To round of the week we turn to capentry for our quick definition guide. Hopefully this post will give you a beginner understanding of some of the more basic terms carpenters use, and you'll be able to use them to build up your own DIY knowledge or even as the first step in becoming a professional carpnenter!

Architrave: The ornamental mouldings fitted around a door or window frame. These also cover the joint between the plaster and wood framing.

Auger: A long drill-bit-like tool turned with the hands, usually by means of a handle.

Bead: A rounded shape cut into a square edge to soften the edge and provide some protection against splitting. When several beads are placed together, they are called Reeds. If the bead lies below the surface, it is referred to as a Sunk Bead.

Bench Hook: A workbench accessory used to provide a stop against a piece of wood being worked can be placed to hold it steady whilst cutting, planing, or chiseling that piece of wood.

Brace: A part of a timber or metal structure spanning a diagonal space that adds strength and stability, and resists compression or tension.

Dado: Decorative panelling applied to the lower part of an internal wall.

Dado Rail: Decorative moulding applied to an internal wall at a height of around 1m. 

Dowel: A short length of wood, round in section, used for a variety of purposes such as joining timbers, plugging fixing holes etc.

Eaves: The bottom edge of a roof that meets the walls of the structure. This is also where the water is collected into the gutter.

Fibreboard: A lightweight and weak manufactured board often used when making cheaper furniture.

Grain: The appearance, size and direction of the fibres of the timber.

Hardboard: Manufactured board made with compressed particles of wood formed together. One side of the board smooth with the other side rough. Hardboard in sheet form is often used and subfloor covering to give a smooth and flat surface.

Joists: Lengths of timbers that support ceilings and floors, usually fixed in parallel.

Mitre: A 45 degree angle joint that neatly joins two pieces of timber together.

Stud wall: A timber framed internal wall faced with plasterboard that is non-load bearing.

While this should be enough to get you started on the theory side of things, the next step is to find the correct carpentry training that can offer you exactly what you need. You might want to gain qualifications and seek employment as a professional carpenter, or alternatively you could simply be looking tp build up your DIY skill set properly. Access Training offer a range of carpentry courses to suit both parties, and are available to everyone no matter their background or skill level. To find out more about what we can give you, take a look at our courses page or give our team a call on 0800 345 7492.

Continuing our series of glossaries to help getting budding tradesmen and DIY enthusiasts on their way, we next turn to the world of tiling. Can't tell a grout from an adhesive? The term "base row" got you confused? Here's a list of some of the most common tiling definitions to help get you started;

Base row: This is your first row of tiles. Laying this is an important stage of tiling, as this provides the foundations for the rest of the tiles. These tiles must be straight, so be sure to use a spirit level.

Bond:  The adherence of one material to another. Effective bonds must be achieved between the scratch coat and mortar, between the mortar and tile, and between the backing and adhesive.

Border Tile: Borders add colour, pattern and texture to a tiling scheme and are available in porcelain, ceramic, glass and natural stone.

Fixing Time:  The length of time, after applying an adhesive, that the tiles can be fixed.

Grout: A cement-like setting mix used for filling in the gaps between tiles once the adhesive has set. It is available in a range of different colours.

Grout sealant/sealer: Most grouts are porous, meaning they absorb water over time which can cause problems with mould, damp and dirt. To prevent this, a grout sealant is applied over the grout once it has set.

Mounted Tile:  Tiles that have been assembled into sheets or units onto suitable material to facilitate handling and installation. They may be back-mounted, face-mounted or edge-mounted.

Set Time:  The time, usually in hours, after which a bonded tile can be grouted and/or walked upon without affecting the bond. The set time for ready mixed adhesives varies greatly depending on the materials used.

Spacers: Cross-shaped plastic pieces that are used to ensure an equal gap between tiles when laying them.

Tanking:  Applying a liquid waterproof membrane, usually incorporating a mesh, in areas such as showers to protect moisture sensitive background substrates from water impregnation.

Tile Adhesive: A special type of glue used for bonding tiles to a surface. There are different varieties available depending on the area to be tiled, such as standard, waterproof and heatproof adhesives. Standard adhesive should only be used if the area you are tiling will not come into contact with water.

However knowing these definitions is only going to help you so much. To be able to tile kitchens, bathrooms and more to a professional standard, what you'll need is an intensive tiling training course. Access Training offer a number of tiling courses that will not only provide DIYers with the skills they need for their latest home rennovation project, but also the qualifications trainee tilers need for a long and rewarding career in the tiling industry. For more information visit our courses page or contact us on 0800 345 7492 to book your place today!

