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.

The BPEC Charity is once again taking nominations for its Life Award programme, which offers a grant of up to £15,000 to those with plans of improving others' lives using their plumbing skills.

Last year £30,000 was given to four projects which ranged from developing a safe water system to a health clinic in Mozambique, apprentice plumbers working alongside a village community in Uganda to build drinking water wells and similar safe drinking water work in Nicaragua. A little closer to home, the charity also gave money toward the development of a virtual plumbing college online to support students and teachers alike. Regular updates on these projects can be found on the Life Award's progress blog

There are three separate opportunities for financial support over each year which are open to ALL who are working in the UK plumbing industry, whether you are self-employed, a tutor or even an apprentice. These are the BPEC Life Award, the BPEC Support Fund and the BPEC Sport Awards.

The BPEC Charity, also known as BPEC (Training) Ltd, was re launched in 2012 with the strapline of "re-investing in our industry". The charity's focus is to raise the knowledge and skills of those working in the UK Plumbing and Heating industry. It also provides the opportunity to offer support to those who would like to pursue a career in the industry, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. More about its vision, mission and values can be seen HERE.

You can register to find out more about the Life Award. The deadline for entries is the 31st July.

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Access Training's bespoke plumbing courses are BPEC accredited, a sure sign of the quality of learning we offer students. If you are interested in gaining the necessery qualifications to become a plumber, our experienced teaching staff are ready and waiting to help you. To find out more give us a call on 0800 345 7492.

Installing a tap will only take you around half a day, but you will need basic plumbing skills. Under current regulations you have to fit an isolation valve and a double check valve inside your home when you put in a new outdoor tap (see below for details). If you need to know more about the regulations talk to your Water Company or local council.

Turn the isolation valve off if there is one on your cold water supply pipe where your new garden tap is to be connected.

If there's no isolation valve, turn off your main stopcock. This is fitted on the pipework and normally found either in the kitchen or where the mains water enters your house.

Finally if you can't find the stopcock, turn off the water authority's valve under the cover in the street or your front garden. You'll need a special long-handled spanner, available from plumbers' merchants. Once the water supply is off, open the cold tap on your sink until the water stops running and the system is drained.

If you're installing a new tap you need to bore a hole through your outside wall for the connecting pipework. It's easiest to make the new connection near an exposed cold water supply inside your house - near the kitchen sink, for example.

Position your outdoor tap at least 250mm above the damp-proof course. Then mark the screw holes where your tap will be.

You will need a 15mm diameter pipe to connect the tap to the cold water supply inside the house. Position the hole for this about 150mm above where you've marked the position of the tap.

Before drilling the hole, run the pipe through a piece of 22mm diameter copper pipe. This acts as a 'sleeve', which will prevent the pipe rubbing and water leaking out of the hole if the pipe bursts. When drilling, make sure the hole is wide enough to take the sleeve's diameter.

Steadily drill through the wall with a heavy-duty power drill and a large masonry bit at least 325mm long. Take out the core bit regularly to clear the loosened masonry and let the bit cool down.

With the supply turned off, cut through the cold water pipe directly below the exit hole you've drilled in the wall. Use a hacksaw or pipe slicer to do this and file the ends of the pipes smooth.

Remove enough pipe to fit a T-piece connector. Connect one end of a short piece of pipe to the T-piece. Connect the other end to an isolation valve. This allows you to cut off the water supply to the new tap if you need to in the future. Isolation valves let you turn off the water to an individual appliance without having to turn off the whole water supply. You can get two types of isolation valve: a push-fit valve, which simply pushes on to the ends of the pipes, and a compression valve.

Fit the valve the right way round or else it won't work correctly – there will be an arrow on the valve showing the direction of the flow of water.

When you've turned off the water supply, mark the section of pipe that needs removing to receive the valve. Cut the section from the pipe and be sure to file the ends smooth again.

Now slide a compression nut onto each piece of pipe followed by the olives. Push each end of the pipe into the fitting and tighten the compression nuts by hand.

Use a pair of pliers to hold the body of the valve and tighten the compression nuts about three-quarters of a turn with an adjustable spanner. When you turn on the water supply again, check for leaks. Tighten the compression nuts a little further if you have to.

Next you'll need another short piece of pipe to connect the isolation valve to a double check valve. Water regulations say you must fit one of these to your outside tap pipework. Double check valves stop water flowing back up a pipe the wrong way. This prevents contaminated water entering your drinking water supply.

For a new outside tap the double check valve must be fitted in your internal pipework, after the isolation valve. Double check valves are installed in a similar way to isolation valves.

After fitting the double check valve insert another short piece of pipe and an elbow. Then fit a length of pipe long enough to reach horizontally through the wall to the outside. When it's through the wall, cut the pipe to leave about 25mm protruding.

Finally, you'll need to cut a piece of pipe that reaches from the pipe protruding from your outside wall down to the position of your tap. These pipes will be connected using another elbow joint.

Connect all the parts together and tighten the joints with two adjustable spanners. You can tighten the joints more if they leak when the water supply is turned back on, but be sure not to over tighten.

