Friday 20 November 2015

The weird and wonderful workings of taps

Tap Innards - The weird and wonderful workings of taps.

Serving on the counter you do hear quite a few things, one of them being people not knowing about the internal workings of a tap.

Now I know what you're thinking, why would I need to know about the workings of my tap? Well if for example your tap seizes up or starts dripping most people think "oh the tap has had it I better go out and buy a new one" we hear this so often when serving customers and they would of ended up buying a complete new tap when they could of repaired their original.

If you know how your tap works then you can more easily explain to a plumber what the problem is so they can fix it or if you are a diy-er fix it yourself.

Number one: Original washer valves

Washer valves operate on a thread so when you turn the tap head it raises and lowers a brass stem with a washer on the bottom to control the flow of water.

Old taps used to have rising head valves that operated on a single thread and the head would rise up when you turn it on and fall when turning off. A very durable type of valve, one that manufacturers have all but done away with nowadays which is a shame.

Modern valves are operated on a worm-screw thread with a male thread going in to a female thread operating a plunger (for the use of a better word) that has the washer on the bottom.

The most common type of problem with these is seizing. Over time the constant water pressure will push the threads causing them to dig in to each other. In this case you would need to replace the valve

Another problem is dripping from the spout. The rubber washer on the bottom of the valve perishes or goes hard so won't do much when you want to turn the water off! In this case take the valve out and put a new washer on (these are normally a few pence down your local hardware shop).

Number two: Splined ceramic disc cartridges

These are becoming more and more popular in taps these days because they are easy to turn on a off. They have two pieces of ceramic in them: one that is fixed in the bottom and another that slides over the top of it. Quarter turn cartridges have two triangle sections cut on each disc, when these two line up it allows water to pass through. 

Half turn cartridges are the same except with a half moon shape cut out.

Now the problem with these are that they can scratch, if a tiny piece of grit or dirt gets between the two discs it will scratch them and let enough water through to cause a drip.

Also over time with the discs being moved over each other so many times they wear grooves in to each other which then again allows water to pass and cause a drip.

The easiest way to fix this is to replace the cartridge but there lies another problem, the sheer number of different cartridges on the market. These differ in the number of grooves around the top to the overall height, so do be careful when looking for replacement cartridges.

Number three: Joystick ceramic cartridges

Found in single lever taps and as the title would suggest they are operated on a joystick stem which like the splined cartridges move ceramic discs over each other.

Most cartridges have three holes, two are for the hot and cold water and the third is to let water in to the tap.

When you lift the tap head you are moving the discs so the hot and cold water holes open allows water flow in to the cartridge and out in to the tap.

Moving the head left and right will allow more hot or cold water by opening up the preferred hot or cold hole and closing the opposite hole.

The problems that occur with these are the same as the splined cartridges, they scratch or wear grooves in to themselves. On the rare occasion the joystick can snap off.

I hope that this has been of use to you and until next time goodbye.

Thursday 12 December 2013

Just a few plumbing tips

Just though I would write up some plumbing tips for you all,

- A basin is the one in the bathroom, the sink is the one in the kitchen, there is no such thing as a bathroom sink.

- If your tap is dripping you DON'T have to replace your tap, it just means you need a new tap works or monobloc cartridge

- If water is pouring in to your toilet pan that means that your flush valve washer is not sealing correctly, you may need a new one or you may just need to see if something is stopping it

- If your toilet cistern is constantly filling, then your filling valve will most likely need a new washer inside, just remember to turn off your water first. If it doesn't work then you'll need a new fill valve

- Only do it yourself if you know what you are doing, we all know plumbers can be expensive to call out, but I beg you if you are not 100% sure on what you are doing, find someone who does or you could end up needing a plumber anyway.

- The only thing you get for less is less, don't settle for the cheapest, they can cost you money more money when they inevitably break. Spend that little extra and save having to replace items every couple of months. We know it doesn't come cheap but they do last longer.

- Mira showers don't need a special "Mira hose" any standard shower hose will do exactly the same, they both have the same 1/2 inch thread

- If you have a gravity fed system and you need flexible hoses for your bath taps make sure that you get full bore hoses.

- Try to avoid screwing flexible hoses on to isolating valves, the valves thread are not designed to do that. They will grind the washer and over time will start to leak. Flexible hoses are available with integrated isolation valves

- When getting new flexible hoses for your monobloc tap make sure that you get the correct thread size, it is usually either 10mm or 12mm.

Well thats it from me, I hope you found these tips useful. Until next time, farewell and live long and prosper!

Tuesday 10 December 2013

Toilet Cistern Fill valves - How do they work?

