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en-suite refit disaster averted!

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en-suite refit disaster averted!

Old 23rd Oct 2021, 22:52
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Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Berkshire, UK
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en-suite refit disaster averted!

I am a good way into a small en-suite shower room refit in which the plumbing is totally concealed behind a tiled, false wall half the height of the room, the lavatory cistern is concealed behind the same false wall and the loo pan hangs on the false wall. All very tidy and easy clean. The previous loo cistern was fed cold water by an exposed pipe which came out of the floor, through an isolation valve and into the base of the cistern. The new cistern uses the same supply up to the same isolation valve and then uses a new length of pipe with a couple of soldered elbows to feed the water into the top of the tank. There is an isolation valve inside the top of the tank. I made up the length of new pipework. I agonised for weeks over whether to put in an access hatch to allow the original isolation valve to be operated or not. In the end I reasoned that the chance of failure of the short length of pipe and two soldered elbows was low enough to not be significant in the overall scheme of things and decided not to make access provision. After all, if there is a failure almost anywhere else in the house the water will need to be turned off to all of the house, why should one loo be treated differently? So, when the feed pipework was first completed I turned off the isolation valve inside the cistern and opened the original isolator just enough to hear the flow of water start, and then stop and the I checked for leaks. OK so far. At this point the false wall was only half built, the new cistern was in it's support frame and all of the pipework was visible. Checking for leaks was done straight away and then again an hour later, nothing was wet so I breathed a sigh of relief and got on with completing the false wall. Nothing else can be tested at this point. The connections to the loo pan can't be checked until the loo pan is mounted to the false wall, it can't be mounted until the tiling is all done, the tiling relies on the wall being closed up in front of all of the pipework etc, etc. I finally got to the point of hanging the loo pan one day last week. The front of the false wall is tiled and grouted, the loo waste and flush pipes fitted to the pan and a nice new soft close seat and lid mounted. Time to turn on the isolator inside the new cistern, accessed through the letterbox hole where the flushing button plate sits, and to see if it all works. I turned on the isolator and............ the slightest flow of water into the tank started. Aaaarrrgh! At the rate it was filling it would be about 4 hours between flushes. Unfortunately, the original isolation valve was still at the setting left at while letting the pipework slowly pressurise whilst looking for leaks. All safely hidden behind the nice new tiled wall. Luckily, I hadn't tiled the top shelf of the false wall or the walls behind and to the sides of the alcove above the false wall and the top could still be removed relatively easily. Once removed the old isolation valve could just be seen some three feet down inside the space and facing towards the front face of the wall. I was able to measure where the valve activation slot is relative to the front tiled surface and by chance it is just to the side of the loo pan, some 4 inches from the floor and level with a joint between the tiles. All I needed to do to operate the valve is to drill 10mm diameter hole in the grouting/tile edges in the right place and then find a screwdriver with a 6 inch long shaft and small enough tip to engage the slot in the isolation valve. So I have ended up with access to the old isolation valve after all. I am going to fill the access hole with a bung of silicone sealant in the same colour as the grout and few people will spot it as it is kind of hidden by the bulk of the loo pan. Had this escape not been possible it would have been necessary to remove the loo pan, remove much tiling and break into the false wall in a big way.

Anyway, I have now got the shower cubicle completed and in use, the loo completed and usable although nobody has christened it yet so there is just a wash basin, heated/tiled floor and the remainder of the wall tiles to do. Should be done by Christmas.

Rans6...............................

rans6andrew is offline  
Old 23rd Oct 2021, 22:59
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Join Date: Jan 2003
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Welcome to the "I've got an idea . . " club.
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Old 24th Oct 2021, 08:38
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Join Date: May 2001
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I got as far as "OK so far" and guessed the nature of the disaster. I was not disappointed!
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Old 24th Oct 2021, 09:09
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Join Date: Apr 1998
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So what happens if the gubbins in the cistern fail, is there still access?

