Sunday Tittle Tattle: You Had One Job…

sink not fit for purpose

I have something to add to the other week’s rant about bathroom fittings that aren’t fit for purpose – something that winds me up no end. And that is (drum roll please): hot and cold taps that have been put on the wrong way around. So the cold tap, marked “C”, runs hot and the hot tap, marked “H” runs cold. It drives me mad. And you’d be surprised – or perhaps not – at just how many sinks have wrong-way-round taps.

Why is this even a thing? How hard can it be to connect the cold tap to the cold pipe and the hot tap to the warm one? Correct me if I’m wrong, any plumbers who are reading, but surely it’s not the most complicated task in the world? I mean, there’s a 50/50 chance of getting it right even if you just guess. Which appears to be what many people who plumb their sinks in seem to do. (Maybe it’s DIY-ers who do it wrong. Who knows. I could be wrongly accusing an entire trade! They might turn up at my house waving their pipes in a threatening manner!)

I realise it’s not a widespread or particularly serious problem (Back to Front Taps bring Britain to Standstill) but I’ve been to three houses recently that have all had back to front taps. Ornately etched with curly writing – Cold and Hot – but with the wrong bloody water spouting out. I’ve brushed my teeth with hot, washed my face with cold, waited for about three hours for the drinking water to run cool enough to consume without gagging. Just put the bleeding taps on the right way around! It’s not rocket science!

The worst thing, though, is if you have wrong taps in your own house, and anyone who comes to visit has to be given the Wrong Tap Speech when they go to pour themselves a glass of water. “The cold is hot and the hot is cold!”, you say, through gritted teeth. (I’ve lived in two houses with wrong taps, I’m experienced in this.)

And again – sorry to harp on – but surely connecting the taps to the right pipes would be a key skill if you’re a plumber? One of the most basic-yet-important things in the plumbing knowledge base? That and being able to install a toilet that flushes properly and doesn’t make a waterfall sound for twelve solid days after the chain has been pulled. (Don’t get me started on toilets that don’t have a chain or flush handle. Those metal buttons set into the wall! Always too stiff and too small, bending your fingernail backwards as you poke poke poke, fruitlessly.)

Imagine if other people got such fundamental parts of their job wrong. If surgeons constantly amputated the wrong body parts, for example, or sewed the wrong bits back together.

“Nurse? Oh God. Nurse? NURSE!”

“Yes, Mr Foxley?”

“Oh for Christ’s sake, nurse, I’ve done it again.”

“Not the head put on backwards again, Mr Foxley?”

“No, I’ve sewn the right hand onto the bottom of the left leg and the foot’s all asunder.”

Now I’m obviously not comparing major surgical errors with the minor inconvenience of having to remember that your hot tap is the cold tap and your cold tap is the hot, but you catch my drift.

“For f*ck’s sake Brian, did you just do the service on that Jeep? You’ve put the engine oil into the washer fluid reservoir again!”

“Ah, don’t worry, they’ll get used to it. They just have to clean a patch on the windscreen big enough to peer through – they can use one of those alcohol wipes. Tell them their MOT’s up in a month’s time and all.”

My friend Tasha had an old mini when we were in sixth form and the horn had accidentally been (somehow) wired into the indicators so every time we turned a corner it beeped. I found it hilarious, but it did raise questions about the mechanic’s proficiency.

Anyway, I’m sliding into a tangent that I’ll perhaps never return from so I’m going to go now. I’m also trying not to rant so much because I’m not sure it’s good for my health. If, however, you want to read about ill-designed sanitaryware then please do click here.

You can read all Sunday Tittle Tattles here.  If you hate answering the phone, then this one might tickle your fancy.


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  1. Jennifer
    August 12, 2018 / 7:28 pm

    What happened to the Sunday tittle tattle? Bring back this feature please! :)

  2. K.
    July 21, 2018 / 7:28 pm

    I find that incredibly frustrating too! But there is hope! It is actually a really simple DIY to switch the connecting lines for the taps so that they are properly aligned (hot with hot and cold with cold). As simple as turning off the taps, unscrewing the flexible water lines, switching the two, wrapping some fresh silicone tape around the female end of the water line, and and screwing them back on. I think most of time the reason they aren’t done properly is because the flexible lines included in the fitting kit are too short and the plumbers don’t want to go to the hardware store to buy longer ones and do the job properly (lazy!). And maybe some people are overly freaked out by the idea that the flexible lines will be criss crossed under the sinks and aesthetics? Who knows. Anyhow, I promise you that a quick google search and a few videos watched and anyone even slightly handy can fix it in no time. I switched out my faucet for an entirely new trim kit when I was 8 months pregnant with my 2 year old helping, so it isn’t impossible. Of course I do come from a fearless and very handy line of women! ;) Really I did it because the old faucet was leaking ceaselessly and I wanted a single tap with a mixer and a lever instead of two twist handles for my 2 year old to use as he learned to work the sink. That plus the whole pre-delivery nesting thing.

