With any loft conversion, getting the plumbing right is one of the keys to a successful project.
In older properties there are two main hurdles to overcome. The location of the water tank and what to do with the waste pipes when you include an en-suite bathroom in your conversion.
When you’re planning a loft conversion, the waste pipes need to be considered as they are fitted quite early in the process. And, of course, even though it’s not the most pleasant thing to think about, we always need good plumbing.
Fitting new waste pipes in loft conversions
When you are converting the loft the waste pipes should be fitted during the first fix plumbing stage and, thanks to modern materials and products, they are pretty easy to install.
A bathroom loft conversion usually accompanies the creation of new bedrooms in the roof space to provide en-suite bathroom facilities.
An important thing to get right in the planning stage of a bathroom is its location.
Getting it right will pay big dividends later on.
Where to locate the waste pipes
The ideal location is as close to the existing second floor bathroom as possible. Doing this will ensure that the new waste pipes from the loft only have a short way to travel before linking up with the existing soil and vent pipe.
As we said in the opening paragraph the new white plastic push to fit pipes are very easy to use and install but you must be aware of the problems of siphonage.
This happens when the ‘run’ of the waste pipes is too long and can cause unpleasant smells.
The way to avoid siphonage is to make sure the length of the waste pipes is kept as short as possible and in fact the building regulations are specific about the maximum length of the pipes.
However, even if there are problems than simply using a bigger bore pipe can often get rid of them.
One other thing that needs to be considered is the existing soil and vent pipe.
Boxing in your pipes
The usual rule for the soil and vent pipes in UK housing is for the pipe to be boxed in before exiting through the roof. The building regulations insist that the pipe should be positioned at least three metres away from any windows.
This isn’t a problem until new skylight windows are installed during a loft conversion.
In this case the soil and vent pipe can simply be extended to maintain the required distance though in many instances the old pipes will need to be replaced with more modern plastic piping.
Finding a plumber
Unless you’re carrying out a DIY loft conversion you need to find a good plumber to install your waste pipes and new plumbing system for you.
It’s likely that your builder will include plumbing as part of their package but if you’re parcelling the work out between different contractors you need to take care to choose a reputable and skilled plumbing company.
When considering your options, the first thing you should do is ensure the plumber is a member of a reputable trade organisation such as the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE) or the Association of Plumbing & Heating Contractors (APHC).
Next you must ask for references and testimonials. But don’t just accept these at face value. Follow them up. Get in touch with past clients. A word-of-mouth recommendation is worth its weight in gold.
Of course you should always ask for a quote and get at least three for the job. The cheapest isn’t always the best but by getting multiple quotes you will be able to compare services as well as costs.