KBSA - Kitchen Bathroom Bedroom Specialists Association

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KBSA Consumer Guide

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Kitchen FAQs

Please select a question from the list below (these are linked to answer later in page).

General advice

Sinks and worktops

Kitchen appliances

Furniture and fixtures

General advice

Q: We have a very small kitchen and are looking for ways to make the most of the limited space we have, can you help?

A: All good kitchen designers relish the challenge of small kitchens and take pride in creating space while incorporating generous storage facilities and all the appliances you want.

Quality kitchen manufacturers make a huge range of cabinet sizes especially to customer order so there is no need to waste precious inches with filler panels. Ingenious internal fittings give easy access within cabinets and again ensure that every inch of space is available for use. Wall cabinets can be extended to reach the ceiling to accommodate rarely used items and reduce dust traps. There are even special cupboards and hardware for cutlery, spices and implements between the floor and wall cabinets. The wasted space at plinth level can be fitted with drawers or even heaters.

Special slimline appliances give modern facilities in a reduced space. Cooling and laundry appliances can be stacked and you may even select a double oven that fits under the worktop. A two ring hob will allow extra worktop surface and glazed wall cabinets will make the kitchen feel less hemmed in. Choose light colours such as whites, pastels, pine or limed wood effects to give an illusion of space. Worktops have a strong visual impact and they too should be light, giving a mild contrast to your choice of cabinet. You can go for stronger contrasts with your choice of tiles.

Answer provided by: In-toto Kitchens

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Q: Is there any way to repair damage to kitchen units etc. caused by flooding?

A: If flooding is not serious, water may only have affected plinths and floor coverings. Dry floor and coverings thoroughly. Remove plinths and allow air to circulate underneath cabinets. If the plinths show signs of swelling, order replacements from your kitchen supplier. Alternatively you may be able to buy matching melamine faced board to cut in to strips to make your own plinths. If water has penetrated electrical appliances, an electrician must check them before use. Be sure that the kitchen is thoroughly dry before beginning any work.

An insurance company usually assesses serious damage. Normally you are entitled to a like for like replacement. You may find that insurance only covers damaged base cabinets and not the unmarked wall cupboards. Matching them could be a problem if the range is obsolete. It may be worth putting any insurance payout towards updating your kitchen. Renewing your kitchen allows you to incorporate measures to limit damage in the event of further flooding. Tiled floors, cabinets on legs and appliances and sockets positioned well above the “floodline” will reduce damage in the future.

Answer provided by: In-toto Kitchens

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Sinks & worktops

Q: My sink has become quite badly stained with tea, coffee etc – is there any way of removing these?

A: Always wipe the sink down with warm soapy water and a cloth. This will remove everyday stains from your sink.

In hard water areas limescale deposits can build up on the sink over a period of time. The limescale can become strongly coloured by such liquids as coffee and red wine. To remove limescale we recommend the use of mild acids as lemon or vinegar.

If stains become ingrained in the bowls, a 30 minute soak using diluted bleach or diluted biological washing powder (1 part cleaning agent to 10 parts water ) should remove the marks easily. Rinse the sink with water afterwards.

Answer provided by: Astracast

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Q: How do I remove limescale-marks (and/or other stains and scratches) from my Granite worktop?

A: Firstly, try cleaning the granite with any branded lime-scale remover; there are several available from most supermarkets and general goods stores. Apply on a small area to test first just in case there is an unwanted reaction; some products are particularly strong. Then wash the worktop with clean warm water with a small dash of washing up liquid added, using a microfibre cloth and dry off immediately with paper kitchen roll.

Finally, buy a tin of Wax furniture polish; not spray polish, apply using a circular motion and remove with a clean soft duster and then buff to a shiny finish. This will require plenty of ‘elbow grease’ but should restore the high shine of the granite surface. Do a small area at a time. To prevent lime-scale build up, clean your top regularly with clean warm water and a drop of washing up liquid, rinse and dry immediately with paper kitchen roll. Do this regularly and your tops should stay in pristine condition.

An occasional re-wax (every 12 months or so) is perfectly acceptable and will not cause you any problems. However, do not prepare food directly on the granite until the wax polish has had chance to ‘soak in’ and will not contaminate any food placed on the worktop.

To prevent lime-scale occurring permanently, there are several small innovative inhibitors and electronic methods available. Some use ‘magnetic principles’ that prevent the lime particles passing through the system whilst others keep the particles ‘afloat’ and prevent them from adhering to the pipes and surfaces. Larger water softening and treatment systems for domestic installation are also widely available. Costs can vary but if you have particularly hard water with lots of lime-scale build up, it is well worth the investment. A Google search for lime-scale removal should give you plenty of hits to explore at leisure or contact your local kitchen specialist – preferably a KBSA member, for advice. Plumbers and bathroom specialists should also be able to supply information and carry out any installation necessary.

Answer provided by: Alan Stanford (Kitchen Design Consultant and industry expert)

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Q: I have a laminate worksurface and have burnt a small section with a hot pan. Is there any way this can be repaired?

A: It may be possible to remove minor burns with a light abrasive cleanser however, more severe burns will probably require the attention of a worktop specialist.

