+ How to look after your boiler in the summer
Your heating system should leave on constant, and the room stat turned down to 10 degrees.
That way if the weather becomes unseasonably cold, the house will maintain a reasonable minimum temperature. All radiator valves should be left open. This is because a TRV (Thermostatic Radiator Valve) that has been switched off for six months might become stuck, which would result in the radiator not working when the heating turned back on.
If you have an old boiler (not condensing) it is important to let the boiler circulate at least once a week. This is to let the pump run and make sure it does not seize up. Feel free to get in touch should you require boiler repairs or servicing.
For more information on any of our plumbing or heating services, contact us on 0208 964 6710.
+ Save Water In The Garden
Make a visit to your local plumbing merchant and get a roll of PTFE tape and some insulation. Wrap the tape around the threaded nozzle of the tap clockwise between twelve and fifteen times. Then re-thread the plastic coupling back on to the nozzle of the tap. This will stop the joint dripping all year round. Then use the insulation to wrap around the tap and any outside pipework to prevent the water freezing in the pipe on the coldest days.
+ Emergency Plumbing
Plumbing Emergencies and how to prevent them
Leaks and floods…
If hot or cold water starts flooding out of any pipework, then turn off your stopcock immediately (clockwise).
The stopcock won’t instantly stop the leak is fed by a cold-water tank in the loft or from a hot water cylinder in your airing cupboard. However, look out for other stopcocks or valves near the bottom of the tank or the top of the cylinder and try to turn them off. (Remember which ones you turn off so you can turn them on again later).
As well as standard stopcocks, other common valves are the gate valve, ballafix and lever valve shown on the left.
Gate valves turn off clockwise (it takes many turns – be careful as the wheel has a habit of tearing off if treated roughly). Ballafixes are turned off using a screwdriver to rotate the screw on the front 90º so that the screw is across the pipe. Lever valves are turned off by twisting the lever 90º so that the lever is across to the pipe.
Toilets and basins often have their own valve nearby so you won’t have to turn off the water to the whole building.
If the ceiling starts to bulge then put a hole in it with a broom handle to prevent the weight of the water bringing it down on your head, then collect the water in a bucket.
If you need to empty your tank in a hurry, then turn off the mains water at the stopcock and run your bath taps – they normally have the thickest pipes. If you can’t find the main stopcock, then go into the loft and wedge the ballcock arm up using a stick or a piece of string – this will stop any more water entering the tank.
Don’t ever try to drain the tank via the cold tap in the kitchen sink as this is normally connected straight to the mains so not fed by the tank in the loft.
…and preventing them
Find your stopcock and label it in case of emergencies. Stopcocks seize up if left untouched for too long, so turn it off and on again every six months. If it doesn’t turn off (clockwise), a pair of pliers will give you more leverage, but don’t force it too hard as stopcocks can shear off and cause a real flood. Next time you have a plumber in the house, ask which other valves will isolate hot or cold water, and label them too.
If you can’t find a stopcock inside the house, then there should be one outside the house, often under a little trapdoor on the pavement. However, these are often very deep, stiff to turn, or buried under the earth. You can phone your local water authority if it won’t turn, as it is their responsibility, but it is better to do this before an emergency arises!
If you have a new kitchen or bathroom fitted, then ensure your plumber fits isolation valves to all appliances, and that the installer leaves easy access to replaceable parts so you can get to them in an emergency without having to break through marble tiles or solid
+ What to look for in a good plumber
It is very important to organise trades before you need them.
This way when water is coming through your ceiling you know the right person to call in an emergency. It’s important to speak to the company to find out what sort of qualifications the engineers have and to make sure they all have insurance.
Some companies will give a guarantee on all the work carried out this is very important to find out. Not all companies carry parts on board their vans so try to make sure that the company you choose does.
+ How to disconnect & reconnect a washing machine
If you are lucky, when you order a washing machine the delivery people will take away your old machine and plumb in your new one. Often, if your old machine has not been disconnected, the delivery people will refuse to touch it and will therefore not plumb in the new one either.
How to Disconnect a Washing Machine
First, disconnect the water supply.
Ease the machine forwards so that you can reach the pipework behind it. There should be either one or two rubber hoses connecting the hot or hot and cold water supplies to the back of the machine. You need to find where these pipes join the main pipework – often under the kitchen sink.
Each rubber hose will have a washing machine valve at the end of it which has a red or blue lever. Turning the lever 90 degrees so that it points across the pipe (rather than along it) will cut off the water supply.
Then you can unscrew the red or blue nut and pull the hose free. Please note it is easy to accidentally knock the valve lever on, so if you are leaving the machine permanently disconnected, it is better to buy a washing machine valve cap from a plumbers’ merchant to stop unwanted leaks.
Secondly, disconnect the wastewater pipework. Locate the other end of the ridged plastic hose running away from the back of the machine. If the other end plugs into the U-bend under the kitchen sink, you will need to pull this off and plug the U-Bend with a cap from a plumbers’ merchant. If it hooks into a vertical pipe leading to the drains, then you can simply pull out the hose.
How to Connect a new Washing Machine
First connect the waste hose, which leads from the back of the machine to the drains. This either simply hooks into a vertical pipe, or needs to be pushed over a spigot on the U-bend under the kitchen sink. Be sure to use a jubilee clip to secure it.
Try to keep the drain hose as high up above the U bend, as possible. If possible use the half-round hose support and screw it to the back or side of the cupboard/wall. This is to prevent any kitchen sink water leaking back into the washing machine.
Secondly, connect up the water supply. Most machines now come with cold water fill only. Older machines need both hot and cold supplies, and some can work with cold only, but both the hot and cold hoses connect to a Y junction, which is connected to the cold valve. You will need to check the manufacturer’s instructions.
Once these are firmly attached, turn the red and blue levers on the valve 90 degrees so that it points along the pipe rather than across it. This is to turn the water supply on. Check for leaks before pushing the machine into position.
If you cut off the plug on a new washing machine to put through a work-top, you will often lose your warranty on the appliance. Before connecting the washing machine, make sure that the transit bolts have been removed from the back of the machine.
If you prefer not to risk it, or the new machine is different from the old one, you can call a plumber. This may take two visits – one to disconnect the old one, then one to reconnect the new once it has been delivered. Looking for a local plumber near you who can sort this safely and securely? Don't hesitate to contact us.
+ How to disconnect & reconnect a dishwasher
First disconnect the water supply.
Ease the machine forwards so that you can reach the pipe work behind it. There should be one rubber hose connecting the cold water supply to the back of the machine. You need to find where this joins the pipe work – often under the kitchen sink.
The rubber hose will have a washing machine valve at the end of it, which has a blue lever. Turning the lever 90 degrees so that it points across the pipe (rather than along it) this will cut off the water supply. Then you can unscrew the blue nut and pull the hose free.
Please note it is easy to accidentally knock the valve lever on, so if you are leaving the machine permanently disconnected, it is better to buy a washing machine valve cap from a plumbers’ merchant to stop unwanted leaks.
Secondly, disconnect the waste water pipe work. Locate the other end of the ridged plastic hose running away from the back of the machine. If the other end plugs into the U-bend under the kitchen sink, you will need to pull this off and plug the U-Bend with a cap from a plumbers’ merchant. If it hooks into a vertical pipe leading to the drains, then you can simply pull out the hose.
How to connect a New Dishwasher
First connect the waste hose, which leads from the back of the machine to the drains. This either simply hooks into a vertical pipe, or needs to be pushed over a spigot on the U-bend under the kitchen sink. Be sure to use a jubilee clip to secure it.
Try to keep the drain hose as high up above the U bend, as possible. If possible use the half-round hose support and screw it to the back or side of the cupboard / wall. This is to prevent any kitchen sink water leaking back into the dishwasher.
Secondly, connect up the water supply to the cold washing machine valve. Once these are firmly attached, turn blue lever on the valve 90 degrees so that it points along the pipe rather than across it. This is to turn the water supply on.
Check for leaks before pushing the machine into position.
Need more help? We're a local plumber for everyone in the London area and beyond so don't hesitate to get in touch.
+ Buying a bathroom suite
Size and Shape of Bath
On the whole, the longer the bath, the more comfortable it will be. But remember that bigger baths use more water, which will cost more in the long run, both financially and ecologically. Be careful that the bath you buy is not so bulky it won’t get through the bathroom door. Bear in mind that shaped baths are usually more expensive than standard rectangular baths.
Baths are made in three materials. Plastic baths are cheap, light, warm to the touch and are available in various shapes and sizes. Whilst they are very popular for domestic bathrooms, they are not very robust, and can become discoloured and cracked. Avoid plastic baths less than ¼” or 6mm thick, which may sag.
Enamelled, pressed steel baths are generally good quality and are less affected by wear and tear. They can be repaired should the surface become damaged. Cast iron baths are solid and heavy so first ensure your bathroom floor is strong enough to support the weight, and that you will be able to manoeuvre it into the bathroom.
Type of Bath
Rolltop baths are only really suitable for large bathrooms and will swamp a small space. They are expensive and can also be hard to get hold of, since few are still made in the U.K. However, some manufacturers now make roll-top baths in modern materials. Beware: photographs and showrooms don’t always include the pipework which is much more visible than with a standard boxed in bath and may be an eyesore.
Spa and whirlpool baths are also now popular although they can be expensive. Make sure the price you are quoted includes all the extras – bath, whirlpool system and pump, underwater lights, taps, waste (plug hole fitting), handle. And don’t forget the plumber’s charges will be heftier than for a normal bath, as they can be fiddly and time-consuming to fit.
If you are attached to your current bath, you can have it transformed into a spa or whirlpool bath by buying a converter kit. However, this can be just as expensive as buying a brand new spa bath. Also, some installers will remove your bath in order to install it, which may well damage your tiling. Others will leave your bath in place but may not be able to reach one side, which will limit the spa or whirlpool effect.
Make sure your bath has the correct number of tap holes drilled in it (and in the right places) before it leaves the shop. Whilst plastic bath tap holes can be easily drilled by your plumber, steel ones are best done by the manufacturer so you won’t have to pay for any damage.
