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Archive for the ‘Plumbing’ Category

How the Modern Toilet Has Evolved

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

The 13th April marked the birthday of Joseph Bramah who was born in 1748 and was a famous inventor best known for developing the hydraulic press. As well as being a locksmith, Bramah also played a key role in the improvement of toilet design having patented design changes in 1778 which included a hinged flap that sealed the bowl and alleviated the problem of the water freezing during the cold winter months.  With examples of his work still in operation at Queen Victoria’s Osbourne House, we reflect on how modern toilets evolved into the sleek design and water efficient models that are in use today.

With evidence of flush toilets in their earliest form dating back to 3100 BC early designs featured toilets made from brick and stone, and with the development of basic sewers many toilets were built directly above the running water to enable the removal of waste as was the case in Roman times, although this luxury was only available to those of the affluent classes.

In 1596 John Harington invented Britain’s first flushing toilet, which featured a flush valve and wash down bowl, which allowed the water to be released from the tank and empty the bowl in the process.  Harington installed the device which he named Ajax in his manor in Kelston in Somerset, as well as an installation at Richmond Palace for his godmother Queen Elizabeth I.

Alexander Cummings held the first patent in 1775 for his flush toilet, and his S shaped plumbing design was later modified by others to produce the U and J shape.  Cummings solution featured a sliding valve in the bowl outlet, effectively solving the problem of stench travelling up from the sewer below.

In 1851 George Jennings installed the first public toilets at Crystal Palace at the Great Exhibition.  With a charge of 1 penny over 827,000 visitors used them, with the service including a shoe shine, towel and comb and most importantly a clean seat. The following year Jennings patented his designs for improvements in traps, valves and pumps in water closets.

By the 1880’s with further underground pipe networks developed to improve sanitation, Thomas Crapper was producing flush toilets with improvements made to existing designs through the syphon system replacing the floating valve and reducing leakage in the process.  During this period Frederick Humpherson from Chelsea based Beaufort Works demonstrated the first flush-down toilet, with Thomas Twyford producing the first one-piece ceramic model, which incorporated the internal designs of George Jennings.

By the early 1900’s patents were issued to Thomas MacAvity Stewart for his vortex-flushing toilet bowl, with Philip Haas developing the flush rim toilet in addition to recycling mechanisms for which he was also granted a series of patents.

With duo-set cisterns available for the first time in 1980, the work of Australian Bruce Thompson whose designs featured 2 buttons with the 2 flush options, significant savings were able to be made on water usage, and this set the standard for the highly economic models that are so popular today.


Image Credit:

Thomas Crapper & Company

Monday, January 27th, 2014

Thomas Crapper was an inventor, plumber and famous founder of Thomas Crapper & Co based in London.  Although some believe that he invented the toilet this is not the case, however he is credited with developing the modern bathroom concept and also for opening the first ever showroom to display such products as toilets, sinks and baths, located in Kings Road London.  With manufacturing taking place in Marlborough Road, Crapper’s showroom appeared quite shocking to some when it opened, at a time when the subject of toilets was something rarely openly discussed.

Crapper started his own business in 1861, following completion of his apprenticeship and time spent as a journeyman plumber.  In the 1880’s Thomas Crapper would become the recipient of his first Royal Warrant, having provided and installed all Prince Edward’s bathroom, plumbing and drainage requirements, when the Prince rebuilt Sandringham House in Norfolk.  Edward would later become King, and this connection with royalty would continue with Crapper supplying plumbing equipment at the request of George V, further enhancing his reputation as a supplier of the finest quality goods.  Installations of Crapper’s fittings also took place at Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace.

Crapper’s inventions and pioneering design would see him hold a total of 9 patents during his lifetime, three of which related to improvements for water closets including a floating ballcock, with water waste prevention a key focus. His patents also included a disconnecting trap, a drains fitting installed underground.  A less successful invention of Crappers was a spring-loaded toilet seat which used pulling rods to flush the toilet automatically, due to problems experienced by some users over time the device was not a commercial success.

1904 would see Crapper retired, with nephew George and business partner Robert Wharam then responsible for the business.  In the 1960’s the company was sold to John Bolding & Sons Ltd, who later went out of business.

Sadly, today marks the anniversary of the death of Thomas Crapper, who passed away in 1910.  However, the company now operates once again as an independent, following its acquisition by a collector of bathroom antiques.  The company was subsequently re-launched and today operates from Stratford-Upon-Avon, supplying authentic reproductions of Crapper’s famous Victorian fittings, and continuing Thomas Crapper’s reputation for the finest quality sanitary ware.

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Top Tips for A Cheap(er) 2014!

Friday, January 10th, 2014



It’s that time of year where we all look to save a little money. With January comes the stark realisation that we have over spent at Christmas, over indulged at New Year and need to have a bit of a clean-up in the finance department.

