Basic plumbing skills

A prerequisite of success in virtually any do-it-yourself plumbing project is a sound understanding of the existing plumbing system of the house. The cold water distribution systems, hot water supply systems and above-ground drainage systems in common use in the United Kingdom are described and explained below. Cold water distribution A communication pipe connects the … Read more

Know your central heating

How big should a central heating system be? Well obviously no bigger than it has to be. Over-sizing can result in waste of fuel and an unnecessarily costly installation. Under-sizing results in complaints of lack of temperature and too little hot water. Complaints of lack of performance are very difficult to answer, particularly if you … Read more

Bricks and blocks

Clay is the most common brick material. Commonly used is ‘fletton’ clay and the manufacturing method is ‘wire-cut’. Strong and durable. Some clay bricks are still made by hand. Calcium silicate An alternative material (also called ‘sand lime’). Smoother and lighter in colour than clay. Concrete Moulded concrete bricks in a variety of colours and … Read more

Sealed Heating Systems

This type of system uses a diaphragm or membrane tank together with a safety valve and pressure gauge, instead of the conventional open system using an F & E tank and open vent. The sealed system can be used on both smallbore and microbore systems. It is sometimes called a pressurised sys- tem, which means … Read more

Planning A Heating System Yourself

To design and install central heating may seem a daunting task, but it can be made reasonably straightforward if kept to a basic system. There are a number of different types of heating systems. Only a competent handyman should think of designing and installing his own system, but many other people would like to understand … Read more

Working With Pipes

The ability to join lengths of pipe to each other and to other plumbing fittings is a basic skill that must be acquired by every amateur plumber. Light gauge copper and stainless steel tubing is commonly used in hot and cold water supply. The easiest way to join pipes of these materials is with non-manipulative … Read more

The Basic Domestic Water System

Be sure you understand the layout and operation of your household hot and cold water services and drainage system before attempting alterations or improvements to bathroom or kitchen plumbing. Cold water services Your responsibility for the water supply to your home begins at the water authority’s stop-cock. This will be found at the bottom of … Read more

Bathroom Handyman Tips

Boxing-in pipes If the pipes protrude less than 50mm from the wall, the sides of the boxing can be made from 50 x 25mm timber fixed to timber blocks, which in turn are fixed to the wall using wallplugs and screws. Then screw a chipboard or plywood cover to the side pieces. If the pipes … Read more

Ball Valve Problems

If a cistern overfills and water runs from the overflow pipe, the inlet valve is not closing early enough and the water is rising higher than the intended level. A metal or plastic ball floating on the water is connected to a lever that works and controls the valve. If the rubber washer, which fits … Read more

Clearing An Air Lock

Air in a water system will cause a jerky flow of water from a tap and make knocking noises. Usually, the air can be driven out by letting the tap run for a time. Very often the problem is in the hot tap in the kitchen. If this is so, it maybe possible to get … Read more

Positioning A Kitchen Sink

The Kitchen Sink The position of the sink will normally be determined by existing pipes and drainage system, but these may be awkwardly placed in some converted houses. Even if it costs a lot of money it is worth having the pipe layout altered so that the sink comes under the window. Then the monotony … Read more

How to clear air locks

Air locks can occur in radiators, towel rails and in the circulating pump of a heating system. They must be cleared by means of “bleeding” the air. Radiators. If any one radiator or a heated towel rail fails to reach normal temperature when others are operating correctly, suspect an air lock. First check that the … Read more

Pipework–Joining, Cutting and Bending Pipes

At one time all plumbing work was done with lead pipe (the word “plumbing- is derived from the Latin for lead). Then iron pipework (galvanised to stop it from rusting) was introduced. Many houses still have pipes in these materials, which are not practicable for the do-it-yourself plumber. On the other hand, copper pipe can … Read more