Basins come with a pedestal, as part of a vanity unit or hang on the wall. Vanity unit basins are best for hiding pipework whilst still allowing access to plumbing for maintenance.
Wall-hung basins take up less space and allow you to adjust the height to suit your needs. However, you will be able to see all the plumbing underneath (which showrooms often leave out). Check your walls are strong enough to support a wall-mounted basin and get your supplier to give you the appropriate fixings.
If you want something a bit different from standard ceramic, then look out for designer basins in alternative materials, such as glass, copper, stainless steel and stone. But if you are forgetful or have small children and you don’t want your bathroom flooded, don’t choose a designer basin without an overflow.
Before you leave the shop, make sure the number of holes in the basin matches the taps you are buying.
Most WCs now come as a closely coupled suite with the cistern attached to the back of the pan. These flush more quietly than WCs with high-level cisterns. These come with a European style pushbutton flush. You can save water by buying a WC with a dual flush button, which lets you choose between a short or long flush.
If you have plenty of space, then a concealed cistern can be built into the wall. One advantage of this is that you can buy a cheaper plastic cistern since it won’t be seen. If you opt for a concealed cistern, make sure the builder allows for future maintenance by creating a removable panel on top.
You can hide even more plumbing by buying a wall-hung “corbel” type pan. This is fixed onto a hidden frame in the wall, rather than sitting on the bathroom floor. These were originally for public toilets as they are more hygienic, but are now popular in domestic bathrooms too.
Remember that if you buy a wall-hung WC or one with a concealed cistern, you are likely to need to employ a carpenter as well as a plumber.
When choosing where to put a new WC, allow 21″ (530mm) in front and 30″ (760mm) across for comfort. It is often difficult to reposition your WC as it is dependent on where the drains are.
If you want one far away from the drains, you can buy a macerator which is a pump and shredder – it will even pump waste away vertically if you want a WC in a basement. The shredder fits neatly behind the WC bowl. First, check with your local water supplier that the system you choose is approved by them.
Taps can be as expensive as the bath or basin you are buying them for and it is definitely true that you pay for what you get. Chromium-plated brass taps are the best quality – plastic ones will not last as long.
Some modern taps only need ¼ turn to go from off to full on which is much easier for the elderly and the young. These taps require far less maintenance as they have hard-wearing ceramic discs instead of washers. However, if you do have to replace a disc, it is far more expensive.
Whilst the aesthetics of your taps may seem important, make sure you buy the best taps for your plumbing system. Non-British taps are mostly designed for mains pressure and may not work properly if your water comes via a tank in your loft. You can still install them but you will have to accept that they may trickle rather than gush. Otherwise, you can pay to fit a pump or to change your system to work straight off the mains.
If something goes wrong with your tap, often the plumber’s hardest task is working out what the tap is and who made it. You can save time and money if you keep all documentation in a safe place.
+ Purchasing a Shower
Showers are increasingly proving to be a popular form of improving one’s home and its facilities. With energy efficiency being an important consideration in any home, a bathing experience, which uses less water than a conventional bath, is a more eco-friendly option.
The two most important elements in the purchase of a shower that will best suit an individual’s requirements are thermostatic control and flow-rate.
The thermostatic control automatically controls the flow of hot and cold water through the shower-head, even if another appliance is turned on and off in the property – such as a washing machine.
This gives a constant pre-selected temperature thus avoiding potential scalding or freezing.
+ Showers, flow and control
With an abundance of shower types on the market, it is important for the consumer to recognise what type of hot and cold system is in the property where the shower is to be installed.
There are two hot and cold systems:
- Low-pressure systems
These systems can be recognised usually by a cold water storage tank being in the loft. This feeds the cold water and the hot water, which is heated usually with a cylinder in an airing cupboard, to the bathroom via gravity. As the cold water storage tank in the loft is usually only one metre from the top of the shower-head, the pressure and flow-rate that this develops, is poor.
A basic shower pump giving a pressure of one bar- is equivalent to having the cold water storage tank ten metres above the shower-head. This type of thermostatic shower valve is most suited to a pumped-type shower to boost both the flow rate and the pressure. This makes the shower feel a lot more powerful and invigorating.
- High-pressure systems
These systems are usually fed directly from the water main in the street. The hot water is generally supplied by a combination boiler / instantaneous water heater or an Unvented Hot Water system. Although the system is high pressure, you must take into consideration the fact that you will only get the pressure and flow-rate through the shower valve that the water supplier is providing to the property and no more than that,
When considering installing a shower-valve, it is important that you have the required mains pressure from the street, to run the shower-valve being considered. All manufacturers provide this information for each of their valves.
+ Showers – choosing a tray and door
There are three types of shower tray – steel, stone resin and acrylic.
Although acrylic are the cheapest and lightest in weight, they do have a tendency to move in situ. Stone resin are the most popular. They sometimes come with a tiling upstand, which helps prevent leakage. Steel shower trays tend to be used for the more higher-range flow rates because they come with a 90mm waste outlet thus helping to remove the waste water quicker.
There are many types of shower door – Acrylic, Glass, and these can be pivot, sliding, fixed, open-in, open-out.
When choosing a shower / shower door, spend as much of your budget as possible on these two items as this will ensure you minimise the risk of potential leaks around the door and poor performance of the shower valve.
If you are unsure of what features to look out for, or you need a plumber to install your shower, contact us on 0208 964 6714.
+ Pressure and stored hot water
What is an unvented cylinder?
Unvented hot water cylinders store water supplied directly from the mains water supply, and heat it using either electrical heating elements or with heat from a boiler. This provides high-pressure hot water supplies capable of feeding outlets with high flow rates of hot water.
The cylinders store water under relatively high pressures, typically in the region of 2 to 3 bar (20 to 30 metres head), and as such can supply water to outlets at a high level, such as in a loft space, and at similar pressures to the mains cold water supply.
The increased pressures also make for better quality showers, without the need for pumps. With both hot and cold water services fed from the mains, there is no more need for a cold water storage tank, keeping loft spaces clear, and pipework to a minimum.
Mains Water Supply:
Unvented cylinders are limited by the 'power' of the mains water supply that feeds them, and in order to function properly require both adequate mains pressure and flow rate. Supply pressure should typically be in the region of 2 bar , preferably more, and capable of supplying the required flow rates.
A Pressure Reducing Valve is required on all unvented cylinders to limit the pressure of the incoming mains water to a safe level at which the cylinder is approved to operate. The difference between pressure and flow is important to understand – a mains water pressure of 5 bar is no good if it is supplied through 100 metres of 15mm supply pipework. Mains supply pipe sizes and flow rates, as well as pressures, must be checked.
Is your Mains Suitable?
It is important to know that any mains fed system is limited by the amount of water that the pipework into the property can provide.
The higher the mains water pressure the more water will be available, however, the size and length of pipework are also important. This is because when water flows, pressure is lost in the pipes and fittings. Even with a high mains water pressure, a long length of small bore supply pipework can 'use up' the available pressure, resulting in poor flow rates.
In existing properties, the water supply can often be gauged best by opening up cold taps that are connected to the mains. These will usually include an outside tap or kitchen tap. As you open up more than one tap, the ability of each tap to keep flowing is an indication of the water available. Your local water supplier should be able to assist in testing pressures and flow rates properly.
It may be a good idea to check pipework within the property, as you may find that the supply into the property is, in fact, excellent, however, is fitted with a small bore isolating valve, or a run of smaller bore pipe, either of which would greatly limit the water getting through to taps.
If the mains supply pipework is unable to provide the peak water requirements then there are only a few options:
- Arrange for the mains supply pipework to be upgraded.
- Stick to using a cold water storage tank in the loft, and use pumps to boost pressure to taps.
- Relocate cold water storage tank to low level and use a pump set to boost pressures and flow.
In a few installations, the desired peak water demand is higher than the local water authorities can provide. On these occasions, cold water storage is the only option, and pumps have to be used to boost pressures and flow rates to taps.
That said, most properties have more than adequate water supplies, and mains fed hot water system becomes an option.
Low Cost Options
Do not overlook the cheapest options – it is not always necessary to upgrade the entire hot water system to improve a shower.
The simplest way to boost water pressure is with a pump. These fall into three categories:
- Low pressure, low cost, silent booster pump, best suited to a single bathroom or shower. High pressure, low cost and generally noisy booster pumps.
- High pressure, more expensive but relatively quiet booster pumps.
A pump set is made up of TWO booster pumps, a cold water tank, an accumulator vessel, and controls. They are used where the mains water supply cannot be made large enough to feed multiple outlets at once, but the client still demands to do so.
Two pumps are used to provide duty/assist operation, with both pumps only running together at maximum load. The use of two pumps also allows water to still be provided should one pump fail – this is very important. The cold water tank must be sized to provide both hot and cold supplies at maximum use, although a large ball-valve in the cold tank is used to maximise the input from the mains.
The accumulator is basically a pressure vessel that stores a certain volume of high-pressure water, and prevents the pumps from having to run when someone is only brushing there teeth.
The larger the accumulator, the more water can be drawn without the pumps operating, and also helps reduce wear on the pumps, although 60 litres is a typical size. The controls provide the duty / assist operation using pressure switches, but will also alternate which pump comes on first to even out wear, and provide pump over-ride and protection.
Pump sets generate as much water, and pressure as you can specify. They are very effective when used in conjunction with Heat Bank thermal stores to provide hot water, as this will preserve the higher pressures and flow of hot water to outlets.
You may be considering a combination boiler, where there is no need for a hot water cylinder at all. Before going down this route, be aware that combination boilers can only supply one tap at a time, and as such are simply not an option on installations where showering is not to be affected by the opening of a second outlet.
There is a very good reason for using a hot water cylinder of any type – domestic sized boilers, or electric heaters, cannot generate heat quickly enough to feed multiple outlets. To achieve this, the boiler's heat output has to be stored, in a hot water store, to be used up quickly when required.
One other point to be aware of with regard to combination boilers is that should one break down, the property will be without both hot water and heating until the boiler can be fixed. When a hot water store is used, there is always the facility for electric backup, allowing hot water to be obtained (be it in reduced amounts) while waiting for the boiler to be fixed.
