One thing I’ve been determined to understand is learning how to install what I consider basic plumbing for a sink and a washing machine. Sometimes I’ve been irrationally overwhelmed when facing a leaky pipe and assumed I’ve needed to call a plumber. However, still feeling a new girl in town, finding a trustworthy one and without pricey call out fees has sent me in to a panic.
But with Speedfit fittings around these days, I thought, how hard can plumbing really be? I’ve watched reels of YouTube videos and it looked so easy. Quite plug and play. But the hardest part I faced was not knowing what parts were available. This drove me absolutely round the bend and swallowed up a lot of research time.
Thankfully, my father in law kindly took the time to draw and email a plan for me (below), with all the Screwfix catalogue numbers. This was possibly the hardest part of the job as each kitchen space is different, but it was the metaphorical hand holding I needed. That’s why I’m sharing this here if you’re puzzled too. If I can do it, I’m sure you can.
SPEEDFIT OR COPPER PLUMBING?
Speedfit fittings are engineered plastic plumbing. During my time researching and asking online, I received mix comments about how great they are, or “I only ever use copper”. Now, I’m not a plumber, nor should you be taking what I say as exact. Always look in to things for yourself. But I can’t help but feel some are anti-speedfitting as copper is traditional. A bit like me not wanting to drive an automatic car as I’m used to changing gears.
But if you’re completely new at plumbing, speedfit plastic plumbing is without a doubt so much easier. I didn’t need to learn how to solder copper and the fittings locked in to place as I tested them for myself. There’s also a few methods, which I’ll take you through in my step by step guide with photos that felt fool proof if you follow them.
However, it was essential that I added copper pipe first in to my compression valve (see the shinier copper below). WHY? Because you can’t insert speedfit plastic pipes in to the compression valves, but you can put plastic fittings on to copper pipe. So I still learned something out of my comfort zone.
SPEEDFIT IS A DODDLE – SCROLL DOWN FOR VIDEO IF PREFERRED
The other pro about speedfit fittings is that it was so easy to cut and was much speedier than preparing copper, hence why it is called speed fit. With the right snippers, it left clean cuts in a matter of seconds. With copper, you have to ensure it’s burr free to prevent leaks and obviously metal is much harder to cut.
Speedfit pipes are also flexible and tough. However, on my journey, I didn’t realise it can be bought in straight pieces. I’d only ever seen it on a roll which doesn’t seem as easy to work with. Anyway, shall we get started? What you’re about to see is my setting the plumbing up for my washing machine and a sink to be fit over the next few weeks, so I’ve capped off the hot and cold water that’s clipped to the wall (below) for now.
I’m still nervous about the whole utility which you can see me start here in a part 1 video, but I definitely feel more confident for the plumbing side of things. And I now know that if I face a water leak, I can probably fix it. There’s a sentence I never thought I’d be saying.
WHAT I DID – STEP BY STEP
The very first thing I did was switch off my water. Most homes should have them and I have my main one in the kitchen, inside a cupboard more or less under the boiler. This wasn’t totally necessary for me as I was working with hot and cold pipes in the conservatory with compression valves fitted (see two photos down).
My compression valves have a flat head screw slot that turns with a flat head screwdriver to turn off or on. I turned these off too. I also thought it was wise to turn my conservatory electric off as the existing plumbing I was about to drain was right next to some plug sockets.
So, below, are the hot and cold pipes I was talking about with the compression valves. Depending on your situation, this is how mine looked originally, but needed to dismantle it.
DISCONNECTING MY WASHING MACHINE
As we’re fitting an L shaped utility kitchen in this corner, I needed to move my washing machine connection so I had better access if ever wanting to change my appliance later, or experience leaks.
Again, make sure your water is turned off, appliances aren’t plugged in to LIVE electrics. I then had a couple of washing up bowls to catch any water still in the pipes, and then used a wrench to remove the washing machine. From experience, hand tight washing machine hoses leak, so I always need a wrench to loosen or tighten.
