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Fitting a High Level Cistern

by Daniel Drummond on Nov 28, 2013

Low-level, integrated cisterns are the norm these days, but if you’re looking for something a little different a high-level cistern can add a touch of class to your bathroom, particularly if you’re going for a traditional rather than contemporary look.

Fitting this less common cistern type isn’t quite as straightforward as with lower-level WCs however, and can be off-putting for DIYers who only have experience with the standard "throne" type. Here are a few simple tips to make fitting a high-level cistern a simple job for anyone who’d be confident fitting a standard WC.

Is The Wall Up To The Job?

The first thing to check is whether the wall you’ll be fixing the cistern to is capable of supporting the combined weight of a cistern and the water within it. This can easily reach twenty pounds or more.

Hanging this kind of weight from drywall is probably best avoided unless you can anchor to studs, and even then you’ll want to be sure the wall is in good condition and you’re using the appropriate anchors.

Fixing to brick, concrete or solid wooden walls will usually be fine, but be sure to check the surface is in good condition. Don’t consider fixing to a crumbling wall unless you have appropriate fixings and experience.

If you don’t want to risk an expensive cistern crashing to the ground a good way to test is to put up a temporary shelf on the wall, and load it up with bricks or other weight to approximately twice the weight of the (filled) cistern to be installed. If this doesn’t result in a resounding crash you’re probably safe to proceed!

Do You Have Suitable Brackets?

Lightweight shelving brackets aren’t really good enough, nor are they aesthetically pleasing if you’re going for a victorian era look to your bathroom. High-level cistern manufacturers such as Drummonds supply complete WC suites which include strong brackets in a style that matches the cistern itself, so buy the cistern and brackets at the same time if possible. Failing that be sure to choose strong, steel brackets.

You Have Suitable Access? Is It Safe To Work?

When fitting a high-level cistern you’ll spend a significant amount of time up a stepladder, often carrying a significant amount of weight. You’ll want to be sure you have appropriate access, with space for a stepladder and enough height clearance for the top of the cistern to be below eye level when fitted. Unfortunately, this can rule out a high-level cistern for some tight spaces such as a bathroom under the stairs.

Get Yourself A Fitting Buddy If Possible

It’s certainly not impossible to fit a high-level cistern on your own, but the job may go smoother and more safely if you have someone to help during critical stages. The challenging part is getting the cistern into place, and then positioning the flush pipe as you’re fitting the throne...both of these tasks can go a little easier if you have a helping hand, and you should only need your buddy for a few minutes...the rest is a simple job for one person.

All The Normal Rules Apply

Other than the above fitting a high-level cistern is much the same as with a standard unit, so be sure to follow best practice for the rest of the job. Fit the siphon and flush valve before lifting the cistern into place, don’t tighten everything up until all components are in place, be sure to run several flushes through before tightening up all fixings, etc.

We hope that takes some of the mystery out of fitting a high-level cistern for less experienced DIYers, good luck in your next project!

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