What is a fill valve? Well its that all important device that fills your toilet cistern back up after flushing the loo. Providing water 

Firstly there are two different types. The old style are the ones are usually brass with an arm and plastic float. The modern fill valves have a float that slides up and down its body (which can be adjusted in height depending on the volume of water) and are much more being accurate. 

Next, how do they work? When you flush the toilet the cistern empties, the float on the fill valve will drop and allows the arm to release the washer within the valve to let the water in to fill up the cistern to its previous level. 

As the cistern fills up the float will be pushed up by the water and will shut off the water coming in by pressing the rubber diaphragm washer, then hey presto the cistern is full and your toilet is ready for flushing again! 

But like everything over time these washers gradually start to fail and need replacing and as always there are different types for different valves 

You can find diaphragm washers here. Or if you fancy a new start our range of fill valves can be found here

FluidMaster Pro45b Bottom Entry Fill Valve                                       1/2" Brass Ball valve H/Pressure Pt 2 - 07000190
Modern Fill Valve                                      Old style Fill Valve

    Wednesday 31 July 2013

    McAlpine Fittings – Why are they the plumbers first choice?

    McAlpine started making plumbing products in 1902 and later were the first company in the UK to manufacturer plastic fittings so its fair to say they know how to make a decent fitting or two. Now a days they make everything from traps to toilet pan connectors.

    Today we’re talking about waste traps and fittings, now McAlpine fittings use what’s called a compression coupling, what this is is a rubber washer that is slid on to the end of the pipe and then is crushed by the nut when you put in to the fitting to create a firm seal. McAlpine have their own guide which you can find here

    With traps there are 3 main sizes: 32mm, 40mm and 50mm

    • 32mm or 1.25 inch is designed for basins and bidets
    • 40mm or 1.5 inch is designed for kitchen sinks and baths
    • 50mm or 2 inch is designed for commercial kitchen sinks

    We are a large stockist of McAlpine and we have just added them to our online shop (we do sell to the public as well!) You can find our full range right  here

    Saturday 16 February 2013

    Plumbers Mate - Our exceptionally high standards

    As the majority of you know the Plumbers Mate has been trading for over 30 years with the founding director still in charge. But its not how long a company has existed that proves their reliability.

    I know at this point that you maybe thinking that "oh here we go again another business trying to idolize themselves" but please hear me out.

    When I hear people complimenting our helpfulness and politeness I feel proud to work at the Plumbers Mate. Even though recently I have felt nervous due to me now serving people on the counter, I overcome the nervousness because I want people to carry on complimenting us.

    We have earned the respect of many builders, plumbers, decorators and general public because we will do the utmost to make sure that you fix your problem, regardless whether you are buying something or not. If we cannot provide you with the item you want then we will recommend somewhere else that you can get it.

    Don't you just hate buying the wrong item and then finding out the store you bought it from won't give you a refund or help you with your problem?
    If we supply you with the wrong item then as long as you bring the receipt and the item back to us we will  give you a refund or replace the item.

    Another thing that annoys me is when you walk in to any of these big 'superstores' and the staff just give you the same old rehearsed lines talking as if they are programmed machines. Our staff? We are friendly and best of all we are family so we all get along and can work well together.

    Training programs we've all heard of them. Here we don't have a training program, we learn how things work and what things are by going round, picking up item and our knowledge increases the longer we do this. This might not be the most fun way of learning but it is the best way.

    As all of the staff having been through this process we are able to give you a high standard of service that we are known for.

    Thank you, if you have stuck with me through this then thank you.

    And remember that it is not about size or quantity, it is the quality that counts.


    Wednesday 12 December 2012

    Central Heating Controls

    Central Heating Controls

    We all want to keep warm this time of year, and central heating does this for you. But did you know that over two thirds of all UK homes don't have central heating controls? This means two thirds of UK house holds are missing out on saving running costs and are not getting the best out of their central heating. 

    Firstly, the timer/programmer: this will allow you to tell your boiler when to run and for how long. Having the boiler on constantly does not save energy at all even though some people think it does. All the time it is running it is using energy, so even when you're at work and the building is empty its using all that unnecessary energy and costing you more at the same time.

    What we would recommend is a 7 day timer as this would allow you set a schedule for your boiler to run based around your daily lifestyle. That means that the boiler is off when your not in the building and on when you are and you actually need it.  

    Next you should have a room thermostat. What this does is detect the temperature of the building and it is above the temperature you've set it at then it will shut the boiler off.

    So in conclusion having both a timer/programmer and a room thermostat could save you a large amount on your heating bills.

    At the Plumbers Mate we have a range of timers and room thermostats, you can find them here

    Wednesday 31 October 2012

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    Self-closing Basin Taps - Pair
    These taps are ideal for public sector bathrooms such as schools, hospitals and offices etc.
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