Also, many of my followers said to ditch the Y splitter (capped off at one end) as they often fail. I wouldn’t have known otherwise, so really appreciate experienced peoples’ tips along the way.
REMOVING THE ISOLATION TAP
As I needed to use these copper pipes, it was essential I removed this emergency isolation tap on the cold water and discard.
STARTING WITH NEW PIPES
Before I started using any speedfit fittings, I needed to start with copper as plastic pipes do not work with metal compression valves. Thankfully, my father in law gave me some scrap copper pipe to save us money. Although I don’t show it in this picture, I first cleaned it up with fine wire wool as mine were covered in paint.
It’s absolutely vital that you make your cuts clean so there’s nothing sharp (burrs) to stop things sealing and damaging the olive. So, I used this Rolson 15mm pipe cutter to cut y 15mm copper pipe. NOTE: I am ONLY working with 15mm pipe through this whole project.
HOW TO USE A PIPE CUTTER
I slotted my pipe in to the cutter, exactly where I wanted to cut it. Once it’s in, you can’t slide it about to adjust. Then I twisted the cutter in the same direction as the arrow on it (see picture) until it popped off. It actually didn’t really leave any or many burrs behind, which may be down to my cutter being new. TIP: Try to twist in a straight line as it can leave a spiral effect, so you may want to practice on some spare. However, fine wire wool can remove it.
IS A DEBURRING TOOL ACTUALLY WORTH IT?
Depending on how clean a cut your pipe cutter has done, you may need to use a deburring tool such as this one below as I saw in a YouTube video. However, I actually found this tool left more sharp edges than I originally had, so I am not sharing the affiliate link as I can’t recommend it.
How it works though, is that is has convex and concave angled sharp metal to deburr the outer and inside of your pipe. Instead, I found fine wire wool worked so much better. For me, this tool was a waste of money.
I WAS AFRAID OF LEAKS
How many times have you tried to tighten a compression valve, only to find it either still leaks or drips more profusely? Quite a few for me. And it’s instances like this that have scared me off plumbing with copper. And with this being in a very awkward spot once our utility cupboards would be fitted, it was vital I did this job right.
I never even attempted fitting my pipe first to test for leaks. Instead, I found this great video by Plumber Parts and took extra measures in case it may leak and used some jointing compound. Although it’s about £5 dearer than cheap plumber’s tape, it was a much easier method and as a plumber, his first choice.
HOW TO USE JOINTING COMPOUND
First, I made sure my jointing compound was safe for drinking water (also known as potable water). I used this Flomasta which is also suitable for gas (although I’ll never use it for this as I’m not qualified).
The tub warns that it can be a skin irritant and you should always wear gloves when packaging says this (again, from experience with some harsh substances).
I then placed my olive around the 15mm pipe (about the size of a blob on the end of a flat head screwriver) and smeared it with my gloved finger. I then placed it in to the compression valve and tightened the fitting. I haven’t shown it here, but you’ll need a spanner for this and grips to hold the compression valve tight so you don’t twist the existing copper behind it.
So, that was all the copper pipe I needed. This really was just the transitional piece so I could get started with my speedfit fittings.
And, as I needed to send my hot and cold water in two directions, I needed to create a bend upwards before adding a splitter. So I started off with one of these Speedfit 15mm Equal Elbow fittings for each pipe. (You can see the Screwfix number: 97179 on the packaging if it’ easier to buy). This is NOT sponsored by Screwfix or any brand by the way.
HOW SPEEDFIT FITTINGS WORK WITH COPPER
The beauty about these fittings is that they just slot on to the copper pipe and lock in to place. And inside, there are some sharp pieces of metal that grip to it and then the bulkier sides tighten by twisting. If you want to remove, you untwist the fitting, then pull in the collar (or edge if you will) and pull off.
