Hard and Soft Water

Water hardness is something that is often referred to, but not always fully understood.  Having hard or soft water in the area can cause problems with appliances in the long run.

Generally, water hardness is measured by the amount of alkaline substances in the water.  This is commonly known as the potential of hydrogen value, or pH.  The purest water is pH neutral at 7 on a scale of 1 – 14.  Soft water is slightly acidic at less than 6.5 pH, while hard water is defined as having a pH of more than 8.5.  It is unlikely that any damaging effects would occur from drinking either hard or soft water because it becomes this way through a process of absorbing minerals.  Hardened water, such as that found in the south-east of England, travels through chalk or limestone, and may absorb magnesium in some way.

If lead is used at any point in the plumbing system, the gentle acidity of soft water can erode the very soft, malleable metal.  In spite of this, soft water is generally more suited to the human body – it feels nicer on the skin and is more tactile when washing.  Hard water, on the other hand, causes limescale.  This forms around metal and ceramic sinks, baths, taps and in kettles.  Limescale build-up can cause significant damage over time, especially in appliances with moving parts, such as washing machines and dishwashers.  Water softening tablets are available for use in these white goods and are recommended to prevent long-term problems.


How to Plumb in a New Bath

Installing a new bath can be fiddly and awkward work, but if you’re relatively confident in your DIY abilities, it’s hardly rocket science. As a new bathroom can add 10% to the value of your home, it’s an essential part of any property development project.

Put the new bath into position, it’s always easier to put it where the old bath was, but it isn’t that hard to extend drainage and pipe runs. Adjust the feet and ensure the bath is level. Mark the location of the new taps and the waste outlet on the wall and remove the bath.

The trickiest part, technically, is extending the water pipes. If you’re confident, solder copper fittings like ‘end feed’ straight unions, right-angled elbows and tab connectors, so that the pipe rises to the taps. You’ll need emery cloth, solder, flux, heat-retardant mat and a blowtorch to solder the fittings. You can always cheat and use compression fittings to extend the copper, but it’s not best practice. Add service valves to each pipe near the tap. Remember to think of access; the waste and water pipes should terminate in a position that isn’t too fiddly to work on.

Next ‘dress’ the bath, which is to say add the taps and waste outlet and assemble the overflow pipe. Re-position the bath and connect up the taps to the pipes and the trap to the waste drainage. Turn on the water supply and check for leaks before fitting the side panel. Finally, finish off any remaining painting, decorating and plastering and enjoy your new bathroom.


Installing new items in your bathroom

Installing new items in your bathroom can be a difficult task depending on what you are planning to install. Basic plumbing can be easy to install, but if you are planning to make any major changes then it may be a good idea to get the job done professionally.

If you are unsure of how to install any new items, such as a toilet, bath or shower, then there are a variety of websites that provide diagrams to assist you rather than you spending extra money to have it fitted by someone else. Many items come with installation instructions to help you, so if you follow these carefully then you should be able to install the items correctly.

Installing new lights is fairly easy, but you will need to make sure that no areas are exposed to water when you are installing electrical items and if you are dealing with any wires then keep them away from the bath or shower area.

Before you install any new items in your bathroom, it is a good idea to get accurate measurements. This will give you an idea of what size bath, shower, sink or toilet is suitable for your bathroom and will make installation quicker and easier. Work out how much space will be available for when you have all the items fitted, so that you do not end up with a bathroom that is too cramped.

Wickes, a DIY store, offers a selection of free helpful guides on their website to assist you with installing new items and making general improvements to your bathroom.


Low cost plumbing for your bathroom

There are many places where you can find low cost plumbing supplies for your bathroom. The internet is the best place to look, as items are usually cheaper online than in the store. Low Cost Plumbing Supplies, a national distributor, offers a wide range of affordable plumbing supplies for bathrooms, including plumbing kits for £5.50.

Looking at websites that allow you to compare prices is a good idea. This will help you to find affordable plumbing supplies, and you can also read reviews from other customers to get an idea of how good the product is and whether or not they recommend it. Sites such as eBay and Amazon offer new and used items, and they are ideal for those looking for affordable products.

If you already have all your plumbing fitted but there is a problem with it, then you may want to look around for companies that offer affordable plumbing services. Websites such as will help you to search for affordable plumbing services in your area. If you have an experienced plumber in your family, then perhaps they will offer their services at a discounted price.