So we have compiled a list of some tips to help you get the most out of you water – how to save money and how to be more efficient.


Tradeshows in January-2014

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

There are 4 big tradeshows taking place internationally over January. These are:

Haus (House) Bad Salzuflen – 10-12 January

Official Website:

Venue: Messezentrum Bad Salzuflen, Benzstr. 23
32105 Bad Salzuflen, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Overview: Haus (House) is part of a combined event, House, Garde, Tourism, and is focused around heating, plumbing, construction, electrical and renovation. The show appeals to a range of sectors including building construction, materials, structural engineering and plumbing.

Exhibitors scheduled to attend include:

  • Domus Sana
  • Allkauf
  • Bosch
  • Busch
  • Velux



Stay Warm this winter, Help Your Home to insulate more efficiently

Monday, November 4th, 2013

One of the hot topics (or cold topics) of conversation at the moment is about the price rises from the energy companies.

Homeowners are constantly being told to install extra insulation or double glazing to manage the energy use efficiently. Double glazing and extra insulation are very valid solutions, but can also be an expensive solution.

So here are some tricks and tips that are less costly and will help to keep your house warm.

Draught Excluder

Draught Excluder

Thick Curtains – Losing home heating through the windows is a common problem. By having thick curtains up at windows and even doors will help to insulate your house massively. You can buy thermal curtains now that are specifically designed for this. To help cut the costs even more you could line your curtains yourself. Use materials like fleece which are super warm, but also cheap. So the thicker the curtains, the better the insulation.

Tin Foil – Reflect the heat back into your rooms. By lining the wall behind your radiators will help bounce heat back into the house. Especially if your radiator is on an external wall. Good quality tin foil works very well, but you can actually buy purpose made foil that is much more effective and can be purchased under £10.

Double Glazing – This is the most efficient way of keeping the heat inside your house. But as mentioned, this can be quite an expensive option. But there is a thing on the market that imitates double glazing and it works pretty well. It is a special film that you fix onto the window frame with tape and heat. It only costs about £15 a pack. This would cover a medium sized house.  The only drawback is that, once the films have been attached and sealed, you cannot take them off and on. But a pack should last 2-3 years.

Sunshine – Keeping the curtains shut will stop heat escaping and stop draughts from coming in, but when the sun is out make sure that you make the most of it. Any natural heat from the sunshine shining through your windows will help. As soon as dusk sets in, draw your curtains.

Draughts and Heat Escape Routes – Do you use your fire/chimney? A lot of heat can be lost through an open fire and up the chimney, so if you are not using your fire regularly then why not get a chimney balloon installed? This is a balloon that is inserted into the chimney hole, so that you cannot see it and is then inflated. The balloon is made from laminate and is not too expensive, around £20. Once the balloon is inflated then it stops any heat from escaping and stops any draughts.  Have a wander around your home and look for any draught spots e.g. the letterbox, or if you have a large keyhole in your front door. It is amazing the amount of draught that can come through. Animal flaps in the door can produce terrible draughts. If you can block up these holes, what a difference it will make.  Remember the door sausages that your gran used to have? Well it is time to bring those back. You can even modernise them yourself and design them to fit in with your décor.

Efficient Radiators – Allow your radiators to work to their full potential, move any furniture that is blocking them, e.g. if your sofa is right in front of your radiator then pull the sofa out by a foot. This will allow the heat to escape into the room more efficiently. If your radiators have cool spots in the panels then you may need to bleed your radiators, if this is the case then by doing this, you will really feel the positive difference.

Big Old House? – Do you have rooms in your house that you do not use? Shut rooms off that are not being used. Contain the heat you create in smaller areas. This is far more economic than heating the entire house.

Heating Timers – You should never turn your heating up full blast to get the house warm quickly. Set a timer to come on earlier and give the house time to warm up slowly and efficiently.

By using all of these tips and tricks, heating your home will be much more of an economic expense.

Keep the Heat In and the Cold out

Keep the Heat In and the Cold out

Don’t Burn Money To Keep Warm

Monday, October 28th, 2013

Burning money to keep warm



The weather is up and down. Sunny and warm one moment, wind and rain the next. Having to turn your heating on and off. I myself, tried for as long as I could, to go without those radiators giving me warmth.  Starting and stopping the boiler cannot be good for any system and the number of boiler related call outs increased from the first week of September to the first week of October by over 72%, they will continue to increase as the temperatures get colder and colder.

Not picking the right plumber can be a costly experience especially if they are not registered and qualified. Over 60% of people pick their plumbers on cost. Going for the cheapest option can cost you more in the long run. Ideally you want your plumber to be on an approved contractor’s scheme and or have credentials and references.

Using an unqualified plumber could cost you a lot more money when you have to pay to rectify any mistakes. According to figures from Watersafe (a recognised plumbers register), Britons have had to pay more than £2.5 billion to fix bungled plumbing jobs.