HOW SPEEDFIT FITTINGS WORK WITH PLASTIC PIPE
However, when work with pipe, you must slot in an insert to every end to prevent the pipe from crushing and leaking. Each insert also has a rubber seal around it, then you can carry on as normal. I’ll show you how in a mo, so don’t worry.
TIPS FOR CUTTING SPEEDFIT PIPE
One of the key tips I came across on my journey is not to use a hacksaw. Why? Because it can leave sharp edges that can cut seals. You see, inside each speedfit fitting, there are two seals. You’ll see them if you unscrew a fitting completely, but I didn’t even bother as there’s only one way they should go. The best video guide for this, is this video here by Tommy’s Yard. I encourage you to watch every second.
To ensure you have no leaks, you need clean, straight cuts and these Screxfix pipe cutters were perfect for the job and so easy to use.
The other fool proof tips I learnt is to only make your cuts along the stars that are printed alongside the pipe. That way, when you push your pipe in to each fitting (after you’ve placed an insert in of course), you know you’ve pushed it in enough. (See two photos down for the example).
ALL ENDS OF YOUR PLASTIC PIPES NEED INSERTS
So, I know I keep banging on about it, but just in case you’ve missed it: all ends need inserts placed inside them before slotting in to fittings. EVERY TIME. I purposely chose these superseal 15mm ones for my 15mm pipe because they have two seal rings on them and they’re replaceable. With a slight bit of force, I just pushed them in with the palm of my hand.
The reason these are important is to firstly prevent leaks, but also, when you tighten the fittings, the pipes won’t cave in as you’ve given them an extra wall. This was actually rather fun.
Also, make sure you buy more than you think you’ll need as you’ll need two or three per fitting.
REACH FOR THE STARS!
Remember I said to always cut dead centre of one of these stars? Well, that’s because when you push your pipe in to a fitting, you know you’ve pushed it in far enough when it reaches a star.
If it goes in past this, I can only assume you’ve forgot to use an insert in the end of your pipe.
Also, bear in mind that either end of my uncut pipe did not start on a star. So I’d sacrifice a quarter of an inch, or whatever it was, to help me along the way.
EXTRA SAFETY MEASURE
These FloPlast hot and cold (red and blue) collets weren’t on my father in law’s shopping list. However, after watching The Ultimate Handyman use them in this video, I instantly loved them. Why do you ask? Well, here’s my 3 points.
- They keep the ends shut. Remember that if you pull the ends inwards, it can pull off, providing you hadn’t screwed the fatter parts closed.
- They clearly tell you which one is hot and cold if you ever need to inspect after installation.
- They also quickly reminded me what pipe I was working on as I went along.
They just slot on between the end and the bulky screw part.
So, after fitting more pipe, it was time to fit some 15mm Speedfit Equal Tees. That way, I could lead pipes towards the left where the sink would go and right towards the washing machine. I had to do this for both hot and cold water.
GIVE YOURSELF EASY ACCESS AND PLAN AHEAD
Now to work out how long my cold and water pipe would be to lead to my washing machine. I needed to ensure I could still have easy access for when my utility kitchen was all in place. So I made my fittings stop directly by behind the washing machine.
Note that although my current washing machine only needed cold water, the situation may change down the line. So I also fitted a hot water pipe at roughly the same length.
FITTINGS TO ATTACH TO A WASHING MACHINE
I needed to connect the washing machine hose to my speedfit plumbing. For this, I used a 15mm 3/4 bsp appliance tap which has a thread at the end to fit to a washing machine hose end. It also has a tap to turn the water off if, say you are changing machines, but still want water to another area, such as a sink.
However, although I haven’t shown a picture for the hot water (as nothing is connected to it), I used a very similar piece called a 15mm Shut Off Tap. It allows me, again, to leave the hot water turned off until I ever do need to fit an appliance to it. It just keeps my options open for us, or perhaps a future buyer of our house if we ever sell up. As an extra measure, however, you may want to insert another piece of pipe with an end cap if you’re ever worried about it failing or some turns the tap on. (I’ll get to those shortly).