That said, in one bedroom flats, with only one or two occupants and space is at a premium, then combination boilers are usually the best choice.
+ Mould in bathrooms and showers
Mould is a perennial problem in bathrooms and showers, as it is its perfect environment to grow and thrive.
Mould needs three things to grow:
- Moisture to enable germination.
- A food source – soap and dirt.
- Warmth to promote growth.
The reason that mould tends to grow on silicone sealant is because it is warmer than the surrounding tiles or ceramics.
Mould has two stages of attack
- Primary attack, which sits on the surface
- Secondary attack where the mould starts growing into the sealant, eating into it.
The sealants used on baths have “Mildew Resistance” which is limited and after a time the fungicide in the sealant is exhausted letting the mould grow and flourish.
There are proprietary fungicides (mould sprays) that can be bought in plumber’s merchants and hardware stores to combat mould. They are essentially powerful bleaches and should be used with care (following the manufacturers instructions).
It is critical to keep surfaces where mould can grow clean. Wiping the surface regularly and applying mould spray when it is found means that the mould cannot go beyond the primary phase. This should assure that the mould is kept under control and does not destroy the sealant damaging or destroying the water seal.
This data was taken from technical advice from GSL Technical 024 764 66603 (the main support group for Dow Corning Sealants)
+ Taps and shower valves
Modern taps are not the same as older ones so fixing a drip is not always a case of simply changing the washer. This is the case if you have a tap which turns from full off to full on with a quarter twist of the handle.
Shower valves can also be complicated, and unless your shower is part of your bath taps, we need to know the manufacturer and model of your shower valve before we can fix it. This may mean that fixing a dripping (modern) tap or shower takes two visits to your home: one to identify the make and model and one to replace damaged parts.
Plumbers’ merchants don’t stock all available cartridges, so we often have to order them directly from the manufacturer, which can take several days. If you have the paperwork for your taps or shower, or email us a digital photo, then we can do the research before we arrive and often save a second visit.
The job could take longer than you expect. Please bear in mind that we will need to cut off the water supply to the taps to fix a dribble, even if it is just to fit a new washer. If your stop cock doesn’t work, and there is no other way of cutting off the water, then we may have to drain down your system or freeze an accessible pipe.
+ How to replace a tap washer
Turn off the water supply to the tap and open the tap this will drain the excess water from the tap. Always put the plug in the waste. This will stop any vital parts going down the drain!
You will have to remove the handle of the tap you might need a very small screwdriver to remove the grub screw.
Sometimes this is under a small red or blue bit of plastic in the top. Once the handle has been removed you will need some grips to remove the cover. If you wrap electrical tape around this it will reduce the chances of it being scratched. When you are doing this don’t let the tap move you may have to hold it in position.
Now you should have a hexagonal nut twist this with a spanner once again being very careful not to move the base of the tap. Pull out the hexagonal nut and at the bottom is your washer. Replace the washer with a new one.
If you have brought the wrong washer, don’t panic you can often turn the washer over. This will not last as long as a new one but will stop the dripping for the time being.
If you get a plumber to do this make sure he leaves the old washer so you know he has not just done this. Also make sure the seating for the washer is clean and has no debris lying on it.
Please phone us for any queries or help on anything 24 hours a day on 0208 964 6714.
+ How to replace tap cartridge for quarter turn taps
Modern taps are not the same as older ones so fixing a drip is not always a case of simply changing the washer. This is the case if you have a tap which turns from full off to full on with a quarter twist of the handle.
Plumbers‘ merchants don’t stock all available cartridges, so we often have to order them directly from the manufacturer, which can take several days.
If you have the paperwork for your taps, or email us a digital photo, then we can do the research before we arrive and often save a second visit.
Please phone us for any queries or help on anything 24 hours a day on 0208 964 6714.
+ Earth bonding
The Institute of Electrical Engineers has published regulations which aim to promote safety and reduce the risk of injury from electrical accidents. They require that any metal parts of a building which could become live should be earthed.
Metal pipes conduct electricity, and can be dangerous if they become live by making contact with a faulty electrical appliance in any part of the building. Turning on a tap fed by unearthed pipework can cause an electric shock, for example.
For this reason, there should always be an earthing cable connecting the water and gas pipework to the earth terminal in the main consumer unit (fuse box). Also, wherever a non-metal component such as a ceramic sink or plastic pipe interrupts the circuit, some additional wiring is needed.
This is called Equipotential Earth Bonding, and consists of a yellow and green sheathed cable with a metal clamp on each end. The wiring is clamped either side of the non-conductive component to complete the route to earth, and is also used to join or “cross bond” pipes together.
Whilst your plumber will be able to remove and replace bonding clamps during maintenance etc, it is your responsibility to ensure a qualified electrician checks the installation is safe.
+ Preparing for winter
As we approach Christmas and the new year, and all that this entails, you’ll probably be working towards a few festive gatherings of your own. Be aware that your home’s plumbing system will be putting in overtime to handle all the extra cooking, flushing, showering, and washing, on top of the additional strain from the colder weather.
At Staunch and Flow, we advise all homeowners to make sure their plumbing system is geared up for the holidays. Before the really cold weather arrives, you can avoid calling out your plumber if you prepare your plumbing for the winter. Check your heating works before the very cold weather sets in, which is when plumbers and heating engineers are in short supply.
- Secure Outdoor Lines
Disconnect all hoses and sprinkler systems in the fall. If you can, isolate your garden tap inside the house then leave the tap open to drain the pipework and allow expansion over winter. Ensure that outdoor spigots and fixtures are clear of leaks before the weather turns cold. Insulate any exposed pipes, outside or in the loft, with sleeves or wrapping, including those in your garage or crawl space. Cheap foam insulation can be bought from any DIY shop.
- Clear Your Gutters
Ensure that rain water has an unrestricted flow so it doesn't collect on your roof or gutters. Be sure to regularly clear out leaves as they accumulate throughout the fall.
- Prep Your Bathroom
Having extra guests, and plenty of opportunities for downing a few glasses of mulled wine, spiced cider and other beverages means your house plumbing system stays busy. Try to spread out your showers throughout the day, and clear your shower head of mineral deposits using a store-bought limescale remover to avoid a false decrease in pressure.
- Prep Your Kitchen
Always avoid pouring cooking oil down your kitchen sink. Likewise, don’t block your garbage disposal with stringy foods or fruit pips. If water pressure can be an issue, you could run the dishwasher overnight to preserve it when your house guests might want to wash.
- Have Your Boiler/Water Heater Inspected
Don’t risk a leaky or broken pipe when you should be carving up that turkey; keep your heating and plumbing ready for double duty. A professional inspection is the best way to ensure that your heating and water systems last through the winter.
- Regular Servicing
It is important to hire a Gas Safe-registered engineer to service your boiler at least once every twelve months. This should identify any potential faults which could lead to a system malfunction.
- Insulate Pipework
To avoid boiler malfunction it is advisable to insulate any pipework that’s exposed (even in loft space) – this includes the condensate drain, as well as cold/hot pipework. Make sure that water tanks in the loft are covered in close-fitting insulation. This has a tendancy to fall off and needs checking annually.
- Check Your Radiators
While your heating is off, bleed all the radiators in your property (especially those at the highest points of your system), to avoid cold spots and air locks. This will make your heating more efficient. If you need one, pop to the local hardware shop for a radiator key. Have a clean rag and a small tray with you to catch any run-off. Ensure that when the system is on, heat is being distributed evenly across the surface area of the radiator. If it isn’t, then power flushing the system is recommended.
- Efficient Running
Fit a programmable room thermostat to operate the system effectively in cold weather. This will give you more control, with the heating reacting to room temperature and your timer settings rather than just a simple on/off timer for the entire system.
- Agas And Rayburns
If you are going away, leave the Rayburn on and turn on the heating side on your return. If you have a room stat, turn it down to between 5-10 degrees. If you don’t have a room stat, we would strongly recommend having one fitted – you’ll realise considerable savings and make your property much more comfortable to live in. The hot water side can be turned off. If you have an AGA, then turn the main burner off but leave the pilot on. This will stop condensation building up, as well as keeping the flue warm, so it will light up easily when you come to switch it back on.
- Take Advantage Of The Sun
Open curtains on your south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight in to naturally heat your home. Close the curtains again at night to reduce any drafts, or the room losing warmth via cold single-glazed windows. You can also buy simple plastic-sheet-based double-glazing kits that can be installed around window frames during the colder months. Ensure a close fit all around the frame to reduce cold air leaking in. Install drapes or curtains for an extra insulating layer.
- Other Leaks To Look Out For
Seal up the gaps where utility pipes run through cut-outs in the walls, use an air bag to close up any chimneys that aren’t being used.
- Lower The Temperature
When you are at home and awake, keep your thermostat setting as low as is comfortable, but when you’re asleep or out, if turn your thermostat back 10° to 15° for eight hours you can save around 10% a year on your heating and cooling bills. A programmable thermostat can automate this, so you don’t have to remember to do the resetting manually. You can also lower the set temperature for your DHW (Domestic Hot Water) and save some money (as well as slashing the odds of scalding your hands).
- Fireplace And Chimney Care
Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is burning. An open damper is like a wide-open window in wintertime; it allows warm air to go straight up the chimney. Check the seal on the fireplace flue damper and make it as snug as possible. If you do use a fireplace, reduce heat loss by opening dampers in the bottom of the firebox (if provided) or open the nearest window slightly – approximately 3cm – and close any doors leading to the room. You can also lower any room thermostat to less than 19°C.
- Less Rooms Is More
If you have rooms you don’t need to use, turn off the heating in them and stay out of them unless necessary. And in the rooms that you will still be using, follow these steps: In the bedroom , change your duvet from a thinner summer duvet to one with a higher tog rating for winter and you’ll be snug as a bug in a rug – and you’ll sleep better in a well-ventilated and cooler bedroom; In the dressing room, change your wardrobe and get the winter clothing ready to wear – It’s all too easy to turn up the thermostat up when the first cold snap arrives, but if you have your jumpers and sweatshirts at the ready, it’s simple to save on your bill; In the kitchen or utility room, if you have a second fridge for keeping drinks cold, use the garage or garden in winter instead. Fridges are one of the biggest fixed electricity costs, and switching one off may save you more than you think; And, if you have a dryer or washer/dryer, clean the filter to ensure it’s working as efficiently as possible.
