In light of the much anticipated Green Paper, Eleanor Johnson, Fittings Market Manager at Pegler Yorkshire looks into how plumbing systems can support the call for not only safe homes but quality social housing and advises HA’s to use the expertise of manufacturers more.
Whilst the much anticipated Government’s Green Paper is said to call for many improvements within the social housing sector including greater engagement between landlords and their tenants to ensure a more a cohesive understanding of expectations from both parties, undoubtedly it will demand more transparency from the outset on many products used in the construction and maintenance of the social housing stock.
Just last year, speaking at the National Housing Federation Conference, the then Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Saijd Javid said “It is clear there needs to be a fundamental rethink about social housing in this country” and that “The Green Paper will not only look at the safety of social housing following the Grenfell Tower fire, it will also look at the quality of social homes”.
With this in mind many conscientious housing associations and landlords have already embarked on a review of their own Health and Safety Standards within their homes opting to update heating systems where necessary. Yet, as always in these type of situations, the minimum of disruption is essential to ensure tenants remain safe and happy within their home.
In order to support this, manufacturers such as Pegler Yorkshire, are key to providing HA’s and their installation teams with the most up-to-date information about their products. This must include all standards compliance and certifications. In addition, onsite support can also provide best working practice advice ensuring the installation is optimised and performing to its highest standard.
By using the knowledge of manufacturers and their extensive research into product performance, installation techniques, quality standards and much more, HA’s are more likely to make a more informed choice which can address their specific needs, be they, sustainability, cost effectiveness or speed of delivery.
Heating and hot water systems
A fundamental product within the fabric of the building is the integrated piping system of which Pegler Yorkshire is renowned and can offer a plethora of information and expertise.
For example, while the majority of heating and plumbing installations use either copper or plastic piping, a flexible metal pipe offers the best qualities of both materials and could be a viable alternative.
Tectite Flexible Metal Pipe, offered by Pegler Yorkshire, is constructed using a thin layer of aluminium flanked by cross-linked polyethylene, an environmentally friendly, industrial-strength plastic – which means specifiers and installers no longer need to compromise when stocking for their projects and housing associations can rest assured their plumbing systems will boast the durability and performance of copper and flexibility and cost saving of plastic.
But what exactly are the compromises of copper and plastic?
Copper is robust and long-lasting: it can handle extremes of temperature, it doesn't corrode when it comes into contact with water and it is non-permeable. It also creates a biostatic atmosphere, which means bacteria cannot grow.
However, while copper is reasonably installer-friendly – copper pipes can be joined smoothly using capillary fittings, which means they will wear well and can be made thinner, thus saving space and reducing weight – plastic is undoubtedly less labour-intensive and easier to work with. For one, it does not require soldering torches or any of the expensive tools similarly, far fewer elbows and couplers are required. In addition, plastic is a cheaper material than copper.
At the same time, plastic is not as robust as copper, nor as resistant to extremes of temperature or rodent damage. In fact, it is generally accepted by heating and plumbing professionals that copper is the superior solution – it performs better, it wears better and it looks better. The benefits of plastic, therefore, are practical – the reduced cost and the ease of installation.
Best of both worlds
The simple but ingenious design of Flexible Metal combines the durability and integrity of copper with the ease of use and total installed cost savings of plastic. The aluminium layer makes the tubing incredibly malleable, which means it can be easily moulded by hand into incredibly tight bends. In fact, up to 40 per cent fewer fittings are required when using Flexible Metal compared to copper or plastic, thanks to its compatibility with push-fit technology.
However, the flexibility of Flexible Metal does not mean it is weak. Indeed, it is far more resistant to warping than plastic – it expands eight times less than the industry-standard plastics. Also, the aluminium layer provides a guaranteed oxygen barrier, and the smooth surface prevents the build up of scale, making Flexible Metal more resistant to corrosion and wear and tear. All in all, it is a more durable and longer-lasting solution than the more established alternatives.
Versatility and other benefits
What's more, Flexible Metal is suitable for all installations – domestic or commercial – as the piping can be easily adapted to different environments, thanks to the flexibility of push-fit fittings.
Flexible Metal also fosters a safer and cleaner working environment; as no soldering is involved, a hot work permit is not required. This means there is less risk of causing damage to property or personnel, which will reduce litigious claims and also minimises disruption to tenants.
Tectite Flexible Metal system is WRAS approved and boasts the BSI Kitemark certification.
Adopting Flexible Metal
An example of a well-informed council utilising the expertise from a manufacturer was a project undertaken by Nottingham City Homes.
"The Tectite flexible metal system appealed immediately due to its ability to be bent easily and remain as such, to allow for long pipe runs and it also provided minimal value for opportunistic theft," said Nottingham City Homes’ Contracts Manager. "I am pleased to say that the product delivered on every level from specification, installation, testing, commissioning and end user benefits."
Tectite Flexible Metal offered Nottingham City Homes the perfect balance between the integrity of metal and the flexibility of plastic. Tectite is malleable enough to be shaped by hand, yet it is more resistant to warping than plastic piping, and it can handle temperatures in excess of 95°C and working pressures up to 16 bar. It meant that Nottingham City Homes was able to complete long runs of pipe work without the need for additional elbows and fittings which minimised the risk of leaks and cracks during installation and also once the dwellings were occupied. And, as Tectite Flexible Metal is designed for installation alongside the high-performance metal push-fit fittings, jointing was heat free, did not require any expensive tooling – and it was twice as quick as the capillary method.
Nottingham City Homes Contracts Manager concluded: “I was very impressed with the flexibility of the tube and how simplistic installation was. There were no leaks at all in any property, our build schedule was adhered to and I have complete confidence that our ongoing maintenance will be reduced as a result further decreasing time and labour costs to the business.
"Our tenants will also benefit from this as expansion of Tectite Flexible Metal is significantly reduced meaning there is less creaking of pipes, the possibility of leaks is reduced and, because there is a metal element in the material, pipes can be located with a cable detector.”