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Plumbing Part 1; Water Pipes

This post has been a looong time coming.. We have been working on the plumbing in the bathroom for some time now, a day here, a day there... but we've been pushing through these final stretches and we're very nearly complete!

We've never done proper plumbing before. In our last house we just worked with what we had and gave the bathroom more of a 'makeover' than a total renovation. So this kind of work was a first for us. I say for 'us', but really it was Grant who has done all the work here. Generally I was in charge of fluxing pipes, cleaning up, sawing floorboards and generally providing motivational "you can do it" encouragement. But most of all, I spent considerable time hiding behind doors in fear of things going up in flames.... but y'knooow, 'too many cooks' and all that.... (at least this is how I justified it!)

We didn't have that much of a huge job to do with the plumbing. We needed to install new pipework to the new shower across the room, but otherwise we just needed to move both the basin pipes and bathroom pipes slightly. This was the general plan for the move...

It wasn't a huge deal, which I was pretty glad about because the prospect of using fire in a room full of wood didn't fill me with too much joy, particularly as we haven't done this before. Call me paranoid Patricia! I should mention there were no fires, accidents, injuries or even anything close, so fear not ;) We did however keep buckets of water close by, juuuust in-case! The job took the better part of an entire day, so we also filled up on water bottles to make sure we had water for our multiple endless supply of coffee throughout the day. We are coffee addicts!

To remove the floorboards, we specifically bought a multi-tool for the job; in particular the Worx Sonicrafter multi-tool. We popped out a fair amount of floorboards and numbered them on the underside with an arrow in which direction they they were laid (i.e. towards left wall). This will help to not to get muddled when putting them back!

To prepare for plumbing, I made sure to hoover up all flammable dust and sawdust sat in-between the floorboards, to which there was surprisingly a lot that had been left from previous work. It was also worth doing anyway to minimise dust for when we remove the ceiling in the room beneath.

We placed a bag beneath the pipework where we made the first cut so any water left in the pipes would pour into it.

As we removed all the piping, we also labelled the hot and cold pipes at their point of entry into the room. I could totally for-see Grant saying to me "which was the cold pipe again?"....

After much prep-work the real plumbing began! Initially we had bought this plumbing torch (pictured in the top photo) and it was just totally broken. At first it spat out liquid gas and then when it finally lit a flame, it wasn't the blue flame we were after. Eventually after trying to figure it out, it stopped releasing gas altogether and wouldn't light a flame at all! We stopped to research a bit and the consensus was that the brass torches are totally unreliable anyway and this torch was a total duff. We took it back and purchased this new one at only £8 more, which actually worked.

Grant did a few test practises on small pieces of copper and then moved on to doing the real deal. We planned it out so that Grant could do as much soldering as possible above the floor, and thus away from close contact with the wood. The soldering that he did have to do beneath the floor and close to the joists, we used a soldering mat to protect the wood. It worked pretty well because nothing got burnt! Hurrah! I'm afraid I have no photos to show beneath the floorboard work as I left the room, partly on Grant's request "please don't watch!" but actually I couldn't bare watching anyway!

So the process of soldering is pretty simple, with just two steps prior to heating the copper:
  • We cleaned both ends of pipe with steel wool, and also the inside of the fittings we were using. 
  • We then applied flux to each end and inside each fitting.
Grant then used the torch to heat the copper until it reached a high enough temperature, before applying a lead-free solder to create a ring around the join and making it totally sealed and water tight.

After many joins, lots of cutting, and a few areas where we had to bend the pipe, the job was done!  We also fitted a stop-cock for the shower so this can be isolated separately. The real test was whether there was going to be any leaks or not. We phoned each other from across the house, so one of us could turn the water on whilst the other watched for leaks. This way, in any case of bursting pipes or leaks we had direct contact with each other to quickly shut off the water supply. However, this wasn't necessary as there were NO LEAKS! Super success! JOB DONE!

We do still need to do a little more soldering for when we buy an actual shower unit to make sure the pipes are in the exact location to connect it up. And we also need to decide on what height we want the bathroom taps. But we're 95% plumbing complete right here!


(Rounded to nearest Pound)

New tools purchased:
(Minus the cost of the Worx Sonicrafter)
Pipe Cutter £9
Pipe Bending Spring £3
Torch £30
Soldering Mat £11

Materials Used:
Copper Pipe x2 £11
Pipe fittings (elbow, coupler & tee's) £10
Flux and Solder Set £10
Gas Cylinder £4
Stop Cock £5
Steel Wool £4

Total Spent: 


  1. We didn't have that much of a huge job to do with the plumbing. We needed to install new pipework to the new shower across the room, but otherwise we just needed to move both the basin pipes and bathroom pipes slightly. This was the general plan for the move...

  2. Plumbing job is good but this is very hard working job, very tough to join it for everyone.

  3. I follow the blog by experienced professionals from JHBPlumbers, as it is truly a wonderful DIY plumbing resource that makes it easier to handle minor issues on my own.

  4. I am so impressed you guys tackled this! What a fantastic job :)

  5. Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I'll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon. Big thanks for the useful info  this page etc


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