Cement for plumbing and heating work – What installers need to know

Plumbers and heating engineers may not always have cement on hand, however, it will often be useful when they do.

Garry Gregory, Packed Products Director at Tarmac explains why keeping some in the back of the van can be extremely convenient at times.

Installers frequently find themselves having to work with pipes or vents that pass through an exterior wall – think about projects involving waste pipes, water pipes and vents. These projects often require an exit gap in the wall to be sealed to ensure it’s weather-tight – keeping the heat in and rain and unwanted pests out

So, let’s look in a little more detail at how cement should be a staple for plumbers and why it’s the ideal product to carry around day-to-day.

Polyurethane foam vs cement

We know that plumbers put a lot of pride in their work and therefore complete jobs to the highest standard. A number of specialists work with polyurethane foam, and while this is a simple and effective product to use, a neat finish can be difficult to achieve. Polyurethane foam isn’t often an ideal long-term solution as unless painted or sealed properly, natural daylight will cause the product to rapidly degrade.

However, if plumbers were to choose a simple ready-mix cement instead (such as Blue Circle Quality Assured Mortar), the finish would be far neater and more accurate. Not only this but cement is a long-term solution, offering a much more durable and weather-resistant solution that requires very little maintenance.

It’s also important to consider ease of application. Ready-to-use mortar will help overcome any potential problems relating to site mixing and controlling proportions, such as excess water and the addition of other materials which affect the final results. Not getting the mix right can result in reduced strength, increased permeability and reduced durability of the hardened mortar.

Getting the basics right

Pre-mix cement mortar consists of a dry mix of selected sands, lime, cement and admixtures. While straightforward to use, plumbers should nevertheless follow some simple steps to ensure a successful finish:

  • Only use as much clean water as you need to make the mortar workable. More water equals weaker mortar. Start off with a small amount, and tip in more as needed.
  • Cement mortar is a safe product, but it still needs to be handled with care. Be aware of the safety issues, wear personal protective equipment and wash off mortar splashes promptly.
  • As with all cement-based materials, mortars must be kept moist. Mortar sets by reacting with water. This process is called curing and requires the mortar filling to be covered with a wet cloth or sheet of polythene. If mortar dries out too quickly it will shrink, leaving a gap around the pipe.

Keep it handy

Positive customer testimonials often refer to jobs that have been completed on time with the property left clean and tidy, which can be achieved by carrying the right tools and materials. For plumbers, larger bags of cement can often be impractical to store in the back of their van. However, Blue Circle Quality Assured mortar mix has a nine-month shelf life and comes in smaller 10kg or 5kg re-sealable plastic tubs. This allows plumbers to use a small amount of product before re-sealing the tub. It also means that the product can be easily carried in one hand, reducing risks of accidents by making it easier to transport up ladders or through confined spaces, such as passageways.

Highly workable and cohesive, a good quality mortar mix can be a great asset for any plumber looking at a more durable, sleek finish for plugging those gaps on projects.

For further information visit www.tarmac-bluecircle.co.uk.