If the office life isn’t for you because you prefer working with your hands and learning practical skills you should consider learning a trade skill. These skills are in high demand here in the UK due to a countywide skills shortage. Learning a trade skill can be fun and rewarding and you won’t need to spend years in University before starting your career. Here are more reasons why you should start training with Access Training Academies.

Should I Be a Plasterer or a Carpenter?

Gain these qualifications and learn the practical skills required with Access Training Academies.


Access Training intensive courses are built to suit you, whether you are a beginner wanting to learn a new skill, or a professional wanting to enhance your qualifications, there is a course to suit you.

If you'd like advice about any of the courses we offer we are more than happy to help. Feel free to contact us today.

The UK is currently suffering from a shortage of trade skills. As these trade skills are in such a high demand there has never been a better time to train. Working a manual trade is a rewarding career choice and you don’t have to spend years in University to start. Learn more about why you should qualify in a trade with Access Training from our trade infographic.

Should I Learn a Trade Infographic

 

You can complete the necessary qualifications and these specialist courses with Access Training.

Choose from Essential, Professional and Premier intensive courses – something to suit everyone whether you are a beginner or just enhancing your skills!

Contact Access Training now to find out more about any of the course packages we offer.

Benefits of Becoming Your Own Boss 

Has your job become stale and unsatisfying? Or have you reached a dead end in your career, and feel that you are struggling to fulfill your career and earning potential? 

There are many reasons why your job might feel dissatisfying, but many of these reasons can be resolved by taking action and becoming your own boss. Don't worry, you're not alone!

Read on to find out why thousands of people in the UK are taking the opportunity to change their careers and be their own boss: More...

The last few days have been a reminder that winter is well and truly here, with the temperature dropping and the country getting its first innings of both frost and snow. Even with energy bills on the rise, it's important to keep warm during this time of the year and make sure that your heating system is working properly. According to Government statistics, the 2012-13 winter period saw the largest excess mortality rate since 2008-09, with deaths coinciding with influenza, RSV and the cold weather.

The run-up to Christmas can be a busy time for plumbers and gas engineers, with consumers coming with all kinds of problems including broken down boilers and frozen pipes. For the tradespeople reading this it'll be good for business, but for the rest of us here is a few pieces of advice to keep away any unwanted costs as well as making sure your home stays warm.

The UK had a pretty good summer this year so it's likely that you haven't turned the heating on for a while, so it'll be good practice to check it regularly to make sure it's all in working order. Suddenly starting it up in a cold snap could result in it freezing up and potentially breaking down. Regular boiler checks by a professional plumber and gas engineer are important and should be done once a year, including servicing according to the manufacturer's instructions. Not doing so not only puts you at risk of forking out for repair costs, but in the case of gas boilers also puts you and your family at risk of possible carbon monoxide poisoning.

Another handy tip is to bleed your radiators. If you can feel cold patches on them it may be due to some air trapped inside that's blocking the system. It's easy to do and won't require the help of a plumber, but should that fail it might be blocked with something else. In this case the radiator might need a chemical flush and you will require a Gas Safe engineer to get the job done.

Most importantly, and this really goes for any sort of DIY maintenance work - KNOW YOUR LIMITS! If there's something you know that you can't do, don't try and do a botched job of it anyway as you'll end up having to pay even more to get it repaired properly.

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With plumbers and gas engineers needed more than ever during these winter months, now if the perfect time to qualify as a plumber and/or gas engineer with an intensive Access Training course. We not only offer comprehensive training for beginners, but also ACS reassessment to those needing to give their qualifications an update. To find out more contact one of our course advisers on 0800 345 7492.


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...


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.

(Part 1 of this article can be viewed HERE)

Now that we know what causes brickwork to need re-pointing and how to prepare for it, it's time to look at the procedure itself for getting your brickwork back up to scratch!

POINTING PROCEDURE

You will require a hawk to carry the mortar, a pointing trowel and a soft brush

  • Always start at the top of the walling to be pointed and work downwards to prevent dropped mortar marking the cleaned brickwork below.
  • Make sure the joints are clear of any loose old mortar.
  • Load the hawk with mortar flattened to about a 10mm thickness.
  • Using your pointing trowel, pick up small amounts of mortar from the hawk and press firmly into the “perp” joints, (these are the vertical joints). Carefully fill each perp joint using a second filling if necessary.
  • After filling the perp joints start on the bed joints (these are the horizontal joints)
  • Carefully fill each bed joint with a second application if required.
  • After completing an area of approximately one square meter, finish the mortar off with a pointing trowel. **
  • Apply the mortar filling to the rest of the wall.
  • When sufficiently dry, brush off with a fine brush to remove any excess mortar.
** At this stage there are a number of different finishes you could apply, however they require in-depth tutorial that can't be provided from this blog alone. If you would like to find out more, give Access Training a call on 0800 345 7492 for information on our range of bricklaying and construction courses for DIY enthusiasts and professionals alike.

