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Green Building Bible, Fourth Edition
Green Building Bible, fourth edition (both books)
These two books are the perfect starting place to help you get to grips with one of the most vitally important aspects of our society - our homes and living environment.

PLEASE NOTE: A download link for Volume 1 will be sent to you by email and Volume 2 will be sent to you by post as a book.

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      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeAug 20th 2021
     
    Hello everybody. I just had to replace a ceramic cartridge tap valve (not sure about the order of the words!) because it was dripping. Apart from all the other minor hassles whilst doing it one stood out - turning off the isolation valve.

    We have isolation valves fitted before all the taps in the house, which I had thought to be a cure-all to solve all my problems. But I found turning the isolation valve off was very hard. Since that's the only tap with hard water running through it, I thought maybe it was because of that. But when I tried some other valves, they all seemed very stiff.

    Is that normal after six years? Are there any precautions one should take (e.g. turn every isolation valve every year?)? Or is there something I'm missing? They're just normal isolation valves that require a flat-bladed screwdriver to operate.
    • CommentAuthorArtiglio
    • CommentTimeAug 20th 2021
     
    The quality of isolation valves varies massively most invariably leak when used a few years after being installed. (I am in anhard water area) I’m a a landlord and do most of the maintenance. The best option i’ve found is to use proper full bore quarter turn valves on the incoming main at a sensible point and if something needs doing just isolate everything. If a job is going to take a while I cap the feed and turn water back on while job is sorted prior to reconnection.
  1.  
    In the past I have found isolation valves to be of variable quality so in my last new build I used a manifold system for hot and cold water. I found the turn off valves to be both easier to use and better quality.
    • CommentAuthorSimonD
    • CommentTimeAug 21st 2021
     
    As above, probably just cheap as chips units. You can by them from just over a £1 to the proper ones like Ballofix which cost £15 - £20 per unit. Ballofix I think were the originals and plumbers swear by them, just don't want to pay for them!

    Like Peter, I'll be using a manifold system to do away with isolation valves.
  2.  
    Yes isolation valves seize up after a few years. Over here they are quite cheap and quite useless by the time you need to use them. Alternatives are Italian made non-repairable ball valves that go stiff first (with non-use) and then seize up altogether but last 2-3 times longer than the isolation valves. Otherwise there are Hungarian manufacture brass bodied ball valves that are repairable (repair kits readily available), that don't go stiff and last for ever - but are 4 times the price of the Italian jobs.
    I usually turn off at the mains and ignore the isolation valves. I get the spares first and for any surprises I blank off the offending item (various sizes of blanking plugs always in the box) and sort it later.
    •  
      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeAug 21st 2021 edited
     
    Posted By: Peter_in_HungaryYes isolation valves seize up after a few years. Over here they are quite cheap and quite useless by the time you need to use them. Alternatives are Italian made non-repairable ball valves that go stiff first (with non-use) and then seize up altogether but last 2-3 times longer than the isolation valves.

    Thanks, Peter. I just read the Ballofix manual and it says that their isolation valves should be closed and opened twice a year :cry: I wish I'd known that. Then it doesn't seem so unreasonable that I had trouble closing a no name valve after six years! I shall spend tomorrow trying to close and open all the valves in my house!

    I'm used to seacocks on boats, which nowadays are made of reinforced nylon so they don't corrode. But usually they are closed and opened at least once a year at the beginning and end of a season, and usually more often at the end of every trip.

    I don't know why I assumed that domestic ball valves could just be left untouched until needed!

    I have manifold valves at the start of the plumbing runs as well as the isolation valves at each individual tap, so hopefully between them and the main stop cock I'll find some way to turn off the water if I need to. If not, that's what insurance is for I suppose! (Or the water company's stop valve but how often is that tested?)
    • CommentAuthorLF
    • CommentTimeAug 23rd 2021 edited
     
    Just changed kitchen tap and had same issue with cheap isolation ball valves. I removed them and used the main house isolation too. Soft water area. Thought black rubbery seals were swollen and distorted.
    Had regular use ... not sure moving them regularly will make a difference. Hot water issue? Should be hard PTFE seal? I did not install the "penny type" in recent bathroom refurb - installed JG Speedfit quarter turn they look like plug valves rather than ball valves. £5 each.

    Rant time about quality of actual kitchen taps. Is it just me ? Very frustrated at waste being generated by poor components that do not last.

    Umpteen kitchen taps over the years very frustrating finding one that lasts like it should. Last one Screwfix Cooke and Lewis - leaking on delivery pipe/spout after say 18 months. Tried repairing oring and resealing. Uuuugh.

    Now trying IKEA tap like bathroom that has been in for nearly 20 years with no issues on Chrome and performance. I inspected it an reused it when we installed new bathroom, it just works.

