut notches wide enough to accept a pipe clip of the right size and deep enough so that the pipe does not touch the drywall cladding.

Electrical cables can be run across the surface of the blocks in pipes and held in place with clips.

For pipes, use a hammer and bricklayer’s chisel to cut out a channel across the face of the blocks, making it wide enough to accept the appropriate size of pipe clip and deep enough so that the pipe will be flush with the surface.

Should you want to bury a hot water pipe, it is best to run it through another pipe of the next size up, which will act as a sleeve and allow for expansion.

Getting a Building Permit

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Electrical, Home repair, Plumbing, Services    by: ITC

A building permit will probably be required if you plan to do the following:

1. Alter or change the external appearance of your house. For example if you: add a porch; add a screen in a porch; add or remove a window or door, or if you build a fence or wall.

2. Do any electrical work.

3. Do any plumbing work.

4. Add or remove any structural element.

5. Build an addition to your house.

6. Erect a separate building on your property.

Applying for a building permit

To obtain a building permit, a set of plans showing your proposed alterations must be submitted to the local Building Department where they will be checked for compliance with the National and local Building Code. If the plans are up to code a permit will be issued, usually for a small fee.

The permit will be valid for one year after which time a new application must be made if the work has not started. The permit must be displayed prominently at various stages of the construction work you may be required to call in the local building inspector to check the work for compliance, for instance, before and after any footings have been made.

This checking procedure ensures that the work is indeed being carried out according to the approved plans and that the method of construction and the quality of the materials is up to the standard set out in the Building Code. Although this procedure may not be necessary on your particular job, however, the Building Inspector may call by at any time to check on the progress of the work.

Always be sure to complete the job according to the approved plans. If you are in any doubt, call the building inspector and ask his advice, never try to guess. This could be a waste of your time and money as any work not covered by the approved plans or not up to the standards of the code may be condemned at any stage of the building.

If your plans are rejected by the building department for non-compliance you will receive a notification of the reasons given. In some cases this may be simply dealt with by getting your building contractor to amend the plans making sure all the changes are incorporated before re-submitting them.

In other cases the layout of your property may make it impossible to comply with the requirements of the code. In this case you may seek an exception to the law by filing an application with the Zoning Board of Review. When filing for an exemption, evidence supporting your position must be presented with your application, together with a block plan showing all lots within a specified distance including all buildings and marked with owners’ names and addresses.

A plan of your lot showing the existing structures, and plans and elevations of the proposed work must also be submitted. A decision will be made after a public meeting of the Board during which any member of the public may speak for or against the project.