In response to a survey conducted by the IET, (Institute of Electrical Technicians) formally the IEE, in which 87.3% of respondents said they would like to be able to access IET publications via electronic media such as PC’s, tablets, Smartphones etc.; the IET has launched Wiring Regulations Digital: Online – a suite of browser-based versions of its publications in e-book format. Users can also request a free trial before committing to buy the books.

The e-books currently included in the subscription are:

  • BS 7671, The IET Wiring Regulations
  • The On-site Guide
  • Guidance Note 1: Selection and Erection of Equipment
  • Guidance Note 2: Isolation and Switching
  • Guidance Note 3: Inspection and Testing
  • Guidance Note 4: Protection Against Fire
  • Guidance Note 5: Protection Against Electric Shock
  • Guidance Note 6: Protection Against Overcurrent
  • Guidance Note 7: Special Locations
  • Guidance Note 8: Earthing and Bonding
  • The Electrician’s Guide to the Building Regulations
  • The Electrical Installation Design Guide: Calculations for Electricians and Designers
  • Code of Practice for In-service Inspection and Testing of Electrical Equipment
  • Electrical Maintenance
  • and also new titles will be added as they published

The suite of publications has a number of features which can help support electrical engineers and FE college lecturers in accessing and sharing information more easily. All of the publications contained in the platform are automatically updated to the latest edition.

Geoff Cronshaw, the IET’s chief electrical engineer, said, “Wiring Regulations Digital: Online is very much the IET’s response to the changing needs of electrical engineers and those teaching electrical standards in the UK.

“From our research, it is clear that a large majority of electrical contractors use online sources to gain technical information on wiring regulations and guidance. With this in mind, we’ve developed the online function to house a large number of our regulation and guidance publications.

“The software is available through an annual subscription which gives access to all of the latest regulations and guidance that every electrical engineer needs. Not only that, the platform also ensures that everyone has the most up-to-date standards and reference points to work from – helping to ensure that the correct standards and procedures for electrical wiring are practiced.”

- Mark Jenkins

 

Mark Jenkins is the Electrical Course Development Manager at Access Training. If you would like to learn more about electrical work and maintenance, you might want to consider one of the many electrical training courses we offer. These are available for both DIY enthusiasts AND people looking to gain the vital qualifications needed to make the career change to become an electrician. To find out more give us a call on 0800 345 7492.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) are currently consulting recently published plans to simplify the way self-employed people pay National Insurance Contributions.

It has been put forward whether it might be less hassle to collect contributions alongside Class 4 NICs and Income Tax through the Self-Assessment Process. This would mean self-employed people would only need to fill in an annual SA return to have these NICs collected. The aim is reduce the administrative burden on self-employed people, which is the main area many express difficulty in when taking the steps to become self-employed.

HRMC are also encouraging representatives of the self-employed to respond to the consultation before the final review. The closing date for this is the 9th October 2013. More information can be found on the HMRC website.

-----

The financial aspect of going self-employed with your trade can be offputting to many skilled tradesmen, but here at Access Training we make sure our students are fully prepared to take that next step in their career. As well as all the relevant qualifications in electric, gas, plumbing and various construction trades, help is on hand to give you the basic knowledge you'll need to handle the technical side of self-employed life. After that you'll be free to enjoy working flexible hours while being your own boss. For more information on our training courses and what is needed to become self employed contact us via email or telephone 0800 345 7492.

The British Safety Council has warned construction employers to take extra care with any young people they might hire over the summer, as statistics show workers are more likely to be the victim of workplace accidents within the first few months of a new job.

The BSC's chief executive Alex Botha says this risk can be greatly reduced with only a few simple steps, paying great sttention to health and safety practices and promoting safe behaviour in the workplace. Employers also need to establish what the risks are and use the knowledge of experienced staff to work out how to control them and to ensure that young people understand the safety training they are given.

