Nominations are now open for Heating Installer of the Year 2016!

This is a brand new award that's been organised by Installer Magazine in partnership with Continental Underfloor. They're looking for the UK's best heating installers and engineers, and if you work in either capacity, you could be in the running!

If you'd like to be considered for the award, you'll need to visit the Heating Installer of the Year website and submit your details using the online entry form. If you'd like to nominate somebody else for the award, that's OK too - you'll need the following details to hand:
  • Name of the installer and their business
  • Gas Safe registration/MCS accreditation number (if applicable)
  • Their contact details
  • Images and details of the project they completed for you
  • A short testimonial from yoursefl
The deadline for entries is the 12th of February 2016. 11 regional winners will be chosen from the list of nominees; the best of those 11 will then receive the national prize at Installer2016 in May. The regions are as follows:
  • East of England
  • East Midlands
  • North East
  • North West
  • Northern Ireland
  • Scotland
  • South East
  • South West
  • Wales
  • West Midlands
  • Yorkshire and the Humber
If you think that your plumber/heating engineer could take home the top award, then be sure to nominate them! These tradesmen and women do great work every day throughout the UK, and their efforts deserve to be rewarded.

Of course, if you're thinking of becoming a heating installer, then that's something we at Access Training can help with. We offer a number of gas courses and plumbing courses for people of all skill levels, so whether you're an absolute beginner or an experienced candidate looking to turn your skills into industry-recognised qualifications, please get in touch today. Who knows? You could win Heating Installer of the Year in 2017! 

The Chartered Institute of Plumbing & Heating Engineering (CIPHE) have joined forces with BSE sector skills council SummitSkills to launch a research project exploring various aspects of the plumbing and heating sector.

The main area being explored by the project is the current apprenticeship system, specifically how EngTech registrations are working and how both can be maximised for the sector. Considering attitudes towards professional registration and competence schemes, assessing the potential for apprenticeships to meet future skills requirements and understanding the perceived value of EngTech registration are included within the research objectives.

Research will be carried out via a series of focus groups and questionnaires to be completed over the next few weeks, culminating with a report launching in the House of Lords next month.

"This is an excellent initiative which provides a great opportunity for industry to collaborate and safeguard future apprenticeships," said Kevin Wellman, Chief Executive Officer of the CIPHE. "Quality vocational training and relevant practical experience leading to Engineering Council registration is becoming increasingly important for all plumbing professionals, which is something that all our Industry Stakeholder Group partners recognise."

For more information on the research, contact Jacqui Chivers of Summit Skills on 07834 868947.

With the planned building of millions of new homes across the UK well underway, many are also expecting a rise in new buyers over the next few years as Britain enjoys a well-needed construction boom. 

With this in mind, OFTEC - the group responsible for maintaining standards across the domestic oil heating and cooking industry, is offering some practical advice to those first-time buyers who may soon begin their search for the perfect home. This advice isn't just aimed at buyers of brand new homes either - it's especially geared toward those who may take on an existing home and not know what to look for in terms of their heating/hot water systems. Heating problems may be difficult to spot with the naked eye, especially to someone who hasn't done a plumbing training course or extensive gas training, but OFTEC offer these handy bits of advice to make sure you can walk into your new home with both buyer's satisfaction and peace of mind.

Be sure to check the boiler

Has it has had any problems in the past? When was the last time it was serviced? Boilers should be serviced annually for a number of reasons, mainly to make sure that is running efficiently and more importantly safely. If you are really unsure, it might be worth asking the current homeowner if you can have it looked at beforehand by a professional gas engineer.

Check the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

These give potential buyers valuable information about the property's typical energy usage and costs. An EPC grades the property’s energy efficiency from A to G and contains two particularly important areas - current features and recommendations for improving the home. The current features section lists the most significant energy-related features of the property and gives them a star rating based on cost. The recommendations give more information about each energy efficiency measure recommended and explains in general terms how it would improve the energy efficiency of the home.

How much do you know about the hot water system?

How is it heated? It might be worth checking the water pressure to make sure it is all up to scratch.

Know the warning signs

Occurances such as stained/smoke damaged areas around the boiler and flue are not to be ignored and should be treated VERY seriously. If any properties you view have these, make sure that a registered gas safe engineer doesn't just look at them for your safety - but also for the safety of the current homeowners. Other telltale signs of bad maintenance include leaks and staining on carpets near radiators.

Getting the house properly checked

OFTEC recommend getting valuations, an RICS homebuyer’s report or even a full structural survey. The valuation carried out by a mortgage company is not a survey, and will not inform you if there are any defects that materially affect the property’s value.

 

However the most important thing OFTEC recommend is trusting your instinct. if you think there is something wrong with the property, then don't just discard those feelings. However if you get a good feeling this may be the house for you - minor problems can easily fixed by competent tradespeople, but be sure to make sure the costs aren't racking up before you've even moved in!

Via InstallerOnline

Despite the advances in electric fires and other forms of household heating, gas fires are still proving to be the number one choice for homes. So if you're looking to go out and get your gas certificate to become a qualified engineer, you'll be pleased to know that business is just as good as ever.