Following our plumbing glossary yesterday, Access Training have also put together a brief post covering common electrical terms that will be handy for all the aspiring electricians out there - whether they're DIY enthusiasts or aiming for a professional career.

Bonding: The process by which all metal parts in a circuit are electrically connected together and then linked to a real earth. This is done to prevent any metal component within a building becoming dangerous should it become live due to an electrical fault or damage. Any fault should cause the circuit protection device to operate and isolate the incoming mains.

BS 7671: Currently in its 17th Edition, this is the UK national safety standard for electrical installation work.

Consumer Unit: These are used to control and distribute electricity around the home. They usually contain a mains switch, fuses/circuit breakers and one or more residual current devices.

Earthing: In the event that there is a fault in the circuit, this will minimise the risk of an electric shock. It provides a path for the faulty current to flow safely to earth, causing the protective device (such as a fuse) to disconnect the circuit and stop the danger. An electrician should check that the earthing and bonding is satisfactory before starting any work.

Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR): A report on the condition of your electrical wiring, containing an overall assessment of the safety of the wiring, observations on its condition, and a number of recommendations (in order of priority) for action (if any is required) to restore the wiring to a satisfactory condition for continued safe use. These were formerly known as Periodic Inspection Reports (PIRs).

Flush-fitted: These are electrical switched or sockets that have been installed so that their back boxes are contained within the wall or ceiling, making only the front plates visible. This often looks nicer than surface mounted connections but usually requires chasing to complete.

Miniature Circuit Breaker (MCB): These are automatic protective devices fitted into fuse boxes. They will disconnect a circuit should there be a fault or overload.

Part P: The specific section of the Building Regulations for England and Wales, which relates to electrical installations in domestic properties.

Surface-mounted: This is when switches and sockets are installed on top of a surface rather than behind it. While it is less seamless than flush-fitted installations, it causes less disruption to any decoration that surface may have.

Two Way Switch:  Switches which can be used in pairs so that either can turn a light on or off. Each switch has terminals allowing them to be linked using Three Core and Earth cable.

Of course once again this is only a very brief look at some of the things electricians come across on a daily basis, and is no substitute for proper comprehensive electrical training. If you would like to find out more about what it takes to become an electrician, earn valuable skills and the qualifications to go professional - Access Training have exactly what you need. With courses suitable for both trainees and homeowners looking to do a spot of DIY on their property, now has never been a better time to gain a better understanding of the electrical trade. Please visit the courses section of our website or alternatively get in touch with our team on 0800 345 7492.

Tiles

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...

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.

common electrical problems

Some electrical problems are more common than others, and not everyone requires an intensive electrician course or professional qualification to deal with the issue at hand. With this in mind, here's a short list of five of the most common household electrical problems, and how they can be fixed with ease.

1. No power from an electrical socket

This common household electrical problem could be due to a number of things, some of which you will be able to fix yourself without the aid of a professional electrician. Usually, it's down to a tripped circuit breaker, or perhaps the fuse has gone.

Alternatively, it could be because of a loose wire somewhere. It's easy to check whether the circuit breaker has tripped or the fuse has blown, but if its neither of these you may need the aid of a power tester/voltage meter. If the test results in low or no power, it probably means the wiring is loose somewhere and requires further inspection.

2. Flickering lights

Again, this household electrical problem could be due to any number of reasons. Flickering lights or those that do not turn on/off when commanded are usually due to a larger problem, as is a buzzing sound you'll hear when the lights are on. The simple answer is that you might be using the wrong wattage light bulb, but it could also be a case of a bad connection. Whatever it is, in most cases this can be fixed by simply changing the bulb.

3. Half the house lights have gone off

We've probably all been here at some point. Usually, this household electrical problem can be fixed by locating your house's fuse box and flipping the switch (be sure all the light switches are off in the affected area though!). However once again it could be a short fuse or loose wiring somewhere. You might be able to locate this with your voltage tester/power meter but it's recommended that you call an electrician if needed.

4. Strange smell coming from switch/socket

When the circuit connection of an electrical device is damaged, the electricity jumps to complete the circuit. Not only creating this smell but also potentially resulting in a fire as the electricity zaps anything along the way. Electrical device arcing also indicates a serious damage to both the socket and electrical device. You'll need to unplug the appliance immediately and seek the help of a professional.

5. Hot switches

This usually occurs in dimming switches when they are running bulbs that are equal to or less than 600 Watts. When this happens, achieve the wattage required to run the dimmer properly by adding the right amount of bulbs. However, if it's the wall socket that's hot, you need to use a voltage meter to look for a high decrease or increase in voltage.

Hopefully, this post has helped you in being able to identify some of the common electrical problems you might find at home, and what you can do to fix them. However it is important to know your limitations, and NEVER attempt something that should be performed by a professional electrician.