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Q: Can you hire worktop jigs and routers?

A: Yes, there are tool hire companies that should be able to provide these – see Tool & Equipment Hire in the Yellow Pages.

Q: How do you join a worktop?

A: The are a number of different methods which can be used to join a worktop however these should really only be attempted by a competent DIYer – if you would like to learn more about joining wortops may we suggest Amazon as a good source of DIY books. Please click here for more information.

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Q: Where can I find suppliers of glass worktops?

A: We have one member of our Association called Glass Express who specialise in glass products including worktops. The company will supply nationwide but don’t have a nationwide installation service.

For details of their prices and products you can contact them at:
Address: Units 1 & 2 Brunswick Road, Cobbs Wood Industrial Estate, Ashford, Kent, TN23 1EL
Telephone: 01233 642220
Email: info@glassexpress.co.uk
Website: www.glassexpress.co.uk

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Kitchen appliances

Q: How far does a high level kitchen cabinet have to be away from a cooker hob?

A: For electric hobs, there are no mandatory regulations – i.e. legally enforceable – regarding clearances. Common sense determines good practice. For example, leave sufficient clearance left and right to have pan handles sticking out, away from the heat of adjacent rings, so that they do not get too hot to handle. Nevertheless, avoid such pan handles sticking out into a space where people walking past might knock them, e.g. next to a doorway or walkway. Do not put cupboards above the hob, or immediately adjacent to it, at a height where frequent steam might affect wood or chipboard construction of the cupboard or the material covering the door.

For gas hobs, all the above common sense stuff applies, although it still is not mandatory. BUT, there are mandatory regulations concerning the proximity of a gas hob to combustible material, i.e. anything which might catch fire and this not only includes the obvious, like wood based cabinetry, but also the grease filter of an extractor hood above – even if the filter is metal; an accumulation of grease is itself combustible.

The regulations are enforceable on the gas installer who must be a person deemed competent by the Health and Safety Executive. That means an installer registered with CORGI, the Council of Registered Gas Installer, since that is the only class of person the HSE will recognise as competent.

To put it simply, the installer must not connect a gas hob if it is too close to combustible material. But how close is that?

Manufacturers' clearancesIt is the manufacturer of the gas hob who determines that. To do so, he must perform prescribed tests to determine the distance from the hob that materials must be to avoid their surface temperature rising by a given number of degrees. He can then put these satisfactory clearances into installation instructions. They may appear in pictorial form as below or be in written form sufficient for the installer to establish such a layout. These manufacturers’ instruction override any others. And they will differ from model to model.

The area above the hob enclosed by the dotted lines must be clear of combustible material.

If the manufacturer provides no instructions, cannot provide the installer with the dimension or, in the case of an old hob, no dimensions can be found, then the installer must ensure that a clear “box”, as in the illustration below, exists above and around hob.

Manufacturers' clearancesNote that the 760mm clearance is between the top of the burners and combustible material and not from the worktop. In practice, since the burners are usually 30-40mm above the level of the worktop, this means the clearance is effectively 790-800mm.

It is also important to note, that manufacturers of extractor hoods often give minimum clearances from the hob below in their own instructions. These do not override the gas regulations and the installer must comply as above, regardless of what the hood manufacturer says.

It is clear that finding out the clearances at the last moment, when the hob has been delivered and the kitchen is designed and ready to be installed, is too late. The area of the kitchen above the hob cannot even be designed without knowing the precise model of gas hob and its clearances. Your retailer should be able to give these clearances, either from his own records or by enquiry to the manufacturer. If they cannot or will not, don’t buy.

Answered supplied by: Richard Crisp, kbb Industry Consultant

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Q: Is it okay to have a cooker between a fridge and a freezer?

A: Unfortunately, there’s no straight answer. It depends on factors of circumstance and quality (and that, to a point, depends on price).

A good quality, energy-efficient fridge or freezer will have high performance insulation to keep the heat out. A good quality, energy-efficient oven will have high performance insulation to keep the heat in. The same oven will probably have top quality door seals to prevent heat seeping out at the sides.

A built-in fridge, i.e. one that is in a housing, has the added insulation of the housing sides, as has a built-in oven. A floor-standing fridge, even if “integrated” with a door matching the kitchen units, will lack this extra bit of insulation, as will some built-under ovens.

Clearly the optimum is to have a good quality fridge or freezer and a similar quality oven with two thicknesses of chipboard or other cabinet side material between them. It’s a common configuration and there should be no problems. It’s the fridge or freezer that suffers when things are wrong and where problems have occurred, or are likely to occur, the manufacturer often says in the installation instructions, “Avoid installing next to…”, which is a bit too late. So, when buying, ask the retailer’s guidance and if this is not convincing, ask to see installation instructions or ring the manufacturer.

With most reputable appliance brands, this sort of configuration, especially with “eye-level” ovens and fridges, works perfectly well. Caution is recommended with very low price and little known brands.

Answer supplied by: Richard Crisp, kbb industry Consultant

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Q: My hob is positioned where there may be a draught. Is it safe to install gas?