The danger is not just about how bigger a dent the mistake makes to your pocket, but there could also be health and safety implications as well, for instance your water could get contaminated.

You can go to the Watersafe directory and find a list of registered and accredited plumbers local to your area.

You might not actually need a plumber, there are many things that you can do yourself to maintain your heating system, Plumbing Tools can help.

Some Simple Advice On How To Save Money By Reducing You Water Bills.

Monday, October 7th, 2013

We have all read about gas and electricity prices rising and rising. The hot topic at the moment is to see whether fracking will help lower our bills.

Most reports conclude that Fracking will not lower our bills like it has in America. We are not in the same situation as the US.

Fracking uses an awful lot of water and will be taken from the local groundwater supplies local to the fracking sites. The Thames region has already warned that the water bills are due to rise by about 12%.

The industry for water has already cautioned that the areas that are undergoing Shale Gas Extraction will be put under serious pressure of water stress.

In the village of Balcombe in Sussex, test drilling has already come under huge protest and the villagers are already having to use water from other sources because the village’s tap water is discoloured!

Tina Rothery who is part of RAFF, (Residents Action on Fylde Fracking) explained that not enough thought has been put into understanding all the implications of having millions of gallons of water removed from the local supplies.

The Fracking policy and costs are set out by the water regulator, the Government and Activists.

So although we may not be able to influence the bigger decisions, we can still help to reduce costs in our own lives by making some changes ourselves.

save Water
Lower your water bills

So, that being said..

What type of Shower Head do you have?

Get yourself a revolutionary aerated shower head. For example The Ecocamel Orbit is an odd looking shower head, it is a hollow ring with 40spiral jet holes. Trialled by a family over the summer this shower head uses more than 70% less water than an average shower head.  If a family of 4 people used this shower head for seven minutes per day each. Their combined heating and water bill could reduce up to £240 per year.

How old is your toilet?

Is it the same lavatory that was in your house when you moved in? Perhaps you wanted to have an authentic and period toilet to fit in with the other décor. The problem is that older toilets use about 13litres of water per flush. By investing in a modern ultra-low flush toilet that only uses about 3 litres of water per flush. Every time that you use your new low flush toilet, you will be saving 10 litres of water! That is more than 700 litres per week, Over 36,000 litres a year. Reduce the waste and reduce your bills.  If currently you still have a 13litre toilet. You can still reduce water waste by displacing the water in the cistern with a brick or two.

Save your bathwater!

Water companies charge us twice, once for the use of water and once for the water that we take but don’t use. This is called “grey” water.

Water butts are a great investment, they collect the rain water and you can water your gardens and plants at no cost. You could even send your waste water (bath water) to a soakaway, just make sure that you stop any soap scum or hair from getting into the supply by using a fine mesh and some hairgrips in the plug hole.


Will Fracking Lower Energy Bills?

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

North Sea gas didn’t meaningfully move prices in the UK. So it cannot be expected that UK Shale production alone will have any effect.

The UK is trying to replicate the US shale gas boom that the US enjoyed where gas prices fell greatly.

Completely contrasting in comments, David Cameron told the Telegraph, when he wrote an article last month, “fracking has real potential to drive energy bills down”.

Mr Cameron moved onto explain that the US has over 10,000 fracking wells opening each year.  US gas is nearly 4 times lower than the UK’s and the only way that we could possible achieve lower gas prices is to carry out a “huge Europe-wide shale gas production”.Shale gas exploration

This is a worrying time, people are stressing out about their energy bills, America have done so well; at lowering their bills, it is not surprising that the UK is looking towards the US for inspiration.

Unfortunately it is unlikely to happen here in the UK as there is not enough shale gas in the UK and Europe area.

A Europe wide production is very unlikely as countries like France have actually banned all fracking and in Poland, a lot less gas has been found than what was originally thought.

David Kennedy who is head of the Climate Change Committee – the official government advisor, disagreed with the Prime Minister saying that “fundamental economics” revealed that it was probable to continue being an expensive liquefied natural gas imports that will decide the price of market gas.

I Need a Plumber!

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013


Hiring a plumber can be a mine field, many are reputable and good quality but the industry has suffered with its share of sub-standard contractors, not playing with a straight bat when it comes to their work.

We will all need the help of a good plumber at some point whether it is to stop a leaking tap, unblocking a drain, manage heating systems and much more. Whatever the job, you will want it to be done properly, to last and to not break the bank.

If you know a good plumber through friends, family or neighbours, word of mouth can be the ideal solution when looking to hire one. Evidence of a job well done.

If you don’t know of any plumbers, then here are some good ways to ensure that you will get the best service and value for money when blindly searching out your ideal person for the job.

