View Full Version : Any plumbers here ?

5th Dec 2013, 21:32
Under my kitchen sink, the two flex hoses feeding the tap, screw onto shutoff valves which in turn screw onto the two water supply pipes (hot and cold) emerging from the wall.

The hot supply has diminished to a trickle over the past few days. After blaming Mrs OFSO ("what have you done now dear ?!") I got under the sink and twiddled the hot water shutoff valve. It shuts off at both ends of its travel instead of being "on" at one end and "off" at the other as I would have thought.

Are these valves known to fail and reduce the flow ?

Loose rivets
5th Dec 2013, 21:48
Some are 90degrees from on to off. Have you per chance snapped the stoppy thing and it goes on twice per rev?

I recon bits of the valve may be in the tap if the flow is consistently bad.

5th Dec 2013, 21:54
How old is it, OFSO? In our casa (1976), some of ours don't work anymore, similar to the way you described. Replacements are very cheap from Leroy Merlin and easy to fit - I fitted one last week. Make sure you know the correct size - you can check it by the size of spanner that fits the connector. Just shut off your main water supply, after warning Mrs OFSO, of course, and replace the valve. The one I did screwed straight into the pipe in the wall and I put a bit of sealant on the threads and then gave it an hour before I put the water back on. No problem.

5th Dec 2013, 23:08
At least you didn't start on the weekend. I suggest a trip to Auchan tomorrow. Don't forget to shut off the main feed into the house before you start to dismantle.

5th Dec 2013, 23:27
If the shutoff valve is a standard UK one, then it's similar to a sphere with a hole bored through it, sitting in a spherical housing, with the 'tap bit' - usually just a screwdriver slot at 90deg to the water flow. The sphere is usually solid brass, so unlikely to break up.
Much more likely that it's the tap valve itself. If the old-fashioned rubber washer type, a bit of rubber will be blocking the flow - or the 'jumper' has got some lime deposit on it, and it won't ease out from the seat properly. You can either replace the washer or clean the jumper up... but the best of all is to spend not-very-much on a new tap top and just replace it.

Anyway, turn the water off at the shutoff valve, remove the tap top, look to see what it looks like, then either fettle it, or reassemble temporarily while you go down the road to get a replacement.

cockney steve
6th Dec 2013, 00:05
like what Jim said, though the cost of a new pair of tap-tops is, in my experience, more than the price of 2 complete new taps.

6th Dec 2013, 08:38
Thanks, all. yes the plastic top has snapped off, so been turning the brass shaft with a wrench. Water flow much poorer since I fiddled with it. The shaft appears to turn thru 180 with an 'off' at each end and a very slowflow 'on' in the middle. More investigations after breakfast.

I don't normally do aquatic repairs since that doesn't come within the remit of an electronics engineer, but might try this one.


6th Dec 2013, 09:09
a screwdriver slot at 90deg to the water flow

All the ones I have seen have the screwdriver slot parallel to the water flow.

Much more likely that it's the tap valve itself.

Sounds right to me - many taps don't pull up the jumper, they just rely on water pressure, and hot water (if you are not combi) is often quite a low pressure. If the tap top comes vertically up as you turn it on it is of that type - if it doesn't move vertically then it is porbably one of the newer type that do pull up the jumper positively.


6th Dec 2013, 09:51
Do you have a lot of calcium in your water? It furrs up hot water pipes/valves much more than the cold. It could be elsewhere!

6th Dec 2013, 09:56
Tap is neither - it's a complex mixing tap. Vertical cylinder, up for on - down for off - right for cold - left for hot (none).

Undid the hose turned valve water gushed out. So tomorrow (today is public holiday, 35 years of the Spanish Constitution) will buy new tap.....

(Water pressure is fine: our urbanisation header tank is up the mountain, about 300' higher than our house. House has pressure reducer fitted on main inlet.)

(Calcium - yes often find filter in tap outlet furred up.)

6th Dec 2013, 10:52
Decided in view of ExXB's suggestion (and others !) to try rodding the small flexible hose from wall outlet to tap (about 12" long). Couldn't get my smallest flexible rodder in end of pipe. WTF ? Got my very bright LED lamp, looked in, it resembled those TV adverts that tell you what your arteries will look like if you persist in eating at MD and KFC.

Got piece of wire, ran it into pipe up to tap, no notable resistance but thrust and withdrew, thrust and withdrew (phew, now what does that remind one of), after five minutes (ditto) pulled out wire, reconnected hose, turned valve to on and hey presto: equal flow on hot and cold.