"Vacation jobs are a great way for young people to earn money, get some experience and develop skills but we know they can be particularly vulnerable when they start work. There are many reasons for this: a general lack of work experience; unfamiliarity with the workplace, machinery or work processes; a lack of physical capability to do the job or the confidence to raise concerns; a failure of employers to provide the necessary training and familiarisation."

In addition to this, the BSC has included a page featuring tips on how to work with young people on its website.

Via Builder & Engineer Magazine

 

Proper health & safety knowledge is a vital part of working in the construction industry, as is having the right skillset to get the job done properly. If you're thinking of changing career and entering the construction trade and becoming a carpenter, bricklayer, plasterer, tiler or painter/decorator, have you got all the qualifications you need. At Access Training we offer a wide range of trades training courses to suit all needs, from ones for DIY enthusiasts right up to recognised City & Guilds qualifications. To find out more give us a call on 0800 345 7492.

Temperatures could soar to dangerously high levels in some homes insulated under the government's flagship Green Deal scheme, experts have warned. Energy-saving measures designed to save on winter fuel bills and protect the environment could pose a risk to health during summer heatwaves, they add. Homes in densely populated urban areas such as London are most at risk. The government says it is aware of the problem and is taking steps to prevent overheating in Green Deal properties.

Heat can build up during the day and has nowhere to escape at night leading to poor air quality and a greater risk of heat stress for the occupants which, in extreme cases, can kill. It is vital that homes in the UK are better insulated to help meet carbon emission targets and save on winter fuel bills. But the risk of overheating had been overlooked in the "big rush to insulate and make homes airtight", particularly as more extreme weather events, including heatwaves, are being predicted for the UK by meteorologists.

"Overheating is like the little boy at the back of the class waving his hand. It is forgotten about because the other challenges are so big," he told the BBC News website. Very effective measures are being taken to protect against winter temperatures but by doing that they increase the risk of overheating during summer.

Research by Leicester De Montfort University, suggests top floor flats in 1960s tower blocks, and modern detached houses were most at risk, particularly if they were south facing. Heat was likely to have the biggest impact on elderly or infirm people who remained at home all day, the research suggests. The elderly are going to suffer. Suffering means they are going to die from overheating.

Under the Green Deal, householders take out loans to finance improvements such as double-glazing, loft insulation or more efficient boilers. The idea is that the energy savings they make should more than compensate for the repayments. In total it said there had been 38,259 Green Deal assessments, where customers are given initial advice about what energy improvements they might be eligible for. Of those, 241 households have confirmed they would like to proceed with work.

According to research by a group of leading engineering and climate change experts, published last year, "Green Deal measures could create new problems in the future, with inappropriately insulated properties experiencing poor indoor air quality and significant summer overheating. It said the increased likelihood of summer heatwaves could lead to rise in heat-related deaths from 2,000 to 5,000 per year by 2080 "if action was not taken".

The Department for Energy and Climate Change says it has now issued fresh guidance to Green Deal suppliers to help reduce potential risk from installing energy efficiency measures.

He said there were simple measures anyone could take - whether living in a well-insulated home or not - to keep heat levels down, such as keeping windows closed during the day to trap cool air and opening them at night. Fitting shutters to windows and painting exterior walls white - both common sights in Mediterranean countries - would also help, but were unlikely to be widely adopted in the UK due to the relative rarity of heatwaves.

Here is the link to the full BBC report.

10 ways the UK is ill-prepared for a heatwave

- Mark Jenkins

Mark Jenkins is the Electrical Course Development Manager at Access Training. If you would like to learn more about electrical work and maintenance, you might want to consider one of the many electrical training courses we offer. These are available for both DIY enthusiasts AND people looking to gain the vital qualifications needed to make the career change to become an electrician. To find out more give us a call on 0800 345 7492.

The Construction Industry Scaffolders Record (CISRS) have announced the introduction of a new, mandatory training scheme for all new entrants to the industry, taking effect from September 1st 2013.

