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Advice on Plumbing in the Kitchen

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 19 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Plumbing Kitchen Sinks Plumbers Plumbing

Plumbing for the kitchen has become a lot easier in recent years with new pipe materials and fixtures coming to market. The need for plumbing in a kitchen is twofold, to provide hot and cold water for sinks and appliances and then waste outlets for those same items, as they use different plumbing systems.

Plumbing with Copper Piping

Bringing hot and cold water to the sinks and appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers used to be a case of getting down with the copper pipe, solder, flux and blowtorch. This is a lot easier these days with the advent of solder ring connectors and it's not strictly necessary to use plumbers when re-jigging a kitchen.

At each end of a connector there is a ring which can easily be filled with a smear of a combined solder flux product so that all you need to do is push them together and apply the blowtorch. You still have to wait for it all to cool down before doing the next bit though.

Then screw-together compression plumbing fixtures arrived. With these a metal compression ring (otherwise known as an olive) is slipped over the end of the pipe to be joined and then a screw collar tightens that against the next fitting, whether it’s a tap, junction or connector. Each connection takes a little longer to make than a solder ring connection, but with no waiting for connections to cool down, the job as a whole is faster.

Plastic Gives More Flexibility to Kitchen Design

Plastic fixtures have been in use by plumbers in the house building trade for the last decade or so as they are flexible and quick to use. The piping can be run all over the place without the tedious corner joint construction of hard copper piping and now push fit connecting systems are available so it's even faster.

There's no doubt that plastic fixtures make kitchen design and plumbing a lot easier. You can now put sinks and appliance in the places that you want them to go instead of being dictated by the positioning of the water outlets. You might be in conflict about the ease of plastic against using more environmentally friendly copper though, the choice is yours.

Wastes for Sinks and Appliances

Even plumbers have been using plastic fixtures for plumbing in sink and appliance wastes for years now. Because of the lower pressures involved and the larger bore of waste pipes compared to supply pipes even push fit connectors have been around for ages although screw fittings are available too.

The main outlet for waste is usually by the sink and there are a variety of off the shelf fittings to allow dishwashers and washing machines to join into that waste at a convenient point. The only snag is that the plethora of plumbing under the sink means that you might lose the use of the cupboard underneath for all those household cleaning products.

Make sure that you follow the directions for each appliance so that there is enough height in the downpipe to take the surges when the appliances are draining. The top of the downpipe should be open to the air too, unless the waste is directly plumbed into a purpose-made fitting under the sink. If you get either of these things wrong, water could be cascading out of the waste onto your kitchen floor behind the appliance.

Put Cut-Off Taps in Place for the Future

One final tip: if you are going to the trouble of re-plumbing a kitchen as part of a new design, it really is worth installing cut-off taps in easily accessible places, particularly where supply piping leads to sinks or basins. Dishwasher and washing machines should have taps at their connection points anyway, but for a few quid extra you can install in-line taps for sinks too.

This will pay-off hugely the next time that you want to change the taps, or fix a leaking one, because you won’t have to find the mains stopcock and drain down the hot water tank just to deal with a little plumbing problem in the kitchen. And even if you have to call the plumbers in to fix the problem, their job will be easier so it should cost you less.

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