Installing A Kitchen – Part 1 Safe Removal Of the Fitted Kitchen
May 23, 2013
This is somewhat of an art form, having personally done this for a number of years, I learned, refined and created some great techniques for doing this. This article shares the experience of someone who is bothered about .5mm and who has an unmatched attention to detail when installing a kitchen.
Anyone can pick up a jigsaw, circular saw and cut things and anyone can plonk units down next to each other and screw them back to the wall. But the one thing I absolutely know is that installing a kitchen well takes time to perfect. Coupled with patience and a keen eye for attention to detail. I have seen all sorts of horrors from people who say “installing a kitchen is easy” there are huge variances in skill and it’s a gamble how good someone is. I find within joinery people have particular strengths some good on the bench, some good on site, some good at installing a kitchen, But I have never met anyone yet who is exceptional at all aspects of joinery. My area of expertise is installing a kitchen, not hanging doors, or making roof trusses. I have seen apparent joiners who say installing a kitchen is easy make a real hash of it. So I guess a word of warning at this point.
I made mistakes in my early years of doing this but I took those lessons and made sure I improved them. Always looking to hone and improve what I had done and still would! All too often I see the attention to detail of many trades is very sadly lacking. Whilst I was on the tools I always held the firm belief that if I would not accept it my home then why should someone else settle for it?
People often get overwhelmed and excited when they have a new kitchen fitted and cannot see the minor things that might be wrong, it is these minor things that in a year or so will begin to niggle and annoy. By reading this article you will be able to either fit a kitchen reasonably well or at least know what to look for when yours is being done.
Things To Have To Hand When Installing A Kitchen:
15mm push fit stop ends, 22mm push fit stop ends, Pozi drive screw driver, flat head drive screw driver as many older kitchen have flat headed screws holding them together, or a small electric handheld light screwdriver with a selection of screwdriver bits, Sharp Knife like a Stanley, Electrical junction boxes, a couple of spare socket fascia, a voltstick and a large skip and a Full kettle for coffee and perhaps an extra pan of water in case you use up your kettle of water, oh and of course a gentleman’s persuader (Hammer) and a pack of your favorite biscuits for the odd reward when installing a kitchen it is good for you morale!! , and finally a large ‘builders skip’ remember if it is going on to a public road it will very likely need a permit, the skip company will advise. What is always useful is somewhere else fill up a sink of water so you can still clean you hands if necessary perhaps the bathroom.
Whilst removal of an old kitchen does not have to be too subtle it does need a degree of care, just randomly smashing it out will certainly cause extra work and in some cases can cause more added costs. I am going to share with you the way I would remove a kitchen, it is as quick removing the kitchen carefully as it is just smashing it out! and to be fair less tiring and less likely to cause you an injury. I believe you need to respect the room and it will respect you back, however now and then it can be fun letting loose.
First thing is first turn of the water at the mains (Either at the stop tap within the house or outside on the street), there are two types of water system that are likely to be present. These are a gravity fed systems or storage system (Copper cylinder) or a sealed system (Combi boiler) The way to tell is whether you have header tanks full of water usually found in the loft. These are large black (usually) plastic vessels with copper pipe coming out of them, if so this is a gravity fed system the other clue is if you were to fill up a number of baths would your water eventually go cold? if this answer is yes it is very likely you have a gravity system. If you have a combi boiler which is a sealed system then you will have HIGHER PRESSURE hot water on demand (i.e when you turn on the hot tap the boiler runs) and the storage tanks that feed a gravity system would not be live (i.e full of water).
Before installing a kitchen, if you have a combi boiler make sure you turn it off at the switch that should be next to it known as a fused spur this will make sure that the boiler does not run whilst there is no water in it as safely prevent the boiler trying to run when it shouldn’t or disconnect it from the mains if it is plugged in.
Storage (Gravity Fed)
You will need to turn your attention to stopping the hot water flow for the gravity fed system, his can usually be done by turning the isolation valve (If present) that comes from the tank and will act like putting your finger over the end of a straw it effectively holds the water, however a word of warning this is reliant of the ‘gate valve’ being in VERY good working order and unfortunately they are often not, the second option is to bung the system and you can buy bungs from a local plumber merchant. The last ditch alternative is to drain the whole system down. However this should only be done if the other options do not work in the interests of water conservation. If you have to do the later it would be wise to fit a quarter turn full bore service valve to replace the ‘gate valves’ as these are notoriously un-reliable.
When you have isolated the water you need to check and drain off the taps in the kitchen, personally I turn on a tap upstairs and a tap downstairs as this releases the water in the pipes to make sure I reduce the amount of water that comes out when I cut the pipes. The water should stop running out of the tap in the kitchen within 30 seconds or so. More often than not it is quicker. However if it does not and it continues to trickle, it would suggest that something is not shutting off, this could be pointing to a stop tap or the gate valves in the instance of having a storage tank (Gravity fed).
The last step is to turn off the mains stop tap to your house this I do on both systems and it is the final step necessary to turn off the water.
