Spanish plumbing the best in the world, or at least better than the UK?


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    • #195350
      Mark Stücklin

      Visiting family in the UK I’m reminded how disappointing I find British plumbing in houses big and small. Lavatories that don’t flush with enough strength to get the job done, cisterns that take ages to fill, hot and cold taps that are a pain to use, annoying kitchen sinks. In Spain, in contrast, I’ve usually found the plumbing to be excellent. Maybe because water is more scarce there is a culture of using it better. I often hear complaints about the quality of Spanish build, especially from the boom years, but when it comes to plumbing, the only thing the UK does better is loo seats.

    • #195353

      Just read your editorial about Spanish plumbing – certainly not my experience!

      We owned a house on a golf development near Torrevieja for 10 years and had no end of trouble with the plumbing. Loo cisterns that kept running, so frequently replacing flush units, inline valves that just snap off and no longer work as well as leaking valves.

      There is also frequently no traps on wash basins (although we did have them) which meant smells from the drains come up and generally smelly drains everywhere.

      I have never had any of these problems in 67 years in the UK where I believe our plumbing as well as the fixture and fittings (and loo seats!) are far superior.

      It would be interesting to hear other people’s opinions.

    • #195375
      Chris Nation

      The only bit in Mark’s note that I agree with is …. err…. I just re-read it and don’t agree with any of it!

      I was going to agree with speed of loo cistern refill, based on the ridiculous time to refill a new/retro old fashioned overhead tank on a friends’ lavvy. Many others are a bit slow.

      But then I remembered the refill of my downstairs cloaks in Bristol. I bought the whole thing piecemeal, a pan & a tank with no valve, from Hospital Corner in B & Q, so I had to buy the valve system and fit it myself. It was about GBP10 from Screwfix. The refill was the same as my loo here. By the time you’ve zipped up yer flies and buckled yer belt, it’s refilled. But that is, as I know from my Bristol experience, entirely down to the valve kit in the tank. I swapped out the existing valve on my bathroom loo, fitted the same as the downstairs one and got the same turbo charged refill.

      Taps are as good as their design allows them to be. I brought a Grohe kitchen mixer from UK, it being on sp offer. But then, Grohe are available all over Europe. My taps in Bristol were fine. The kitchen mixer was a GBP25 job from Ikky, no need to pay more (although I AM impressed with the depth of the chrome finish on the Grohe. Much better than the Spanish tap on the bathroom basin) and the basin taps were probably plain vanilla from Screwfix; all good.

      I need to know what an annoying kitchen sink is. Any kitchen sink that annoys me is going to get some lip back – but as a kitchen sink has never yet annoyed me, I’m a bit foxed.

      I’m not very impressed with the Spanish service valves. They look a bit wimp, to me. I haven’t had to use one yet but I like a good, solid brass service valve, myself, on every feed to every item and a manly lever valve on the rising main.

      What I have found VERY ANNOYING today is how rolling emulsion paint onto a wall can lift off the skim coat. Unbelievable! Don’t even dream of asking if the plaster is dry. It was done in Nov. The roller comes away caked in flakes of skim coat, some of them several sq cms. And the plaster on the wall behind my sink and hob is so soft that when I tried to mark it up with a pencil, for tiles, I got no pencil marks – the pencil lead just ploughed a furrow into the plaster!

      Don’t talk to me about Spanish bricks. Horrible little skinny things full of holes. I had two walls demolished in my flat to open up entrance lobby to salon comedor and salon comedor to kitchen. The guys used the usual hardware. I reckon Bruce Lee could have punched and kicked those walls out in half an hour.

      Running holes into the kitchen wall for screws for the wall cabs, I found the ones with the bathroom backing onto them had knocked great big blebs of plaster AND BRICK out of the bathroom wall. Same principle as HESH armour piecing shells – small entry hole, great big bleb off the inside surface. The difference with the bleb of a HESH shell is it rockets around inside the tank that it has hit and turns the occupants into steak tartare. In my bathroom it just fell into the sink and was …. annoying!

