As we've previously mentioned, Access Training have made a few changes to the way we run the Unvented Cylinders plumbing course recently. With the new City & Guilds syllabus our course follows, students are now required physically commission and maintain a cylinder in order to achieve the qualification. This is important as it will make sure candidates are physically familiar with unvented cylinders rather than just having a theoretical knowledge of how to handle them. Knowing in theory is all well and good, but this is one area inparticularly that can go wrong without the right skills and know-how.

An Unvented Cylinder is a hot water storage system that relies on storage cylinders fed directly from cold water mains and do not incorporate a vent pipe to relieve excess build-up pressure to atmosphere. The pressure for the hot water system is then derived from the mains pressure supply rather than a cold water storage tank. The advantages of using such a system include:

  • Balanced pressure in both hot and cold taps for showers
  • Higher water pressures available for hot taps
  • No storage cistern, eliminating any risk of contamination
  • Can be fitted anywhere in the house, making them suitable for one-storey dwellings
  • Quicker to install with less pipework and no cold storage tanks needed in the loft
  • Can possibly be used with smaller diameter pipework
  • Gives architects and service designers greater flexibility of design

Unvented cylinders are also the only systems currently used with renewable energy supplies such as ground & air heat pumps and underfloor heating, due to their nature of being almost 100% energy efficient. This makes them even more of an important thing as households strive to become greener and save energy (as well as money!).

However despite these numerous advantages installers should still show great caution and care when dealing with unvented cylinders, as failing to properly install them is extremely dangerous. Unvented hot water systems usually operate above atmospheric pressure and unless the right measures are taken to prevent overheating, the results can be quite explosive to say the least. Just have a look at this video of what can happen if adequate checks and protection haven't been made:

VIEW ON YOUTUBE

But don't let this video put you off them. As long as they are installed correctly with all of the proper safety precautions in place unvented cylinders are perfectly safe. All plumbers handling unvented cylinders are required to be qualified in accordance with Part G of the Building Regulations, which can be achieved through the Access Training Academies Unvented Hot Water Cylinders course.

For more information on our Unvented course or our wider range of intensive plumbing courses, please take a look at the plumbing section linked on the left hand side of the page. Alternatively, you can speak to our course advice team to have any questions you may have answered personally - simply call 0800 345 7492 or fill in the information form provided on this website.

Yesterday we wrote about research suggesting how much work plumbers stand to potentially lose from missed calls. However today pluming suppliers Plumbfix revealed that they are predicting a "social revolution" within the trade.

Tradespeople in general, not just plumbers and heating engineers, are all beginning to see social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn as a valuable and most importantly FREE way to advertise and create brand awareness. 8 out of 10 tradespeople are already using it as a way to reach more customers and two fifths believe having a page on a social media site will make them look more established. They don't even just use it for reaching customers, as a third of tradesmen even admitted to use it to check on their competitors and what services/prices they are offering.

Plumbfix's research revealed that almost half of tradespeople (48%) are already winning new business through Twitter and the like, and a larger proportion (68%) say their social media activity has increased since this time last year. 

Sandra Everett, the senior marketing manager at Plumbfix, stressed the importance of small businesses getting to grips with social media as members of the public are more likely than ever to go online in search of a tradesperson."As plumbers increase the amount of business tasks and transactions they undertake online, social media should be seriously considered as a cost-effective way to market themselves to more and more customers."

It isn't just tradespeople that are hitting up social media either - trading bodies and contractors are also extending their Twitter and Facebook presence. Even Access Training Academies have Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts where any queries concerning our courses can be answered.

Via Installer Online

While we try to give you as much practical and theoretical knowledge as we can on your plumbing training course, there are some things that plumbing courses can't teach. You could have all the skills you need for a successful business, but something as little as missing a few phonecalls can cost you.

In fact, research from new business-orientated phone service everreach has estimated that plumbers are potentially losing around £500's worth of business a week due to missed phone calls. The survey, entitled "Running Your Small Business Better", looked at all the issues missed calls could cause - from loss of revenue to more personal elements such as what extent out of hours work calls might impact on time with the family.

Looking at cost, the survey found that more often than not tradespeople didn't have a dedicated landline business number. With the trade being one that gets you out and about a lot, 87% of respondents use a mobile as their main business number. The survery itself wasn't specifically aimed at plumbers, however they were top when it comes to receiving the hightest number of calls for new work. It also revealed that with plumbers losing around £500 worth of business every week, the yearly total of lost income is a shocking £26,000.

Moving onto how calls affect working time, over a quarter of tradesmen surveyed said they can't switch their phones off at home as they frequently have to take work calls. 60% said either their partner/children have accidentally answered their work calls in the past, while 21% admitted to accidentally deleting a voicemail themselves before listening to it or taking the number down. A final element looked into was the risks some trademen will take when answering calls, with four out of five admitting that they would be tempted to answer the phone while in an "unsafe situation". Examples of this included while working up a ladder or lifting heavy objects.