    My only criteria is being able to fill kettle easily. We do not seem to get more than 2 years from a tap in kitchen service. Some of early ones had hoses and shower head things that were the things that failed.
    IKEA one has separate quarter turn ceramic valves for hot and cold.
    Sealing seems simpler in body on separate hot and cold tap.

    My concern is latest IKEA try was only 50 quid or so but I am sure my 20 year old bathroom one was not expensive.
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      CommentAuthordjh
    • CommentTimeAug 23rd 2021
     
    Our kitchen tap is a Franke and I bought a replacement valve from tapmagician.co.uk but I think most quarter-turn taps use replaceable cartridges. Replacement seals are also available for spouts etc for a variety of taps.
    • CommentAuthorrevor
    • CommentTimeAug 23rd 2021
     
    We had an embarrassing issue with such valves, have the washing machine connected to similar valve with knob. A couple of months into a new machine it failed to fill with water. Tap was on so we thought but isolation valve knob was turning on the spindle. Valve was actually stuck and that one did get regular on off operation. The knob not man enough to maintain regular on off use. Only discovered when service engineer called and found it. Fortunately he did not charge us.

    Posted By: LFRant time about quality of actual kitchen taps. Is it just me ? Very frustrated at waste being generated by poor components that do not last


    Have had similar problems in past now just fork out for good makes like Grohe. I go to a proper plumbers merchant and ask where they are made. Most of the "shed" supplies come from China.
  3.  
    I've had a series of older houses that don't tend to have isolation valves and I've never found it much effort to isolate at the incoming main supply valve or the cylinder. Some taps have gained isolation valves over the years, which is nice, they usually work, but no great shakes if not. I wouldn't test or maintain them, as that's creating more effort not less.

    Where they have been useful is for longer jobs, eg to fit a new bathroom you turn off the incoming main, fit an isolation valve where the pipes enter the bathroom, and turn the house water back on again. A few weeks later, the bathroom is complete and you open the isolation valve. It's never intended to be used again after that.

    I wonder if this is why people fit isolation valves? If so, we shouldn't be surprised years later if they are no longer working.

    It is important to use the house incoming main valve regularly, I close it whenever we go away in winter. I like to open it fully and then back it off half a turn so it doesn't stick open.

    You can also use the valve outside in the street in an emergency - if you don't have the long key spanner to turn it then sometimes a neighbour does! The obvious valve cover in front of our house turned out not to be the right one, worth a check.
  4.  
    <blockquote><cite>Posted By: PeterStarck</cite> I used a manifold system for hot and cold water. I found the turn off valves to be both easier to use and better quality.</blockquote>

    I used a manifold system but have to remove all the books from a bookshelf to get to it so it's fine for 'longer term' isolation but it's much quicker and easier to just turn off the main water supply (on a good quality quarter turn valve) for most jobs. The manifold is just relying on rubber seals though ultimately and when I have closed something off I've been a bit alarmed at how stiff they are (and have turned them all on and off each time as a matter of course).
    • CommentAuthorSteveZ
    • CommentTimeAug 25th 2021
     
    The compression fitting isolation ball valves I have used in our place came from Screwfix - cheap and good quality, and so far no problems.

    I am also a fan of JG Speedfit stuff. Easy and leak free to fit to copper (not stainless tube though) and easy to demount if required. Excellent to use as a temporary stop end during alterations. They also make Speedfit Isolation valves if you check with Screwfix, although I have not used used those - yet. A lot of their stuff comes with a 50 year warranty!!!

    +1 for backing off the main stopcock from fully open - saves a lot of grief.
    • CommentAuthorMike1
    • CommentTimeAug 25th 2021
     
    Posted By: WillInAberdeenI wonder if this is why people fit isolation valves?
    The main reason is that the regs require them.

    Posted By: WillInAberdeenYou can also use the valve outside in the street in an emergency
    Certainly worth checking that you can use it. I've seen one where the chamber / tube leading to the stop tap must have been displaced when it was originally installed - you could see half the stop tap, but turning it was impossible. The water co had to dig up the street...
  5.  
    Posted By: Simon Still
    Posted By: PeterStarck I used a manifold system for hot and cold water. I found the turn off valves to be both easier to use and better quality.


    I used a manifold system but have to remove all the books from a bookshelf to get to it so it's fine for 'longer term' isolation but it's much quicker and easier to just turn off the main water supply (on a good quality quarter turn valve) for most jobs. The manifold is just relying on rubber seals though ultimately and when I have closed something off I've been a bit alarmed at how stiff they are (and have turned them all on and off each time as a matter of course).


    The taps on our manifolds had rubber washers the same as many normal taps and because they are in the open position, most of the time, the rubber washer doesn't get squashed and they turn off easily.
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