Avoiding DIY Plumbing work with a little care

Filed Under: Home repair    by: ITC

When something goes wrong with your plumbing the results can be quite expensive, but with some DIY plumbing knowledge you can prevent these repairs from becoming necessary by taking care of your homes plumbing yourself.
First of all, when the end of autumn comes around you should disconnect all outside hoses around your home because it will stop pipes from freezing and you will not need to worry about water damage. On the other hand, you can take some time to purchase hose bibs that prevent freezing and not worry about this DIY plumbing prevention task. Read more…

Remodeling Your Basement

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

The basement always seems to be the number one home improvement that everyone seems to want to do but they just do not seem to know where to start. What might be a shock to many of these people is that it can be actually one of the easiest as well as one of the most affordable ways to add value to their home.

If you are a beginner to the home improvement world you may be better off to hire a professional for certain aspects of your basement home improvement. But one thing that you will soon discover is that with a little planning and preparation remodeling your basement can actually become a very simple project overall.

The first thing that you will need to consider in your basement home improvement project would be the plumbing and patching. If you are looking at a place to entertain your family and friends you will need to definitely need to make sure that you have adequate plumbing. You need to make sure that you have all the pipes that you are going to need installed before you even begin your remodeling project. After you have finished your entire plumbing project you will then want to make sure that you patch up all of the cracks in your floor and walls patched.

The next thing that you will want to do in your basement home improvement project would be to work on the electrical portion of the project. It is important that you make sure that you install enough outlets to fit all of your needs.

After you have made sure that you have all of your plumbing, walls patched and electrical finished you are then ready to begin on the drywall. This is one of the easiest methods that you can use to form a tight seal between the cement and your new wall. You need to be sure that you use an industry grade cement sealer to be sure that the drywall adheres to the wall correctly. While you are working on the drywall you will also want to take the time to drop your ceilings as well. When you are looking at the variety of different ceiling tiles that are available the acoustical tiles have been the most popular choice. They are both appealing to the eye and also gives the household easy access to certain utilities.

The final thing you need to consider on your basement home improvement project would be the flooring. Due to the fact that the floors of basements are most generally cold it is a very good idea to add a subfloor. This will provide you with more warmth as well as a dryer environment for your basement space.

As you can see undergoing a basement remodel as your home improvement is not a difficult task. It can be a very rewarding project when you reach the finish project and you know you did it all by yourself.

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.

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 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.

Stop-valves, gate-valves and ball-valves

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

These are all plumbing fittings that in different ways do precisely the same thing, which is to regulate the flow of water through pipes. Each of the three types of valve performs an important function in your water system, and it is therefore in your interest to know not only what they do and how they do it, but also how to put right any of the faults to which they are prone.


Your main stop-valve is perhaps the single most important plumbing fitting in your house. In the event of almost any plumbing emergency the very first thing that you should do is turn it off. This will stop the flow of water into your house and reduce the extent of any damage. Looking like a very basic brass tap, your main stop-valve will be found set into the rising main not far from the point where this pipe enters your house. Often it will be located under the kitchen sink.

If your house is fairly old then it could be that it won’t be provided with a main stop- valve. If this is the case, then you will have to use the local water authority’s stop-valve instead. You will find it under a hinged metal flap set into your garden path or the pavement outside your property. This sort of stop- valve usually has a specially-shaped handle that can only be turned with one of the water authority’s turnkeys. So that you can deal promptly with any emergency you should make sure that you either have one of these turnkeys. or at least that you have ready access to one. However, both for the sake of convenience and because specialist gadgets like turnkeys have a habit of disappearing when they’re most needed, you may decide to install a main stop-valve yourself – not a difficult task if the rising main is made of copper pipe.

The internal construction of a stop-valve is identical to that of an ordinary tap, and so it is prone to the same types of faults (sees Ready Reference). But one further trouble that may afflict your stop-valve – which doesn’t crop up with ordinary taps – is that of jamming in the open position as a result of disuse. It’s a problem cured simply by applying penetrating oil to the spindle. However, you can prevent this happening by closing and opening the stop-valve regularly, and by leaving it fractionally less than fully open – a quarter turn towards closure will do.


Whereas stop-valves are always fitted to pipes that are under mains pressure, gate- valves are used on pipes that are only subject to low pressure. They are therefore found on hot and cold water distribution pipes and on those of the central heating system. Gate valves differ from stop-valves in as much as they control the flow of water through them, not with a washered valve, but by means of a metal plate or ‘gate’. You can distinguish them from stop-valves by the fact that their valve bodies are bigger, and by their wheel as opposed to crutch – handles. Due to the simplicity of their internal construction gate- valves require little attention (see Ready Reference). Unlike stop-valves, which have to be fitted so that the water flowing through them follows the direction of an arrow stamped on the valve body, you can install a gate- valve either way round.

Mini stop-valves

Mini stop-valves are useful little fittings that you can insert into any pipe run. Their presence enables you to re-washer or renew a tap or ball-valve or repair a water-using appliance such as a washing machine without disrupting the rest of your water system. They can aiso be used to quieten an excessively noisy lavatory flushing cistern that is fed directly from the rising main, since by slowing down the flow of water to the ball-valve you can reduce the noise without materially affecting the cistern’s rate of filling after flushing. You usually fit a mini stop-valve immediately before the appliance that it is to control: and they can be turned off and on either with a screwdriver, or by turning a small handle through 180°.


Ball-valves are really just self-regulating taps designed to maintain a given volume of water in a cistern. While there are a number of different patterns they all have a float-not necessarily a ball these days – at one end of a rigid arm which opens or closes a valve as the water level in the cistern falls or rises. There are basically two types of ball-valves: the traditional type, generally made of brass, in which the water flow is controlled by a washered plug or piston; and the type that has been developed more recently in which the flow is controlled by a large rubber diaphragm housed within a plastic body.