A system that gets plumbers out of a fix

Plumber and inventor Ty Harnett has come up with Alfie – a new system which promises to deliver a faster and more reliable way to secure fixed shower heads, wall mounted taps, bar shower valves, toilets and hand basins – so what’s it all about?   

Most plumbers are familiar with fast fix kits or offset adaptors to mount either wall mounted taps or bar shower valves, but are these current techniques really a fast fix solution? Here are some of the problems that frequently occur and how they might be improved.

Problem 1:

Here we see a typical fast fix kit arrangement where a plurality of holes are drilled around the protruding 15mm pipes. Ceramic tiles, as shown, can easily crack whilst compressing the back plates to the wall, potentially resulting in loss of earnings to replace and make good.

There have been cases when tightening the compression joint onto the back plate and turning slightly puts stress on the drilled holes and cracks. Whilst drilling these fixing holes may not be challenging for ceramic tiles, it’s not so the case when faced with laborious hard porcelain, marble or granite tiles. Specialist tile drill bits can even break, meaning time off site, longer job completion and incurring more cost if quoting the client a set price.

It has also been known that water can track back down the copper pipes within the wall from a leaking compression joint within the fast fix kit. Jointing compounds commonly used to prevent mechanical joints from leaking should not be used immediately upstream of thermostatic wall mounted valves or taps, as jointing debris can affect the internal components.

Problem 2:

Here we see a typical arrangement where offset adaptors have been installed and more often than not, the hole within the tile is far too excessive, likely to promote water ingress behind the wall structure, causing irreparable and costly damage in the future.

It is evident from the image that the pipes may have been knocked at first fix stage or poorly installed to begin with. In either case, the offset adaptors need to be turned to ensure the wall mounted tap or bar shower valve is level, resulting in a very poor seal on the tiles. Because chrome shrouds are used, as with fast fix kits, it poses the same problems of water ingress.

Offset adaptors also require ‘depth planning’ of ½in fittings behind the wall, typically 15mm x ½in female iron adaptors. However, to set the correct depths (not protruding past the finished wall or recessed too far), a plumber is left second guessing.

By way of example, a solid block wall with dot and dab tile adhesive and tiles may project from the block wall in the region of 25-40mm. Taking into account the supplied ½in thread length on the offset adaptor is approx. 20mm, it leaves very little flexibility. Furthermore, on high pressure water systems, adequate thread engagement is crucial because these threads are parallel, not tapered.

The solution

Alfie, named after Ty’s son, provides installers with a more robust and reliable solution. The WRAS approved all-in-one fixing system avoids the need for drilling tiles and features an interlocking corrosion protected base plate which can be adapted to suit a variety of applications. Quick and easy to use, the system prevents pipes from being knocked or drilled and helps to eliminate any risk of water leaking within walls and floors. A reversible manifold means it can be used for both solid and stud walls and there is no need for the use of offset adaptors.

“I came up with the idea because of the frustrations that installers face with pipes being moved, having to second-guess depth planning and having to drill through tough and expensive tiles,” explains Ty. “Alfie is a flexible solution that can be mounted in a variety of orientations to accommodate a variety of brass fixtures and fittings. The interlinking base plates can be used on their own or as part of a modular solution, depending on the application, and help to ensure a secure and problem-free finish.”

Find out more

A specialist bathroom and wetroom installer for many years, Ty Harnet is now technical director of Coolag Ltd and is focused on developing plumbing related products which address the needs of installers.

Ask your nearest plumbing suppler to contact Coolag at sales@coolag.co.uk or call technical enquiries on 07846 897458.

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