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  • #728987
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    mandrake
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    Joined: 17 Jul 2003
    Location: Now Hereford previously 33 & 87
    Total posts: 2393

    French systems do not normally have a storage tank in the loft. The hot water cylinder is under mains pressure with a diaphragm which may absorb the expansion as the water heats and a pressure relief valve which needs to drain via an air gap and U bend into the mains drainage. Shower mixer valves do not require the complex arrangements to cope with fluctuations of pressure and are therefore cheaper in France but do not work safely in the UK. Another advantage is that the water cylinder can be positioned almost anywhere. Ours is in our cellar.

    Copper Input pipes normally start at 24mm (outer) 22 mm (inner). Next size down 22mm (outer) and 20 mm (inner), until you reach 12mm (outer) 10 mm (inner). Tap, shower and toilet connectors are 3 / 4 inch or 1 / 2 inch fittings which are the same as UK.

    Copper pipes are frequently supplied as a coil rather than as straight pieces . You therefore need a clamp and flaring tool to return them to round from oval even after your have straightened them out. You can normally pick up a cheap and cheerful set from the DIY sheds for about 20 Euros.

    Copper pipe joints are supplied untinned and the French always braise rather than solder. A consequence of the inner and outer sizes is that one size pipe simply slides inside the next. Alternatively standard compression fittings with either copper or PTFE olives are available. As a last resort System American joints replace the olive with a washer and metal insert. Flexible and non-flexible plastic pipes are also available. It is fairly common to run a supply from a manifold in the cellar to each appliance or area. I would also install a pressure-limiting valve

    One of the cheap DIY encyclopaedias or “Plomberie Pas a Pas” should have loads on diagrams. These are normally available from the DIY sheds and Email order. These have tables of pipe sizes for each type of fitting. Ranging from, memory only, 10mm for WC, through 12 mm for Basin taps up to 16 mm for baths. The sheds also have fact sheets with diagrams which are free.

    For wastes, 32 mm from basin and 40 mm for sinks, showers and baths are the norm, with 100mm ( same size as drain pipe) for outlet from WC. This will joint straight onto soil water pipe. Simple collar slides over 100 mm pipes on both sides and connects to 100 mm outlet which you install. T- pieces and reducing sleeve sections can join 32 mm into 40 mm. For 32 mm or 40 mm to 100mm, use a swept T-piece as junction. Then you can buy a piece to fit in to one of the inlets, which either has one or two 32 mm holes in. Glue in the waste water feed to that. In bathrooms you sometime find that the 90-degree swept bend immediately behind the WC has an inlet from the wash basin in to it.

    Also worth installing are ‘rodding eyes’ at any 90 degree bends in soil pipe, where you have easy access. Basically substitute a swept T for the bend and fix an insert with a screw on cover to the joint.

    Hotwater cylinders are pressurised with a lower power element than the norm in UK

    The connection into the house from the mains drain is one of the few things I have come accros in France that must be done by a licensed contractor. As above, all we had was an open 100 mm pipe. If you are not connecting immediately I strongly recommend putting a plastic bag held on by an elastic band over this.

    French tap, shower and toilet connectors are 3 / 4 inch or 1 / 2 inch fittings which are the same as UK. To join existing 14/16 mm pipe to 15mm pipe. Buy a 15 mm to 15 mm olive/ compression fitting and the 15 mm pipes in UK. Then buy a 16mm to 16 mm olive or system American joint in France. The threads on the fitting will accept the 15 mm nut and olive from the UK joint and form a water tight joint. Or braise the joint.

    A manifold is a sort of super T piece. It takes in, say, a 16mm feed and has four or more joints leading off it which are initially covered with blanking plates, the more expensive have stop vanes on each pipe. I ended up with separate cold water pipes from the cellar. I ran a separate feed to each room as that meant there were no joints buried either under the concrete floors or behind dry lining and I could complete one room at a time. I used T pieces either in cupboards or ceiling areas where I had access via traps.
    The main advantage of manifold (same word as exhaust manifold on car) is that you have fewer joints / potential leak points compared with using T pieces down in the cellar (my cellar is only 5 foot deep and is not pleasant to work in). Also, it’s easier to complete and test one room at a time if you use manifolds.