"Missed calls mean missed revenue opportunities," said Nick Mullen, chief executive officer of everreach. "The figures equate to hundreds of thousands of pounds in potentially lost revenue just in relation to the plumbers covered by our survey." So once you've finished your plumbing training and are about to start your new life as a self-employed plumber, remember to keep those words in mind. While no tradesperson should be expected to be readily available for phonecalls are every waking hour, working out the best compromise to ensure the minimal amount of business lost is essential to making the most of your new career.

Via HVP Mag

Having fully completed his professional electrician course, ex-rugby player and Access Academies student Xavier Rush has now turned his attention towards retraining in a second trade and begun a plumbing training course with us. We caught up with him during the fourth week of his six week course to find out how he's getting on and how the plumbing training has differed from his previous experience with the electrical training course. One thing's for sure, it's a very different experience to playing rugby for both the All Blacks and Cardiff Blues...

How are you finding the change from electrical work to a plumbing course?

It’s definitely the most practical I’ve done so far! There was a lot of theory with the electric but theory there is here is probably a lot easier to grasp. But then it’s also far more hands on too. It’s very busy – we’ve been working with low carbon steel and a lot of copper as well. I fitted a bathroom last week which was enjoyable – it’s nice to step back and see the results sometimes.

But a lot like the electric these are intense course and you pick up a lot of information and skills quickly. It helps that you’re learning from people who’ve been in the industry a long time.

Had you done any plumbing before starting the course?

No, before this I didn’t have a thing – I couldn’t even stop a leak. You’ve got to pick it up quite quickly as there’s no one there holding your hand. Once you’ve got an understanding of it all it gets a lot easier. It’s just knowing what fittings do what and what products you’re working with, that sort of thing.

Have you found anything especially difficult over the last four weeks?

I suppose it just takes you a while before you get competent with everything really. Nothing is truly mind boggling. There were a few issues fitting a bath, but it’s the kind of stuff you can get your head around.

How have the tutors been?

They’ve been great and a really big help this week especially. They don’t baby you at all, but make sure to tell you exactly where you’ve gone wrong – which is exactly what they need to do. If you were working in someone’s house and you spring a leak and their lounge ceiling falls in you’re going to be in trouble. So you’ve just got to know. It’s just like anything – the more you practice you have, the better you get. Its good being here because if you’re going to make mistakes make them here, that way I can waste your copper rather than mine!

How have you found the studying at home element of the course?

Like I said, you are picking up a lot of information in a short time so while you’re here you’ve really got to apply yourself for the six weeks. There’s a lot of going home, revising, getting ready for exams because if you don’t do the homework you don’t get the passes. You have got to read the book and retain that information. I’ve had many a late night drinking coffees at Starbucks looking like a bit of a geek.

And finally, how much time do you have left here before you’re all done?

I’ve got two more weeks after Christmas. It’s been an intense four weeks so it’ll be nice to have a bit of a break and then come back and hit it again. Because we’ve done so much over the last few weeks and put so many fittings together you should be able to retain a lot of the information. And then after that that’ll be it for me…for now! I might come back and do the one week electrical testing course just to freshen up on that. But it’s just brilliant to come here and reskill so quickly as an older person. I did carpentry when I left school but to think now I’ve got plumbing and electric qualifications backing that up. And to feel confident with that within ten weeks is berserk really – they’re skills you’ve obviously got for life.

I can look at stuff in houses now and understand it. Obviously it doesn’t give you all the experience – you’re still going to go out there and make mistakes but it’s given me a really good grasp of both industries, both the electric and the plumbing.

As Xavier approaches the end of his Access Academies training, we'll be talking to him again in the new year to discuss his overall experiences and his plans for the future. In the meantime if you have any questions you'd like to ask him about changing careers and retraining in a new trade, please let us know over on Twitter or Facebook. If you yourself would like more information on Access' extensive range of trades training courses (also including gas engineering, carpentry, bricklaying, plastering, tiling and painting/decorating), please get in contact with one of our course advisers on 0800 345 7492.

New competency scheme WaterSafe seems to be a hit with qualified plumbers, as the orgainisation has proudly announced it has already hit the halfway mark for its registration target. 

Officially launched back on the 8th October, WaterSafe was created to bring all Approved Plumber Schemes under one umbrella and provide recognition for Britain's competant and qualified plumbers. The scheme acts as a national register, accreditation body and online directory designed to provide consumers with assurance that the tradespeople they hire are fully qualified. Since launch it has signed up 54% of its overall target for business registrations, with these figures also constituting 60% of the target for recognised individuals.

Those about to complete their plumbing course or plumbing training may want to consider registration with WaterSafe, as it is set to become to biggest search facility for plumbers in the UK - giving you excellent opportunity to be noticed online and gain valuable (and most importantly, free!) promotion. Members will also be given WaterSafe stationery and branding for their vehicles to gain extra credibility.

Julie Spinks, director of WaterSafe has said that this response has "already surpassed all expectations" and that the scheme looks forward to gaining more members in the months to come. She added that this was really only the beginning for WaterSafe and then said:

"As we continue to grow, we would encourage all plumbing businesses to sign up with us. Together, we can ensure properly qualified professionals will get the credit they deserve by working together to drive out unethical trading and refocus safety standards for all."

You can find out more about WaterSafe by visiting www.watersafe.org.uk

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