If you would like to find out more, Access Training offer a DIY Electrical course in addition to our professional qualification courses, giving you the opportunity to practice your DIY electrical skills under the tutelage of industry professionals. For more information 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.

With the recession only just behind us and various other money troubles coming into play, it isn't surprising that the country as a whole has adopted some sort of "DIY Nation" mentality of late. And while its encouraging that more and more people are picking up tools and having a go at something they could perhaps do without the aid of a trained professional, this is something that could potentially affect the amount of work of those with the qualifications. However, a recent study has revealed that this might actually not be the case.

The study, commissioned by business insurance broker Swinton Commercial, took a sample of 100 tradesmen and women across the UK and found that in fact business is booming due to the number of botched jobs performed by budding DIYers. 20% of the plumbers who took part said that it often accounted for up to 84% of their workload! A further 25% said that they were regularly called out to fix DIY mishaps at business, while 100% of them were in agreement that over-ambitious DIYers are putting themselves and others at risk.

Some of the jobs reported included:

 

  • A waitress in a cafe attempting to repair a commercial boiler using a bread knife and scissors while the unit was still live.
  • An unsecured bath where overflows were running into the ceiling void. Lead pipes had been left and fudged into the copper pipes, with boxing made from MDF absorbing water.
  • A basin tap fitted without a sealing washer, causing a large water leak, which ran through the ceiling in the hallway.

 

So how does this affect you? If you consider yourself a DIY enthusiast and often do this sort of work, it's vital that you know what you're doing before you start. Access Training offer a number of DIY training courses in plumbing, electric and various construction trades. These courses outline what you're capable of doing around the house on your own not just safely, but legally as well. Knowing when a job is too difficult for you is extremely important, and there's no substitute for the work of a professional tradesman when it is needed. 

Full story: http://www.hpmmag.com/newsitem.asp?newsID=2089

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.

Loft insulation is an excellent means of helping to save energy and prevent heat from escaping from our homes. With high cost of fossil fuels in today’s economic climate, and these fuels progressively running out, we shouldn’t be so frugal by putting things in the loft after the extra thickness has been added. After all, just because we might not have paid to have it installed doesn’t mean we should ignore the purpose for which it is intended for - TO SAVE US MONEY! Not only that, but to save on the resources which are only getting more expensive for energy companies to get at and transport to us. We are all guilty of storing things in the loft, and surely these items are not really needed if they’ve been put away from view?

The loft is not an ideal temperature-controlled space in our houses and we are endangering things that could be damaged by the cold and moisture that can form there. Sometimes we have to be brutal with what we are storing and just get rid of it. Let the lagging do the job it’s intended to for and financially you will benefit once your loft has been lagged to the new standards. DON’T put things up there again – your house will stay warmer for longer and you will be happier and wealthier. You also will be reducing your carbon footprint, which is vital to the planet and our descendants for the future. There are a considerable number of ways you can lower your carbon footprint, but many are still quite expensive and take a number of years to pay for themselves. Loft insulation is the cheapest form of energy conservation there is as it’s free to everyone – so why not take advantage of this?

- Mark Lewis

Not all electrical work requires a trained professional. Minor tasks such as replacing a light switch can be performed without having to notify your Local Authority Building Control Department, however they still must be done to current Building and Electrical regulation standard.

While there are a wide variety of different types of light switch you might find in the home (including pull-cord switches, narrow architrave switches and rotary dimmers), here is a guide to the most basic of them – the one-way and two-way switch. The difference between them is that two-way switches are used where there is more than one switch connected to the same light (e.g. at the top and bottom of the stairs).

Safety first

Before you start ANY sort of electrical work make sure the power is switched off at the main consumer unit OR switch off the relevant circuit breaker and lock it if you can. Then make sure that the circuit is indeed dead using a voltage tester/meter. Also take note that since 2006 the core colours inside electrical cables have changed. In the new two-core-and-earth cable, the live or phase core is insulated in a brown sheath rather than red. The neutral core is now blue as opposed to black.

What you will need:

  • Voltage tester/meter
  • Side cutters Screwdrivers
  • Green/yellow earth sleeving
  • Suitable replacement plateswitch (1 or 2-way)
  • Screws
  • Brown PVC electrical tape or sleeving

For one-way switches:

Step 1: Isolate the circuit and then confirm that the power is off using your voltage tester. Unscrew the switch faceplate and pull it forward, revealing the connections behind. These terminals will usually be marked something like L1, L2 and COM.

Step 2: Draw a diagram so that you remember which colour and number of wires were attached to each terminal. Then release the terminal screws and pull the cores from them. If the earth core is properly insulated in green/yellow sleeving and connected to the mounting box, leave this attached.