    • #195460
      Mark Stücklin

      Well, I admit I wasn’t expecting to get a chorus of agreement on this one. Nonetheless, in my experience, I’ve found Spanish plumbing better in general than what I’ve seen in the UK. However, it’s one of those subjective things. Others will have the opposite opinion based on their experience.

      Chris, I have to defer to your superior technical knowledge. Truth is I know nothing about the nuts and bolts of plumbing.

      I’m with you on the bricks though. Old partition walls around here are made of one flimsy brick around 10cm wide. That doesn’t insulate anything, let alone sound. You can hear everything going on next door if you live in an old property that was divided into two using partition walls, something very common in the Barcelona Eixample at least.

      Modern partition walls using plasterboard (pladur) are much better it seems to me. You can stick everything you want inside them, like pipes for wires and some sort of acoustic mineral wool for sound insulation, which I hope really works. Can’t be worse than brick.

    • #195470
      The Morgans

      Well, the one good thing about the spanish  way is that each room with supply has it’s own isolating valves which is brill if a leak occurs as it’s just that room that can be turned off… of course that means it’s not always obvious were the pipes run-but the resulting leak from a picture hook is not as bad as it could be-don’t ask me how I know!

      • #195819
        Mark Stücklin

        @The Morgans, I can imagine how you know  🙂

        In my flat I’m going to go one step further. I’m going to put all the llaves de paso / isolating valves in one cupboard in the utility room, so I don’t have to look at them in the bathrooms.

    • #195788

      The lavatory flushing issue is actually an EU regulation rather than one dreamed up by the UK, I believe that it all came out of the Development of EU Ecolabel and GPP Criteria for Flushing Toilets and Urinals – Technical Report 2013, a 55 page report that laid out European wide standards for Flushing Toilets and Urinals.  So whilst I would agree that the 6/4 litre standard currently used in the UK (soon to be changed to 3/5 litres) is barking mad as you have to flush twice to be effective, this is also the standard for Spain but presumably they have just chosen to ignore it, arguably for the better!

      However, I particularly liked Maybe because water is more scarce there is a culture of using it better (in Spain), presumably you mean that this is often demonstrated by showers on beaches that are permanently running, the practice of washing up under a running tap, hot water pipes embedded in walls and floors that run cold until the surrounding wall/floor have been warmed up, not implementing EU regulations designed to reduce water usage, giving planning approval to golf courses and Avocado plantations in areas with perennial drought issues, yes the Spanish surely know how to preserve water.

      Best of luck with your renovation though, I’m enjoying the updates.

      • #195820
        Mark Stücklin

        You clearly know more about the subject than I do, so I stand corrected. I’m starting to take pictures of the different lavatory bowls I come across that either flush well or badly, and short videos of them in action. I’m trying to work out why some flush better than others, even with the same amount of water. There’s something about the shape of the bowl that determines how effective the flush is. Our loos at home where we currently live are champion flushers – no job too big for them  😀 But the loo in my mother’s home in England just can’t get the job done – you always have to flush at least twice. I might make a documentary out of this. Very niche subject, but I guess it’s something everyone who has ever come across a bad flusher has thought about, or at least been irritated by.

        On the question of efficient water use in Spain, I agree, on reflection,  you are right. My comment was off the cuff and written in a hurry to get my news bulletin out on a Sunday morning. There are lots of examples of appalling water use and bad policy in Spain (as there is with renewable energy policy). About a decade ago there was a plan to divert the River Ebro down south to water the deserts of Murcia and other places like that. Some Spanish politicians think that letting a river run to the sea is a waste of water. No matter it would have killed off the Ebro River Delta, one of the most beautiful places on earth, and a nature sanctuary of extraordinary value. Mind you, dams upriver are slowly eroding the delta anyway, as sediment doesn’t reach the delta to replace what the sea takes away. But thank God that mad and costly idea to divert water from the Ebro was killed off.

    • #195992

      Well I certainly look forward to seeing your video Mark, I bet it will ‘trend’ (whatever that means!) on uTub!

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