+ Advice when doing building work
We felt it would be helpful to give you a short introduction on how you could reduce your plumbing bills and also to understand the plumbing process better.
Plumbers are involved in the very beginning of a job and also at the end. In order to be efficient they put in all the drainage and basic infrastructure for a job in the beginning and at the end they connect up the various appliances to the water supply and drainage.
Clear drawings, a simple specification and a site visit all help get the job off to a good start.
If drawings are not required then the site should be marked up (in chalk for instance) where things are going to go. A specification only needs to be rudimentary but it must state what appliances and fittings are required, who is to supply them and where they are to be located.
Please note that the basic plumbing infrastructure of a building can really influence what can work. If you do not have sufficient pressure you cannot have modern continental taps and your showers will not perform properly. If you have a direct mains supplied pressurised system, the pressure delivered is the one that is supplied by the water authority. There is nothing that can be done to change this.
Flats in Mansion Blocks pose special problems as the plumbing was installed when they were built and not designed for the plumbing we now want. Waste pipes are too small and feeds come from central tanks etc.
The costs of isolating both the water and central heating can be very expensive. Usually, there is a managing agent who needs to be kept informed at all times especially to establish emergency procedures.
If the customer supplies the materials these must be delivered to the site on time. Time is money for a plumber so that waiting for things to be delivered that are not in his control will cost you money.
If you change your mind this can be costly. The plumber will almost certainly have made provision for an appliance, tap or shower at the very beginning of the job. When you change your mind this can have dire effects not only to the plumbing that may already be installed but on the work of other trades such a tilers.
+ Power showering in flats
Most people want a shower that provides high pressure. High Pressure is usually between 2 and 3 Bar. This pressure can be achieved by fitting a pump to a traditional tank fed system with a hot water cylinder in the airing cupboard. However, you may find that a mains fed system provides a reasonable alternative.
Shower Pump Solution
Shower pumps boost water pressure to the shower (and can also supply the bath or whole bathroom with pumped water). The pump is often put under the bath or in the airing cupboard. Pumps require separate connections to the cold water tank and to the hot water cylinder. Pumps vibrate and are noisy, and fitting the new connections and pipework can be costly.
- Guaranteed High Pressure
- Often difficult pipework installation if the tank and cylinder are far from the shower
- Need for a new electric connection for the pump
- Noise and vibration
Note: If you have a system that is fed straight from the mains, i.e. combi or megaflow, then you cannot increase your pressure. Mains pressure varies from property to property but it is impossible to boost this pressure using a pump. You can only pump from traditional tank fed systems. You should check your pressure before commencing work.
Mains Pressure – Combination Boiler Solution
This means exchanging the existing boiler for a combi, taking out the hot water cylinder and cold water tanks. This frees up a lot of space. All water is then delivered at mains pressure (about 1.5-2.5 bar) – not precisely a “power shower”, but still at a very acceptable pressure
- Frees up space
- Unlimited hot water at high pressure
- Minimal pipework changes
- No airing facility
- Boiler may need to be repositioned
- While hot water is produced at mains pressure, flow rates are limited by the rating of your boiler
Mains Pressure – Megaflo Solution
This means exchanging the existing hot water for an unvented “megaflo” cylinder, and removing the cold water tank. All water is then delivered at mains pressure at about 1.5-2.5 bar – still not as powerful as a pumped shower, but the pressure still provides a good shower and the hot water has a higher flow rate than with a combi.
- Frees up space
- Gives high pressure
- Minimal pipework changes
- Megaflo cylinders are often larger than standard cylinders
- Positioning of the cylinder is limited as overflow pipework runs are restricted.
Staunch & Flow are listed on the following directories:
Home and Garden Suppliers UK - Business Directory UK Listings
+ Water pressure
Thames water is reducing pressure.
This is mostly to meet its obligations to reduce the loss of water through waters leakage from the mains.
When the pressure drops plumbing systems that are fed directly from the mains are affected. Systems with tanks on the roof are not as your pressure is the height of the tank above the outlet you use.
If you are suffering from pressure problems call us. We are experts in this field.
We will come out and carry out a consultation with you help you decide what options are available to solve your problem.
Our consultation costs £85 + VAT and is carried out by one of our senior engineers.
There are several approaches to the problem and all these will be discussed.
The plumbing configuration that you have will be reviewed and dynamic pressure and flow tests carried out.
You will be issued with a written report and estimate for any works that might be proposed
Call 0208 964 6710 to book your appointment.
Please note it is possible that no viable solution may be available.
Insufficient pressure in an installation:
You need a pumped solution.
A Booster Set provides both high pressure and increased flow rates. A booster set contains a tank holding water for ten minutes of consumption and a pump. The tank provides the volume of water to deal with the flow, the pump provides to pressure.
There is also a new solution being developed using a small pump to increase the pressure and an accumulator (see below)
Low flow rate, but sufficient static pressure on the mains:
If you have enough pressure (we will ascertain this) you can use an accumulator which holds your cold water at the mains pressure with no power consumption, so the larger the better.
View our Factsheets on the following related topics:
Power Showering in Flats
Pressure and Stored Hot water
Flow and Pressure
Ofwat, The Water Regulator
The Office of Water Services (Ofwat) www.ofwat.gov.uk . are the economic regulator for water and sewerage services in England and Wales. Ofwat says: “Leakage is still unacceptably high in London and we have set Thames Water a target of reducing this to a cost-effective level by 2009-10″.
What standard are the companies legally obliged to meet?
Companies are required to supply water constantly and at a pressure which will reach the upper floors of houses. This does not apply to buildings that use pumped systems, such as blocks of flats.
Ofwat requires water companies to perform to the service indicator DG2 which states that “the water pressure must be 1 bar or ten metres head of pressure, at the external stop tap, at a flow of nine litres per minute. This should be sufficient to fill a one-gallon (4.5 litres) container in 30 seconds. This level of pressure does not override the duty to supply water constantly at a pressure to reach the upper floors of properties”.
In the USA, Australia, and Continental Europe the pressure usually delivered from the mains is in excess of 2 bar. The pressure of a power shower is about 2.5 bar, so in these countries, you will get great pressure from the mains to run virtually any appliance shower or tap. Not so in England, One bar of pressure only reaches up 10 metres or 3 floors approximately. This is very poor pressure and not sufficient to drive most modern taps and showers.
If you have a Combination boiler or “Megaflo” system, which is directly pressured from the mains, you may well find that you will notice has been a reduction in pressure. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do about this as you not allowed to pump from the mains.
There are various solutions to this problem ranging from pumped booster sets, through accumulators some other mains pumping solutions that are being developed at the moment. All take up space and cost money. We are experts in this field and are able to suggest the best and most cost effective solution to these problems.
We are delighted to offer a consultation if you are experiencing pressure problems.
+ Flow and pressure
Good pressure may not mean good flow.
Good flow may not mean good pressure.
Consider a dripping mains tap.
If the outlet is blocked with a finger, it will be difficult to hold back the water so the pressure is good.
But then let go and what happens?
It drips again, which put another way means the flow is very poor. The pressure may be high but the flow is properly no more than an eggcup full per minute.
Now consider a small stream.
Let us say that the stream is one metre wide and half a metre deep, and that it is flowing at about half walking pace.
The flow rate is then very high – enough to fill garden water butt in half a second! But what about the pressure? Even at the bottom of the stream it will be only a tiny fraction of that for the dripping tap.
So our two examples demonstrate the extremes.
The dripping tap has good pressure but poor flow.
The stream has wonder full flow but very low pressure.
Static and Dynamic Pressures:
Static pressure is the pressure when no taps are turned on and therefore no flow is occurring.
Dynamic pressure is under flow conditions, when some taps are turned on and the pressure becomes progressively lower as the flow passes further through a system and has to overcome more and more resistance.
Every metre of water pipe adds a “frictional” resistance to flow. Every fitting and every appliance and other item of equipment in the pipework add to that friction and, because it is fluid resistance, faster flow means greater pressure reduction.
With fluid flow, the longer or more complex the system, the greater the amount of energy the fluid has to give up to overcome the friction and this energy loss reflects directly as pressure reduction.
Lower resistance means less dynamic pressure reduction and greater flow.
Greater resistance means less flow.
All fittings and valves offer resistance to flow which increases as the flow rate rises. This means that for every fitting there is a range of flow where pressure losses are acceptable but as flow increases above this, the pressure drop across the fitting rapidly increases with less and less flow rate gain and is no longer acceptable.
It is always recommended that the design flow rate for the valve or fitting be such that it falls in the part of a flow – pressure drop graph which is well before the flow rate line starts to curve away.
A given pressure drop across every fitting or valve results in a fixed flow rate through that valve or fitting. If the flow is increased, then the pressure drop also rises. However this is a process of diminishing returns, whereby flow reaches a point such that each step up in pressure drop produces less and less additional flow, until no mater how much the pressure drop across the valve is increased the flow stays more or less unchanged.
The pressure loss across a whole system for a given flow rate is the sum of the pressure losses of all the pipework and fittings in that system at that flow rate.
+ Water softeners
One of the main areas of concern within the water conditioning market is with reference to the installation of water softeners. Unfortunately, there is predominantly little or no reference, given to this subject, which obviously creates a great void for the installer. Introducing the subject in a simple and effective manner will ensure that we can gain the necessary educational programme.
We already know that 1.6mm of scale build up in heating systems will cause a 12% loss in heating efficiency (British Water) and that 65% of the UK is situated in a hard water area. Over the years, scale forms around heating coils, which means boilers, will run longer and hotter, wasting more energy.
Scale fills the hot water cylinder, severely reducing its capacity to store hot water, and will also reduce the life of showers, washing machines, water heaters, and immersion heaters, increase maintenance and repair charges along the way.
Hard water itself will increase the amount of soap, shampoos and detergents required to produce lather and overall savings for an average four-person household should be in the region of £200 per year (British Water).
