On Sunday afternoon, just as the shops were closing, we discovered a
wet patch on the ceiling directly beneath the bath. I removed the side
panel and saw that the waste fitting was smeared with plumber's mait,
which was weeping when the bath drained.
I did a google search and found that people don't seem to rate
plumber's mait. The impression I got was that it always starts to leak
after a few years. What does the group think? Is it any use these
I tried to remove the plumber's mait. Is it just a case of picking at
it? I read on the 'web to use another piece of plumber's mait but I
didn't have great success with that and found scraping it worked
The fitting was a threaded, slotted, chrome plated brass "plug hole"
(does it have a proper name?). Underneath the bath, this was
surrounded by a plastic banjo fitting that connected the overflow.
Again on the web, I found various forums, including professional
plumbers in the SF forum, complaining about bath wastes. One problem
seems to be that the hole in the bath is bigger than the fitting,
allowing it to move and leak. Why do bath manufacturers do this?
The banjo fitting had some nylon washers. Something like this:
Why are these made from nylon? I would have thought something softer,
like rubber, would be better as it would deform to the surface it is
on. Isn't the nylon a bit too firm?
The banjo fitting ruins it. It is the weak point of the design. Why
don't they make the overflow integral to the bath, like they do for
basins? That would solve the problem?
Do you even need an overflow? Kitchen sinks always used to have
overflows but now I think about it, fewer seem to have them these
days. The same for shower trays too (and toilet cisterns). If these
can live without overflows, why not baths?
I found an unopened but old tube of sanitary sealant in the garage. I
tried to fix the banjo with that. I left the silicone hours to cure
but it still leaked. Possibly due to limited access to the far side, I
missed bit. But I think everything rotated when I screwed on the
trap, breaking the seal.
So then I had to try and scrape it all off! I can't work out which I
hate most: plumber's mait or silicone. Both are nasty and sticky to
apply. The silicone is not sticky to remove, which may be an
advantage, but it still requires a lot of scraping. I think they are
both as bad as each other.
It seems to me that to use either is a bodge. Why can't they make
fittings that do not leak? After all, I don't silicone around my 15mm
I decided to throw it in the bin and buy a new one the next day.
On Monday morning I went to Tool station and bought one of each of
They look more-or-less the same in the catalogue but are from
I tried the wirquin one first. It is without doubt, the worst product
ever. Never, ever, ever buy it.
Wirquin also sell one with a trap included. It is reviewed on the B&Q
There are Iwo reviews, both score it one out of five:
"DO NOT BUY THIS PRODUCT
This has to be one of the worst DIY buys ever. The screw that attaches
the plug hole is far too long and punctures the overflow pipe, the
trap leaks like a sieve, the only way we could stop it leaking was to
silicone it shut! The plug chain is held to the overflow with a flimsy
split ring and the chain itself has started to rust after 2 baths!
The overall feel of this kit is cheap and nasty but it isnt that cheap
either! If I could give it a no star review, I would."
"Poor: Trap is too shallow and catches on bottom of bath. The quality
of the plastic and metal is very poor"
I agree with both of these. The overflow grid screws into a plastic
part on the other side of the bath. The screw supplied is far too long
and penetrates the plastic and pokes out the other side. What is the
point of that?
The actual overflow pipe is similar to flexible conduit. I realise all
manufacturers use this. I suppose it is flexible but I would have
thought the ribs are a great place for crud to accumulate and block
the pipe. Perhaps they get away with this because the overflow is not
used often/at all?
However, in this product the wall of the flexible pipe is paper thin
and was easily damaged.
There does not seem to be any standardisation with the overflow pipes,
so you cannot mix and match ones from different makes as the diameters
are all slightly different.
This fitting has a metal grid that fits in the plug hole and this too
screws into a plastic part under the bath. I am not so keen on these.
I prefer the brass ones held in place by a nut. This is because once
over tightened the screw in one of these and it broke the plastic
part, causing a leak!
However, these have the advantage that the banjo is not a separate
part prone to leaking. that said, this leaked from the join with the
overflow but this was probably because the pipe was so thin it
deformed, allowing water to pass.
If you are fussy about appearance: the screw for the overflow is pozi
but the bolt in the plughole is slotted. Why can't they match?
I took the wirquin part off and threw that way too!
I reluctantly fitted the McAlpine one, expecting more of the same but
it was third time lucky. Very similar in design to the wirquin but the
overflow pipe is only retained by friction. However it is a very
secure fit, so I am quite confident about it. The flexible pipe is
much thicker and stronger, so no worries there either.
Sadly the overflow grille is plastic, which I don't think is as nice
as metal but and here's the important bit: with the rubber (not
nylon!) washer provided, it formed a water tight seal under the bath
with no need for silicone or plumber's mait. This shows it can be
Although I would have preferred an all metal fitting for cosmetic
reasons, function is more important than looks, so I am very happy
with this. What a shame it took three goes to find a fitting that
I wonder why they don't make more fittings from metal. I'm sure it
must be more reliable than plastic. I was going to order something
like this but couldn't wait for it to arrive in the post:
Why not use 22mm copper for the overflow?