    • This topic was modified 02 Sep 2014 17:50 by  Char.
    #777846
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    mandrake
    Member
    Joined: 17 Jul 2003
    Location: Now Hereford previously 33 & 87
    Total posts: 2393

    Updates based on recent experience, visit to friends further South and things discovered the hard way :

    Plastic Pipes – The rigid white pipes and glued joints are relatively expensive and DIY sheds do not stock many joints and they are not regularly restocked. The glue must be fresh, not the tin you opened on the last visit and you must use their special cleaning fluid first. Compared to copper they are very intolerant of movement after they have been installed so clip them in place before gluing. I split the female joints into which the shower fitting screws before I could achieve a water tight seal. The ‘stopfuites’ or atmos pastes will eventually cure weeping from the joints. On balance I will not be using them again but would recommend them to somebody who has never used cooper before.

    Shower Fittings – You can buy copper fittings with the two female joints set up the correct distance apart. If you are building the fitting into a tilled wall then you need to remove at least 15 cms of the plaster or aquaboard immediately below the hole for the shower pipe. In order than the socket can come far enough into the room for the shower fitting to be tightened up with the chrome rosier cover in place.

    If you are installing a stop cock or 90 degree bend immediately after T piece. You can buy female threaded sections into which you can screw both the ‘T’ piece and the stop cock. This arrangement is much less likely to come undone when you tighten the final joints.

    Seat and install all taps, wastes and flexible pipes and plug push pulls with the sink or basin upside down before you install them in the work surface or pedestal. Check that the wastes are water tight before attaching to the wall. ( two out of three bottle traps leaked ) Cheap set of box spanners well worthwhile if you have to retighten taps with sink or basin in place.

    Unlike UK mixer taps / shower fittings will push water out of any disconnected hot pipes even if only the cold is attached and switched on. This proved rather entertaining when I tested the cold feed to the upstairs bathroom, I had the hot stock cock turned off and a temporary tap on the cold in the kitchen but had not attached anything to the hot pipe which was going to feed the kitchen sink. Isabel reported that the jet of water was only 3 metres high.

    The French equivalent of Boss White or Boss Green is black and very effective.

    The stoptaps for French toilets come in both 8mm and 10mm sizes. They can be used to reduce the flow to the ball valve to the point where you get relatively quiet filling without a marked increase in time. It is possible if you are desperate enough to file down the Teflon olives for the 10mm pipes to the point where they will fit the and be water tight in an 8 mm tap.

    The 32 mm for basin wastes and 40 mm sink and shower wastes are internal sizes so pipes brought from the UK will not neccesarily mate with French wastes.

    The saddle style connections for joining basin wasters etc to 100 mm plastic wastes need to be very tightly held until the plastic cement goes off. I wire mine in place then wedge them with pencils to get the last bit of tension.


    #777847
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    dunney
    Participant
    Joined: 27 Apr 2004
    Location: Salon la Tour 19
    Total posts: 181

    Mandrake

    What a helpful posting. Some of this I had already found out the hard way but you have confirmed quite a few things that I had thought.

    One question you mention the “tin” level in the copper. Would this explain why I could not get the solder to run into the joints I was trying to create. I am about to go down armed with some UK solder and flux having concluded that the flux I bought in France was just rubbish.

    One of the things that I want to do is install a heating system that I could adapt to use with a solar system To do this I need to install and tank with a second exchange element. Typically I understand from suppliers int eh Uk that the second element has to be bigger than standard to allow for the exchange of heat given that the exchange fluid is rarely as hot as that form a boiler. I will probably have to order one specially. Can you recommend a tank manufacturere to talk to.

    Stephen (19)


    toujours a font

    #777848
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    peake
    Member
    Joined: 21 May 2004
    Location: Plouasne, Dept 22 & abit further East than Jennie
    Total posts: 228

    I would advise you to see what French plumbers use, most of them would loose an English trained plumber, tin copper solder is for a do it yourself bodge it type of job, its all hard soldered in France by the proffesionel plumbers which means high temperature therefor oxy-acetylene (can be hired)

    web sites to look at http://www.rt2000-chauffage.org the franco-belge site will take you to some other good sites

    Before retireing I was a plumber in France


    #777849
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    dunney
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    Joined: 27 Apr 2004
    Location: Salon la Tour 19
    Total posts: 181

    Hi Peake

    I am keen to adopt the “when in France” approach and so it sounds like I better hone my braising skills.