This one day course must be taken before a card will be issues, and will cover;

  • Relevant regulations and codes of practice
  • General responsibilities
  • Basic scaffold terminology (components & application)
  • Servicing of equipment, tube, fittings etc.
  • Boards & stock – quality control
  • Health, welfare, hygiene & housekeeping
  • Electrical safety
  • Fire prevention & control
  • Noise & vibration
  • Work at height
  • Accident prevention & reporting
  • Personal protective equipment
  • Site transport safety (including loading & unloading)
  • Equipment & tools
  • Manual handling (Including a practical element)
  • Lifting equipment using a rope & wheel
  • Questions/test paper.

They will also be required to pass a CITB health, safety and environment test (or possess a recognised exception). Applicants are advised to apply for their card withing two years of their test date or it will expire.

CISRS scaffolding labourers will need to repeat this course every five years to renew their card. Existing cardholders will also be required to complete the course when their current card expires as part of a new CISRS scaffolding labourer refresher training scheme.

Via The Construction Index

It's been a long time coming, but at the end of last week the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) finally announced the details for the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive, with the figures expected to provide a much needed boost to the UK's renewable energy industry.

The RHI will allow householders to be paid hundreds of pounds a year for any energy generated by renewable sources such as solar thermal panels, biomass boilers and heat pumps. By persuading people to install and switch over to these methods, it is believed Britain will successfully be able to meet renewable targets and cut down the country's carbon footprint, as well as save householders money on energy bills.

The tariff levels have been set at:

  • 7.3p/kWh for air source heat pumps
  • 12.2p/kWh for biomass boilers
  • 18.8p/kWh for ground source heat pumps 
  • At least 19.2 p/kWh for solar thermal

Energy & Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said: "The Coalition is committed to helping hardworking families with the cost of living. Investing for the long term in new renewable heat technologies will mean cleaner energy and cheaper bills. So this package of measures is a big step forward in our drive to get innovative renewable heating kit in our homes.

"Householders can now invest in a range of exciting heating technologies knowing how much the tariff will be for different renewable heat technologies and benefit from the clean green heat produced. We are also sending a clear signal to industry that the Coalition is 110% committed to boosting and sustaining growth in this sector"

The scheme will be made available to homeowners, private and social landlords, third party owners of heating systems, people who build their own homes and anyone who has installed a renewable heat system since 15th July 2009. It currently supports air to water heat pumps, biomass only boilers and biomass pellet stoves with back boilers, ground and water source heat pumps, flat plate and evacuated tube solar thermal panels.

Applicants must complete a Green Deal Assessment before submitting their application and ensure they have met minimum loft (250mm) and cavity wall insulation requirements, where appropriate. All installations and installers must be MCS certified (or certified by an equivalent scheme). MCS certified installers are currently required to be members of the Renewable Energy Consumer Code, which is backed by the Trading Standards Institute.

The DECC is currently finalising the details  of the expansion of the non-domestic RHI scheme and will confirm what comes next in Autumn alongside the outcome of the tariff review. The DECC's aim to introduce these changes from Spring 2014 onwards remains unchanged.

Full story/more information:

Heating, Ventilation & Plumbing Magazine


Many people think that PVA is okay as a primer on walls and floors before tiling. This is not the case, as traditionally PVA is a multi-purpose product and not specifically formulated to work with tile adhesives.

First of all let’s think back, we all remember PVA – the glue you used in school to paint all over your hand, then see who could peel it back to get the biggest piece off! Peeled off easy? Washed off easy?

When you treat a surface with PVA it only partly soaks in and sits on the surface of the substrate much in the same way as wall paper paste. If PVA gets wet it becomes slightly live again, it doesn’t completely return to its liquid state but it becomes sticky.

When you spread tile adhesive onto a wall, the water in the adhesive makes the PVA live and stops the adhesive from penetrating the substrate and providing a mechanical grip. Basically your tiles, grout and adhesive are being held in place by a thin layer of PVA.