Water softeners work by a process known as ion exchange. The incoming water passes through a high quality resin inside a vessel chamber. The resin “traps” the calcium ions, or lime scale, from solution and exchanges them for ions of sodium, or salt. When the resin becomes exhausted, it is put through a cycle called regeneration by drawing a solution of salt and water to simply cleanse the system.
During regeneration the calcium ions are then released from the resin and exchanged again with those of sodium. The unwanted calcium ions are then flushed to drain. This regeneration process can take between 30 minutes and 2 hours depending on the softener and can be repeated as often as necessary.
Note should be taken that in general terms, all softeners should have the capability to use tablet, granular or block salt, but it is common practice to contact the manufacturer for their recommendations.
The amount of salt and water used is also dependent on the particular softener and great care should be taken to determine efficiency levels of the usage of water and salt, as first glances at information can often be misleading. Together with this there has been a lot of discussion as to whether a softener is metered or timed, and which is more efficient.
As a general rule, metered softeners actually measure the amount of water that goes through the system, similar to a flow meter, and therefore will regenerate at different times dependent on usage. Timed softeners, on the other hand, will regenerate on a given day regardless of the amount of water used.
Within commercial applications this can be beneficial, but within most domestic situations this has not been found to be the case, due to the size of the resin vessel. In any case it is always seen to be best practice not to have standing water for a long period of time due to potential bacterial growth and therefore a short regeneration each day may be more beneficial.
Checks should be made with the manufacturer on the time each softener uses for the regeneration cycle, which will determine the water and salt usage. Over a similar period it has been found that the timed versions will only use similar amounts of water and salt as the metered versions, due to the regeneration time, therefore not showing the benefits first thought.
Of course, what the customer ultimately requires is soft water. If you can give them this with little or no maintenance and setting-up then you will succeed. All softeners operate automatically and require the addition of salt at regular intervals.
Des ign considerations can also be applied simply by gathering basic information. Softeners ideally should be fitted near to the incoming mains water supply with access to a drain and electricity.
All devices will also lose an amount of pressure when installed, which will be in the region of 0.5 bar and 1.0 bar, and can be installed on high flow applications and direct feed applications. The main consideration for sizing softeners is to compare the capacity to the main boiler it is supplying and on high flow applications that a 22mm installation kit is installed. This will ensure that you do not undersize or oversize.
Under sizing can lead to water passing over the resin too quickly and therefore not producing 100% soft water and over sizing can lead to the incoming water channelling through the resin, again not producing 100% soft water. It is true to say that although this is not a major problem domestically it can have repercussions in commercial applications.
If the boiler has been specified correctly then the softener can be sized accordingly. If this information is not at hand then the following checks should be applied:
1. Check the pipe size where the softener is to be installed.
2. Check the hardness of the water with a water hardness test kit.
3. Check the incoming mains pressure. If the incoming pressure is below 1 bar then the softener may not function and if it is over 5 bar then a pressure reducing valve should be fitted.
4. Check for any potential heat transfer that may damage the valve of the softener.
5. Check maximum flow rate.
6. Check the size of the property and number of occupants. Figures can be based on a person using 150 litres of water per day.
7. Check the location of the installation to ensure that salt can be stored and filled and that the unit is accessible for any servicing that may be required.
If the above information is gathered then the correct softener can be applied ensuring that any potential sizing problems are eliminated. Softeners begin to produce softened water immediately, but if the plumbing system is one that has a cold-water storage tank then it may take four or five days to empty the tank before 100% softened water is coming through the system.
During these four or five days what will be seen is the water getting softer as soft water is mixed with hard water. Central heating systems are not normally affected by the use of softened water and any chemicals that are used to keep the system in a healthy state should be continued.
Once a suitable position has been found, all necessary fittings, which are usually supplied by the manufacturer, should be installed. These will include an inlet and non-return valve to be installed on the incoming main, an outlet on the softener outlet side and a bypass valve, which should be fitted as standard to override the softener at any time. Care must be taken to install the valves with the flow directions in line with the water flow.
A separate drinking water, non-softened supply may be required to be installed which is usually fed to the kitchen. The latest papers suggest that reducing salt intake may actually be dangerous, as the mortality rate from coronary disease amongst those who also follow a reduced salt diet appears to be four times higher than those who use drug treatment alone.
Sodium is contained in much of our everyday diet such as milk, bread, bacon and baked beans, with up to 85% of the daily average consumption coming from processed foods. The sodium level in a glass of softened water is only a fifth of that in a glass of semi-skimmed milk, and a can of soup contains over 20 times more sodium than softened water.
Also, as a health issue, many eczema sufferers have reported that a move to softened water has substantially reduced inflammation. Softened water is also known to have a calming, soothing effect on other skin problems including psoriasis and recent research has identified a strong link between hard water and childhood eczema.
+ Boiler problems – what to look out for and when to contact a plumber
You should have your boiler serviced every year buy a fully qualified gas safe engineer. This is really important.
Watch out for small puddles of water around radiators or under sinks. It might be just a coincidence or the laundry drying. However call your plumber out or at least give him a ring.
Plumbers are nice people and most will be more than happy to give you some advice over the phone. In the long run it will be cheaper as redecoration is timely, expensive and annoying!
Please phone us for any queries or help on anything 24 hours a day on 0208 964 6714.
+ How to tell if it’s time to replace your boiler
The make and model of your boiler will obviously depend on the durability of the appliance. This will also depend on the sight of the original installation. However, new boilers are much more cost effective and better for the environment than older models.
What you don’t want is in the middle of winter being left without heating or hot water. So it is very important to get your boiler serviced every year.
The professional engineer that you get in will be the best informed to help you make decisions and inform you of your options, advising you if you need to install a new boiler or get the existing boiler repaired.
Please phone us for any queries or help on anything 24 hours a day on 0208 964 6714
+ Boiler breakdowns
There are number of simple things that go wrong with boilers that you can fix without calling out a heating engineer.
You must make sure that you have the instruction/user manual for your boiler and the programmer/room thermostat. These are specifically designed to help you look after your boiler and central heating system.
If you do NOT have these we can supply you with copies from our Domestic Boiler Encyclopaedia. The price is £11.75 each (inc VAT) supplied by post or electronically. Please call us on 020 7 666 5566 if you need this.
Simple Fault Resolution
Pressure: Check the pressure in your boiler. Look for a pressure gauge on the boiler. Please Note: Some boilers are not pressurised, they have feed and expansion tanks in the loft.
If you have a pressure gauge, it should read between 1 to 1.2 bar. If it is below 0.25 bar your boiler needs to be re-pressurised. This means that there is no longer enough water in your system to maintain the correct pressure and needs topping up.
Please note that frequent drastic pressure drops suggest a leak in the system. A constant rise to 3 bar might be because the filling point has been left on and the system will then be over pressurised.
Look in your boiler manual for titles such as “re-pressurising, restoring pressure or water filling”. Follow the instructions. Let in the water carefully a little at a time until it reaches the operating pressure. DO NOT OVERPRESSURISE as this will also cause the boiler to cut out (see above).
Temperature: If the radiators are not getting hot enough make sure that the thermostat on the boiler is turned up, especially in the winter. The room thermostat does not control the feel of the radiators.
If the temperature of the hot water is not hot enough make sure that the thermostat is turned up. On a combi boiler in the winter you might have to increase the temperature as the incoming mains water in the street is a lot colder.
Fuses: Check the fuses, are there any lights on the boiler? If not, look at the main fuse board if this ok, then change the fuse with a 3 amp one in the plug or the switch/fused spur feeding the boiler.
Programmers/Room Thermostats: Check these, the programmer controls the firing of the boiler. If this is set incorrectly your boiler will not work. Check the set times and temperature. If you are in doubt or the timing period is not turning the boiler on, place the programmer in the constant ON / 24hrs mode and make sure the boiler works.
Digistat (wireless controllers) are battery powered. Look for a warning light or icon that shows that the batteries have expired and change the batteries o r look for a continuous red light that means that the transmitter (the one with the temperature and flame in the window) and the receiver (the one with two buttons 1 and 2) are no longer talking to each other.
To reset pull the battery drawers out to the display in the window goes blank. On the receiver press and hold buttons 1 and 2 until the lights stop flashing. Hold the transmitter about one metre away from the receiver and push the battery drawers back in firmly. The receiver will flash and then you can use it as normal. If the power has been turned off for any reason you may need to reset.
Help us to help you
Please find out your make of boiler and model number (for example: Vaillant TurboMax Plus). This is either on the front of the boiler or just inside the flap which enables you to get at the boiler controls.
Look and see if the boiler is showing a fault code such F20 on the display. Please tell us this with the boiler information. This will help us diagnose your problem.
Please try to work through the symptoms of your breakdown logically so that you can help us diagnose the fault as quickly as possible. You might find, for instance, that you only have only hot water and no heating.
We hope that you find these tips useful. Of course, we cannot take any responsibility for the consequences of our advice. Should you feel out of your depth, please feel free to enquire about our boiler repair service.
+ Things to consider when looking for a new boiler
Modern day boilers are much more efficient. However because when they start up they use more gas (more of the heat is then transferred into your house so the net loss is much more efficient) they need to have a 22 mm pipe supplying the gas.
This may be a problem and the engineer might have to re run some of the gas pipe from the gas meter to the boiler. Modern boilers use much more of the heat created from the gas being burned. Therefore the flue gasses are considerably less hot than in the older models.
This in turn means that the flue gasses have much more noticeable moisture content contained within. In practical terms modern condensing boilers, plume. You can see this on a cold day boiler flues pumping out clouds of condensation. As well as this, a condensation pipe must be fitted to the boiler to take more unwanted water away. This pipe must be able to drain away.
It can be pumped if necessary. Modern day systems can be sealed or have small water tanks, there are pros and cons to both systems. But a sealed system must have a pressure release valve.
It is also very important to have the system flushed out before the new boiler is installed.
Please phone us for any queries or help on anything 24 hours a day on 0208 964 6714
+ Heating Systems – sealed or vented?
Sealed systems have an expansion vessel that absorbs the pressure as the water in the system expands due to the heat in the system. Whereas open vented systems have an expansion pipe that lets out the pressure. Open vented systems are more prone to rust in the system.
