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.

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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Where to turn off the water

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

1. Cold water supply pipes connected directly to the mains: in the UK these pipes usually only supply the kitchen cold tap. the cold water storage tank and sometimes instantaneous water heaters. In Australia and other countries. the pipes may supply all cold water taps and the hot water storage cylinder. The simple way of deciding whether any pipe or tap is supplied directly by the mains is by the pressure — taps supplied from a tank are what’s known as gravity-fed and the pressure of water is relatively low compared to mains pressure

2. Cold water supply pipes from a cold water storage tank: in the UK these pipes usually supply the bathroom cold taps, the WC cistern and the hot water cylinder.

To close off the water supply in these pipes there’s often a stop-valve immediately alongside the cold water tank where the pipe exits. Turn this off first and then open all cold water taps. They’ll run dry almost immediately. If there isn’t a stop-valve, you have to drain the whole tank. So first you stop water entering the tank by either turning off the mains or by tying up the ball-valve in the tank so that it remains closed. Then you open al the taps in the house.

3. Hot water pipes: these are all supplied from a hot water cylinder, which in turn gets its cold water either from the cold tank or from the mains.

Since hot water leaves the hot water storage cylinder from the top. it’s only the pressure of water going in at the bottom of the cylinder that forces the water out. Turn off the supply of cold water (either at the cold water tank. or at the mains) and you stop the flow. Ir. this sort of situation the hot water cylinder remains full. If for any reason you need tic drain this as well, use the drain cock near the bottom. It’s essential in this case to turn off either the immersion heater or boiler.

To turn off the water, look for the mains stop-valves. There may. in fact, are two: one inside the house where the mains pipe enters under the kitchen sink, in the utility room, or even under the stairs); the other outside – either just inside the boundary of the property (near to a water meter, if you have one), or under the footpath outside the garden fence.

Outdoor stop-valves may be set as much as a meter (3 ft) down beneath a hinged cover or metal plate. and you may need a special ‘key’ which is really just a long rod with a square socket on the end which fits over the tap to turn it. In most cases, however, it’s simply a matter of reaching down to turn it off by hand or with a wrench. Some outdoor stop-valves also control a neighbor’s water supply, so do warn them if you’re turning it off.

The stop-valve inside will either be a wheel type or an ordinary T-shaped type. The only possible complication is if it hasn’t been touched for years and is stuck fast. A little penetrating oil and tapping it with a hammer will usually loosen it sufficiently. (It’s worth closing the stop-valve now and again to see that it doesn’t get stuck.)