Toilet of the future

‘Toilet of the future’ solves global issues

Last summer, Hoffmann, the James Irvine Professor of Environmental Science at Caltech, and his team were awarded a $400,000 grant to create a toilet that can safely dispose of human waste for just five cents per user per day. The lavatory can’t use a septic system or an outside water source, or produce pollutants.

The challenge is part of a $40 million program initiated by the Gates Foundation to tackle the problems of water, sanitation, and hygiene throughout the developing world. According to the World Health Organization, 2.5 billion people around the globe are without access to sanitary toilets, which results in the spread of deadly diseases. Every year, 1.5 million people—mostly those under the age of five—die from diarrhea.

Hoffmann’s proposal—which won one of the eight grants given—was to build a toilet that uses the sun to power an electrochemical reactor. The reactor breaks down water and human waste into fertilizer and hydrogen, which can be stored in hydrogen fuel cells as energy. The treated water can then be reused to flush the toilet or for irrigation.

Funny plumbing and bathrooms disasters

DIY disaster stories are not always funny, apparently over 100,000 people per year visit hospital casualty departments after DIY injuries.
But sometimes, the work and inventivity of some Do It Yourself enthusiasts can produce some hilarious results.

Shower head from an empty plastic bottle and some improvised piping.

wash basin drain into toilet wc
Don’t forget to put the toilet seat down ? And take the drain out. Washing your hands in the basin has priority.

wash basin tap
Aiming short.

toilet seat toilet paper holder
An epic battle between the toilet seat and the toilet paper. The toilet paper would eventually lose at some point.

Available urinals. Just like the buses, two come along the wall at the same time. Take your pick.

traffic cone toilet
Work in progress. A traffic cone is not just for the roads.

public toilet funny
Nothing to hide in this public toilet.

wc room blocked door
In use or not in use? The biggest sign possible if a toilet is Occupied or not.

small toilet space
Toilet time. Please, don’t squeeze too hard.

wc far from toilet paper
How far is too far ? If you travel in a straight line, between the WC and the toilet paper…

glass door for toilet
You always need the toilet while playing hide and seek

toilet chair
Is this chair taken ?

damaged toilet door
Finally, some privacy..! I just need to find a way to get in and out

WC toilet throne
From up there you can see the whole country and your subjects

scissors to flush toilet
When you flush the toilet, don’t waste water, cut the wasted water

public wc
A symbolic divider protecting your intimacy. Just pretend that you are not there and don’t make eye contact

beer toilet
Beer goes right through you because it has natural diuretic properties

basins, wc toilet
You can only do something once when nature calls. But you have to wash your hands five times if you want the bathroom door to open

double urinals
Urinals like this keep the security industry alive in pubs and clubs

British bathroom
Experiencing the British weather in the bathroom

Urinals in clubs
This is not an urinal. This is an IQ test.

double urinals
Who said that boys don’t go to the bathroom together?

shower funny
This is how you take a shower before you apply for Britain has talent or X Factor

shower mixer
That could be a killer whale biting a white shark and not the action of somebody who really wants to take a shower. A very poor and weird attempt at showering or filling the bathtub up

public toilet funny
I am not behind you

Sochi Olympics twin toilet

Dealing with Drain & Sewer Problems, Drainage

Avoiding drainage problems

A cake of fallen leaves, bird droppings and other debris collects in gutters. The space for water is reduced and this can cause overflowing during heavy rain. Once a year remove this rubbish with a trowel – put it into a bucket and not down the pipe. Cover the mouth of this pipe with a ball of wire netting.

The kitchen waste pipe is most at risk – do not put peelings, tea leaves, melted fat etc into the sink. You must install a waste disposal unit, if you wish to enjoy the luxury of washing away kitchen waste. Washing soda in hot water will remove grease from the pipework. lf blockage has been a problem, use a plunger about once a year to prevent further trouble.

Dealing with drainage problems

First of all, check that only one sink, basin or other fitting is affected. lf more than one is blocked, your problem is in the soil pipe or a drain. A frozen trap in winter will prevent water from draining away. Thaw gently with a hair dryer or use rags soaked in hot water. lf ice is not the problem, suspect a trap blocked with kitchen waste, hair or other household debris. The first step is to use a plunger. Press it down firmly and pump up and down rapidly about adozen times. Pull off to break the seal and then repeat the pumping action until the sink empties.

There are several symptoms of this distressing and often difficult problem. Several fittings may refuse to drain or one fitting may fill up when another is emptied. There may be an unpleasant smell or a gully may overflow. Put on old clothes and an overall before working on faulty drains. Wear glowes. Call a plumber if the problem is not a simple one. When the trouble is a blocked gully, remove any rubbish which may be covering the grid before removing this protective cover. Use a stick to break up compacted debris – flush with a hosepipe when water starts to run away freely. The problem may be in the soilstack or pipe.