Step 3: Connect these cores to the correct terminals of the new switch, using your diagram as a reference. Tighten the screws and check they are clamping the cable cores firmly by gently tugging the wires.

Step 4: If there isn’t one already, fit a length of brown sleeving over the blue core to indicate that it is a switched live.

Step 5: If it’s not already fitted, put some green/yellow sleeving over the bare earth core of the incoming cable and connect it to the earthing terminal of the mounting box. If you’re using a metal switch, be sure to earth the switch faceplate as well.

Step 6: Double check that each connection is secure, then push the cable back into the mounting box and fit the faceplate.

 

For two-way switches:

While this is similar to a one-way switch there will normally be three cores to the cables – coloured brown (formally red), black (yellow) and grey (blue). Again these terminals will be labelled something like L1-3 and COM.

Step 1: Isolate the circuit and make sure the power is off with your voltage tester.

Step 2: Remove the faceplate from the existing switch and disconnect the cable cores.

Step 3: Note which colour goes to which terminal (write it down if you think you’ll forget!) and then transfer them to the corresponding terminals on the new switch.

 

While this is simply a brief guide to some of the electrical work you can do yourself around the home, more technical electrical work will require you to have a Part P qualification if you wish to carry it out yourself. If you are interested in learning about more work you can do or achieving Part P qualification then the best way is to learn from one of Access Training’s comprehensive electrical training courses. Offering professional qualifications to both aspiring and existing electricians as well as DIY courses, there truly is something for everyone regardless of age, gender, background or experience.

Contact Access Training on 0800 345 7492 for more information or to arrange a visit of our training facilities.

Although Part P Building regulations require a qualification to undertake extensive electrical work in your own home, minor tasks such as replacing damaged sockets or light switches can be done without having to notify your Local Building Authority Control Department. In this post we'll take you through a few simple steps to replace a plug socket or alternatively change a single one into a double.

Safety first

Before you start ANY sort of electrical work make sure the power is switched off at the main consumer unit or switch of the relevant circuit breaker and lock it if you can. Then make sure that the circuit is indeed dead using a socket tester. Make sure to also have protective gloves and safety goggles on you at all times.

Also take note that since 2006 the core colours inside electrical cables have changed. In new two-core-and-earth cables, the live/phase core is insulated in a brown sheath as opposed to a red one and the neatural core is now blue rather than black. If you are connecting old and new cables together, take extra care to make sure that the cores are attached by their corresponding colours.

What you will need:

  • Socket tester & socket template
  • Screwdriver
  • Pipe and cable detector
  • Drill
  • Socket faceplate or new double socket
  • Wall plugs and screws
  • Mounting box
  • Green/Yellow pvc sleeving
To change a damaged socket:
Step 1: Confirm you have switched off the main power using your socket tester. Once sure unscrew the socket faceplate and pull it away from the wall. Keep the screws just in case the new ones don't fit.
Step 2: Loosen the terminal screws and release the cable cores. Should the insulation be heat damaged, cut back the cores and strip the ends. If the earth core is bare, cover it with the green/yellow sleeving.
Step 3: Connect the brown (or red) core(s) to the live terminal of the faceplate, the blue (black) ones to the neutral terminal and the earth core to the earth terminal. Tighten the screws fully and fit the new faceplate. When you have turned the power back on, use the socket tester again to check it is wired correctly

To change a single flush socket to a double:
Increasing the number of sockets in a room isn't as difficult as it might sound if you follow these simple steps...
Step 1: Isolate the circuit and then use the socket tester to make sure that it is dead. Unscrew the faceplate and disconnect the cables from the single socket mounting box.
Step 2: Knock out the middle section in the double box and pass the cables through. Mark where the screw holes are on the wall using a pencil, remove the box and drill.
Step 3: Screw the new box in place and connect the cables to the terminals. Fit the new faceplate and then test using the socket tester again once power has been restored.

Hopefully after reading this you'll feel confident enough to do these tasks yourself without having to pay for a professional electrician! However if you're interested in learning more about what electrical tasks you can perform at home with the right training, or alternatively hoping to gain qualifications to become an electrician - look no further than Access Training's range of bespoke electrical courses. From Part P to PAT Testing and wiring regulations to DIY, we offer something for everyone regardless of age, background or experience.

Contact Access Training on 0800 345 7492 for more information or arrange a visit of our training facilities.

Get in touch to learn more about our training courses!

First Name *
Surname *
Telephone Number *
E-mail address *
Ask A Question *
 
Security Character Security Character Security Character Security Character Security Character Security Character
Enter Letters (No Spaces) *