I've seen people do this sort of thing to houses they plan on quickly selling, although it does look quite good it isn't practical unless you like rebuilding walls.
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Old 24th Oct 2021, 10:10
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Join Date: Dec 2017
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Originally Posted by cattletruck View Post
So what happens if the gubbins in the cistern fail, is there still access?

I've seen people do this sort of thing to houses they plan on quickly selling, although it does look quite good it isn't practical unless you like rebuilding walls.
The cistern will need maintenance at some time so hopefully there is access.
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Old 24th Oct 2021, 10:15
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Join Date: Jan 2008
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I have two concealed cistern toilets in my house. They were fitted when the house was built so there is only one isolating valve, located in the cistern. Removing the flush plate gives access to the internal workings of the cistern. The most likely point of failure is the washer on the base of the siphon which is prone to bits of grit or wear preventing a proper seal after a flush and allowing a slow trickle of water into the pan.
Replacing the washer is a bit of a faff as the entire siphon unit has to negotiated out through the front opening. This may involve removing part of the fill system to give more working space but I found you can part dissemble the siphon unit in situ to give more room and take it out piecemeal. In my case, I also found the washer could be reversed and replaced if you donít have a new part handy.
Final tip, if the weep into the pan is very small, it may just be a small bit of limescale causing a bad seal. It is worth trying a couple of those blocks that turn the water blue in the cistern. They have a rescaling action and may cure the problem without taking the loo apart.​​​​​​.
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Old 24th Oct 2021, 11:07
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A slight thread drift. If anyone is thinking of doing their bathroom, instead of tiles, have a look at Mermaid board which is a laminate that can be cut to size (there will be other types).

Very easy to cover up things, easy to clean and you never have the problem of discoloured grout. Well worth considering IMO.
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Old 24th Oct 2021, 11:33
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Removing the flush plate gives access to the internal workings of the cistern.
I put in one of these wall-hung, concealed cistern loos in my last place - very happy with the result. The blurb said the cistern could be serviced through the flush plate and, although I never needed to do anything in there, it seemed to me that some training as a gynaecologist might be in order before attempting any work in there!
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Old 24th Oct 2021, 11:37
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The "Siphon" in our concealed cistern isn't actually a siphon as there isn't a suck up and over action. It is really a plug and plughole action at the bottom with the plug being lifted by the flush button press and then held up by a balance of float and air bleeds to give two volumes of flush. In the installation I have done the flush buttons connect to the flush gubbins in the cistern by a single length of silicone rubber tubing of about 1.5 mm bore. Apparently the two buttons push different volumes of air into the gubbins and the gubbins sorts out the volume of water poured into the pan, I can't see how it differentiates the two volumes as the same mechanical action seems to result from either button press. All very clever.

Meanwhile, the siphon in our downstairs loo is a siphon with two buttons in the top of the tank pressing two pushrods operating the mechanism. I can't figure out how to adjust the siphon to increase the volume of water dispensed by the big button. Google and Youtube have failed to find instructions or videos showing how it works. It is somewhat different to the siphon in our bathroom loo which is operated by the traditional flush handle, the amount of water is selected by holding the handle down for more time for a smaller flush.
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Old 24th Oct 2021, 11:39
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Join Date: Dec 2017
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Originally Posted by Equivocal View Post
I put in one of these wall-hung, concealed cistern loos in my last place - very happy with the result. The blurb said the cistern could be serviced through the flush plate and, although I never needed to do anything in there, it seemed to me that some training as a gynaecologist might be in order before attempting any work in there!
I dread to think what a gynaecology trained plumber would charge
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Old 24th Oct 2021, 12:24
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Join Date: Jan 2008
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Originally Posted by SimonPaddo View Post
I dread to think what a gynaecology trained plumber would charge
I don't know about charges but he may be confused if there is no fur round the flush plate
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Old 24th Oct 2021, 12:33
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Join Date: Sep 2009
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To have access panels that are not visible I mount the tiles on a piece of MDF and use Spring Roller Clips push in to close, push again to open so no screw caps or handles to be seen
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Old 24th Oct 2021, 12:35
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The genius plumber who fitted our toilet has installed the shut off valve with the actuating head facing the box surrounding the cistern.
Unfortunately there is only 10mm of clearance so I can't get a screwdriver in to close the valve. Muppet!
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Old 24th Oct 2021, 12:40
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Originally Posted by rans6andrew View Post
The "Siphon" in our concealed cistern isn't actually a siphon as there isn't a suck up and over action. It is really a plug and plughole action at the bottom with the plug being lifted by the flush button press and then held up by a balance of float and air bleeds to give two volumes of flush. In the installation I have done the flush buttons connect to the flush gubbins in the cistern by a single length of silicone rubber tubing of about 1.5 mm bore. Apparently the two buttons push different volumes of air into the gubbins and the gubbins sorts out the volume of water poured into the pan, I can't see how it differentiates the two volumes as the same mechanical action seems to result from either button press. All very clever.