Drill the fixing holes for the tap's wall plate, insert plugs and screw the tap plate to the wall. Screw the tap tail into the elbow joint.

Use plastic retaining clips for the pipes on the inside wall to stop the pipes vibrating and knocking against it. Then seal around the pipe hole in the wall with an expanding foam filler or sealant.

Water resistant foam pipe lagging should cover all the pipework that is on the outside of the building to protect against freezing. This will be fitted after testing for leaks.

Finally, turn the water supply back on and check for any leaks. Tighten joints if you need to and then you're ready to go!

- Mark Lewis

 

While we hope that this quick guide has helped you in installing your very own outside tap, there is only so much that can be explained online. If you would like to learn more plumbing skills, whether it be for future DIY projects or to attain the qualifications to become a professional plumber, we offer a number of intensive plumbing courses here at Access Training. If you would like to find out more, contact us on 0800 345 7492.

Full story: Trust in tradesmen still a consumer concern

A recent study from Bradstone Assured has shown that concerns about rogue tradesmen still rank as one of the highest consumer concerns when it comes to the construction industry. The poll, taken by 2000 homeowners, found that nearly three quarters of the sample "felt anxious" when dealing with tradesmen they hadn't met before and a total of 60% thought it was difficult to find an honest tradesman.

Among the main consumer concerns were whether the job would be finished in time, being charged more than the original quote and fearing that the builder would go out of business before the work was completed. HOWEVER it also emerged that many customers were not taking the available steps to ensure that they were hiring a genuine tradesman and not one of the "cowboy builders" you so often hear about in the news. Less than a third of people check for professional credentials, only one in four take up references and 70% don’t even know the surname of the person they have employed.

Bradstone Assured spokesman Mike Leeming said: “Our research suggests that falling foul of rogue traders is still a real concern for homeowners. One in 10 even admitted to attempting work they weren’t capable of rather than risk bringing someone in."

So what measures can be taken to ensure a trustworthy tradesman? Professional branding, a good website and offering references up-front were among the things found in the poll to most likely reassure customers. It is important to know some of the professional branding to look for, as it can come from many different places and is all different depending on the tradesman you need. Electricians who have their Part P qualification will be able to join a Competent Person Scheme such as NICEIC, NAPIT or ELECSA - they will usually have these stickers on their van/website and it shouldn't be too hard to look up with these bodies if you were really unsure. Plumbers also have their own Competent Person Schemes, and gas engineers are required to become Gas Safe registered in order to work on gas appliances legally. If you're unsure your engineer is registered - be sure to find out. Only last week a plumber narrowly escaped a jail sentence after carrying out illegal gas work - resulting in an explosion at a home and the owners suffering serious burns.

There is also TrustMark, a sign of quality working across the RMI (repair, maintenance and improvement) sector which recruits reputable and worthy tradesmen. The TrustMark scheme offers a number of checks to give you full peace of mind, and is fully supported by the Government, building industry and various consumer protection groups.

Of course, tradesmen are also required to do their part - from getting the right, reputable qualifications to doing the work to a professional standard. For tradesmen-in-training, all of the courses Access Training offer the qualifications you need to reach the "industry standard" employers look for. You will gain the skills and knowledge you need to be a part of the schemes mentioned earlier, securing you a long and prosperous career in the industry. If you would like to find out more give us a call today.

Full story: HVP Magazine - Plumbers feeling positive for 2013

Plumbers across the UK are expecting to see an improvement in business throughout this year, as discovered by a recent event organised by software/service provider Sage. An overwhelming 90% of attendees are expecting their business to grow by up to 15% by the end of 2013, with many revealing that in the past managing their finances and administration tasks have been their biggest difficulty.

The main focus of the event, which was held in Croydon, was to determine whether local businesses understood the recent changes to PAYE (Pay-As-You-Earn tax) reporting with the introduction of RTI (Real Time Information) reporting requirements. Overall knowledge of these changes seemed divided, with only about half being aware of the changes and what they meant. However a third of respondents planned to increase their staffing in the near future with an apprentice or full-time employee. Those intending to expand were uncertain about what the changes mean for them, whilst those that don’t cited extra red tape as the main reason for remaining a sole operator.

Neilson Watts from Sage UK said: "I’m not surprised that the research highlighted so many people struggle with their finances. No one starts a business or becomes a plumber because they love the admin side of things – it’s because they have a skill and a genuine passion for their trade, but if you don’t get it right it can come back to bite you."

 

So will 2013 be the year you strike it big as a plumber? If you're looking to change careers and move into the world of plumbing, it's important to be fully prepared. Access Training offer a fully comprehensive plumbing course, giving you all the industry standard qualifications employers look for. But as well as improving your prospects for employed work it'll also give you good grounding to set up your own self-employed plumbing business. Even when you've completed the course, Access Training will be on hand to help you as you set up the business and our tutors available to give advice whenever you may need it.

Make 2013 your year. Call 0800 345 7492 today.

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