Tile adhesives work by crystallising when it sets. Once the adhesive starts to set crystals form and expand into any imperfections in the substrate (at a microscopic level) to create a grip. PVA stops this process by creating a barrier between the substrate and the tile adhesive. More...


With the weather constantly on the up at the moment it seems like Britain may be able to enjoy a proper summer for once. However industry experts have warned that homes insulated under the Green Deal scheme could be facing dangerously high temperatures both over the coming months and future summer times. 

Prof Chris Goodier, of Loughborough University’s department of civil and building engineering, told the BBC that the risk of overheating had been overlooked in the “big rush to insulate and make homes airtight”. He cited homes in urban areas are most at risk from problems during summer heatwaves. 

"Overheating is like the little boy at the back of the class waving his hand," he said. "It is forgotten about because the other challenges are so big."

"If you are in the wrong type of house, facing the wrong way, in the wrong street and you don’t deal with heat in the right way, it is a problem. Particularly for the elderly. They are going to suffer. Suffering means they are going to die from overheating."

His team's report suggested that with the increased likelihood of summer heatwaves in the future, there could be a rise in heat-related deaths from 2,000 to 5,000 per year by 2080 if action was not taken. To combat this, the DECC are now issuing fresh guidance to Green Deal suppliers to help reduce this risk while continuing to install energy efficient measures.

In a statement they said: "If energy efficiency measures are installed appropriately, overheating should not be a common problem and there’s guidance available for those involved in the Green Deal."

“The DECC is working with experts and other government departments to understand the potential risk of overheating in retrofitted homes and ensure that the energy efficiency supply chain, including those working within the Green Deal, are aware and guidance is provided on homes which are most likely to be vulnerable and what steps could be taken to minimise any risk of overheating."

Via Construction Enquirer

100% customer satisfaction is one of the main things we aim for here at Access Training, so it always pleases us to hear feedback from our former students on their course experience and the training company as a whole. You can view some of the older testimonials we've received on this very website, but below is one we received via email recently:

"I recently completed six weeks of training at Access, which included tiling, plumbing and electric. This training has allowed me to set up my own property maintenance and domestic electrics business as well as join a Competent Person Scheme.

None of this would have been possible without the support and guidance of the excellent staff in Cardiff. Quite simply they are some of the most down to earth, knowledgeable and professional people I have ever had the pleasure to be involved with.

The whole set up is a fantastic learning ground, particularly for military personnel and I have since written to our regional training advisors within the RAF who deal with resettlement training. The transition to civilian life could have been dull and daunting, but it’s been quite the reverse and the staff are a credit to their respective trades AND the company as a whole.

Often the administration side of an organisation gets missed when it comes to thank yous but the staff were ambassadors, making the whole process both simple and cost effective.

Not only have I recommended Access Training to a number of colleagues I look forward to returning in the future to extend my electrical qualifications further."

- Dougie Bon (Retired RAF Squadron Leader)

If you would like to take the steps toward a new career in a trade, give us a call on 0800 345 7492. We offer training courses in electric, plumbing & gas, plastering, tiling, carpentry, bricklaying, decorating and more. Each will provide you with the necessary qualifications to achieve a successful and enviable career in your chosen trade. You are also welcome to come take a visit of our Cardiff training centre, so you can see first hand the facilities and quality of teaching that we offer.

It’s happened to us all at some time or other, the job we have been putting off because it’s a little bit too big or we’re not sure how to do it. We bite the bullet and decide to get a tradesman in to do the work for us. Which tradesman? Where do we go to find out if the voice at the end of the phone is in fact a ‘quality’ tradesman and not John Wayne with a screwdriver?

