100% customer satisfaction is one of the main things we aim for here at Access Training, so it always pleases us to hear feedback from our former students on their course experience and the training company as a whole. You can view some of the older testimonials we've received on this very website, but below is one we received via email recently:

"I recently completed six weeks of training at Access, which included tiling, plumbing and electric. This training has allowed me to set up my own property maintenance and domestic electrics business as well as join a Competent Person Scheme.

None of this would have been possible without the support and guidance of the excellent staff in Cardiff. Quite simply they are some of the most down to earth, knowledgeable and professional people I have ever had the pleasure to be involved with.

The whole set up is a fantastic learning ground, particularly for military personnel and I have since written to our regional training advisors within the RAF who deal with resettlement training. The transition to civilian life could have been dull and daunting, but it’s been quite the reverse and the staff are a credit to their respective trades AND the company as a whole.

Often the administration side of an organisation gets missed when it comes to thank yous but the staff were ambassadors, making the whole process both simple and cost effective.

Not only have I recommended Access Training to a number of colleagues I look forward to returning in the future to extend my electrical qualifications further."

- Dougie Bon (Retired RAF Squadron Leader)

If you would like to take the steps toward a new career in a trade, give us a call on 0800 345 7492. We offer training courses in electric, plumbing & gas, plastering, tiling, carpentry, bricklaying, decorating and more. Each will provide you with the necessary qualifications to achieve a successful and enviable career in your chosen trade. You are also welcome to come take a visit of our Cardiff training centre, so you can see first hand the facilities and quality of teaching that we offer.

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.

 

Summer holidays on the Costas are with us once again. Lots of families are jetting off to spend a week or two in the sunshine. All looking to have fun and this will probably mean consuming large quantities of alcohol.

But we have become so reliant on our electrical and electronic gizmos; we all need an adapter to charge them up whilst we are in foreign lands. Our UK standard plugs will not fit into the sockets that we find in our ‘little paradise’.

Off we go to the local supermarket to purchase an adapter – but they are not cheap, so plan B comes into action. Off we go to the ‘cheap’ shop (you know the ones – everything’s a pound!). But is that cheap product safe? Probably not!

The above item is the subject of a “Product Recall” as it has been identified as being UNSAFE.

“The product poses a risk of electric shock because the user comes into contact with live parts when inserting the plug into the socket. The product does not comply with the relevant national standard BS1363.”

What a wonderful holiday – a couple of days in the sun followed by a couple of days in hospital receiving treatment for electric shock and/or electric burns; if you lucky. If you’re not you might be flying home baggage class in a wooden box!

You can’t put a price on safety; remember it might by your child that gets the shock of their lives!

For more information on this and other recalled products visit the Electrical Safety Council website at:

http://www.esc.org.uk/public/guides-and-advice/product-recalls/

- 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

Following the mixed response to the first official Green Deal figures, renewable energy measures have taken another hit as the frequently delayed domestic Renewable Heat Incentive hits another snag.

Last week Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne released his Comprehensive Spending Review, which featured the new budget for the RHI in the 2015-16 period. The figure is £430 million, which is only £6 million more than the 2014-15 figure.

Neil Schofield, head of government and external affairs at Worchester, Bosch Group, has suggested that this will effectively kill the measure, which is still yet to be introduced properly. After a number of delays, its proper introduction is currently scheduled for Spring 2014.

He went on to say: "The Chancellor is sending a clear message that the future is not renewable energy. The constant delays to the introduction of domestic RHI have led many in the heating industry to believe that there is no real commitment from the Coalition Government towards domestic renewables. The new policy of starving domestic RHI of vital cash effectively sounds the death knell for the scheme."

The domestic RHI is a scheme set to offer home owners significant financial rewards for installing renewable heat technologies such as biomass boilers, air source heat pumps, ground source heat pumps and more. These rewards come on top of the considerable fuel savings that come from switching over to renewable heat products.

Via Installer Online

The Department of Energy and Climate Change have released the first quarterly Green Deal statistics, which have been met to mixed response by leading industry professionals. These statistics show that almost 40,000 people so far have had an assessment carried out.

