Why does my floor have to come up for a walk-in shower? - 21/09/2018
When shower enclosures and trays are displayed in showrooms there is never a problem with waste pipework – they simply don’t have it. In the real world in your bathroom there is obviously a need for waste water to run out from your shower tray quicker than it comes in! If a waste pipe has a fall on it (as per the water regs) then this obviously helps matters considerably along with a fast flow waste trap. However, many existing shower tray installations have the waste pipe running above floor level (boxed in) which makes it impossible to refit a tray directly on the floor without the use of a riser kit/leg kit - unless the plumber is prepared to take up the floor and relocate the waste pipe underneath the floor and back to the soil stack. Even then this is not always possible or practical due to floor joist positions or the junction where the waste enters the stack being too high or badly positioned and not being able to get an adequate fall on the waste pipe itself.
If the waste pipe just pops up through a hole in the floor under a tray it is often then thought that a new tray can just be laid on the floor. However, this will have the affect lowering the waste pipe connection below floor too and hence reducing the fall in the waste pipe be to the stack. I have been to many an installation where the floor has obviously not been taken up to check the waste gradient and just had a small access hole made for the final connection to the waste. The waste pipe itself was flat/ bordering on going uphill and would not drain away quick enough for the power shower. The result is the tray fills up with water and the shower has to be turned off to give it time to drain away! -Not a clever situation at all and with no quick solution!
Obviuosly for those who are unable to step up into a tray then the floor should be taken up to check the waste pipe gradient and if still not possible/practical then maybe a wet room should be investigated?
Surely it is far more practical to have a tray on a riser kit with a removable plinth so the trap is easily accessible for removing and cleaning out, rather than a tray with the trap under the floor with no access and without adequate drainage and a shower that has to be turned off to allow the tray to empty out while the customer waits with the shampoo in one hand and a plunger in the other!
What type of wall tiles can I use in my bathroom? - 19/08/2018
There are plenty of different types and sizes of tiles on the market today it can become a little over whelming when it comes to choosing what ones would be suitable for your individual bathroom.
Here are a few basic considerations you may find useful.
Walls are constructed in many different ways i.e. blockwork and plaster skim, Plasterboard and wooden studwork (sometimes skimmed) and Plasterboard and Aluminum Channel studwork to name but three. Each of these situations have a different “wall tile weight limit” So it is important for you to ask your supplier prior to buying something that is too heavy for your walls! This is especially the case when tiles are advertised as “Wall and Floor tiles” and tend to be thicker, denser, stronger and heavier than something just designed for walls alone.
A lot of wall tiles tend to be made from either Ceramic/China or Porcelain however there are plenty of other types on the market that are not necessarily ideal for bathroom (wet) applications as they are naturally porous – such as natural stone types or Travertine. Porous tiles need to be sealed on a regular basis to prevent water ingress so beware you may need to apply a waterproofing of some sort to your shower cubicle tiles every couple of years or so to prevent water passing through the tile to the wall behind and causing problems in the future.
Ceramic tiles can be easier to keep clean due to a high glazed finished surface whereas some Porcelain tiles may have a more buff finish which could attract dirt over time in a wet area. Ceramic tiles can usually be manually cut which can speed up tiling. Holes can be cut quite easily to fit shower surround or bath screens.
Porcelain tiles are usually a lot harder than ceramic.
Not all porcelain tiles can be easily manually cut due to all sorts of reasons i.e. hardness, thickness, brittleness so may have to be cut mechanically which will take longer. Sometimes when you think you are saving on a cheap box of tiles you will end up paying extra for diamond cutters and drill bits and additional labour time for cutting! Hole cutting for shower surrounds and bath screens can sometimes be arduous -it can take over 15 minutes to cut a single 6mm hole in a wall with a diamond hole cutter which may only cope with cutting 3 or 4 holes before it needs throwing away and replacing.
Tiles are manufactured in batches and have batch numbers written on the boxes. It is important to realise that shades can vary with different batches during manufacture. Sometimes this is highlighted in artificial light rather than daylight so may not be apparent straight away -for example when you turn on your bathroom lighting in the evening some tiles could appear to be different shades (from a different batch box of tiles) than they looked during the day time! Always try to get the same batch number on all your boxes to prevent shade discrepancies.
Don't rush and buy something you like - you're likely to live with them for a while!
Cistern Button or Cistern Handle - 02/08/2018
What is the best toilet – button or handle?
Most older toilets operate with the use of a handle which in turn works a siphon type valve when the lever is pressed it raises a polythene diaphragm which lifts up the water inside the valve and starts off a siphoning action. The water in the older cisterns was more plentiful i.e. 9 liters and due to the longer flushing action would be able to cope with most things flushable.
Toilets these days conform to the water regulations and generally have a 6/3-liter flush, so the cisterns are slightly smaller or even very narrow in design (because they can be) A lot of newer cisterns operate with a push button which operates the flushing valve either by rods attached to the button or via a wire from the button to the side of the valve. In either instance a washer is raised up allowing water to flow through the cistern and into the pan and flushing away waste. The valve has a two-part button for a large or a small flush.
So what can go wrong and how is it fixed?
There isn’t much that can go wrong with the older type siphon valve apart from the diaphragm splitting/ripping over time which then means no siphon and therefore no flush. To remedy this the diaphragm needs to be replaced which in a lot of cases means the cistern needs to be taken off of the pan and the flush valve should then be repaired or better still replaced for a 2-part siphon which would mean future problems can be rectified without the cistern removal again.
The push button flush valve relies on the sealing washer stopping the water from running from the cistern through to the pan. In hard water areas (welcome to Wiltshire!) a buildup of scale on this washer over time invariably causes water to seep out and drip down the back of the toilet pan -sometime almost invisible to the eye unless a piece of toilet paper is used to blot the side of the pan. The upshot (apart from a waste of water) is the filling valve then kicks in to refill the cistern to the correct level and will keep doing so until you call ABC Plumbing or turn the water off! Whilst these valves generally can be removed and the washer cleaned or replaced the results are not always successful and the problem can persist due to scale build up on the valve seating or actually inside the valve affecting the movement.To remedy this the cistern needs to be taken off again to access the nut that holds the valve in place and a suitable replacement installed. A Water softener can radically improve the life of a pushbutton type flush valve.