Meanwhile, the siphon in our downstairs loo is a siphon with two buttons in the top of the tank pressing two pushrods operating the mechanism. I can't figure out how to adjust the siphon to increase the volume of water dispensed by the big button. Google and Youtube have failed to find instructions or videos showing how it works. It is somewhat different to the siphon in our bathroom loo which is operated by the traditional flush handle, the amount of water is selected by holding the handle down for more time for a smaller flush.
Behind the 2 buttons on mine there are 2 push rods connected to 2 lifters. What happens from there I used to know but I was so overcome by my gynaecological victory on getting the gubbins out to reverse the washer that I have forgotten what happens next. Fortunately the manufacturer, Geberit, has some handy how to animations on their website and exploded diagrams with part numbers as well.
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Old 24th Oct 2021, 12:48
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I've never been a believer in hiding pipes, isolation valves and even electrical wiring. I know it looks nice to have all those things hidden, but sooner or later things go wrong, and ease of access can save a lot of time and money. Plus modern cisterns do go wrong, more frequently than the old siphon type actuated by a chain hanging down. The 4 year old cistern at Radeng towers. flushed OK, but then wouldn't stop, and you had to take the lid off, reach in, push the little flap valve down. Blocked with lime scale, but you couldn't get at it to clear off the scale because the bits of plastic were glued together. Total bill £260 of which only £75 was labour, the rest being VAT and new parts. The young plumber said that the old cisterns were much more reliable: usually the only thing to go wrong being the ball on the ball valve leaking. Of course, the LRU (Least Replaceable Unit) get larger and more expensive with every new product....Mrs Radeng has a 7 year old diesel Zafira: the light came up for 'do not drive' so it went to the garage. Turned out the the 'Add Blue' sensor had failed, but the LRU was the container for the Blue. - £1,000 + labour plus VAT.

It's easier to keep a 1936 radio receiver going than a ten year old modern solid state one with integrated circuits no longer manufactured....
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Old 24th Oct 2021, 13:46
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With my engineer hat on, when installing any system in a house, I prefer to allow for access for maintenance, and even try to mount electrical junction boxes where I can get to them if I ever need to. If you are clever about it, they can still be 'invisible', but also accessible.

But especially plumbing. Anything with valves or seals will need maintenance at some point. The house we recently moved into unfortunately has push-fit plumbing connections. relying on rubber seals. After about 6 months, there was water all over the kitchen floor, coming from a leaking push-fit connector above the ceiling. When viewing the house, I noted copper pipe from all the radiators, and around the hot water cylinder, so I hoped the whole installation was copper with proper soldered connections. However, after having to cut away the plasterboard in several places to find the leak then fix it. I was disappointed to notice that above the ceilings/under the floors the plumbing was all push-fit. So all those connections relying on rubber seals will fail one day, unlike soldered copper.