I suspect this isn't unconnected with the Great Withering Shower of Sh*t episode last month. El Cocodrillo asked me to run the kitchen hot tap non-stop for twenty minutes while he ran his naughty machine up the waste pipe. Normally we never run the hot tap in the kitchen that long, and as the kitchen has it's own water heater it never gets "emptied". But this time it did and scale probably washed up out of the heater and stuck in the kitchen tap.

Thanks to all for advice ! It's saved me a new tap and lots of fumbling and thrusting in the dark and bruised knuckles inside the kitchen units.

6th Dec 2013, 10:58
OFSO, you might want to think about having your boiler de-calc'd. They recommend doing that here every two years, but we do it ever 5 or 6. (That reminds me, I need to book the plumber) Both our heating (underfloor) and our hot water tank furr up quite nicely. Nicely for the plumbers that is.

In our contract with tenants (in the other house, long story) they are required to de-calc every two years.

Edited to add: vinegar works wonders! try soaking the flexible pipe in that for a few minutes, may save you some grief later.

6th Dec 2013, 11:16
your boiler de-calc'd.

They tend to last about ten years in Spain, after that element has gone (I have changed one myself, takes about two minutes), but sides rust thru, leaks appear etc. Having said that, they are dirt cheap to buy and extremely easy to replace, being hung from two bolts on the cellar wall. (Unplug power, undo flex hoses, undo bolts, replace).

I prefer not to stir up calcium fragments as they would get lodged somewhere else in the piping of this large and complex house, where the construction plans (and I have many) for piping and waste systems bear little resemblence as to what was actually done.

Windy Militant
6th Dec 2013, 14:00
Do you have a Polyphosphate or Siliphos doser fitted to the incoming feed to the boiler? If not might be an idea. They use food grade crystals that combine with the calcium and stop it sticking to the innards. A must for combi boilers and such like. They will dissolve existing scale eventually, well they did in my place as previous incumbents had not replaced the crystals for a while by thee looks of things when I moved in.

6th Dec 2013, 15:34
I just found a farmer with 1200 litres of vinegar for sale. He's going to park the tanker up on the road above our house, disconnect the pipe at the meter, we'll open the taps on the sinks etc, and he'll pour the vinegar in until the entire plumbing system has been treated.

That should do it.

Now for the ants......

6th Dec 2013, 17:34
Let us know how that goes ...

I don't think ants like vinegar, :rolleyes:

6th Dec 2013, 18:55
Most emergency shut off valves are of 10mm diameter by turning them off can even incur a leak. The flexible hoses are even more susceptible to leaking I have one in my possession which I will replace with copper pipe. A lot of modern taps are reduced to 8/10mm because of our pressurised hot and cold water systems. With cold tanks in the roof one should buy taps with a minimum bore of 1/2 " and full flow leaver valves to isolate each tap.

6th Dec 2013, 19:58
cold tanks in the roof

Someone told me once that the UK "cold water tank in the roof" has to do with ensuring there was enough water available in the event Napolean invaded. Can this be true ?

Whatever, in the places I have lived in - France, Germany, Italy and Spain - all houses and apartments were connected directly to the mains. my present house at 600' altitude is fed by a large header tank for the whole urbanisation at several hundered feet higher and overpressure is a real problem, hence the reduction valve I fitted.

My experience with all water valves is that if you don't cycle them at regular intervals - say every month - they DO leak. Most of the radiator valves in my house haven't been turned since at least 1996.....and I don't dare touch them.

7th Dec 2013, 00:49
Sorry OFSO I opened the thread thinking
you were needing someone to tie your
wife's tubes or something. :\

There's an excellent bloke in Bangkok who
does a good job if you're interested.... ;)

7th Dec 2013, 08:11
We're a bit past that age. But if you bloke can....er, never mind.

You too will reach an age when you find unblocking a hot water feed pipe is the most satisfying thing you have done all week !

7th Dec 2013, 12:17
That's not too bad OFSO.

I'm dreading the day I reach the
age when I'll prefer a good shit
than a good f:mad:k! :bored:

7th Dec 2013, 13:11
ExXB wrote: Edited to add: vinegar works wonders! try soaking the flexible pipe in that for a few minutes, may save you some grief later.

