New Bathrooms: Give Your Bathroom a Boost

Unfortunately, the bathroom is often the ‘Cinderella’ of an otherwise well-decorated and equipped home. Updating the bathroom provides an opportunity to rethink the general layout and appearance. Showers and bidets can often be accommodated in a small bathroom by careful replanning. Modern methods and techniques can enable you to achieve a quick turn-round with the minimum of upheaval.

Modernizing the bathroom may involve a total turn round in plumbing and replacement of existing bathroom appliances. In any new scheme you might consider the inclusion of refinements such as bidets, heaters, and showers.

Many modern bathroom fitments are made of plastic or other new materials less likely to deteriorate with age or use than some items of older equipment.

As usual, before replacing any fitting or appliance, turn off the water supply, but try to minimize domestic dislocation. Storage cisterns should be emptied, stopcocks shut down or loft-cistern ball valves tied up, to shut off water.

Where you are replacing sanitaryware, try, where possible, to use new equipment which corresponds in size and the position of fittings being changed with the old, to eliminate unnecessary re-routing of pipework.

Sanitaryware is generally supplied with gummed paper edging. This is to provide protection during transit and fixing. Never remove the paper until the equipment is finally fixed and do not attempt to scrape it off, as this could damage the surfaces. Always soak off protective paper.

Wash handbasins

There are three categories of wash hand-basin-the pedestal, which rests on a vitreous-china centre column; the wall-hung basin, which is fixed to the wall by a mounting bracket; and the inset, or built-in basin, for use in vanitory units. Fittings to fix these depend on the maker’s design.

To take out an old wash basin, shut off the water supply and unscrew the locking nut at the top of the waste trap; this allows the trap to fall clear of the basin.

Unscrew the connecting nuts beneath the taps; a basin wrench will make the job easier. This tool is angled to facilitate unscrewing basin fittings. Next, unscrew the old basin from the wall and unscrew the base screws of any pedestal unit.

On sanitaryware, it is important to avoid direct connection of metal to china. Washers made of plastic, leather, cork or rubber should be used, as tension may cause the appliance to crack.

Taps, wastes and overflows should be set in a thin rim of mastic, such as a metal-glazing or proprietary plumbing putty. This never fully hardens and allows for expansion and contraction between pipe fittings and basin. Excess mastic will be pressed out by the action of tightening the fittings and is easily trimmed off.

Once taps are fitted, place a washer and backnut on to the tap ‘tails’ and tighten up with a basin wrench or spanner.

On wastes, putty is applied around the flange; the fitting is then inserted into the outlet, with a rubber washer beneath this.

On a bracket-mounted basin, fix the bracket to the wall, taking care to line this up carefully with a spirit level; make sure that fixings are firm. Locate the basin, so that the fitting projects through the centre hole of the bracket, then fit a leather washer and a flanged backnut over the waste. Tighten the nut by hand and then lock it firmly with a spanner.

Locating pins fit through the rear of the bracket on the basin. Place a rubber and a metal washer on to these and then tighten up the wing nuts.

The inlet pipes can then be connected to the taps and tightened with the wrench or spanner. Next, connect the trap to the waste fitting and tighten its locking nut.

Water can then be turned on to allow the system to be checked for leaks. Any slight ‘weeping’ can normally be corrected by tightening up connections.

Pedestal basins are fixed by screws to the wall; the pedestal is screwed to the floor through fixing holes in the basin and pedestal unit. The union between basin and pedestal is usually completed by wing nuts.

To avoid a series of acute bends, it is generally best to cross over the pipework inside the pedestal, to help avoid turbulence and constriction of water flow. The pedestal provides the facility of concealing pipework.

So that the installation of pipework can be ‘tried for size’, the pipework with taps, waste and related fittings should be assembled and checked before the pedestal is finally screwed to the floor, so that any adjustments can be made.

Swivel 15mm connectors are used to join the supply pipes to basins. One end of the fitting is threaded and screws on to the tap tails. Usually, a fibre washer completes the union. If the fitting is not of this type, PTFE tape is wrapped round the thread.

Waste outlets on basins are generally built into the body of the basin and, once fitted, connect to the waste outlet.


Though in many bathrooms one may be difficult to fit for reasons of space, the bidet is a desirable item of sanitaryware. It is plumbed in a similar way to a wash basin and has comparable plumbing requirements. A hot and cold supply is required for a mixer tap. Waste connections are made in 35mm diameter pipe. The unit is usually screwed to the floor in the same way as a WC pan.

WC systems

There are three main types of domestic WC suites. These basically differ in the type of cistern-the high-level, the mid-level and the low-level cistern.

There are two main types of low-flush suite-the low-level wash-down pan and the close-coupled suite. A further low-flush WC, known as a corbel closet, has a wall-attached pan.

Modern cisterns are usually made of plastic or vitreous china. Many older types of high-level pattern had a body of cast iron, though increasingly these are made in plastic.

The average capacity of a cistern is 10 litres or 12 litres. Cisterns are usually reversible, so that water supply can be connected on either side. When assembling the internal mechanism of any cistern, take account of the side to which supply is to be made.

High and low

Both high-flush and low-flush cisterns are joined in a similar manner to WC pans. A 22mm plastic flush pipe is connected to the cistern with a nut and washer. One end of this pipe has a preformed curve which allows connection into the back of the pan. This is covered by a rubber cone which slots over the stem at the point of pan entry.

Flush pipes can be cut to length and are so made that sections can simply slot together. Always, when fitting a low-level cistern, adhere to the manufacturer’s recommended length of flush pipe, or you may not achieve a sufficient head of water for efficient flushing.

A high-level cistern of the older pattern can normally be removed and replaced by a modern, low-flush cistern to update the appearance of a WC suite.

Siphonic suites

Siphonic close-coupled suites are usually assembled by placing the siphonic cistern in position over the pan and joining it to the pan with two locking screws. These tighten a rubber gasket around the joint which provides the water seal.

Ball valves

Ball valves, in conventional cisterns, are fitted in the same way as those in storage cisterns. To assemble the ball valve and associated mechanisms, first fit the siphon which ‘sits’ in the cistern, with the dome or piston housing on the same side as the ball valve. These are either 100mm or 115mm in diameter.

The ball is located on the opposite side to the dome. Take care that the siphon housing is centred when tightening the large nut which fixes it. Supply to cisterns is made in either 15mm diameter copper or stainless-steel tube or 10mm diameter plastic tube.

When assembling the ball-valve, make sure that the float and arm have adequate clearance between the cistern wall and internal mechanism. This arm may need to be bent slightly to give clearance and to set the level of water required.

Check that the valve is of the low-pressure (storage supply) pattern. To cut down filling noise, a silencer pipe should be fitted.

Straight or angled compression connections are made to the bulkhead fitting housing the ball-valve assembly and must be of the female-threaded ‘tap’ type.

Fittings should contain a fibre washer, which provide a water seal. The other end of the fitting connects to the supply from the storage cistern.

Wall fixings for cisterns vary from screw holes in the top part of the casing to vertical suspension brackets. It is essential that fixings are firmly made, since a displaced cistern could release a torrent of water! It is a good idea to fix a backing board and to anchor the cistern to this.

Overflows must be one size greater in diameter than the supply pipe. These fix in place with a washer and a nut, attached to a bulkhead fixing. Use of plastic elbows enable the overflow to be taken out behind the toilet.

10. November 2011 by admin
Categories: Featured, Handyman Tips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on New Bathrooms: Give Your Bathroom a Boost


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: