In our first of a series of guest blogs from experts across Bark.com, Charlie Mullins, Founder and Managing Director of London-based Pimlico Plumbers, the capital’s biggest independent plumbing company, shares his top tips for healthy waterworks.
Whether you’re boiling your kettle, doing the laundry, having a soak in the bath or warming the house on a cold, crisp evening, we do use a lot of water simply going from day to day, with our plumbing quietly working away in the background to transport it from A to B.
But making sure we get the most from our pipes is not always that simple – if you’re working with existing networks, they aren’t always as flexible or adaptable as we’d like them to be, and if you’re starting from scratch, there are a number of building regulations to consider. So if you’re thinking of doing any tinkering, here are a few top tips to help you ask the right questions, get the right solutions and perhaps most importantly, the right quotes for your plumbing.
1. Where’s my water going? – Out of all the rooms in the home, the kitchen and bathroom – in other words, the rooms that involve the most plumbing work – are the most commonly renovated. So before you read up on your feng shui and start rearranging layouts, think where you’re going to put all your water items (by that, I mean sinks, bath, washing machine, loo, dishwasher etc.) as their position may well be determined by where existing waste and soil pipes are. It is often extremely pricey to move them even a few inches, so make sure you factor in their exact locations when discussing your design. If you’re not sure what’s possible and you’re looking for a tradesman to do the job, why not ask your local bathroom or kitchen fitter for advice before buying? It could save you a lot of hassle further down the line
2. I don’t understand my water pressure – We’ve all experienced the disappointment of a bad shower, whether that’s the embarrassing trickle that drips from the showerhead or the vicious spikes and drops in temperature when someone turns a tap on elsewhere. But it doesn’t have to be that way if you carefully consider where your water tank is positioned and match the shower to suit it. Generally, your supply will come from one of three places – a header tank in the attic, with a hot water cylinder in an airing cupboard; a pressurised system using the pressure from your mains water supply in the road; or a combi boiler system heating water on demand. Again, it’s worth consulting a specialist shower installation professional before you get too attached to the idea of a ceiling mounted rain shower head – beautiful in theory, but not always practical.
3. How do I get the most from my boiler? – Boilers can take up a lot of precious space in a crowded kitchen or bathroom, so many people opt to move them somewhere more secluded in the home. If you’re thinking of doing the same, there are a few things to consider – firstly, how readily accessible will your boiler be? Unless you have a converted loft, bunging a boiler in the attic will only give you and your (CORGI registered) boiler engineer headaches when it needs to be serviced, so aim for somewhere on the ground floor like a shoe cupboard or utility room. Then, think about how far any heated water needs to travel – the shorter the distance, the quicker you’ll be able to run your bath. Finally, don’t forget about the flue (the vent for the boiler) – there are several building regulations that can limit where it can be positioned, and therefore where your boiler can be installed.
4. And my radiators? – If you haven’t replaced your radiators in a while, you’ll probably find them situated under windows or on external walls – and there is some logic to this as before double glazing came into play, this helped cancel out cold draughts entering the room. Nowadays though, radiator positions don’t need to be so prescriptive, so feel free to play around with locations (perhaps with the help of a handy heating professional). Just watch out for blocking them with furniture or hiding them behind long curtains as that will trap the heat.
5. What about the pipes themselves? – Going underground seems to be a growing trend with all manner of piping to keep rooms looking clean and clutter-free. And that’s fine – but make sure you find yourself a plumber you trust because the move will be delicate. Any drilling or notching to floor joists needs to be done with care to ensure they can still support weight, any pipes buried in concrete floors need to be protected from potential chemical reactions with tape or plastic casing, and pipes shouldn’t be randomly placed anywhere – otherwise, tradesmen further down the line could easily hammer a nail in to your network or make an incision accidentally.
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Have you got your own plumbing tips to share? Have you ever been caught out by the above? Give us a Bark and let us know!