Installing A Kitchen – Kitchen removal
I would begin by removing all the old doors unscrewing them from the hinges and set these neatly aside. Then where applicable remove the old washing machine, dishwasher, oven, hob (Gas needs to be disconnected by a Gas Safe Installer keeping it safe and legal) it does have to be capped off as well so that it cannot be turned on at the point of isolation, get this done in advance of you ripping the old one out in the interests of your personal safety. Next is removal of the units, many people just get a hammer or take little care with this. However being rough and heavy handed often causes work that perhaps was not necessary and the time saved installing a kitchen is negligible, carefully undoing the work done will also give you an idea of how it was fitted and may even help with the fitting of you new one, but not always.
Next turn your attention to cutting and capping the water services, Usually there is a kitchen tap, washing machine and sometimes a dishwasher, the quickest and easiest way is to cut the pipes where they connect to the appliance after the last junction and as close to the final part of the copper or plastic before it reaches the tap or washing machine in the form of a flexible pipe or something similar. This is where having you 15mm push fit stop ends to hand is useful, because you can, once cut quickly pop one of these on to stop any residual water from running. Once you have done this for all appliances (Tap, Dishwasher, etc) the last thing to remove is the kitchen sink waste, I do this as I would prefer not to have the residual water all over my front when carrying the sink out as I would smell for the day and it is not pleasant.
Firstly remove the shelf under the sink and have a bucket under the waste, that way and stored water can be emptied in to the bucket. Again this is just a personal thing, the idea of old waste water on the floor even though it is being covered just does not appeal. You need to accept that you will have some water left in the trap here and a word of warning it is never a pleasant job and usually pongs!! it is just the collection of food waste over the years, unless you were very good and regularly clean this out then they are all the same. Just for future reference then it is a good idea to routinely remove this and clean it out thoroughly.
This is done by simply unscrewing the large white plastic nut that is attached to the strainer waste of the sink, these should be loosened by hand and detached from the waste of the kitchen sink, it does not get too messy until we disconnect from the external pipe. Next you will need to undo the nut that connects the waste trap to the 40mm pipe that ultimately goes outside, this will be after the trap. This large nut needs turning to allow the waste pipe to slide off the 400mm pipe that goes outside. This is when the full fragrance of a waste pipe is revealed. Once you have done this you can empty the contents of the waste trap in to you bucket and quickly dispose of the waste. You can now go and clean your hands if you wish in the sink of water you kept for this job.
Under unit lights.
These should be safely isolated and done by a competent person to make sure they are disconnected and ‘dead’ before beginning to remove the units, this can be dangerous if ignored and go head long in to removing units. To test if the electric has been isolated correctly a handy tool is a voltstick these light up and make a beep in the presence of electricity. I personally check all electrics with this even if I know they are off as you never know!!
Disconnection of appliances.
Installing a kitchen usually mean disconnecting old electrics so a NOTE ABOUT ELECTRICAL CONNECTIONS. It is imperative that you make sure that the electric is isolated, sometimes appliances are plugged in and sometimes these are connected via a junction box. It is important to make sure that as with all electrical work it is safe and if you are unsure you need to speak to someone competent and or qualified. This is relevant to ALL appliances that require power to make them work, which to be fair is most in a modern kitchen.
Using a voltstick this will tell you if electricity is present and either turning off the power of the consumer unit (Fuse board) or removing the relevant fuse will make this safe. Once the volt stick stops making a sound then you are safe to proceed to disconnect the wiring. Once this is done make sure that the wires from the consumer unit are safely terminated, either by being in a suitable junction box or back on the socket. just taping and leaving the wires is not safe nor acceptable.
Firstly remove the oven if you have a built in oven then these are usually secured by screws in to the cabinet, please refer to the electrical note above before removing the wires from the back of the oven, but once you have made sure it is isolated remove the wires and then take the oven out.
Next removal of the hob, these are usually secured underneath and it is simply a case of releasing the screws and removing the hob from above. NOTE ABOUT GAS as mentioned earlier it is critical that you have had the gas capped off before carrying this out, in the case of an electric hob the same rules apply about the safe isolation of the electrics. If you do not see any fasteners underneath the hob then it is likely that it is self securing and will require prising out of the opening from above. Also note that dependent on how it was fitted there may be a silicone seal around the edge, in which case, carefully using a sharp knife, you can cut the seal free from above the hob laying the blade on it side. Usually I would use a Stanley type knife.
Remove all other appliances and make sure they are disconnected from the mains.
All that should now remain is the units and worktop, next I would turn my attention to the worktop, in most cases the worktop is screwed from underneath either through the front rails of the carcasses or by plastic brackets part way down the unit on the top edge, either way it is usually screwed from underneath. Remove all the screws and to use a technical term I jiggle the worktop to test if it is free. There are times that it had masses of silicone stuck behind the back edge against the wall. In which case I carefully release it from the wall using a sharp knife. However, this does sometime need a little more persuasion than normal, so I often the cut the worktop where the hob has been fitted and then in a gentleman’s manner persuade it out (Using a hammer).
NOTE: If there a tiles above your worktop be aware that often taking the worktop out causes the tiles to come off the wall and in some cases they can shatter so please make sure you are wearing protective glasses as these little shards are quite nasty.
Next is the units you will now be able to see how the units have been fitted and in most cases there are usually only a few key points that anchor it back to the wall. I undo these and simply remove the carcasses. Once all this is removed then all that remains is to clean and sweep up before moving on to the next stage of installing a kitchen, we will cover this in part 2.
Give yourself a pat on the back and a nice biccy of choice!![retweet]
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