The most likely cause is a blocked trap. Buy or hire a special WC plunger – this is larger than the standard sink model and has a metal disc around the base of the suction cap. Alternatively, use a mop with a polythene bag tied overthe head. Bale out some of the water so that the bowl is only about half full. Move the plunger or mop up and down rapidly about a dozen times. A gurgling sound will tell you that the trap is cleared – flush the cistern several times.

Hard Water

Most of the water in S and E England is hard. The cause is the presence of dissolved salts of calcium and magnesium, in the presence of soap a curd or scum is formed.Bathroom and kitchen fixtures are stained, washed woolens are matted and soap does not lather properly.
stained shower head
The serious problem starts when the water is heated above 40 degrees Celsius. Kettles develop fur and hot water pipes develop scale. This scaling increases the cost of running the system and can cause damage to the boiler and immersion heater. Proprietary descalers are available for kettles and the hot water system can be descaled by putting chemicals into the cold water cistern.

It is much better, however, to avoid scaling rather than trying to cure it. Install an Indirect cylinder to replace a Direct one, and avoid water temperatures appreciably over 40 °. A number of chemical water softeners are available, but the most satisfactory solution is to fit a water softener. This works on the ion exchange principle, sodium being added to the water in exchange for calcium and magnesium. It must occasionally be regenerated by adding salt. The unit should be fitted to the rising main above the cold water tap in the kitchen by the plumbers.

Replacing a boiler, radiators & Central Heating

Replacing a boiler, radiators & Central Heating

Replacing your existing Central Heating or installing a new Central Heating, can be a major plumbing job. If the pipes needs to be replaced or installed, the flooring needs to be removed and the walls chased sometimes.

removing flooring pipes

Because gas or electrics are involved, the job must be done by professionals plumbers and electricians.
gas engineer

What type of boiler you need

boiler & underfloor heating

There are three major Central Heating systems but most often, for properties in London, a combi boiler is the most efficient and the best choice. It can also be hidden inside a cupboard.

combi boiler cupboard




Water supply

Sometimes the amount of water you get, will dictate the type of Central Heating you have. Our plumbers can update your water mains if you need a better water supply. This happens when the property has more than 2 or 3 bathrooms.

mains water pipe

This is done by upgrading the main water supply pipe, the bigger the pipe’s size – the better the water supply. It is also a healthy option because most old main pipes are made of lead, which can be poisonous.

If the water supply is high enough, a high flow boiler might the best choice, it requires no hot water or cold water tank, saving space.

high flow boiler

How water tank – cylinder
hot water tank

Cold water tank

When installing a new boiler, the plumbers needs an external wall to install the flue vent for the boiler.
vent boiler

Underfloor Heating or Radiators ?

underfloor heating

Underfloor Heating is more expensive to install but cheaper to run in terms of energy bills. It is also more pleasant. The heat is distributed evenly throughout the floor surface.

underfloor heating wooden flooring

You can also compromise by having stylish radiators, old cast iron radiators or modern radiators.

Cast iron radiator
cast iron radiator

Modern radiator
modern radiator

What brand or make of boiler is the best ?

Boilers are like cars or any other engineered and manufactured product. Our plumbers do prefer to install certain brands and makes, they usually go for a middle of the range quality.

Dealing with hard water

• The difference between hard and soft water
• The problems of scale and scum
• The benefits of hard water
• Testing for water hardness
• The various treatments for hard water
• Installing a plumbed-in water softener

limescale hardwater shower head

Water supplied for domestic use is purified to make it bacteria-free—and therefore fit for human consumption— by efficient filtration and storage, as well as by additives and treatments introduced by the water authorities. But even this water contains impurities, in the form of certain amounts of dissolved mineral salts that are referred to when we talk of the hardness or softness of water. The concentration of these mineral salts depends largely on the type of rocks and terrain through which the water passes before entering the supply system itself.

What is hard water?

Rainwater which falls in open country and on to insoluble rock such as slate or granite remains more or less mineral-free. Surface water may, however, pick up organic waste products— notably peat which tends to acidify water. This water is usually soft. Conversely, rainwater which falls on to sedimentary rocks tends to permeate through these to emerge as ground water which has a high dissolved mineral content. This water is relatively hard. But there is another side to consider. As rainwater falls to earth it picks up quantities of gases and pollutants which acidify it slightly. The most significant of these acids generally is carbonic acid (soda water), produced by the solution of atmospheric carbon dioxide; but in heavily industrialized areas, with a far greater proportion of sulphur dioxide in the immediate atmosphere, rain can actually fall as a very dilute form of sulphuric acid. The mildly acid rainwater falls on, and is absorbed by, different rock strata during which time it reacts with minerals in the rocks themselves. It then either disgorges into rivers, lakes and reservoirs or collects underground and is pumped to the surface.