  3. July 12, 2018 / 4:14 pm

    Haha love this post! My nan and grandad had the same type of taps and as the tabs would easily come off me and my brothers would change them round for fun :P

  4. sevda
    July 9, 2018 / 11:33 am

    Ruth I love these type of posts. Keep them coming.

    Recent thoughts for me is dishwashers. Why do you have to a downward dog maneuver to get the rinse aid and salt into it. And why is the hole for the rinse aid so small, you have to look into it in a sort sort of upside down pose and aim. Some of it gets into the tenney weeney hole and rest goes onto the door.

    Then there is a dial which you need a two year old to tunrn and to be honest I don’t know what that does.

  5. July 9, 2018 / 9:31 am

    I have an even more trivial question: why on Earth do you have 2 taps instead of 1 with a mixer??
    I really don’t find the purpose. How do you wash your hands and not get burned or have frostbite? (talking about winter clearly)

    • July 9, 2018 / 1:49 pm

      I think it’s because they’re old, traditional style sinks. But yeah, ridiculous!! This is downstairs, so at least I don’t have to wash my face in them.

  6. Hannah
    July 8, 2018 / 7:51 pm

    F***ing plumbers. Our ensuite tap never gets hotter than blood temperature. When reported as part of the snagging list, they just sent some git round to dip his finger gingerly under the tap while making a face as if he were touching lava.

  7. July 8, 2018 / 4:53 pm

    We used to live in a newly renovated house in London, which sounded great when we were looking for a place to let. But we spent an entire winter with one room piping hot – even though the underfloor heat was off – and the other room freezing cold even though the thermostat was up all the way. The following summer I finally complained enough that the landlord came out. The thermostat had been installed crossed. So while I thought I was heating one room, I was actually controlling the opposite room.

    Seriously how hard could it have possible been to make sure you connected the right wires?
    As for taps, my kitchen tap lever turns up for cold and down for hot which is just counter to my thinking.

    • July 9, 2018 / 1:50 pm

      Hahaha, what a bloody nightmare!!!!

  8. Martha
    July 8, 2018 / 2:53 pm

    I’m Norwegian, so what confounds me most of all is why you even have separate taps in the first place. Having one in the middle with both hot and cold water is so much more practical!

    • July 9, 2018 / 1:51 pm

      Old sinks downstairs. Though I’ve been to lots of people’s houses – and HOTELS! – where they are separate. Mind boggles.

      • Jo.C
        July 10, 2018 / 10:44 pm

        I think it’s because when water was first installed into houses it was just a cold tap (you had to boil water on the fire to get any hot water). Then they found a way of heating water with a hot water tank, hence the hot tap was installed.

  9. Andrea
    July 8, 2018 / 2:50 pm

    You’re brilliant! I’m waiting for you to write a novel or a book of short stories..

  10. Catherine
    July 8, 2018 / 10:42 am

    I read out your last sanitary ware rant to my OH while we were staying in several hotels in Belgium. We started giving the various showers Crilly ratings depending on how user friendly they were! My particular bug bear abroad is when the loo is separate from the bathroom and they don’t put a basin in it so you have to touch various doors and light switches before you can wash your hands….

  11. Elena Yeates
    July 8, 2018 / 10:39 am

    Hi. I wish I was a plumber, it is so so hard to find the good one… Not sure if you know, but the white bits with the letter come off and you can change them for each other, I know the position will still wrong (cold on the left, hot on the right), but at least the letters will be right. Love your writing so much.

  12. Sandie
    July 8, 2018 / 8:27 am

    Totally agree with you Ruth!! How difficult is it to remember which side the cold tap is on if you’re installing taps all day long??! It was so annoying to remind visitors to use the “opposite” tap so a non-plumber friend changed the taps over for me! Happy days.

  13. EleniGR
    July 8, 2018 / 8:26 am

    You are hilarious Ruth! I had a good laugh especially with the part describing your friend’s car and spilled my coffee all over me!:) You are the best! Write a book please or even better books.

  14. Neets
    July 8, 2018 / 8:22 am

    Agreed, it’s incredibly annoying.
    You do know the hot and cold ‘deelies’ come off, right?
    You either prise or unscrew them.

    • Jo.C
      July 8, 2018 / 8:57 pm

      Ha ha, I was just thinking this.

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