- Richard James

electric shower

Firstly when you’re having problems with your electric shower don’t attempt to fix it, this is false economy – you’re much better off changing the item completely. Here are a few steps to show you how to change an electric shower. 

  • Step One - Safely take off the front cover of the electric shower box. There will be at least 1 or possibly 2 small screws holding this in place. Next, take off the front temperature and control knobs by pulling them straight off (this shouldn’t be too difficult to do). With the front cover off you should be able to see a valve on the water pipe going into the shower unit, it should have a screw slot in the middle of the valve. Turn this a ¼ turn either way and test the shower to see if this has turned off the water. You can use the control knob by temporarily re-attaching it to the shower to get the water to flow.
  • Step Two - When changing an electric shower, you must turn off the electric supply at the consumer unit (or fuse board as it’s commonly known). The fuses/trips should be marked but if they’re not, the 1 of 2 possible trips you are going to turn off will be either a 35 amp or a 45 amp depending on the Kilo-watt power of the shower. For a 35 amp fuse/trip, the shower should not be over 8.5 kilowatts. For a shower that is greater in kilowatts, the fuse/trip will be a 45 amp.
  • Step Three - The next step in changing your electric shower is to check that the electric has been turned off by either pulling the cord switch in your bathroom or the wall-mounted one outside. Run the shower and make sure that the running water isn’t warm/hot. With the electric turned off, you can put a notice hanging from the consumer unit to warn others not to turn back on.
  • Step Four - If the water is now off you can take off the water connection where it connects closest to the unit. Undo the electric cable connections and remove the unit, remembering to replace like-for-like in the kilowatt power rating of the unit (this rating can be found somewhere on the old unit, and on the front cover box of the new one).
  • Step Five - When you have connected the new unit to the electric cable and to the water supply, check the water flow through the unit first, then with the cover on the unit you can turn the electric fuse/trip back on. Go back to the unit and turn the wall-mounted switch or pull the cord on, turn up the thermostatic control on the unit and the water control knob to on. Your new shower should be working, but with the new shower unit you will have the manufacturer’s instructions in the box. Follow these carefully, and it should be safe for you to install.

- Mark Lewis

 Would you like to learn more about the kind of DIY plumbing tasks you can perform yourself around the home? Access Training offers a number of bespoke plumbing courses for both DIY enthusiasts and those looking for a career as a professional plumber. You'll have access to our state-of-the-art training facilities and be taught by fully-trained plumbers with many years' experience in the trade. To find out more, give us a call on 0800 345 7492.

While there will always be a demand for qualified tradesmen such as electricians, plumbers and gas engineers, setting yourself apart from the other tradesmen in your local area is an important factor is getting your name out there among potential clients. And the best way to do this is to consider qualifying in more than one skill. Commonly gas engineer training goes hand in hand with plumbing qualifications, but there are far more potential combinations that could benefit your future career.

For example, if a plumber were to undertake electrical training it would open up a variety of new work for them that they wouldn’t be able to complete otherwise without a second tradesman. They would be able to properly install power showers, and by achieving a Part P qualification would also be permitted to sign off the work themselves once they had joined a relevant Competent Person Scheme.

In turn, if an electrician had plastering qualifications, they could provide a fresh finish to a wall surface after tearing it apart to complete an installation. The same applies for combining plastering, tiling and/or carpentry courses. You’ll be increasing both your eternal potential and boost your chance of success when starting up your own business.

Take note though, it’s vital that you train properly for your second skill just as you did the first. A plumber should not be attempting any electrical work without the proper electrical qualifications and the same goes for any other potential trades. Not only would you be putting yourself at risk, but your customer as well. By training properly, you’ll be able to do the job properly and known as a tradesman capable and competent enough to get the job done on their own.

If you would like to find out more about the multi-skills training routes available to you, give Access Training a call on 0800 345 7492 and our team will be happy to tell you more.

If you are replacing the motor, you will need to turn off your central heating system at the fused spur, removing the fuse to prove safe isolation. Open up the wiring centre or junction box that the 2 or 3 port valve is wired to and check for power at the brown and orange wires – you should have no power on the valve motor. If you check when turned on and then remove the fuse and check again then you know it is safe to carry on.