In regions where there is a high proportion of calcium and magnesium carbonate in the rock—found in limestone and chalky soil, and dolomites respectively—the carbonic acid in the rainwater reacts with the carbonates to produce bicarbonates. It is these that make the water obviously ‘hard’ and pose the greatest threat to domestic water systems. At low temperatures, the bicarbonates are readily soluble in water and remain so until they reach your system. But when this water is heated, they begin to decompose into insoluble carbonates which are deposited on any surface at a temperature past the critical point.

This is most readily noticeable as ‘fur’ in a kettle. Because it can be removed by boiling, such hardness is referred to as temporary hardness or alkaline hardness and causes the greatest majority of problems associated with water quality—heating elements lose their efficiency, and pipes become blocked. Some of the other more stable metal salts which become dissolved in water do increase its corrosive properties and have to be removed for specialist industrial processes. But in domestic installations non-alkaline hardness, or permanent hardness (which cannot be removed by boiling) is not normally much of a problem.

However, sulphate hardness can affect the performance of soaps and detergents—even in areas that do not suffer from carbonate hard water. The addition of a small amount of washing soda reduces this. Also, all types of water produce a certain amount of corrosion in contact with, for example, the metal of a central heating system. The black sludge you may have noticed after bleeding your radiators is, in fact, the black oxide of iron. Problems of this nature—not directly attributable to water hardness or softness—can usually be cured by adding a corrosion inhibitor to the system.

The problem of scale and scum

Scale is the build-up of particles of the bicarbonates released from hard water when it is heated. This precipitation begins at around 60°C and accelerates as the temperature is raised. It is for this reason that the first signs of scale are usually found in the kettle, which quickly becomes furred up; Unimportant scale of this sort can usually be removed by boiling up a dilute acid like vinegar or lemon juice together with water. And it can be prevented from gathering on the heating element by placing a few pebbles in the kettle. Much more serious is the effect of scale on hot water pipes and central heating systems: pipes become clogged, valves and pumps can jam, and boiler efficiency and life may be drastically reduced. And, as these effects are concentrated at the hottest parts of the system, this is where they can do the most damage.

Washing machines and dishwashers, too, have heating elements which can get covered with scale; this reduces their efficiency because the scale has to be heated before—and in addition to—the surrounding water. And of course, electric water heaters are particularly vulnerable to the effects of scale build-up. It has been calculated that boilers having a scale deposit of just 3mm require 15 percent more fuel than scale-free boilers. This figure can rise to a dramatic 70 percent when the scale layer reaches a thickness of 12mm. Scale formations can cause an objectionable amount of boiler noise— not unlike the creaks, groans and muffled ‘explosions’ that a furred-up electric kettle makes when heating. But more importantly, unless prevented (or removed, if possible) the scale build-up means a comparatively short life for the appliance and its related pipework.

Scum—insoluble soap curds formed when hard water reacts with, soap—is another common problem associated with water containing a high proportion of bicarbonates. It causes unsightly ‘tide marks’ around baths and sinks, can irritate the skin, and leaves clothes feeling rough to the touch. In fact, twice as much wash powder may be needed for a wash in hard water—and even then, the wash may not be as clean as it would be in soft water areas. These effects are also seen to a lesser extent with detergents—where china and glassware exhibit faint, but opaque, ‘drying marks’ for example.

Benefits of hard water

Pure water is tasteless. Hard water, on the other hand, contains dissolved are a clear sign. But i f your soap lathers easily and the water feels soft to the touch, you have soft water. Your water supply authority should be able to tell you a great deal about the water you receive, and may be able to test any water that comes from a private source not under their specific control. Plumbing companies who install water softeners may also be able to test the water for you.

water cleaner

Low cost, easy-to-use water hardness test kits are readily available from aquarist supply shops. These employ indicator chemicals and you simply count the number of drops needed to effect a colour change in order to obtain a very accurate hardness reading. Water hardness is measured in several different ways and three systems are in common use.

In scientific circles the measurement is based on parts per million (ppm) calcium carbonate—that is, the number of parts of calcium carbonate (Ca03) present in a million parts of water. The alternative two methods employ a degree system that is indirectly related to the ppm system, where hardness is based on parts per million calcium oxide (CaO). One of these systems originated in Germany and is referred to by the symbols DH or °dH. The other is the English system, referred to simply by the degree symbol (°), whose value differs from the DH system.

power flush cleaning

Confusing as this may seem, the relationship is in fact fairly straight-traces of many’ minerals which not only give it flavour but also supply tiny amounts of nutritional elements. Hard water is sometimes recommended for drinking, even though softened water tends to make better coffee and tea. Slight traces of common salt from the softening process (not necessarily detectable by taste) are not tolerated well by most types of garden plant and in any case it is not economical to soften water for this use. Most domestic water softeners are fitted in such a way as to allow drinking and garden water to bypass the softening system.