The key figures for up to the 16th June are:

  • 38,259 homes have had a Green Deal assessment
  • A rise in assessments every month: 7,491 in March, 9,522 in April, 12,146 in May
  • 241 customers have obtained a quote from a Green Deal Provider and have confirmed they wish to make energy efficient improvements to their home
  • Four customers have signed up to a Green Deal Plan and progress is being made to install energy efficient measures
  • 961 people have claimed cashback for a new boiler installation – 902 gas and 59 oil boilers
  • 1,254 installer organisations are accredited and qualified to work within the Green Deal.
Plumb Center's Head of Sustainability Tim Polland has praised these figures, remarking that "40,000 assessments is a significant marketplace and installers will know that represents more than a fad – I can’t imagine any installer not thinking it’s a good thing." He expressed optimism that the scheme would continue to grow past "those who are passionate about the scheme" and that stressed:"...the people at the heart of Green Deal knew it wasn’t going to produce a tsunami of demand at the start, it was going to be a scheme of longevity and the time to judge is at its end, not its beginning."

On the other side of the argument, HHIC (Heating & Hotwater Industry Council) Director Roger Webb considered the figures "very disappointing". He went on to say: "However, on a positive note, they will be a wake-up call for the government to simplify the scheme and to really engage with the small installer. It is not too late for the Green Deal as the scheme has hardly got off the ground and further action will be required to reform the scheme. The heating industry from the success of the cashback incentive want to stress that figures prove that changing a boiler is one of the key routes to gain consumer interest in the Green Deal and enabling further measures to be taken up."

Meanwhile, earlier last week it was revealed that a cross-section of industry leaders had written to all three main political parties in an attempt to persuade them to come together to ensure that the Green Deal doesn't fail. The letter was addressed to energy secretary Ed Davey (Liberal Democrat), minister Greg Barker (Conservative) and shadow energy minister Luciana Berger (Labour) can be viewed in its entirety below;

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We are taking the unusual step of writing the same letter to all three of the main political parties, setting out our major concerns with current retrofit policy and our belief that we can only address this most urgent of challenges with a greater degree of cross party consensus, and collaboration between government and industry.

Government’s own figures show that meeting our legally binding carbon targets requires a high level of retrofit across the UK’s 26 million domestic properties, at an average of one home per minute between now and 2050. Clearly this is a monumental task, but it also represents a tremendous opportunity: to reduce energy bills, improve health, provide jobs in the construction sector, and avoid additional costs of new generating capacity.

However, to have any chance of successfully tackling this, it will require government – either this one, or indeed any future one – to address the following major issues:

Green Deal interest rates: The current rate of interest for Green Deal finance is in danger of acting as a major disincentive to take up, as well as minimising the extent of the measures available in a Green Deal package. Taking inspiration from the effect of recent government intervention to support new build homes, government should explore, with stakeholders, what options are available to reduce risk associated with providing Green Deal finance – even if this means greater intervention in the market.

Long term structural incentives: Even if Green Deal was available at a much lower cost of finance, long term structural incentives would still be needed to ensure sufficient uptake. Council tax or stamp duty could be used to send a signal to consumers and the market on the direction of travel, and both could be applied in a fiscally neutral way to HMT. Regulation could also be used, in particular Consequential Improvements, which government itself has estimated would lead to an additional 2.2 million Green Deals being taken up.

Stakeholder engagement: There needs to be a better on-going dialogue between government and those trying to deliver the Green Deal on the ground, in order to overcome obstacles, reduce unnecessary complexity, identify future issues and learn lessons. At the very least this should take place through a high level industry advisory board co-chaired by a minister and a senior industry figure. It could also involve a more operational body, or ‘hub’, which government has previously expressed support for.

Long-term certainty and political consensus: There is an increasing sense that the Green Deal, and indeed energy bills more generally, are being used as a political football, which is not good for confidence in the market. These challenges will affect any party, or parties, of government and very bold decisions will be required. We believe there needs to be a new consensus forged between the main parties around retrofit, to depoliticise what is ultimately a long-term challenge that it is in the nation’s interest to successfully address.

Yours sincerely,

  • Paul King - Chief executive, UK Green Building Council
  • James Cameron - Chairman, Climate Change Capital
  • Mark Clare - Group chief executive of Barratt Developments Plc
  • John Frankiewicz - CEO, Willmott Dixon Capital Works
  • Peter Hindle - general delegate, UK, Ireland and South Africa, Saint Gobain
  • Ian Marchant - CEO, SSE Plc
  • Gene Murtagh - CEO, Kingspan Group Plc
  • John Sinfield - Chief Executive, Knauf Insulation
  • Russell Smith - Managing director, Parity Projects & acting chairman of RetrofitWorks
  • Nigel Taylor - Chief operating officer, Services, Carillion Plc
  • Peter Walls - CEO, Gentoo

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