A guide to installing an outside tap, including the costs of doing it yourself and hiring a tradesman plus any material costs.
Installing an outside tap can be very handy for gardening, washing your car, and even washing your windows. This article will detail the work required to install a water tap external to your property and examine the building regulations aspects of interfering with mains water systems.
If you want to install your own outside tap you will need to buy all of the pipework and fittings, PTFE tape, and ensure you have a drill of the right size to go through the wall. This should not cost you more than £60-£80. To hire a tradesman to install your outside tap you should expect to pay £60-£100.
The fitting an outside tap is usually straight forward in most homes, with the most significant portion of the job is possibly drilling the hole through the exterior brick wall for the pipe to exit through. It usually is easiest to fit the outside tap to a wall outside the kitchen area as it is usual for the mains water to be taken from the cold tap on the sink. This will ensure that you get a suitable water pressure when using a hose, the tap does have to be attached to the water mains, and not a tank supplied gravity feed. You’ll need to be able to drill a hole through brickwork from the inside out, and ideally create junctions and fittings with copper pipe for extra safety. You’ll also need to make sure that the pipe leading outside is appropriately insulated to prevent it from freezing during icy winter months.
Your external tap installation needs to comply with specific building regulations which specify that:
You should also ensure that you fit the appropriate type of tap; Outside taps come in two styles, a bib tap which has the output directed downwards while a standard outside tap has the outlet at a slight angle. Both types are made of brass and can be screwed into a wall-mounted elbow for the supply and should contain a screw-on adaptor to the outlet to connect a hosepipe.
Turn the cold water supply off at the mains stop cock. Choose the location for the tap outside the house – preferably; it needs to be near the internal cold-water mains supply to decrease the plumbing needed. Typically, the external wall behind the kitchen sink is best, if the tap can be placed over an open drain gully, that’s even better. Mark the height for the tap on the outdoor wall, make that it’s high enough above ground level for a watering can or bucket to be held underneath to fill.
Underneath the sink, identify suitable positions to take the plumbing through the outside wall and to make a connection to the cold-water pipe – ideally it should be directly under the tap position on the exterior wall to ensure the pipe run is simple. Internally, drill a hole through to the outside wall at the wanted position using a long (at least 150mm length) masonry drill. Once you have drilled a pilot hole through to the outdoor wall, enlarge it up to 22mm using a specialist masonry drill-bit. Measure the depth of the wall and cut a piece of 22mm copper pipe to the appropriate length so it can be inserted through the wall to be a protecting sleeve for the actual water pipe.
Back underneath the sink, cut into the cold-water supply pipe, understanding that some excess water will escape, so have a piece of cloth to hand, and fit a coupling to attach the recent pipe. Alongside the new pipe-run to the hole through the wall, install an in-line shut off valve, next to a double check-valve and then a drain cock.
Run the pipe through the wall and route it to a back-plate elbow, secure the elbow to the wall using rawlplugs and screws after the pipework has been cut to length and the couplings tightened. Screw the external tap into the back-plate elbow with some PTFE tape on the thread. Prior to switching the water supply back on, check the tightness of all the compression joints, shut the drain cock, the external tap and the in-line shut off valve.
Switch the water supply back on and look out for leaks. Open the in-line shut off valve and examine for leaks. Open the external tap and check the flow of water. Close the outside tap and check for leaks. Put on some mastic sealant to the gap between the 15mm pipe and the 22mm sleeving, and between the sleeving and the masonry. Finally, install some insulation material – such as sacking - around the pipework to protect it from winter frost.
If you are turning off the cold-water supply to your house, this is an ideal time to assess and tidy up any poorly built plumbing that may be under your sink or elsewhere in the house.
Here is a list of commonly asked questions regarding installing an outside tap.
This is a job which can be completed in around two hours if you don’t have problems.
If you have tightened up your tap and find that it is at the wrong angle, then you need to take it off again and put successively thicker layers of PTFE tape on the exposed threads of the pipe stub so that the tape goes tight at the right angle.
Not necessarily but a copper pipe with soldered joints is the preferred method of fitting. You can choose copper or plastic pipes for your garden taps, and while plastic pipes are easier to work with, copper lasts longer.
The pipe carrying water outside should be allowed to expand and contract without fear of erosion or puncture, and the only safe way of doing this is by placing it in a sleeve through the wall.