Over time this will reduce the effectiveness of the radiators and the boiler will need repairing. Chemicals can be added to the system to reduce this. However sealed systems are more efficient.
Sealed systems pros
- Less rusting
- Less likely to suck air in to the system creating air locks and rust
- If a radiator is damaged, only half a bucket of water will leak from the system.
Sealed system cons
- When the pressure reduces the boiled will stop working. (Regular servicing is needed)
- A pipe must lead to outside for the pressure relief valve to dump the excess pressure when problems occur with the boiler
Open vented system pros
- If the system is very old and has lots of small leaks the pressure will never stop the boiler from working
- If the system is very old no excess pressure will be put on pipes and radiators creating leaks.
Open vented system cons
- Less efficient
- More rust in system
- More space is taken up from the tank.
Please phone us for any queries or help on anything 24 hours a day on 0208 964 6714. If you're looking for a plumber near you in the Greater London area, we'd be happy to help.
+ Flushing your heating system
The system can also be power flushed. Special chemicals are added to the system then the radiators vibrated loosening lots of the rust. This process is then done to each of the radiators in turn until all of the floating debris has been removed.
This will remove the worst of it but if the system has been left in a poor condition for a number of years it will not clear out all the old cold spots.
Please phone us for any queries or help on anything 24 hours a day on 0208 964 6714.
+ How to stop cold spots in your radiators
Most cold spots on the bottom of radiators are caused by rust this can be reduced with continued maintenance by keeping your radiators vented and by putting special chemicals in the central heating side of your system.
A Magnaclean can be installed – this pulls out any rust in the system continuously. Each year when the boiler is serviced the engineer will then clean the magnaclean out. Thus it is constantly cleaning the system.
The system can also be power flushed. Harsh chemicals are added to the system then the radiators vibrated loosening lots of the rust. This process is then done to each of the radiators in turn until all of the floating debris has been removed.
This will remove the worst of it but if systems have been left in a poor condition for a number of years it will not clear out all the cold spots.
Please phone us for any queries or help on anything 24 hours a day on 0208 964 6714.
+ How to look after your home central heating
It is very important to have a properly qualified gas safe engineer to look at your boiler every year.
It is also very important to vent the radiators to make sure no air has entered the system and to keep an eye on the pressure this should be in the green or around 1.2 bar of your pressure gauge. At the end of each winter go around all the thermostatic radiator valves and turn them all on.
You can then control the heating if you need it from the main room thermostat. This will mean that next winter none of the valves will stick.
Please phone us for any queries relating to our boiler repair service, or help on anything 24 hours a day on 0208 964 6714
+ Gas Rating
Please note that only Gas Safe (this has superseded Corgi accreditation) registered engineers can work on gas appliances. All gas appliances need to be registered with Gas Safe when installed or changed. This includes cookers, gas hobs and boilers.
There are strict limits for the amount of gas required for each and every appliance. If there is not enough gas available for the rating of the appliance, then the appliance could be dangerous.
With the previous standard for gas valves, on old appliances, the engineer could make a measurement of the gas pressure coming through the pipework and then do a rough calculation to establish whether there would be enough gas for the appliances before it was connected. However, the new type of gas valve on modern appliances makes this estimate impossible to do - there is no substitute for actually installing the appliance and testing it in situ to see if it receives the correct amount gas needed for the appliance to burn correctly.
This means that when the appliance is commissioned, the most important check is whether there is enough gas, otherwise the appliance will be deemed unsafe. If it is, then the only solution is to adapt the existing pipework or re-run it in a larger diameter so that enough gas is delivered to all the appliances working off that meter.
Be aware that re-running the gas piping will result in additional costs.
+ Asbestos Awareness
Staunch and Flow has adopted a Asbestos training scheme for its staff but the points listed here come from The Health and Safety Executive and will give you a good overview of the issues that are involved
The Properties of Asbestos and its Affects on Health
Asbestos is the name given to a group of naturally occurring fibrous minerals. It can come in several types, however the following are the most common types used within industry:
- Chrysotile (White)
- Crocidolite (Blue)
- Amosite (Brown)
The groups of asbestos fibres differ in their mechanical and chemical properties. The different types of asbestos can be found on their own or as a mixture with any other of the fibres. They cannot usually be identified by their colour alone. Where asbestos is affected by heat and chemicals or is combined with other substances, its colour and appearance can easily change.
The supply, importation and use of blue and brown asbestos was totally banned within the U.K. in 1985, with a general ban on white asbestos following in 1999 (there were slight exceptions for the specialist use of white asbestos, however a total ban came on 01/01/2005).
Work with asbestos can release small fibres into the air. Although the body will get rid of most of the larger fibres that can enter the nose and mouth, tiny fibres can pass into the lower parts of the lung. They can stay there for years and in some cases work their way through the lung lining. The body naturally gets rid of any asbestos fibres that you might take in with food and water. Asbestos fibres cannot be absorbed through your skin.
Breathing in asbestos fibres can eventually lead to a number of fatal diseases/conditions:
- Pleural Plaques
- Diffuse Pleural Thickening
- Lung Cancer
- Cancers at other sites.
Working with asbestos can lead to an increased risk of developing lung cancer. Smoking can increase this risk further. These two risk factors combined appear to have an effect that is greater than the sum of the individual increases of risk from smoking or asbestos exposure alone. Ex-smokers have been shown to be at a significantly lower excess risk than current smokers.
There are no known cures for asbestos-related diseases and they will generally appear many years after first exposure, which can vary between 15 and 60 years. The symptoms may include:
- Shortness of breath
- A cough or a change in cough pattern
- Blood in the sputum (fluid) coughed up from the lungs
- Pain in the chest or abdomen
- Difficultyin swallowing or prolonged hoarseness and or
- Significant weight loss
There are approximately 3500 deaths a year due to asbestos related diseases.
If asbestos containing material is intact and in a position where it cannot easily be damaged, it will not pose a risk to health by releasing fibres into the air.
Many of the people currently suffering from asbestos related diseases formally worked in the building trade. They were exposed to asbestos fibres in their day to day work with asbestos containing materials or because work with asbestos was carried out near them. Therefore, take note of the following guidance and take the necessary action if you suspect that you are working on or near asbestos containing materials.
The Types, Uses and likely Occurrence of Asbestos and ACM’s in Buildings and Plant
Although asbestos should have not been used as a new building material in any form since at least 1999, many thousands of tonnes of it were used in buildings in the past. A large amount of asbestos is still out there and you cannot easily identify it from its appearance.
Asbestos is likely to be in a building if:
- It was built or refurbished between 1950 and 1980 and particularly;
- If it also has a steel frame; and/or
- It has boilers with thermal insulation.
But you also need to bear in mind that asbestos cement has also been widely used as a building material since the 1950’s.
Some ACMs are more vulnerable to damage and more likely to give off fibres than others. In general, the materials which contain a high percentage of asbestos are more easily damaged. The list below is roughly in order of ease of fibre release (with the highest potential fibre release first).
Sprayed coatings, lagging and insulating board are more likely to contain blue or brown asbestos. Asbestos insulation and lagging can contain up to 85% asbestos and are most likely to give off fibres. Work with asbestos insulating board can result in equally high fibre release if power tools are used.
On the other hand, asbestos cement contains only 10%-15% asbestos. The asbestos is tightly bound into the cement and the material will only give off fibres if it is
badly damaged or broken.
You are most likely to come across asbestos in these materials:
- sprayed asbestos and asbestos loose packing – generally used as fire breaks in ceiling voids;
- moulded or preformed lagging – generally used in thermal insulation of pipes and boilers;
- sprayed asbestos – generally used as fire protection in ducts, firebreaks, panels, partitions, soffit boards, ceiling panels an around structural steel work;
- insulating boards used for fire protection, thermal insulation, partitioning and ducts;
- some ceiling tiles;
- millboard, paper and paper products used for insulation of electrical equipment. Asbestos paper has also been used as a fire-proof facing on wood fibreboard;
- asbestos cement products, which can be fully or semi-compressed into flat or corrugated sheets. Corrugated sheets are largely used as roofing and wall cladding. Other asbestos cement products include gutters, rainwater pipes and water tanks;
- certain textured coatings;
- bitumen roofing material; and
- vinyl or thermoplastic floor tiles.
Remember, although these are the most likely uses and places where asbestos will be found, asbestos was used in many other materials. If you are in doubt, it is safer to presume that a material contains asbestos, unless there is strong evidence that it does not.
The General Procedures to be Followed to Deal with an Emergency e.g. an uncontrolled release of asbestos dust into the workplace
In any circumstance where there is an accidental discovery or uncontrolled release of asbestos into the workplace then measures, including emergency procedures, should be in place to limit exposure and the risks to health. Such procedures should include means to raise the alarm and procedures for evacuation, which should be tested and practised at regular intervals. The cause of the uncontrolled release should be identified, and adequate control regained as soon as possible.
The following steps should be followed if an un-damaged asbestos containing material is discovered during a working process:
- Discover ACM, stop work immediately
- Keep everyone else out of the work area
- Report problem to the person in charge as soon as possible
- Put up a warning sign ‘possible asbestos contamination’
However if you discover an ACM in a bad condition or actually damage the ACM during the work activity, the following procedures will need to be followed:
- Discover damaged ACM, stop work immediately
- Keep everyone else out of the work area
- Is there dust or debris on clothing (if no, follow procedure 1)
- Remove the clothing and put it into a plastic bag
- Try to wash thoroughly straight away or if the facilities are provided take a shower
- Leave the washing facilities clean
- Report the problem to the person in charge as soon as possible
- Put up a warning sign ‘possible asbestos contamination’
Step 3 of Procedure 1 and step 7 of Procedure 2 will require that you contact the site foreman as soon as possible. The site foreman will then contact head office and the site contact to inform them of the discovery and the procedures that had been followed. Head office will then arrange with the client to arrange for a sample to be analysed and the work area to be cleaned up if necessary. No-one will be allowed to re-enter the contaminated area for any reason until a clearance/re-occupation certificate has been issued to the client by the appropriate asbestos analysing/air monitoring company.