As well as the authenticity and flame effect which prove highly popular among the public, gas is still the cheapest fuel to run. On average, 1kW of gas supplied by British Gas costs just 4.662p (incl VAT) compared to nearly 14.259p (incl VAT) for 1kW of electricity - a number that seems to only be going up these days. Not only that, running a gas fire is actually more beneficial to the environment too, as it delivers half the CO2 emissions of an electric fire.

Gas fires are also far more efficient than they were back in the 80s, with developments in technology making them capable of delivering heat efficiencies of over 80% and heat outputs of 4.0kW - more than enough to heat your living room! But most of all a gas fire is reliable - if by chance your boiler were to break down over the winter (say, due to condensation freeze), you'll still be able to keep safe and warm until everything is back up and running.

Gas heating is just as vital now as it was 20 years ago, and Britain will continue to need engineers who have received the proper gas training. At Access Training you'll be able to learn all about the gas trade on one of our intensive training courses, eventually going on to complete a guaranteed work placement and subsequent ACS assessments. After that you'll be able to join the Gas Safe register and legally work on all forms of gas installation and appliance in the UK. Reckless gas maintenance can cost people their lives, so we're sure to make sure ALL of our students are training to the required professional standard.

To find out more give Access Training a call on 0800 345 7492.

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.

According to new research commissioned by ADEY Professional Heating Solutions, installers and heating engineers might have a huge opportunity at their fingertips.

It seems that millions of homeowners across the UK are failing to maintain their central heating systems properly, resulting in not only a loss of efficiency but a reduced lifespan and an increase in the amount of energy needed to heat homes. Their research looked at more than 1300 homeowners across the UK, with only 55% of them confirming that they have their boiler serviced annually. One in 20 even said that they considered it an unneccesary expense!

ADEY also found that 45% of homeowners claim to have a boiler between 10 and 15 years old, with 25% who have lived in their current home for more than 15 years saying that they have never once had their boiler serviced. Furthermore, almost a third (30%) of homeowners have a problem with their central heating system, with one in 20 suffering from low heat levels. One in 10 people put up with noisy pipework in their homes – a common indicator of debris in the heating system – and 15% of people admitted they turn the thermostat up to try to fix their boiler, burning more fuel than necessary on a healthy heating system.

Consumer/environmental broadcaster Lucy Siegle said: "Boilers are the 'forgotten workhorses' of our homes. We expect them to carry on pumping away without any TLC, but homeowners need to understand that a well-maintained system costs less to run. This is where installers have a great opportunity to use their insider knowledge and help their customers counter rising energy bills by ensuring their heating systems work safely and efficiently."

ADEY’s commercial director Rebekah Howard added: "The results of our research suggest that many people don’t understand the benefits that having an annual boiler service will bring, and worryingly, just let their good old boiler in the corner keep chugging away without giving it any attention.

"The current climate presents installers with a timely opportunity to be telling customers how a well-maintained and efficient boiler can help save money on heating bills, reduce the risk of it breaking down when it’s cranked up to keep them warm, and ensure it’s safe to use. Installers can be assured that many of their customers will welcome this advice, as three quarters of homeowners surveyed wanted to know about the simple changes they can make to the central heating to reduce energy bills."

More findings from the search can be seen in the infographic below:

Via HVP Magazine

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By becoming a qualified heating engineer, you too will be able to seize this opportunity for work. Not only that, but the life of a qualified plumber/engineer is varied, challenging and pays extremely well. You'll find yourself not only with a skill you'll have for the rest of your life, but a career that's never short of new work. But before any of this can happen, you'll need that right training and qualifications. Offering plumbing and gas engineer courses as both separate and combined packages, Access Training Academies is dedicated to helping students attain their goal of becoming professionally qualified, taking those first steps toward a brand new career. To find out more about how our courses can help you, contact one of our course advisers on 0800 345 7492 and book your place today!

Q: What do I do if my radiator panel is leaking?

This is due to the metal corroding/rusting, and the first sign of it happening is that the floor under the radiator gets wet when the heating is on. The first thing to do is to turn off both radiator valves to stop any more fluid being lost from the pipe system, which can affect the boiler and the rest of the radiators. Place a container under the radiator to catch any more drips of fluid.

If you don't have any plumbing knowledge it would be more cost effective to employ a qualified plumber/heating engineer to do the work required - the immediate emergency has been dealt with, and you can afford to get some quotes for the work to be done. It shouldn't cost an arm and a leg, as radiator panels are readily available for most plumbing merchants if it's a standard style (i.e. a flat straight panel, not once that has been bowed for a curved wall like a bay window). So for the cost of the radiator panel and a few hours' labour time, the work should be completed to a satisfactory level.

For those of you who feel they have good mechanical experience and the correct tools, then you may want to attempt it yourself. Firstly you will have to measure the width and height of the radiator panel, and determine the style of radiator. If you're not sure, stand as close as possible to it, look directly down at the top and take a photo of the top edge. Show the assistant at the plumbing merchant and they'll be able to give you a similar one.