There are many trade sites around now that list certified plumbers, There are so many to choose from, narrow the search to your area and look into people that have had good reviews.

Get a selection of quotes

Unless you have an emergency on your hands, try to get a minimum of three detailed quotes before you finally decide on the right plumber for you. If a plumber is trying to quote over the phone, be cautious of this. Surely the plumber would need to see the job to know what exactly entailed, the job might not be as straight forward as when face to face with it, unless it is something like changing a tap.  Make sure that you get your estimate in a written format as a verbal contract will not protect you.

There are some things to look out for in your written quote. Are one of the bids much lower than some of the others? A well-known plumbing scam is giving a low quote. This could mean that the cost for labour has not been accounted for. Often you will have to pay the costs for extra labour before the plumber has finished the job. So make sure that you ask all questions regarding the complete job. If the quote is higher than the others, don’t be afraid to ask why?

Down Payment

Many contractors request a down payment before beginning the job. Usually charged around 10%, this can be called a call out fee. There are a lot of plumbers who do not have call out fees, Check if it is buried into your quote. Some contractors will charge higher rates for the first hour of the job, even when the job is a 10 minute one. Ask the plumber to carry out routine maintenance checks and give your system a check-up, after all, you have paid for an hours work. The contractor could be able to warn you about upcoming problems to look out for, so you can prepare yourself for expense down the line.  

Stay Alert

If you live in rented accommodation or flats. The will be the odd time that a plumber will call in, usually legitimately saying that he is calling on behalf of the landlord or the that the water board have sent him round to check the mains and carry out maintenance. Always check the plumbers identification (always check any contractors identification with their company or your landlord). There have been some unfortunate cases of theft by a scamming contractor. So always check.

Switch Up

Once you receive your official quote, any parts that need to be purchased for the job should be listed with the make and model of the parts. People have experienced being charged for more expensive parts, when cheaper parts have actually used on the job.

If you live in an area of affluence, then this could well reflect in the prices of your local plumber. This is why it is important to get a selection of quotes. Try looking for Plumbers that are situated no more than an hour away from you.



Global Energy Guide

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

Worldwide demand for energy has risen relentlessly during the last 150 years and ties in with the industrial development and growth of the population. Forecasts show that the demand for energy will keep rising and by a minimum of 50% by 2030 because developing countries like India and China who need more energy to keep up with their rapid economic growth.

About 80% of the world’s energy is at present, supplied thorough fossil fuels – oil, gas and coal. Forming a very long time ago from the remains of dead animals and plants that are carbon rich, unfortunately these are non-renewable energy sources that are running out.

Over the last decade or so, there is worry about the impact on the environment. When fossil fuels are burning they create greenhouse gases which if not monitored and reduced will cause climate change.

The pressure is on to replace fossil fuels and find more renewable sources of energy that are non-polluting and enduring like solar energy or wind.

Nuclear Energy could be an option.

Fission: It’s the basis of current atomic energy production involving the decay of specific large atomic nuclei like uranium-235, which releases a lot of energy. Commercial nuclear reactors first started up in the 1950’s and now about 440 reactors supply over 15% of global electricity. This was supposed to be the failsafe option, delivering clean and plentiful fuel, however the nuclear industry struggled with its image, because of accidents like Chernobyl and the big job of dealing with radioactive waste. Now that fossil fuel prices are rising and reserves are getting lower, there is pressure mounting about dealing with climate change, some countries are looking towards Fission again.

Fusion: Energy can be released by forcing together light atomic nuclei instead of splitting heavy ones. This is the same process that power stars. Some believe that nuclear fusion will provide a safe and green energy source compared with fossil fuel. Allowing huge amounts of energy to be produced from plentiful sources like lithium and water. However this is a relatively new method and a commercial reactor has not been made yet and won’t be expected to be made until about 2050, if ever? There are still so many engineering and scientific tests to be made.

Hydropower is the best source of renewable energy. Relying on rainfall that flows into rivers, to dams. Water is then channelled to flow to a turbine and turn it, which then produces energy in a generator. After the dam is built, hydropower is a cheap source of power and there are no carbon dioxide emissions. Norway produced over 99% of its electricity for domestic use from hydro stations.

Wind is the second most successful renewable energy source. It is more costly per unit of electricity produced than fossil fuels. They are flexible as they be used on shore and off shore. Their efficiency is down to the weather. Some people also complain as they think that they can mar the landscape. Wind power seems to be more popular in Europe.

Sun is a renewable and emission free energy. IT is not a cheap method of using renewable energy as the initial set up is very high. But the costs are eventually lowering and once they are installed the actual energy source is free.

Wave and Tidal Power are big sources of unused energy from the ocean. These are new technologies and have not been explored to the extent that wind and solar energy have and development is costly.

Biomass is organic and a material that is non-fossil which creates a renewable energy source.

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