Tradesman fixing a boiler

When it comes to working as a tradesperson, there are no shortage of career avenues available. One popular option is to become self-employed; there are many benefits to being your own boss, so it's not hard to see why so many people are drawn to this route.

In fact, the opportunity to become self-employed is one of the main reasons why so many people choose to learn a trade in the first place.

If you're interested in training to become a tradesperson, you might be looking to find out a little more about what potential career opportunities will be available to you once you've completed your training. If so, this blog has relevant information for you.

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Need to complete a plastering DIY job but have absolutely no idea where to start? Considering a career change to plastering but lack the expertise to make it happen? Fear not, Access Training is on hand to help prepare you for whatever it is that lies ahead. Like with all trades, the first step is to take a look at exactly what it is and understand some of the terms and definitions you'll come across. To assist with this, we've put together a brief list of some of the common plastering definitions to get you started;

Accelerator: A material that shortens the setting time of plasters and other cement-like materials.

Admixture: Any substance added to a plaster component or plaster mortar for the purpose of modifying its properties.

Aggregate: Granular material that does not contribute to the hardening reaction of the mortar.

Bonding Mortar: A mortar to produce a first bonding coat in a multicoat system. Usually applied in a thin coat.

Correction Time: The maximum time interval during which adjustment is possible without significant loss of final strength. This may be also referred to as adjustability.

Dot and Dab: A technique used to attach plasterboard to walls using small lumps of adhesive.

Float: A tool or procedure used to straighten and level the finish coat, to correct surface irregularities prodDouced by other tools, or to bestow a distinctive surface texture.

Grout:  A mortar or paste for filling crevices, esp. the gaps between wall or floor tiles

Hawk: A tool used by plasterers to hold and carry plaster.

Mortar: A plastic mixture composed of water and a cementitious material, which may be machine or hand applied, and which hardens in place.

Screed: To level or straighten a plaster coat application with a rod, darby or other similar tool

Setting Time: The time after which the mortar begins to harden. After this time the mortar is normally stable in the presence of water.

Substrate: Immediate surface to which the mortar is to be applied. In the case of a coating to be applied to an existing render, the render would be the coating's substrate.

Unsound: This refers to the condition of plaster where the hardened mass has lost internal strength, exhibiting cracking/spalling/delamination/etc. This general state may be contributed to by excessive aggregate addition, water damage, poor drying conditions, overwatering and other factors.

Now that you know some of the definitions you may come across when plastering, its time to have a go at the real thing. However attempting a job without proper training could not only prove expensive, but you might end up doing lasting damage to the wall or surface you're working on. To get the most rounded plastering experience the best option is a comprehensive plastering course from Access Training. With a variety of different courses for different skill levels, our experienced teaching staff will either fully prepare you for future DIY work or help you attain the vital qualifications needed to gain employment as a professional plasterer. With our courses open to people of all ages and backgrounds, you could just be a phonecall away from gaining a valuable new skill that will stay with you for the rest of your life. To find out more please take a look at our courses page or call us on 0800 345 7492.

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.

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.

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.

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