Once you have purchased the radiator you will need to drain the old one and dismantle the fittings. The tools required for the change-over are a masonry drill and drill-bit of the appropriate size for the wall plug you will be using (red wall plugs and a 6mm masonry drill-bit for example). Use pozi-drive screws rather than slotted head ones, as there's less chance of the screwdriver slipping. When using the driver, the screw should be at least an inch and a half to two inches long for large radiators.

For plasterboard walls a toggle bolt is one of the many fixings suitable for this type of wall. You'll need two adjustable spanners, a radiator bleed key and possibly a radiator valve key (this looks like an oversized Allen key). With the two adjustable spanners, one is used to hold the top of the radiator valve (with the head taken off) to stop it rocking on the pipe when you undo the nut to panel connection. For draining and disconnection, if you have a combination boiler turn the heating controls off so that the heating system cools down before starting on the replacement. Then affter changing the radiator you will need to repressurize the system to 1 Bar for up to 10 radiators. If you have a standard or back boiler the heating controls still need to be off, so that the pump is not running when you refill the exchanged radiator.

Before starting to drain you might want to put a bin liner on the floor with an old towel on top to catch any spills you might get under the radiator valve. When the radiator starts to drain from the nut you will need to open the little air bleed at the top on one end to allow all the fluid to drain out. When this has finished, again put a bin liner and old towel under the the other radiator valve. Now you can undo both valve-to-panel nuts all the way.

With these nuts undone, and depending on the size of the radiator you will have to gently move the pipes with the valves on towards the wall to enable you to put your thumb over the hole that will be there on the radiator. Lift the radiator off the brackets, keeping your thumbs over the holes and the radiator vertical so that it can be taken to a safe area to drain any sludge that occurs at the bottom of the radiator down a sewer drain.

The new radiator can be dressed with the new fittings for the top and the old fittings at the bottom. As for the joining of the new radiator and valves, it will have to be hung on new brackets. Then you can join the valves and the panel together via the nuts, again using the two adjustable spanners to do up the valve nuts in the same way you undone them. Make sure that the new air bleed at the top of the radiator is shut, and open both radiator valves at the same time to allow the pressure from both pipes to refill the radiator panel. You can then bleed the air from the valve at the top at one end until water comes out. For a combination boiler you will need to refill the system to 1 Bar, via the filling point directly under the boiler. With the pressure obtained turn the filling point off. With a standard/back boiler this will self-fill from the little plastic container in the loft. With the radiator bled of air it will be safe to turn the heating controls back on and get the radiators hot again.

- Mark Lewis

 

After reading this are you tempted to have a go at this or various other DIY tasks yourself? Or even considering a new career as a professional plumber? At Access Training we provide a number of professional plumbing courses suitable for whether you're looking to gain industry-standard qualifications and become a plumber or simply looking to gain some new skills for your home renovation projects. For more information contact us on 0800 345 7294.

The Government has sparked more frustration from industry members as it announced yet another delay to the start of the long-awaited Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).

The scheme, which was designed to encourage renewable heating systems to be installed in domestic properties and offer money towards those who have fitted renewable heating products, was meant to launch this Autumn but has now been pushed back until Spring 2014.

Greg Barker, the Energy and Climate Change Minister, said: "The RHI, which has been available for non-domestic investors for over a year, is a key part of our approach to cutting carbon and driving forward the move to more sustainable low carbon heating alternatives."

"We remain committed to introducing an incentive scheme for householders too, and have set out an updated timetable for its launch alongside new plans to extend our renewable heat voucher scheme in the meantime."

However this isn't enough for many leading industry members, who have vocally expressed their disappointment at the delay. Jim Moore, of leading heating and boiling manufacturers the Vaillant Group has said: "The Government now needs to deliver on its latest deadline to assist in stimulating increased uptake of renewables in the UK as has been demonstrated as effective in so many European markets."

Elsewhere, chief executive of the Micropower Council Dave Sowden has commented: "Taken with the delay in confirmed the next steps of the 'zero carbon homes' policy, the announcement is forcing the industry to question whether the Coalition is serious about promoting domestic renewable heat during this Parliament."

Coinciding with this announcement was also an action plan looking at the potential to cut emissions from heat across the whole of the UK economy. It focuses on a number of key actions in an attempt to spur on the move to low carbon heating alternatives and drive forward green growth. These include;

  • A £9 million package to help local authorities get heat network schemes up and running in towns and cities across the country, with a new Heat Networks Delivery Unit to sit within the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) providing expert advice.
  • £1 million for Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Sheffield and Nottingham to help them develop heat networks.
  • 100 green apprenticeships to be funded primarily for young people in small scale renewable technologies.
  • Up to £250,000 for a new first-come-first-served voucher scheme for heating installers to get money off the cost of renewable heating kit installation training, with up for £500 or 75% of the cost of the training per person.
  • Working with individual industrial sectors to design long-term pathways to cut carbon across UK industry.