You could go to www.trustmark.org.uk

TrustMark is a government endorsed scheme that regularly checks that the registered tradesmen are providing their customers with the quality service and workmanship members of the public expect and deserve (quite rightly). Trustmark registered firms have to;

  1. A firm's technical skills have been independently checked through regular on-site inspections, as well as checks on their trading record and financial status;
  2. Firms have signed up to a code of practice that includes insurance, good health and safety practices and customer care;
  3. The approved scheme operator has checked and will continue to monitor the firm's quality of work, trading practices and customer satisfaction;
  4. Firms are able to offer an Insurance Backed Warranty;
  5. Deposit Protection Insurance is available for consumers in the event a firm should cease trading;
  6. Firms will be able to tell you about any building regulations you must comply with and may also be able to provide appropriate certificates;
  7. If you have a problem or disagreement with the firm, there will be a clear and user-friendly complaints procedure to help resolve the issue;
  8. The scheme is fully supported by Government, the building industry and consumer protection groups.
  9. All of these checks will give you - Peace of Mind.

When employing a tradesman TrustMark recommends you take the following advice;

  • Be specific and set out a detailed, clear brief when requesting at least three quotes.
  • Ask friends and family for a recommendation and check the TrustMark website to ensure that the tradesman is registered for the particular trades you require
  • Use a firm that advertises using a landline phone number and be very wary of those only willing to give you a mobile number
  • Seek references, speak to previous customers and if a reasonable sized job, visit previous jobs
  • Don't just go with the cheapest, consider your ability to communicate with the firm and the quality of their work
  • Only pay for work that has been done and not by advance payments
  • If materials need to be bought in advance by the tradesman, it is reasonable that the customer is asked to pay a fair percentage of these costs as the job progresses
  • Always use a written contract as it offers you protection if anything does go wrong
  • Agree in writing any changes to the agreed contract value and ensure these are agreed in writing before the work is done.

If you use a TrustMark tradesman your work should be carried out to a high quality and if things go wrong (God forbid) you, through the scheme, have a means of recourse. That has to give you Peace of mind.

- Mark Jenkins

 

Mark Jenkins is the Electrical Course Development Manager at Access Training. If you would like to learn more about electrical work and maintenance, you might want to consider one of the many electrical training courses we offer. These are available for both DIY enthusiasts AND people looking to gain the vital qualifications needed to make the career change to become an electrician. To find out more give us a call on 0800 345 7492.

Flush only once. If it's not flushing the first time, don't flush again. This will cause more water to be pumped into the toilet bowl. If the toilet becomes clogged the first flush will not cause the bowl to overflow, but the second flush might!

Put on a pair of rubber gloves. Toilets are inherently unsanitary places to work, but a good pair of rubber cleaning gloves will protect you from any germs within. If you can see the cause of the clog, remove it from the toilet if possible.

Protect the floor. What's worse than a clogged toilet? An overflowing toilet. Minimize the potential damage by placing newspapers or paper towels on the floor to soak up liquid. Besides, minor splashes and spills are bound to occur when you're unclogging the toilet. The paper will make for easier clean-up later.

Make sure the water supply to the toilet is off. It should be located right behind the toilet, and looks like a regular faucet knob. Do not shut off the supply for the house, since this will prevent others from using water. If the water is off to at least the toilet, this will prevent the bathroom from flooding.

Ensure that the bathroom has good air circulation. Turn on the ventilation or open a window to minimize foul odours, and to protect against potentially toxic fumes from any chemical products you may need to use.

Plunger Method

If you know there's an object (such as a child's toy) causing the clog, skip the plunging and go straight to another method.

Be sure to use the right plunger. It is important to use a large heavy-duty rubber plunger, either the ball-shaped type or one with a fold-out rubber flange on the bottom which forms a seal. Do not use the small cheap suction-cup type of plunger––these will often not work. Remember, the larger the plunger, the more force you can apply down into the clogged drain. The plunger should have a shape which ensures that the water you force out of it when you push down does not shoot back up into the toilet bowl instead of pushing into the drain.

If your plunger is not making a tight seal, try wrapping an old rag around the end of the plunger and press down on any leaks. Run the plunger under hot water before using it. This will soften it up, which will help with creating a seal.

