Key considerations when installing outside taps

outdoor tap

Summer has arrived, which means outside taps and sprinklers will be turned on in full force to keep everything and everyone cool and refreshed! While some may believe installing an outside tap is easy, there are many factors to keep in mind.

In this blog, we’ll dive into five important factors to consider when installing and maintaining an outside tap to ensure you’ve got everything you need for the job.

1. Location, location, location

Starting with the basics, choosing the location of the outdoor tap is the first crucial step for a successful installation. Plumbers first must consider the customer’s requirements as well as the accessibility to the water mains.

If feeding directly off the mains isn’t a viable option, utilising cold-water storage tanks can provide an alternative solution to those with difficulty accessing the mains. Once the location of the tap has been decided, best practice is to ensure it is at least a metre high off the ground to allow for convenient space and access to the tap once installed – allowing customers to fill up buckets, connect up hose reels and even wash down pets after muddy walks.

For convenient installation indoors, best practice is to connect the pipe under the kitchen sink. Not only is there likely access to a cold-water pipe connected straight to the water mains, but there’s usually enough room to feed the pipework without having to worry about its concealment once installed.

Isolation Valve

2. Things to consider before work begins

For most installers, it’s expected that when locating the cold pipe, it will usually be found on the right-hand side under the kitchen sink. To double-check and avoid connecting a hot pipe to the outdoor tap, see if the pipe is cold to touch.

Additionally, before carrying out any work on the cold pipe, always ensure the mains water is fully shut off and not just isolated at the tap. When planning the pipework, make sure to include an isolation valve, this will cut the tap off from the mains water supply and allow the customer or installer to change the tap if required.

Next, look out for any cabling that might be lurking beneath layers of plaster running to a nearby dishwasher or washing machine and drill a hole 22mm wide. This will allow for a 15mm pipe to come through the wall and surrounding conduit to be added for protection, leaving enough room for expansion as the pipe’s temperature changes.

3. Safety first

It’s essential plumbers make sure that the tap is fitted with a double check valve to prevent backflow and consequent water contamination. As it’s a legal requirement to install a double-check valve, taps will usually come with one as standard but it’s worth checking the specific tap chosen for the job to ensure you install the tap safely following legal requirements.

To isolate potential dangers further, installers should ensure the isolation valve is fitted after the tee fitting before it goes through the wall to the outside tap.

PRV Pressure Reducing Valve

4. Double-check the pressure

Summer will bring an increased demand for outdoor tap installations, which also includes a resurgence of sprinkler systems where some customers will be looking to run their irrigation systems off their outdoor taps.

Water from the mains supply will typically sit between 3-4 bars of pressure which is too high for most irrigation systems, usually only needing around 1.5 bar. If used with mains pressure, irrigation systems can be much more costly to run, resulting in less efficiency in water distribution and even cause a burst in the system. To get around this, installers should make sure Pressure Reducing Valves (PRVs) are installed alongside isolation valves to better regulate the pressure released from the tap.

SharkBite Drain Off Valve

5. Maintaining your installation for the long run

Once installed, the customer should be informed how to properly maintain the upkeep of the outside tap to avoid future damage or poor performance. Precautionary steps such as wrapping the tap with an insulated covering to prevent it from freezing will help increase the lifespan of the system.

For those not planning to use the tap over the winter period, installers should recommend homeowners turn the isolation valve on and remove the tap entirely to prevent any damage to the system. To ensure water doesn’t freeze within the pipe, plumbers should also consider installing a drain off valve alongside the isolation valve to drain any water left in the pipes and prevent freezing over the winter months.

Although these steps may appear simple to some, successfully installing an outside tap requires a number of considerations, ranging from its location to the products used. RWC offers a variety of valves and outside taps from our SharkBite and Reliance Valves brands that are both robust and simple to install, providing installers with products that are reliable and safe.

At RWC, we’re here to help you get the job done right. If you have any questions or need advice on outdoor tap installation, contact our team here.

Richard Bateman Headshot

Richard Bateman

Product Marketing Manager Plumbing and Heating

About the author

A highly experienced and passionate professional, I have over 15 years' experience as a commercial and domestic plumber and hold NVQ Level 3 qualifications from City and Guilds

Since joining RWC in 2015, I began as a technical engineer, utilising my extensive knowledge to provide exceptional support. Currently, I am thrilled to be working with the marketing department as a Product Marketing Manager. 

This role allows me to combine my technical background with a keen eye for market trends, ensuring that RWC's products meet the evolving needs of the industry. With my wealth of experience and commitment to excellence, I am proud to serve as a spokesperson for RWC, sharing our innovative solutions and contributing to the growth of the plumbing and heating sector.