Testing your water

The DH degree is equivalent to approximately 18ppm (CaC03), the English degree to approximately 14ppm (CaC03). Treatments of hard water A number of possible options exist for the treatment of hard water. Some merely condition it, others actually soften it. The latest development is specifically intended to combat the scale caused by heating. Chemical scale inhibitors do not actually soften water, but instead stabilize the bicarbonates so that they do not form carbonate scale. Crystals of this type are encased in a plastics container and simply suspended inside the cold water tank which feeds the water heating system. This method is cheap but the crystals do need periodic replacement.

The same principle is applied in descaling units—small containers of crystals which are actually plumbed into the rising main piping. Versions of this device are available for use with chemicals specifically intended to counteract water containing too much iron or acid. Corrosion inhibiting solutions can be added directly to indirect heating systems. Use of these low-cost, non-toxic solutions prevents blockage caused by iron oxide sediment and inhibits the formation of scale. It also prevents the build-up of hydrogen (a by-product of the corrosion process) which is often mistaken for air when bleeding a radiator. Certain special additives help to prevent electrolytic corrosion— often an acute problem in central heating systems.

Most recent of the developments is the magnetic conditioner which does not actually change any of the chemical properties of the water, and therefore does not influence its taste and nutritional properties. The conditioner works by passing the water close to strong magnets. These are thought to alter the magnetic properties of the micro-particles enough to dissuade both scale and scum from forming in subsequent pipework and appliances. Magnetic conditioners have to be matched closely to expected flow rates and require quick maintenance by the householder perhaps twice a year, but are otherwise simply plumbed into a convenient section of the rising main using just two compression fittings. A particular benefit is the small size of the appliance.

Conditioners do not actually soften the water—for this you need a proper water softener. These work by actually removing bicarbonate salts from the water in a process known as ion exchange—the most thorough solution to the problems caused by hard water. Very simply, ion exchange in a water softener takes place when the electrically-charged bicarbonate ions in the water pass over a catalyst known as the resin bed.

Here, they change places with ions of sodium and thereafter remain attached to the resin bed while the sodium ions pass harmlessly into the water. Eventually the resin attracts enough bicarbonate ions to become clogged and it must then be flushed clear with brine solution—which is powerful enough to overwhelm and displace the bicarbonate ions. In all makes of modern water softener this recharging takes place automatically, using salt from a built-in reservoir. Water softeners are available with different capacities, suited to the amount of water consumed and the hardness locally. There is even a portable model available from one manufacturer.

Current advanced models are fairly compact and incorporate automatic timers which open and close valves to control the ‘flushing’ process or resin regeneration programme. They can be timed to do this during the night—when there is no call for water—as two hours or so are required for the regeneration cycle when only hard water is available. A typical domestic installation requires resin regeneration about twice weekly, using between 1kg and 3kg of salt for the purpose depending on the unit’s capacity.

The salt reservoir needs topping up every month or two and, apart from occasional servicing, this is the only attention the softener needs. Latest models employ a microchip console to control the valve working the regeneration cycle.

Installing a water softener

water filter water softener plumbing

The best place to instal a water softener is in a kitchen or laundry room—-or wherever the rising main first emerges—but leaving enough pipework for the installation of branch pipes to supply a tap or two for drinking and garden use. The supply will have to be disconnected for at least two or three hours, so lay on supplies of drinking and cooking water before commencing and avoid using any taps in the house except sparingly if there is a water storage tank in the loft.

Water bills of £74,000

A tenant has had water bills of £74,000 because of a leak outside his home.

Ryan Bishop, of Peacehaven, Sussex, ended up in a wrangle with two water firms and the developer of his rented home over bills of £33,000 and £41,000.

South East Water and Southern Water have since said Mr Bishop will only pay for normal usage and the developers were being contacted about the leak.

Bovis Homes, which built the house, said it heard about the issue on Monday and was working to find out the facts.

Scaffolder Mr Bishop said the leak was suspected six months ago when his meter showed he was using 50 times more water than he should.

He said the house was still under guarantee and he reported the issue to Bovis Homes and his landlord.

“Six months later, I got the first bill for £33,000. And they said I owned it and I had to pay it,” he said.

“I’d like to earn that in a year, let alone have the bill for it”

Ryan Bishop

He said he reached an agreement with supplier South East Water over that bill, only to receive another from waste water company Southern Water for £41,000.