How to Avoid Risks from Asbestos
There are some simple procedures to be followed in order to help reduce the risk of employees coming into contact with asbestos. Owners and occupiers of non-domestic premises, who have maintenance and repair responsibilities for those premises, have a duty under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 to assess the premises for the presence of asbestos and the condition of that asbestos (this duty has been enforced since 21st November 2004 under the CAW 2002).
Where asbestos is present the dutyholder must ensure that the risk from the asbestos is assessed, that a written plan identifying where that asbestos is located is prepared and that measures to manage the risk from the asbestos are set out in that plan and are implemented.
If the non-domestic premise does contain asbestos containing materials there is no legal requirement for the asbestos to be removed. The owner/occupier will need to assess the condition of the product and then decide whether they will remove it or whether it will stay in place. If the ACM does stay in place the duty holder will need to ensure that it is either in a good condition or alternatively arrange for the product to be enclosed/sealed/encapsulated or repaired.
Therefore, before any work takes place on site, the site foreman or senior operative will request to see the Asbestos register for that site (please note, not all sites will have a register, please see section 1 below). The register will provide information on the location and condition of any asbestos containing material on that site. If the register details that asbestos containing material is present in the area that you are scheduled to work in, the site foreman/senior operative will contact head office for further confirmation on whether the work is to continue or whether alterations are to be made to the safe systems of work which were to be followed.
Not all sites will have an asbestos register, this could be the case in a number of situations;
1. The site is too young for it to contain asbestos e.g. it was built after 1999,
2. The building will obviously not contain asbestos e.g. a steel built industrial unit
3. The site itself has had all asbestos removed.
If a site falls under category 1 or 2, please err on the side of caution. There could be situations where a building contractor may have installed ACM’s that they still had in stock. Therefore, if you do come across a suspect material, follow procedures 1 or 2.
If a site falls under situation 3, ask for written confirmation/evidence that the asbestos has been removed by a licensed contractor.
All exposures to asbestos should be avoided, however, that does not mean that you should necessarily worry about a one-off exposure. From time to time, accidental exposures to asbestos may occur and can be a cause of much concern and distress to the individuals concerned. Your risk of developing an asbestos-related disease depends how much asbestos you are exposed to, for how long and on how many different occasions. A one-off short-term exposure is unlikely to be of concern, but each time you are exposed, the risk increases a little bit more. Think of this like smoking. The more times you smoke, the greater your risk of developing cancer.
If in doubt:
STOP WORK, CLOSE AREA OFF and NOTIFY PERSON IN CHARGE.
Completion of Training
In order to be sure that you have all seen and understood this, you must sign and date the relevant check list that covers our annual Health and Safety review.
+ Learning how to use an AGA cooker
Learning to use an AGA cooker is a different experience to most other ovens, but it can be easy to get the most out of your AGA.
One step to understand is that you may have to re-prioritise they way you cook. With a conventional cookers, the majority of the cooking process actually takes place on the hobs. However, with an AGA cooker the ovens themselves should be the primary facility.
Cooking on hotplates results in a greater loss of stored heat across the whole of the cooker because the cooker loses significantly more heat with the hob lids up. AGA ovens also perform better compared to other cookers because they cook more evenly and with less of a tendency to dry out the food being cooked.
Another significant factor to consider is that your cooker must have regular AGA services. Without this servicing, your AGA cooker might not be working optimally or it could start to break down without your knowledge.
To have your AGA cooker properly serviced, you must turn it off and allow it to cool down for 24 hours before the engineer arrives, so that they can work on it.
For more information about the full range of our AGA/Rayburn services, contact us on 0208 964 6714 today.
+ Plumbing Apprenticeships
Plumbing has always been a multi-skilled profession and mastering its expanding range of systems, skills and topics means that new entrants face a bewildering induction to the craft. Most plumbers have to be well-versed in a range of boiler makes and models, from the very recent to the antique. On top of that, they need to use advanced welding techniques and have an understanding of simple computer systems. It can be difficult, but the rewards are great - you will earn a good salary with your plumbing skills. If you choose this career, you will end up possessing a wide skill set that will open up your job prospects.
Taking up a plumbing apprenticeship is a great first step into the industry: it’s a popular career route and so many people apply when an opportunity comes up. Here we give you some practical advice on how to go about getting a plumbing apprenticeship:
Skills & Qualifications
The first thing to bear in mind is that apprenticeships aren’t an easy option. You don’t have to be academic, but you do have to be intelligent, switched-on and eager to learn. Because of its highly-complex nature, plumbing requires more qualifications than many other apprenticeships; typically 5 good GCSEs (6-9), including Maths and English. If you didn’t quite reach this level but have a natural aptitude, you’ll find employers are still willing to invest in your training and development. Be sure it’s what you want to do and that you’re capable of doing it before you apply though; in such a competitive field, a slack attitude simply won’t cut it - you'll need a strong desire to learn and a good deal of enthusiasm about your future job.
Finding a Placement
Before you can become an apprentice you need an employer. It sounds obvious, but this is the biggest hurdle you’ll face. You may have all the necessary qualifications and aptitude, but without a placement, you’ll be unable to get trained. First you’ll need to identify your local Training Provider (or Providers): the UK’s dedicated apprenticeship website keeps a continually-updated list, so keep looking. Once you’re registered you can start the process in earnest.
An alternative route is to use your local Connexions office. Aside from listing placements, they may be able to help you with applications or offer practical advice on approaching potential employers. If you continually draw a blank, or live in an area with few opportunities, you can always try writing to local employers. Such an approach is hard work and can be dispiriting when you don’t hear back, but put some care into your letter, highlight your strengths and – most importantly – keep trying.
The government funds apprenticeship training for 16-18-year-olds, via your employer. The national minimum wage for apprentices is £3.70 per hour, but many employers offer competitive wages, with the average being £200+ per week (so significantly more than the current minimum wage for under-18s). It can be hard getting by on lower-end apprentice wages, but you may be entitled to Income Support or Housing Benefit (if you no longer live at home). Check with your local CAB if money is an issue. Remember your low wage is only temporary; most apprentices go on to make far more than those who went straight into unskilled work.
Why Do an Apprenticeship?
Put simply, it can change your life. Plumbers make an average of £31,700 a year, with some managing to exceed £50,000. Even a low-paid plumber can be expected to earn more than £25,000 a year; the same as a well-paid store manager or skilled office worker. There are many opportunities for progression in the trade, and even self-employed plumbers can be sure the work will never dry up.
As an apprenticeship, you’ll learn the necessary skills under the supervision of an expert; but will also be given enough room to find your own way and become independent. You can even use your apprenticeship qualification to move into higher education if you decide to pursue another career. All it requires is hard work, tenacity and real enthusiasm.
Think about your plumbing course today.
+ How To Unblock A Toilet
A clogged toilet is always unpleasant. Unfortunately, it is also a common household problem and one that can quickly turn into a major disaster if poorly handled. In most cases, however, a simple drain clog is easily remedied and can be fixed in a matter of minutes with a few ordinary household items. Here’s everything you need to know about unblocking a toilet.
The best defence against clogs is prevention. Avoid flushing anything but toilet paper. Hand wipes, feminine products, cigarette butts, paper towels, and even thick tissues are usually the culprits responsible for blocked pipes. Also, if you ever accidentally drop anything into the toilet, fish it out straight away never try to flush it! Believe it or not, flushed cell phones and children’s toys can cost a small fortune to dislodge from drains, sometimes necessitating the removal of whole sections of drywall and piping. For those who live in apartment buildings, this is certainly no way to make friends with the neighbours.
The Passive Solution
If you are lucky, the easiest way to unclog a toilet is to wait it out simply. Let water dissolve the clog, and try flushing again after several hours. By pouring a caustic soda (coke, for example) into the toilet bowl, you can speed the dissolving process along considerably. Simply dump a can of cola in the water and let it eat away at the debris. Just be sure never to flush the toilet when the water level is already high. You could inadvertently cause a disgusting overflow.
If the waiting game doesn’t pay off, it is time to take matters into your own hands. Prepare by getting rubber gloves, a plunger, a drain snake or wire coat hanger, and a bucket. For some of the worst jobs, you might also consider a respirator to filter out the fumes. What we do always recommend, however, if the problem is far worse call in the professionals as you could just be preparing to make things worse by doing it yourself which can be a costly damage.
Taking the Plunge
Carefully insert the plunger into the drain and press firmly down, and then pull slowly up. You are aiming to create a tight suction on the drain hole at the bottom of the toilet, so be sure to manipulate the plunger to create a firm seal. Plunge up and down about 10-20 times, or until you feel the clog work loose. (Move the plunger slowly and be careful to avoid splashing.) Then flush to see if it worked.
If the plunger method doesn’t work, unbend the coat hanger and straighten it into a long rod. Next, insert it deep into the drain until it meets the clog (or use the drain snake, if you happen to have one). Push through and work it loose by twisting the hanger in a circular motion. Then flush to clear the newly unclogged drain.
Flush once or twice more to let the fresh water clear debris off your hanger or plunger, then put them in the bucket to avoid dripping on the floor. Wash and disinfect the plunger and/or dispose of the coat hanger to avoid spreading germs. Don’t overlook this portion of the job. Failure to properly disinfect could pose a serious health risk. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly and disinfect the toilet after fixing any clog, as plunging can sometimes cause splashing that isn’t obviously apparent. It is often a good idea to clean the floor around the toilet as well.
Most often, unclogging a toilet is quite simple. At times, however, clogged drains can signal a much larger problem. Clogged mainlines, backed up septic systems, and faulty pipes can sometimes occur. If none of the measures listed above work, it is time to call in a professional. If you're looking for plumbing services in London Staunch & Flow would be happy to help.
+ How To Bleed A Radiator
A radiator’s efficiency can begin to degrade when air or gas gets trapped and prevents the hot water from properly heating the radiator. Bleeding off the air pressure can get your radiator working again. This is a relatively simple operation, but be sure to follow all the steps carefully.
Before you begin, open all the thermostatic radiator valves and turn up the heat in your home or office so all the radiators come on. Run the central heating for about ten minutes, and then turn it off. After that, check each radiator individually to see if they’re heating up. Be careful not to burn yourself — radiators can get very hot.