    I have used workshop oxy/acetlene kit, but cannot see these being practical for plumbing applications, apart from for workshop based applications.

    Are the small portable kits that you see in the brico sheds up to the job. Funnily enough your pre-retirement proffession is in my sights. I guess from what you are saying you would not recommend training in the UK. I guess I will have to be really brave and train in France, which I guess would be ideal anyway as the qualifications would be properly recognised.

    I would be interested in you opinion of the small oxy kits and the minimum size that can be worked with to do the job properly.

    Stephen (19)


    toujours a font

    #777850
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    dickb
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    Joined: 25 Aug 2004
    Location: Azerables, Creuse (23)
    Total posts: 34

    Mandrake

    I read your artical with interest, however, you refer to “System American” could you define this term, do you mean push-fit couplers?

    Thanks

    Dick


    Utopia is not a place, it is a state of mind!

    "Even in the Pointless Forest, Oblio discovered, everything has a point" From the 1976 stage production of Harry Nilsson's 'The Point.'

    #777851
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    delboy
    Participant
    Joined: 19 Aug 2004
    Location: Somerset, France in 2005
    Total posts: 1

    @peake wrote:

    ……… its all hard soldered in France by the proffesionel plumbers ……..

    Peake, I’ve had this discussion in ‘the other place’. On a recent trip to France, I was particularly looking at the plumbing, anticipating having to do some when I move next year. On all the caravan sites I stayed at, it appeared (in the block sanitaire) that all the joints were soft-soldered, at least the jointing metal was the same silvery-grey as that used in the UK. Are you saying that soft-soldering is not suitable for the amalgum used in French ‘copper’ tube or is there a special flux? I do a lot of plumbing in the UK, but have no experience with the higher temperature methods.

    DB


    God gave man a brain and a penis, but not enough blood to use both at the same time.

    #777852
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    mandrake
    Member
    Joined: 17 Jul 2003
    Location: Now Hereford previously 33 & 87
    Total posts: 2393

    @dickb wrote:

    Mandrakeb – I read your artical with interest, however, you refer to “System American” could you define this term, do you mean push-fit couplers? – Thanks

    Dick

    System American replaces the olive in compresion joints with plastic ring and bext to the nut a thin metal ring with flanges which grips the pipe. You can buy kits of rings and washers to upgrade normaly compression fittings.

    Push fit fittings are now availbale in France I am not sure if they are compatiable with UK ones.


    #777853
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    dunney
    Participant
    Joined: 27 Apr 2004
    Location: Salon la Tour 19
    Total posts: 181

    On the push in fitting front, it is certain very unlikely that the UK push in fitting will fit as only the 22mm pipe size is common between the UK and France.

    After we went metric and started using 22 and 15 for most applications. France they use 12,14,16,18 and 22. Most old installations I have seen use 14mm, but I believe that most shower fittings are 16mm and thus most modern installations use 16mm as the standard, or so I am led to believe. I had to laugh when I inspected the packaging for a 14mm compression joint to see 1/4 cast on the side of the joint. Apparently these are known as American sizes. I felt the urge to say a quick excuse me 1/4 is an “imperial” size and therefore british and not american, but I did have a chuckle to myself and made amental note that next time I buy and old house in the Uk I just have to buy my new imperial fittings in France. Ho Hum

    Dunney


    toujours a font

    #777854
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    clyde
    Participant
    Joined: 20 Aug 2003
    Location: 24 NE of Perigueux
    Total posts: 173

    While thumbing through the Brico-Depot catalogue I could not understand the descriptions of the sizes for brass fittings. I realise they are all Imperial pipe sizes, presumably 1/4″, 3/8″, 1/2″, 3/4″ equate to 8×13, 12×17, 15×21, 20×27.

    Is this correct?

