Regular Bi-monthly Trouble Shooting Column

30/01/2011 | Question 1 I’m a small builder and I have planning permission for two new houses. I know I have to build to the Code for Sustainable Homes and Building Regs Part G, but choosing suitable bathroom products which conform is really confusing and difficult for me. Can you help? You are perfectly correct in saying that your new houses must be built to the standards of the Code for Sustainable Homes and Building Regulations Approved Document G (amongst others!) These two standards, one is voluntary and one is mandatory, require new homes to have water efficiency ‘built in’ and I’m pleased to say there are now many new bathroom products available to help builders such as yourself meet the regs. The best place to start in the product selection process is the BMA’s ‘Water Efficient Product Labelling Scheme’(WEPLS). This is a web-enabled database of over 1000 water efficient products which meet strict eco-criteria. Searching the database is easy at www.water-efficiencylabel.org.uk But you need to go further and calculate the exact water usage for each property based on the products selected. To do this you need to use the Water Calculator. There is a link to it form the WEPLS website. www.thewatercalculator.org.uk The calculator includes water-consumption information so that builders can simply select from a drop-down menu of taps, shower, baths, WCs, etc to calculate the water consumption of a property. The tool auto-completes the calculations enabling quick and easy specification without the hassle of gathering data from product manufacturers. The results can be printed off to give to Building Control Inspectors. _______________________________________ Question 2 I’m a traditional plumber and I’ve been installing sanitaryware for years. But I‘ve always been puzzled why it is that manufacturers always say that WCs should not be embedded in cement. I always find that it’s the best way of securing a pan – much better than screwing it to the floor. What’s the definitive answer? Manufacturers are perfectly correct to advise against the use of cement to secure the WC pan to the floor. This practice is an absolute ‘NO’. You should refrain from doing it and refer to the manufacturers installation instructions. Cement – particularly if it is contaminated with, say, plaster dust - will expand as it cures. If the cement is packed tight around the inside of the foot of the pan, it will have no room to expand. It will put pressure on the foot of the WC and it will eventually crack. Sometimes the crack will not appear for some time and until it is in use. The last thing you want is the WC to crack when someone is sitting on it. Furthermore a pan embedded in cement is impossible to remove for maintenance or bathroom decoration. The only way to get it out is to smash it and this in itself is both wasteful and dangerous. So the use of cement to secure the pan to the floor is a definite no. Modern secure fixings are more than adequate for the job. ________________________________________ Question 3 I need some advice on stainless steel sanitaryware, please. I’m refurbishing the public washroom in a small hotel and the spec requires stainless steel. I’m not experienced with this material. Can you give me some pointers please? Stainless steel is a very durable material for public washrooms. It is extremely resistant to vandalism, cigarette burns, commonly used chemicals and is impact resistant. The material is colour-neutral and therefore blends well with other materials and decorations. Stainless steel is hygienic and easy to clean, and being 100% recyclable is eco-friendly. Installation is straight forward and presents no problems to an experienced plumber. Always follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions and always use the fixings delivered with the product. These will be stainless steel screws and washers and will match the metal of the main product. You should remove any protective coating as soon as possible after installation. Cleaning is straightforward too, but you should advise your client to avoid the use of liquids containing hydrochloric acids and abrasives. Also avoid brushes with bristles made of steel – segments may drop off the brush and these will cause rust marks. Wet microfibre cloth and specialist stainless steel cleaners are great to keep the product pristine. And for an eco-friendly alternative you can use vinegar diluted with water - 20% vinegar to 80% water.

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