QS Supplies are another company that offer plumbing supplies such as shower pumps and plumbing tools at affordable prices. They also offer brass plumbing products, which would be ideal for those who have a themed bathroom. The company offers a selection of top brand names, including HIB and Bristan, which is ideal for those looking for top quality products for their bathroom.


Save money on your water bills with a shower timer

A shower timer serves a dual purpose. First of all, it limits the length of time you are in the shower, usually to three minutes. This restricts the volume of water you consume, which in turn helps to keep your energy bills down and assists with the conservation of natural resources.

Timers are also a good way of giving a gentle reminder to those who would rather spend time languishing in the shower, than being ready for work on time. So, as long as you are self disciplined enough to get out of the shower when it goes off, you won’t run as late as you might otherwise do.

The timers are specially designed to withstand the damp and humid conditions of the shower and should therefore last for a number of years. Some people find it easier to locate the unit just outside the shower, especially if they tend to lose track of time. That way, rather than just switching it off, you have to physically step out of the shower in order to reset it.

Because they do not like to waste time, water or energy, there are many people who use the timer when having a shower at any time of the day and not just in the morning, when they are concerned about the possibility of being late for work.

So if you want to do your bit for the planet, as well as ensure that you keep to time in the morning, then a shower timer may just be the gadget you are looking for.


WC Choice

The choice of a WC may seem like a straightforward one; you like the look of it and you like the price of it, what more is there to think about? Well there are some basic considerations to bear in mind when you are thinking about a new WC. Obviously the look of it and the price are two of the main considerations, but you also need to think about other things, such as the type of cistern. The cistern can be high, (which is a very old fashioned style, but if your bathroom is in a period or Victorian house, then this could be very appropriate), low-level, or close-coupled.

Today, a low-level cistern, which sits to the back and just slightly above the WC, is the most common form of toilet. A close-coupled cistern is actually joined onto the back of the toilet, making effectively a single unit. Close-coupled cisterns are usually used where space is an issue. There are also space-saving cisterns available, which can be a real plus in a very small bathroom.

You should bear in mind that the cistern can be concealed. This can look particularly effective where you have a bathroom in which the other facilities are ‘boxed in’ or hidden. If you are considering having a concealed cistern you should remember that there are sure to be times when you need gain access to it, particularly for repairs, so do not make it completely inaccessible.


Shower Pumps

A good pump can create a really powerful shower, even if you live in a very large house where water pressure may be affected by the size of the house and usage at peak times.  One of the best types of pumps which you can fit is known as a salamander pump.  This pump will actually give the water pressure a real boost, so that you find your shower suddenly is a real deluge of water, whereas before it was a very gentle experience!

One of the benefits of the salamander pump is that it is very ‘plumber friendly’ and is marketed with the strap line ‘fit and forget’.  This means that it is easy for a plumber to install, making it quite a straightforward process and reducing plumbing bills and also it is so reliable that it will perform its function simply, without you having to keep calling a plumber back to rectify any problems. 

Whichever type of shower pump you choose, salamander or another type, make sure that it will reduce any possibility of aeration. Aeration is a term used to describe air getting into a system when you fit a pump to the cylinder or storage tank.  If aeration occurs you may find that the temperature of your shower can fluctuate or find the pump somewhat noisy.  Salamander pumps will usually remedy this problem as part of their design, so they may be worth the extra cost, but be sure to check out the risk of aeration prior to choosing a pump.


Drain Doctor UK Franchise in Portugal

An emergency drainage and plumbing company based in the UK has announced its plans to expand by running a franchise service in Portugal. The plumbing company will open in the Algarve in a hope to prove that the business can develop in the Portuguese market. Thoughts are that the drain doctor vans will be operational in a matter of months in the areas of Portimao,Largos and Albufeira.  If the business is a sucess over in Portugal the franchise groups will be sold off.


Plumbers Guide – Bathrooms

Installing a new bathroom or indeed the repair of an old bathroom can be a daunting task. From deciding which shower or bath to buy or which bathroom furniture to store your towels in, it can all be stressful.

Help is at hand with this new Plumbing guide. We take you through the best bathroom products and give you advice on some of the very best bathroom manufacturers.