(Not a plumber) OFSO but:

1) Now that you've resolved (nay, merely found a temporary solution) to the problem of the "furred-up" flexible pipe blocking supply of the hot-water to the tap/mixer, I'd sincerely recommend that you pop down to your local hardware store and buy an "off the shelf" standard "exterior steel-braided rubber-lined" flexible hose. Depending on the length / size / end-connections etc., these hoses should cost between EUR 7 and EUR 20 at most. Your aggresive "rodding out" of the calcium build-up inside the hose probably also damaged the rubber-lining. Simply soaking the hose in vinegar as ExXB suggested would attack the rubber-lining and worsen the situation. If I remember correctly, you will be spending this Xmas away from home. So please do this before you go away. That way, I won't get wet feet burgling your abode whilst you're away, and you'll merely come home to a dry house in the New year, minus a few baubles at worst... :ok:

2) Nor would I recommend fitting any simple in-line filters containing "polyphosphate crystals" at the water-supply inlet to hot-water heaters, or other domestic appliances including washing machines, dish-washers etc. as a solution to "hard water" supply generally. These polyphosphate crystals have a tendency to break up, releasing small fragments going down-stream which will often interfere with, if not result in the rapid failure of various solenoid valves etc. normally installed in all these appliances. If you really do have a problem with "hard water", consider investing in a "proper" water-softener installed at the mains water inlet to the house. A "proper" water-softener uses 1 or more cylinders containing ion-exchange resins which require regular regenerating etc., the outlet is usually equipped with a combination of sediment and carbon filters. Water-softeners come in all shapes and sizes, some require electricity to operate automatically, others don't. The "completely-automatic" ones cost anywhere from about EUR 1,500 upto whatever some cowboys can extract from the gullible customer. But that's another subject...

7th Dec 2013, 14:02
buy an "off the shelf" standard "exterior steel-braided rubber-lined" flexible hose.

With which the house is already fitted, but thanks for the thought, Mr Ship-of-the-Air. There are around twenty of these useful devices, screwed in the various places for washing oneself, crockery, cutlery, clothes (and most more important, making tea and coffee).

House was built in 1982. This was the first such blockage of a water supply hose (sadly not true of the waste pipes, hence the Dreaded-Withering-Shower-of-Sh*t-Disaster of last month.) If we get another one in the near future I will take some kind of action. Until then, Hasta la Pasta !

7th Dec 2013, 14:11
OFSO, so be it. But if all the other flexible hoses also date from 1982, then beware that rubbers also degrade for many reasons. And you can expect perhaps many and repeated unwelcome surprises until they're also replaced, IMHO of course... :zzz:

7th Dec 2013, 14:12
Since we all know where you live, and when you're going to be away, better re-train your mog as a guard-cat. That's if his guts have not been pickled by the vinegar in his bowl.

ps airship: don't worry, most likely OFSO has plenty of unused rubbers in his house.

7th Dec 2013, 14:27
Ah but toffeez, the absence of the Master of the House doesn't mean the house will be empty....far from it.

7th Dec 2013, 19:56
Ok OFSO, but just for clarification what's the technical term for the procedure you used to penetrate the plumbing. Rodding or rogering?

7th Dec 2013, 22:03
I call it "rodding" even though the "rod" I used is flexible. Any plumbers here who know the correct term for pushing any kind of flexible wire/spring up a pipe ?

7th Dec 2013, 22:10
Any plumbers here who know the correct term for pushing any kind of flexible wire/spring up a pipe ?

Don't know what plumbers call it, but I think doctors call it a colonoscopy.

7th Dec 2013, 23:32
I think doctors call it a colonoscopyThe general term is endoscopy - at least for a device that provides a view - from scope as in telescope.

So, as the device used by OFSO isn't an optical one it isn't a scope of any sort.

More suggestions?

It seems they are called drain augers when used to clear drains, so that leaves the term auger (but that implies a screw-form implement).

Another term used seems to be 'rooter'.


8th Dec 2013, 00:09
Snakeing a pipe.

8th Dec 2013, 00:59
It's called shafting. After you have employed a plumber, you will come to understand this term precisely. The understanding comes in the few seconds after he hands you his account for his services.

8th Dec 2013, 10:48
Onetrack may have it rught

An old joke in my business:

The Doctor's drains were clogged and the missus insisted, so he called the plumber. Plumber arrives, clears drains in 15 minutes, then hands a bill for $200 to the Doctor, who exclaims "$200 for 15 minutes? I'm a Doctor and even I don't make that much money!" to which the plumber replies "When I was a Doctor I didn't make this much money either."

8th Dec 2013, 11:01
I gave up on plumbers years ago. The
bastards rip you off the world over. As
of a few years ago I started doing my
own plumbing jobs around the house
under the skillful eye of the bloke who
manages a plumbing supply shop in
town. He will sell me the stuff I need
and follow me home. Then he will sit
back and tell me what to do and how
to do it while he's being given copious
amounts of beer and assorted booze
by the wife. If he behaves himself and
doesn't drool too much he gets either
a free lunch or dinner or afternoon tea
depending on the time of day.

Cost of his consultive services? $20 US
for about 3 hours drinking and talking.

I've save squillions over the years. :)