But, I can’t stress this enough if you’re new to even connection a washing machine. Don’t just screw the hose on with your hand. I’ve done this before, thinking it was fine, but it leaked. From now on, I always use a wrench or spanner of some sort to tighten.
WHAT IF I NEED TO REMOVE A FITTING
If or whatever reason, you need to move a fitting, it’s likely that the pipe insert will stay in the fittings. If this happens, don’t panic as you can remove them with some needle nose pliers. Just make sure you inspect each insert again to see if it’s free from scratches and that the seals are still perfect before refitting back in to the pipe.
I never had a problem with damaging an insert, but this is another good reason to buy more inserts than you think you’ll need. Also, the end very may come out too (it has slots around it and metal blades inside that grip to the pipe. It’s recommended not to stick your finger in them as they’re sharp.
However, if this comes out too, again, check to see there’s not damage and pop back in.
HEADING TOWARDS THE SINK
So, I’ve fitted my washing machine now and it’s time to turn right towards the sink. I’ve seen videos where people bend the pipe with no problem, but also read that using fittings to creates bends it better. Why I don’t actually know, but in my case, I wanted my pipes to run along the corner of the wall behind kitchen units, so more of these elbow fittings made sense.
WHAT IF I WANT TO DO THE PLUMBING NOW, BUT HAVEN’T INSTALLED A SINK YET?
Because I have never had a sink set up before, I had no plumbing. So I needed to get most of the work done now, otherwise I’d struggle with a kitchen worktop and units in the way.
So, it made sense to install plumbing now and cap it off with a 15mm End Stop for each the hot and cold water. And without a doubt, ensured these had a red or blue 15mm collet to ensure they couldn’t accidentally be removed. My reason for this is that they don’t screw tight; they only push on and these will be exposed until we fit the kitchen units.
SECURING THE PIPES
So now that all my pipes are fitted, I noticed the two ends were wobbly.
To fix this, I bought some 15mm pipe clips that screwed to the wall. However, it really matters what you’re screwing them to. In this picture, I’m screwing to some chipboard where a door used to be. Note, we haven’t just used chipboard here, but for this, predrilling a hole, then screwing to the wall was perfect for this.
FOR PLASTERBOARD WALLS
If you have plasterboard walls like I have near the washing machine, I used plasterboard fittings. otherwise the screws would eventually pop out. (Scroll down to see how I do it in my video).
If you want to fix the pipe clips to a brick wall, then you’ll need a masonry drill bit to drill a hole. Then, insert a rawlplug before carrying on screwing the clip to the wall.
AVOID DRILLING INLINE WITH PLUG SOCKETS
However, there are some bad exceptions and not all electric cables run where they should, so you should always be wary when drilling in to your walls. You can buy cable and stud detectors, but I’ve always read how affordable ones don’t detect cables very well, so you need to be cautious.
NEVER MIX AND MATCH BETWEEN PLUMBING MANUFACTURERS
I learnt this very early one when my father in law sent me shopping for our bathroom plumbing. But on that occasion, he came to visit and installed it for us.
It’s important you don’t use a mix of speedfit with other types of push fit brands because they’re designed to fit the rest of their range. This is important to avoid leaks and I believe the same goes with copper plumbing too.
So now, my utility is ready to install a sink and taps with speedfit attachments. But first, it was time to turn the water back on and inspect for leaks and try the washing machine. And I’m extremely happy I did it and now I know how to fix a leaky pipe.
And if you want to see how I get on fitting the worktops and plumb in the taps and waste for a sink, then don’t forget to subscribe to my mailing list for how we get on.
To make life easier for any visual learners out there, you can watch how I did all of this on my latest YouTube video here.
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DISCLOSURE: I am not a trained professional, so please only see this as a loose guide. If you are tackling your own projects, then always do your own research as I do. This is not sponsored in any way; I just enjoy sharing to help others save money and learn new found skills too. It’s one of the best feelings ever!