Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Too much choice? Advice on choosing kitchen taps.

The kitchen tap is used on average 10 times more every day than the bathroom tap. Choosing the right tap is very important. Here's some guidance to help you.

Question 1 - Do you have one tap hole or two tap holes in your kitchen sink?

If you have one tap hole then you will need to get a mono-mixer tap.

 If you have two tap holes in your sink then you can choose between a pair of pillar taps or a deck-mixer.

Question 2 - Do you want rubber washered (full turn) taps or ceramic disc (quarter turn) taps?

If you have particularly low water pressure then I would go for traditional rubber washered taps. The rubber washer can also be easily and cheaply replaced if your tap starts to drip in the future.

Ceramic disc taps are easier to turn on and off (just quarter of a turn for on and off) so are ideal for the elderly or those with arthritis. The ceramic discs are maintenance free; so if they do start to drip then the whole tap gland needs replacing which is of course more expensive than just replacing a rubber washer and it can sometimes be difficult to source the correct size gland for your tap.

Most manufacturers these days use ceramic glands in their taps, so you will have a greater choice of these than the rubber washer types.

Question 3 - How much do you want to spend?

Remember your kitchen tap is going to get lots of use. In the long run it isn't always economical to get the cheapest taps. There are lots of cheap imports these days (as with everything I suppose!) and you can get a cheap pair of pillar taps for less than £20. You will get a few years out of them before they start to drip, or the spindle gets worn, or the plastic heads split. In which case it's usually just a case of binning them and buying some new ones.

Personally, I always recommend getting a well known, quality brand like Bristan. Their taps are made in the UK (based in Tamworth) and come with a 5 year guarantee. Even if your taps fail after the five years you can give them a call and get the required spare part sent out to you. In the past I have managed to get spare parts for Bristan taps that were over 10 years old. Their advisors are very helpful.

Remember, if your taps are unbranded and made in a factory thousands of miles away the chances are you won't be able to get the required spare part. So although the cheaper taps also come with a guarantee it is difficult to see how this can be honoured.

and finally........
make sure you choose taps that are suitable for your water system. If you have very low pressure (usually your hot tap) then some mono-mixers may not give you a decent flow - so check before you buy!

....and just remember, if you decide to change your own taps, the most difficult part is getting the old ones off! That's where your plumber comes in!

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

why it's worth paying to get a proper outside tap fitted

You can get outside tap installation kits aimed at the DIY'er for around £15 like the one below:

Although they seem initially cheap, I believe they are a false economy.

Firstly, they use a self-cutting screw to tap into your existing pipework. Believe me these have a tendency to leak. I have been out to a couple of customers this year where a good seal was not achieved and resulted in a leak. Trouble is, you need a nice straight, perfectly round piece of pipe, and then to get the sealing gasket on nice and square. Unfortunately, if you don't get a good seal first time then you might end up cutting out a piece of pipe and replacing it.

Secondly, a hose clip is used to attach the flexible pipe to the valve. I certainly don't like the idea of relying on a hose clip in my home to protect me from a potential flood.

Thirdly, in my opinion these kits are not a long term solution. Eventually you will probably end up replacing it. If you are lucky it might very well last you for years, but you have to remember these kits are made as cheaply as possible. I have replaced a few over the years.

So do yourself a favour and get a proper outside tap fitted. When I fit an outside tap I use copper and brass pipework and fittings, and a lever operated isolation valve with a separate double-check valve. An installation that will give you peace of mind and last for a long time.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Has my gas hob been fitted properly?

Went to a customer today to fit a replacement gas hob. On removing the old one I discovered it had been fitted with a flexible cooker hose (rubber). The customer wanted me to connect the new hob using the existing hose (which of course would have saved on installation time and cost). However, I had to explain that in the manufacturer's instructions that came with the hob it specifically said that the hob must be connected using rigid pipework. So I fitted the hob using 15mm copper and the customer was happy. I have never fitted a hob using a flexible pipe and in many of the MI's it does say that 'rigid pipework' must be used.  A flexible pipe makes good sense on a free standing cooker as it means the cooker can be pulled out so cleaning can take place. However, this is not necessary with a hob.

check out my feedback at my Builder

Make sure you use a Gas Safe engineer like me!