A cool spot somewhere on the radiator can mean that trapped gas is preventing it from operating at full efficiency. This can be resolved by bleeding the radiator. Gas is most often trapped at the highest point in the building or environment.
Bleeding the Radiator
Important: Before you begin, make sure your central heating is fully switched off — not only for your own safety, but to make sure no more air gets trapped inside the system while you’re working.
To get into the radiator, you may need a specialized radiator key. Many newer radiators can be opened with a simple flat screwdriver. A radiator key is generally available at any hardware store.
The next step is to release air from the radiator. Insert the key (or screwdriver) into the bleed valve (or bleed screw) at the top corner of the radiator and turn counterclockwise.
As the air escapes you will hear a hissing noise, if there is any in there to begin with. Once water begins to drip from the open valve it means all the air has been successfully bled from the radiator. Turn the key clockwise again to close and tighten the bleed valve.
You will want something absorbent on hand to deal with drips. A simple cloth or tea towel should do the trick. Be advised that the water leaking from the radiator is likely to be very hot, so use caution.
Repeat this process for each of the radiators in the home or office. Once you’re finished, turn the central heat back on and check to make sure that everything’s working properly and none of the valves are leaking.
Bleeding the radiators will lower the overall pressure in your central heating system, so you may have to top-up the boiler afterward. Usually, this involves slowly opening and closing the main water valve above the boiler. If you don’t feel familiar enough with your central heating system to do this, get a professional plumber to do it.
When checking the radiators, be sure to look for any cold spots or uneven heating. This can be a sign of more serious problems, like rust or sludge built up in the bottom of the radiator. That’s not a problem you can fix yourself — have the radiator flushed.
Also, if some of your radiators are cooler than others that means that the radiators nearer the central heating system are using more hot water than those further away. That’s also a job for a professional plumber.
Once again, if you don’t feel comfortable doing this yourself, don’t! It also can’t hurt to check your home insurance before doing any sort of DIY work — bleeding a radiator is a fairly simple operation, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Staunch & Flow are a professional London plumbing service and would be happy to help with any questions you may have.
+ How to Reduce the Energy Costs of Your Washing Machine
Washing machines our one of the great inventions of the modern world. These clever little devices have kept household garments clean for many years and their convenience is obvious. No longer do people have to scrub and rinse their clothes by hand or make their way to the local launderette as they did back in history. In the world we live in today, this innovation has indeed become a regular fixture along with the rest of the white goods in the average kitchen or utility room. However this convenience does come at a price because the average washing machine traditionally will use vast amounts of water. In addition, they will also consume a certain amount of electricity which is far greater than if you were to wash by hand. That said there are some models out there that have been designed specifically with the environment in mind.
The eco-friendly Washing Machine
The environmentally friendly washing machine will tend to have an energy efficient classification. These will be endorsed by the ‘Energy Saving Trust. A machine with an ‘A’ rating is the most efficient with ratings going down to ‘G’. Most of the appliances will be in the A and B categories as manufacturers compete to make the most efficient models. In fact it’s quite common to see models displaying A+++ classification. Whilst these are not official EU ratings, they will highlight their superiority over the standard ‘A’ rated models.
Eco friendly washing machines are becoming very popular. Models from manufacturers such as ‘Gorenje’ use cutting edge technology such as ‘UseLogic’. This technology utilises sensors which continually monitor the purity and content of the water and adjust accordingly depending on each individual wash. These washing machines also have very high rpm’s (up to 2000) which have the effect of leaving much less water in the clothes after the cycle thereby requiring less time to dry. Some Gorenje machines have a ‘Total Aqua Stop’ function which eradicates the problem of leakages whereby sensors will detect any water loss from pipes and subsequently cut off the water supply to the washing machine.
These machines will typically use up to 10% less electricity than those of standard ‘A’ class models. They are also very kind to the environment in terms of water consumption since all the machines use approximately 39 litres of water per wash without compromising on performance. Larger drums also allow for further efficiencies since fewer wash cycles are required to get through a typical family’s laundry.
Saving Energy and Money
Of course, there are things we can do to save energy irrespective of the type of washing we may have. If we lower the temperature of the wash from 40 degrees to 30, then it will use around 40% less energy. This is possible as modern detergents are designed to work just as effectively at lower temperatures.
Many of us don’t realise that we should be turning off the machine from the mains (i.e. plug socket) since if the lights are still on, the machine will be using some electricity despite completing its cycle. Turning this off is something which will need to be done on a regular basis as over time these incremental costs of electricity will soon mount up.
Another thing to consider is maybe not using the washing machine as much as you may have been used to. If you limit the appliance’s use to certain days of the week, then you will not get stuck into a habit of constant daily washing. In addition, when you do use the machine, you should try to use it at night time when the unit cost of electricity is typically much cheaper.
These tips we have discussed should benefit you in many ways. For more information on washing machines and problems encountered, feel free to read our other related guides on how to disconnect and reconnect a washing machine.
+ How to Stop a Dripping Tap
The steady dripping of a leaky tap can be one of the most irritating noises in the world. Not only can the sound of water dripping cause lost sleep and aggravation, but there is a real economic impact as well. A dripping tap can drive up the water bill in a very short time and it literally is hot water going down the drain. In addition to the economic impact, a tap leaking is usually a sign that something is amiss and in need of repair before it gets worse. Here’s how you can put a stop to that leaky tap.
Causes of a Dripping Tap
The most common cause of a leaky tap is usually worn-out parts. Conventional faucets will start to leak when the washers or seals get old and either come loose or begin to wear down at the edges. Washers in particular are constantly under water pressure, and it’s only a matter of time before they start to wear.
Washerless taps have similar problems. Cartridge, ball and disc-style taps don’t decay in the same way standard compression taps do, but the inlet and outlet seals and the O-rings can and do wear down or break. Inlet seals can accumulate layers of sediment over time, which can eventually cause leaks. Other causes of leaks include loose nuts around the handles or fixtures.
Repairing a Dripping Tap
Most of these problems are fairly simple to repair. To replace a washer, begin by turning off the main water supply in the house or apartment (unless you want water spraying all over your kitchen or bathroom). This includes the shut-off valve to the sink you’re working on. Make sure that the water has been turned off by turning the tap on. If no water comes out, you’re ready to proceed.
Next, loosen the packing nut on the tap. This will generally be located near or inside the faucet handle, which you will probably have to remove. In some cases, the nut may be obscured by a decorative covering, depending on what style of tap you have. Once the packing nut is loose, pull the entire valve unit out by the faucet handle stem.
The washer will probably be at the bottom of the valve unit. Remove the screw holding it in place — you may need some lubricating oil to get it to come loose — then remove the washer itself. Replace the old washer with a new washer of equal size; make sure you get the correct size as it may end up not fitting correctly and need opening up again. While you have the entire tap disassembled, now would be a good time to clean out any grime or sediment that’s built up on the valve unit or around the faucet handles.
Then replace the screw, put the valve back into the faucet, tighten the packing nut. You can now turn on the water supply and check for any leaks. If there’s no dripping water, you’ve succeeded in stopping the leaks!
Tips for the Future
Remember not all taps are made equal, and not all of them are built to last. The best way to avoid potentially costly repairs is to start with a top-flight brand, like Kohler, Moen or Grohe brand faucets. The style of tap you install will also make a difference. Compression-style taps are generally quite easy to repair. Again, cartridge- and ball-style taps don’t have the same kinds of issues, but in some cases, the cartridge itself may need replacing. If you’ve tried doing it yourself and you’re in doubt about the cause of your leaky tap or you just can’t seem to stop the dripping then call a professional. Staunch & Flow provide professional plumbing services in London and the surrounding area.
+ How to Plumb Your Garden
A garden provides numerous benefits for any home. It appeals to the senses, can provide sustenance in the form of vegetables and herbs, and is great for property value. But a garden also requires time and energy to care for it. If you have a large garden and have grown tired of moving hoses and sprinklers around, you may want to consider investing some time and building a home plumbing system for your garden.
Before you start tearing up your garden, first make a thorough plan of attack. Take measurements of your garden and draw up a map or plot. Ask yourself some basic questions: how many trenches will you need for the pipes? How will the trenches be arranged? How deeply will you bury the pipes? Where will the water go? Does your garden have any naturally-occurring obstacles, like tree boles or walls that you’ll have to work around or through? Will you want to expand your system later?
Next, assemble the parts you will need:
- Braided flexible plumbing line
- A spigot (multi-head if you have more than one trench planned)
- Connectors and clamps for the plumbing line
Garden Plumbing, a Step by Step Guide
Find the low points in your garden, because that’s where all the water will be draining. Whether or not your garden is downhill or uphill from the house will make a difference in where you build your trenches. You will also need to plan for some sort of end point for when you need to completely drain the system. Account for any places where the lines will have to turn or bend — you will need elbow connections for your pipes in these areas, as well as any areas where the line will need to make a 90-degree turn (where the line meets the spigot, for example).
Once you have your plan in place, the next step is to dig the trenches where you plan to lay your plumbing line. For this, you may want to rent or purchase a trench digger tool, since digging by hand could be very time- and labor-intensive. This is where determining the depth of your trenches will be important. If you live in a climate where the weather turns freezing each year, then frozen pipes are a potential concern. You’ll have to either bury the pipes below the frost line, or plan to drain the system of water each year when the weather begins to turn cold.
After the trenches are properly dug out, you will want to check the slope and evenness of the trench to make sure there are no hidden low points in the line where water could accumulate. A levelling tool or even a piece of straight wood or pipe will probably suffice.
Now you’re ready to lay your plumbing line. Start at your water source, usually the spigot. If you have multiple trenches in your system, you will need a multi-head spigot that can supply water to each separate line. When fitting the lines, ensure that the connections are tight and that you fit the clamps snugly. You may need to heat the line with a propane torch to get them to fit correctly.
Once the lines are placed, it’s time to test the system for leaks. Turn on the water and examine each of your lines and connections for any signs of leakage. You may need to leave the water on for a while, just to make certain.
A proper garden plumbing system can involve a lot of labor up front, but once it’s finished, it will add beauty and value to your home, and save you a lot of labour in the long run.