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    Plumbing materials

    Booster pump

    An additional pump installed to increase the water pressure for supplying a shower. They will have an electric motor and will need to be wired onto the power supply.


    Before soldering, flux paste is applied to the end of the pipe and the joint to ensure a completely clean joint is formed.

    Feed-and-expansion tank

    Conventional boiler systems operate with two water tanks in the loft: a large cold water tank and a smaller feed-and-expansion tank. The large cold water tank draws water from the mains to feed the cylinder, which in turn is heated by the boiler. The feed-and-expansion tank maintains the correct level of water in the heating system, and allows for the expansion of the water in the pipes and radiators when they get hot.

    Jointing compound

    This can be used as an alternative to PTFE tape or in conjunction with it to form watertight joints. Jointing compound should never be used on pipes carrying drinking water unless the manufacturer specifies otherwise.

    Jubilee clip

    A stainless steel clip used for fixing flexible hoses to pipes.

    PTFE tape

    Tape designed to form a watertight seal around threaded joints. It is wrapped around the thread before the joint is screw together.

    Solvent cement

    An adhesive used in making solvent-weld joints with plastic pipes. There are variations of solvent cement available for different types of plastic piping.

    Plastic resin sealant

    A resin sealant added to the water in a central heating system that will produce a temporary repair of pinhole leaks in radiators.

    Plumbers putty

    Used for bedding in sinks, toilet bowls and bidets, plumbers putty is a non-setting sealant that creates a waterproof joint. It can be used with a range of materials including metal, PVC, vitreous enamels and ceramics. Plumbers putty is also used on guttering and downpipes. Quick and easy to use it has the additional benefits of being permanently flexible, non-cracking and can be painted over.

    Silicone spray

    Supplied in an aerosol can, it is sprayed around the ends of push-fit plastic pipes to ease the pipe into the joint.


    Solder is a metal or alloy used as a bonding agent for joining metal pipes and fittings. By melting the solder with a blowtorch around the joint, it creates a neat, watertight seal between the metal pipe and the joint. For plumbing purposes, the solder is often an alloy of copper and zinc or silver. It is usually sold as a wire.

    Soft paraffin paste

    An alternative to silicone spray, soft paraffin paste applied to the end of a push-fit plastic pipe helps to ease it into position.

    Tail pipes

    The pipes that connect the tap or taps to the water supply pipe.

    Union nut

    On a radiator the union nut is situated between the feeder pipe and the radiator.

    Ventilator plate

    A vent designed to let air flow up the chimney of a closed off fireplace to dry out condensation and prevent damp. Two types of ventilator plate are available: a face-mounted ventilator plate that screws over a hole cut in plasterboard or an aperture where a brick has been removed. Alternatively, there is a ventilator plate that can be fixed to masonry or plasterboard and then plastered around to hide the fixings.

    Washer and seating set

    Comprising of a plastic seat, valve seat and washer-and-jumper valve, these components are all part of a tap mechanism. The valve seat is located in the body of the tap. The plastic seating fits into the valve seat and the washer-and-jumper valve unit fits into the headgear.

    Ceramic discs

    Some taps will have ceramic discs fitted instead of washers and operate differently to conventional taps. This type of tap is fitted with two ceramic discs. Each disc has two holes in it. On disc is fixed in position while the other rotates when the tap handle is turned. When the holes in the discs are aligned the water flows through. When the tap is turned off the holes in the discs are no longer aligned and the water flow is shut off.

    Gland packing string

    Special string specifically for packing out the gland on rising spindle taps to prevent water leaking from around the spindle. Gland packing string is available from plumbers' merchants but PTFE tape pulled into a thin string can be used as an alternative.

    Silicone grease

    A lubricant grease used in plumbing.

    Fibre washer

    A type of washer used in plumbing, particularly when the seal is exposed to heat. Rubber washers in these conditions can perish, fibre washers will not.

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