    Mike


    #777855
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    peake
    Member
    Joined: 21 May 2004
    Location: Plouasne, Dept 22 & abit further East than Jennie
    Total posts: 228

    Just a few words to all in the old days just after the English had knocked 7 bells out of ‘bony’,the had a lot of musket barrels spare, the gas industury was in its infancy, and some bright spark came up with the idea of useing gouverment surplus musket barrels for gas pipeing thats why old plumbers are still heard to call iron pipe barrel,also England was the first industrilised country in the world and exported imperial sized fittings to the continent, here endeth the first lesson

    When contemplating a shower mixer get a thermostatic one, this will avoid you becoming a lobster when somebody uses a cold tap elsewhere because the pressures will be unbalanced and you could be scalded or worse frozen to death when this happens

    Hard soldering is dead easy when you get the hang of it no flux needed on Cu to Cu joints just a hot flame, oxy acetylene is best on brass (lation in French) a flux is needed also care as French brass work is lighter than English, copper tube is opened out to form a branch just like lead pipe was in the old days its called a piquage in french with a build up of jointing metal just like bronze welding, this can only be used on water,gas needs a silver solder with a flux and only fittings can be used

    If you must use soft solder make sure its lead free which I doubt that you will find in France and also clean the tube and fitting with glass paper to remove the oxide apply the flux evenly to both tube and fitting heat the fitting as well as the tube then you will get the solder to flow

    End of lesson


    #777856
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    mandrake
    Member
    Joined: 17 Jul 2003
    Location: Now Hereford previously 33 & 87
    Total posts: 2393

    @clyde wrote:

    While thumbing through the Brico-Depot catalogue I could not understand the descriptions of the sizes for brass fittings. I realise they are all Imperial pipe sizes, presumably 1/4″, 3/8″, 1/2″, 3/4″ equate to 8×13, 12×17, 15×21, 20×27.

    Is this correct?

    Mike

    Those, I hope are the size of the tap fittings which allow you to connect taps etcwhich are the same size as the UK to French metric sized pipes


    #777857
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    clyde
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    Joined: 20 Aug 2003
    Location: 24 NE of Perigueux
    Total posts: 173

    Mandrake,

    Yes, it was the pipe sizes I was trying to get my head round.

    I will be going to the Bricos that sell packets of tees etc with the olives and nuts – saves a lot of heartache.

    I’ve also seen nuts which are both 10mm but have 3/8″ or 1/2″ thread and 14mm which have 1/2″ or 3/4″ thread presumably they are intended for compression joint fittings with different size threads.

    OK for the pros but very confusing for the likes of me.

    Peake,

    I seem to remember a similar post – was that you? – about using old gas piping for barrels. Seems that Europe is not exclusively metric after all. Are there any poles, furlongs, pounds, ounces etc lurking somewhere?

    By the way I saw a roll of sans plomb solder the other day in BricoDepot.
    Getting their act together perhaps.

    Mike


    #777858
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    peake
    Member
    Joined: 21 May 2004
    Location: Plouasne, Dept 22 & abit further East than Jennie
    Total posts: 228

    Mike,

    Look at my posting to you dated 6 august, I think all will be explained, the French dont bother with size threads on copper joints, its a B.S.P. (british standard pipe) thread so that you dont have to use converters to join copper to iron

    Lead free solder thats for the bodgers isent it?, sorry to the bodger’s (chair leg makers who used a pole lathe in the bedfordshire region in the late 19 c) for takeing their name in vain, when in rome etc.

    With regards to non metric weights and measures try the livre = 1lb = 500 gms the demi livre, the pouce (thumb) = 1 “, the ‘ell’ I think its called about a yard in length


    #777859
    tdyer
    tdyer
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    Joined: 01 Apr 2014
    Location: Bath
    Total posts: 242

    Being totally inexperienced with plumbing, I did find out about pressure regulators which I thought might be relevant.

    I needed a plumber round shortly after purchasing my house and whilst here he noticed that I didn’t have a pressure regulator fitted. Apparently one should have a 3bar pressure regulator and he said that this was quite important for rural properties (maybe you get more pressure variations).

    Maybe I was “taken for a ride”, though if that were the case, it was cheap and there were far more expensive “rides” he could have taken me for.

    I mention it only as the plumber thought not having one might potentially damage the boiler. As I didn’t have one, maybe others also don’t – or maybe its just a local thing/need in my area.


French Plumbing, Heating & Septic Tanks
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