Sadly, so-called professional domestic plumbers and electricians, in my experience, mount valves and other items with no thought about how to fix or replace them if that should ever be needed. When I had the kitchen ceiling open, I saw that some **** had cut completely through the top rail of a wooden I-beam floor joist to route a drain pipe, completely weakening and compromising the strength of the floor above.

I never understood the fashion for fitting isolation valves to every tap and water appliance in a domestic house. Perhaps it is legal code, but, as someone mentioned, if there is a plumbing problem, I will turn the house water supply off at the mains to replace the faulty item - no need for additional isolation valves on every outlet. At the very worst, I might lose a loft tank full of cold water if I had to drain it all, but nowadays, we don't have loft storage tanks any more.

I like Kiltrash's idea of a removable panel to get at toilet cisterns. Cisterns will always need attention or replacement at some point in their lives, as will any water control device involving seals and moving parts.

You could use inspection hatches made for boats:




Last edited by Uplinker; 24th Oct 2021 at 14:10.
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Old 24th Oct 2021, 14:01
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Join Date: Aug 2006
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Our downstairs loo in a 1979 built house had a hidden away cistern with no access.
How daft is that, I thought.
About a year after moving in, it went wrong. It was just over 10 years old then.
Never again, thought I , and local plumber agreed, so out it came, along with a far too small hand basin.
New cistern and loo and handbasin all installed. Nearly all pipes now visible.
SWMBO points out that it is not very elegant. AO relies that any plumber can now access it!

And they will shortly need to access it.
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Old 24th Oct 2021, 14:26
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I canít agree about not having isolating valves. The on/off/ selector valve in one of our showers started to leak. It took a few days to get the right replacement cartridge during which time the valve would have been leaking, and being a built in control unit, there was no way of knowing how much water might have being going behind the tiles rather than in front of them. As it was, removing the face plate revealed 2 isolators, one for hot and one for cold. Turning those off isolated the heads and the rest of the house could continue as normal. Fitting the new cartridge when it arrived, was a simple matter, and the system could be reconnected and checked without leaving the room.

Similarly, I when I replaced the float valve on our downstairs loo, I just isolated the cistern while I went and got a new bit.
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Old 24th Oct 2021, 15:23
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Originally Posted by Ninthace View Post
I canít agree about not having isolating valves. The on/off/ selector valve in one of our showers started to leak. It took a few days to get the right replacement cartridge during which time the valve would have been leaking, and being a built in control unit, there was no way of knowing how much water might have being going behind the tiles rather than in front of them. As it was, removing the face plate revealed 2 isolators, one for hot and one for cold. Turning those off isolated the heads and the rest of the house could continue as normal. Fitting the new cartridge when it arrived, was a simple matter, and the system could be reconnected and checked without leaving the room.

Similarly, I when I replaced the float valve on our downstairs loo, I just isolated the cistern while I went and got a new bit.
Totally agree! En-suite cistern wouldnít shut off fully, leading to small but noisy overflow into the toilet and the noise of the cold water tank filling at night. No isolator valve, or if the is is buried behind tiling behind the toilet and plumbers couldnít attend as quickly as I would have liked. Canít really turn the water off every night until the plumber turns up.
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Old 24th Oct 2021, 16:40
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Originally Posted by SimonPaddo View Post
Totally agree! En-suite cistern wouldn’t shut off fully, leading to small but noisy overflow into the toilet and the noise of the cold water tank filling at night. No isolator valve, or if the is is buried behind tiling behind the toilet and plumbers couldn’t attend as quickly as I would have liked. Can’t really turn the water off every night until the plumber turns up.
All of the designed to be hidden cisterns I looked at when I was trying to find out how to fix ours, had the isolating valve fairly prominent inside the cistern, either where the water comes in or in the top middle. Ours is bright blue as well which make it easy to see. Working out how the face plate came off without breaking anything was the trickiest bit. Ours was slide up then pull out at the top.
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