Insert the plunger into the bowl and press down firmly but slowly. Make sure you're covering the hole completely. The plunger should be submerged in water to be effective. It is important to be pushing and pulling with water, not air.

Add water to the bowl if necessary. Sharply pull up on the plunger to create suction in the drain, then push in to create pressure. Remember, the clog got jammed going in, so don't be too aggressive with your pushing because you might just jam it further. It is more the suction than the pressure, constantly disturbing the clog in both directions that will gradually cause it to be loosened.

If the plunging eventually drains the bowl but the clog is still blocking a free flow down the drain, leave the plunger in the bowl and fill the bowl with water again. Fill it to the point it is normally after a regular flush. Then plunge again. Stubborn clogs might require you to do this a number of times.

Should plunging fail to unclog the drain, a wire coat hanger may clear the obstruction. This will generally work if there is an obstruction in the first few inches of the drain.

Unravel the hanger, twisting the top ends apart until they are no longer connected. (To avoid damaging the porcelain tightly wrap one end with a rag). Stick the wrapped end of the wire into the drain. Once the wire is in the drain, twist it, push it, and manoeuvre it in a circular motion to clear the drain

Plumbing Snake Method

Purchase or borrow a plumbing snake. A plumbing snake (also sometimes called a "flexible cleaning tool" or "auger") is a flexible coil of wire that can "snake" through the curves of a drain and get deeper than a wire can. The best snake is a "closet auger" which is designed specifically to clear toilet clogs without damaging or staining the bowl. A plumber would likely use a closet auger.

Insert one end of the snake into the drain. Push down, feeding the snake further into the drain until you feel an obstruction. Twist and push the snake through the obstruction until the water begins to drain

Snake in reverse, as it may become necessary to remove the toilet and run the snake through in the opposite direction. This is especially true with hard obstructions that may have been flushed by a curious child. If a hard obstruction is known, and you are not comfortable removing and replacing the toilet, contact a plumber.

- Mark Lewis

 

Mark Lewis is the Plumbing Course Development manager at Access Training. If this blog has interested you and you would now like to learn more about the plumbing trade, you might want to consider one of our extensive plumbing training courses. These range from DIY courses for enthusiasts to professional courses that will give you the qualifications you need to become a plumber. If you would like to find out more give Access Training a call on 0800 345 7492 and we'd be happy to explain in greater detail.

 

Summer holidays on the Costas are with us once again. Lots of families are jetting off to spend a week or two in the sunshine. All looking to have fun and this will probably mean consuming large quantities of alcohol.

But we have become so reliant on our electrical and electronic gizmos; we all need an adapter to charge them up whilst we are in foreign lands. Our UK standard plugs will not fit into the sockets that we find in our ‘little paradise’.

Off we go to the local supermarket to purchase an adapter – but they are not cheap, so plan B comes into action. Off we go to the ‘cheap’ shop (you know the ones – everything’s a pound!). But is that cheap product safe? Probably not!

The above item is the subject of a “Product Recall” as it has been identified as being UNSAFE.

“The product poses a risk of electric shock because the user comes into contact with live parts when inserting the plug into the socket. The product does not comply with the relevant national standard BS1363.”

What a wonderful holiday – a couple of days in the sun followed by a couple of days in hospital receiving treatment for electric shock and/or electric burns; if you lucky. If you’re not you might be flying home baggage class in a wooden box!

You can’t put a price on safety; remember it might by your child that gets the shock of their lives!

For more information on this and other recalled products visit the Electrical Safety Council website at:

http://www.esc.org.uk/public/guides-and-advice/product-recalls/

- Mark Jenkins

 

Mark Jenkins is the Electrical Course Development Manager at Access Training. If you would like to learn more about electrical work and maintenance, you might want to consider one of the many electrical training courses we offer. These are available for both DIY enthusiasts AND people looking to gain the vital qualifications needed to make the career change to become an electrician. To find out more give us a call on 0800 345 7492