When you remove the pozidrive screw from the silver top (located at end of head) you will immediately see the motor with two blue wires. To the left of the motor is one small pozidrive screw, remove and keep it safe as you will need it to screw back the new motor. Twist the motor slightly to the left to remove the screw holder from the body and pull motor clear, slight resistance from the motor shaft gearing.

Disconnect the two blue wires and using the new motor and plastic electrical twisters included in the box, bare the wires and twist them together replacing the motor in reverse, i.e. push the motor gear shaft into hole in actuator body, twist to align screw hole and re-secure using small screw that you kept safe. Replace the metal head cover and screw and replace fuse in fused spur. Switch on the central heating system and check that when you are calling for heat or hot water that the motor moves – you will see the arm of the valve move as an indication that it is working.

It's long winded I know but I hope this helps. If you are unsure, contact a Gas Safe heating engineer.

- Mark Lewis

If you would like to learn more about the kind of gas/plumbing tasks you can do yourself around the home, have you considered taking one of Access Training's DIY plumbing courses? We offer courses for those simply looking to get new skills under their belt as well as those aiming to gain professional qualifications in the trade. Whatever your needs are, give us a call on 0800 345 7492 and we'll find a course suitable for you.

Not everyone needs an extensive plumbing course to know the rights and wrongs of the trade, but with all the DIY products that are for sale in various outlets, there is good information available to prevent water contamination by misconnection of sanitary and waste water from dishwashers, washing machines and such. However, the majority of people don't ask for this advice so not to seem ignorant or feel embarrassed about not know how or what is the right way to do things.

With the economic climate the way it is, the vast majority of people also cannot afford a tradesman with the correct knowledge to do the work properly. There are the unscrupulous people who pretend to be a qualified tradesman, undercut a price just to get the work and don't really care about the consequences of their actions.

Then the poor misguided home owner gets the backlash from the relevant authorities when the source of the contamination is traced back to a particular home. It's very hard to educate people that asking for advice is not showing ignorance. It would only show their concern for doing it the correct way and the people who would give that free information would be only too happy to give them without making them feel humiliated or stupid.

But that's human nature, and people only employ a tradesman when they have that spare amount of money to get the job done. I'm sure the vast majority of people would like to think that any work done to the correct standards without causing problems as rivers and streams being polluted to the degree that is being reported by the water authorities, but unfortunately it always comes down to money

- Mark Lewis

Step 1: Turn off all the components electrically. This means the boiler, pump and any zone valves.

Step 2: Shut the pump valves situated above and below the pump. Most valves turn clockwise to close.

Step 3: Get a small bucket the open the screw on the end of the pump or one of the nuts holding the pump to the valve. If water keeps leaking out for more than a few minutes then the pump valves are not holding and you will need to follow steps 4 to 7. If not, proceed to step 8.

Step 4: Turn off the water supply. This could be at the main or in your loft.

Step 5: Identify any zone valves and set them to manually open (usually an arm or on the side of the valve body).

Step 6: Find the lowest drain point in the heating system and then, using a hose, drain the system of water.

Step 7: Repeat step 3.

Step 8: Once you have no water coming out, test the electrical connections and make sure they are dead. Remove the electrical connections making a note not live, neutral and earth.

Step 9: Unwind the nuts that connect the pump to the valves and remove the pump. Check that the old seals have come off the valves - most new pumps are supplied with new seals.

Step 10: If you have drained the system completely of water because the pump valves won't hold, replace those valves.

Step 11: Fit the new pump, making sure than the pump seals supplied are in place and that the connecting valves are tight.

Step 12: Open the pump valves. Shut the drain point and re-fill the system.

Step 13: Test for leaks. If there are any leaks you may need to tighten up one of the joints or use some jointing paste.

Step 14: If you have no leaks, drain the system again and re-fill with a suitable inhibitor (Sentinel x100 or Fernox).

Step 15: Only now do you reattach the electrical connections in the right place and fit the cover back on the pump. Turn on the electrics and run a test operation of the new pump.

Tip: Sometimes after draining down a heating system you can get air locks. Even if the pump is running fine you might not get a full flow to all radiators. The best thing to do in this situation is to turn the pump on and off. This moves the water and air suddenly. You should be able to hear air gurgle its way around and eventually to the air vents.

- Mark Lewis

 

We hope that this short guide has helped you in being able to carry out this task quickly and effectively. However the best way to find out more about plumbing is to take one of Access Training's intensive plumbing courses. These are available to both those looking to improve their DIY skills, and those wanting a change of career, gain valuable qualifications and become a plumber. For more information call us today on 0800 345 7492.