A: Look for a gas hob with a flame failure device. A thermostatic sensor is positioned near the burner. If the flame is extinguished the sensor detects that no heat is generated and automatically shuts off the gas supply.

Answer provided by: In-toto Kitchens

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Q: What is the right size hood for my kitchen?

A: Before choosing the hood for your kitchen you must consider the volume of the room to be ventilated. Use this simple calculation.

Volume of kitchen (length x width x height) e.g. 4m x 3m x 2.5m = 30m3

10 changes of air per hour e.g. 10×30m3 = 300m3 = minimum extraction rate. Always observe the minimum recommended height of the hood from the hob.

Answer provided by: In-toto Kitchens

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Q: Are all cooker hoods noisy?

A: Noise is created when air is moved. Noise level is calculated in decibels. Normal conversation is about 60 decibels. Hoods that operate below 60 decibels are very quiet.

Noise levels from 60-65 are standard. The noise you hear is also determined by surroundings, housing and the type and length of ducting.

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Answer provided by: In-toto Kitchens

Q: If I purchase an induction hob, do I have to change my pans?

A: It depends on the pans you have. An induction hob has an electro magnet (induction coil) positioned below the glass. When the hob is switched on the coil will cause a magnetic (induction) field and heat the pan placed on its surface.

The pan must be made of ferrous metal (iron or steel) for the heat to be transferred. If you are unsure about the suitability of the pans test the base with a magnet. If the magnet sticks, the pan is suitable.

Answer provided by: In-toto Kitchens

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Q: How can I fix a leaking dishwasher or washing machine?

A: Dishwashers and washing machines transport water from a tap to the machine and around its parts via flexible hoses made from rubber or a synthetic material. These are not as sturdy as soldered copper or rigid plastics that are used for your domestic plumbing and eventually they may leak. A noticeable drip from a pipe that is causing a pool on the floor must be attended to at once. It is likely that the connector has come loose and you will see drips building up in that area. Turn the water off at the stop tap and try tightening the screw fastening which acts as the pipe connector. With someone keeping an eye on the connector to shout if water gushes out, turn the water slowly on, ready to turn it off should there be a deluge.

If the hose or connector is worn it is worth replacing them. They are normally available from your kitchen specialist or local hardware store. If you live in a flat and your washing machine is on a wooden floor above other people’s rooms, check your insurance to see if you are covered for a burst. If pipes or internal hoses do burst there is no automatic stop tap and water will gush out. If your home is unattended at the time this will cause severe damage. Most houses have concrete ground floors and both washing machines and dishwashers are best settled on concrete sub floors for stability which reduces vibration and consequent pipe wear. Solid floors also limit damage in case of a burst.

Answer provided by: In-toto Kitchens

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Q: Should I take out a “Service deal” on my appliances?

A: Appliances should be covered by a full year guarantee free of charge. If a breakdown occurs during this time telephone the manufacturer’s service department quoting model number and date of purchase. You should not be charged a call out fee, parts or labour. Only allow the manufacturer’s engineers to work on your failed appliance during the guarantee period otherwise your warranty becomes invalid.

Sometimes during a sales promotion you can benefit from a guarantee that has been extended to three years but usually you have to pay for such cover as a form of insurance.

Buying this “service deal” can be expensive but if you feel happier knowing that you are protected from breakdown for a few years, shop around insurance brokers to see how prices compare;

  1. Check what is included: some cover parts only, some labour only, and some both parts, labour and call out charge.
  2. Verify terminology: for instance a “lifetime” parts deal is ten years, the expected lifespan of your appliance.
  3. Consider the following facts: If you buy a reputable brand which benefits from strict production and quality controls any rare teething problems will be apparent within the first few months, after that the chances are that your appliance will serve you well for many years, way past the time that you can buy cover for. Fridges and freezers tend to be the most reliable but occasionally problems occur with dishwashers and ovens so they may be worth the cost of reasonably priced cover.

If something breaks down outside the guarantee or cover period you could save money by using local engineers as they rarely charge for call out. However, manufacturer’s service men usually have a better supply of parts and are well acquainted with their own brand and in addition they work to consistent standards.

Answer provided by: In-toto Kitchens

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Furniture & fixtures

Q: The bases of my kitchen units are still in good condition however, some of the doors are showing signs of damage – Can I just buy replacement doors for my units?

A: You could try contacting your nearest KBSA Retail Member as some of our retailers will supply just doors. To find your nearest members please click here.

Alternatively, there are a number of companies which specialise in providing replacement doors – a search for “replacement kitchen doors” on any of the leading search engines should provide a good selection of firms to choose from.

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Q: Where can I find a matching replacement for a broken hinge?

A: It might be worth checking whether or not there is a manufacturer's mark on the hinges or runners but if not we suggest you try DIY stores to see if they stock anything similar.

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Q: Do I need to use a special paint to paint my kitchen units?

A: It may best to use an acrylic based paint rather than an oil based paint, as this will probably achieve a more even finish. You should also make sure that you have adequately prepared the doors for painting, pay particular attention to sanding down as this will do more than anything else to improve the quality of the final painted finish.

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