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.

In these days of high energy prices we are all looking for ways to save a few pounds on our electricity bills. I think I may have a way of achieving this saving -get your teenagers to move out of the family home!

A teenagers bedroom consumes large amounts of electricity, TV’s, games consoles, music systems, mobile phone chargers, lights, computers etc. all on at the same time and left on when not in use. Sounds familiar? Over a period of a year (multiplied by the number of teenagers in the home) equates to a large amount of energy being wasted.

We can try to educate them, but to no avail, they don’t listen or is it that they don’t understand? A friend noticed a vast difference in his energy bills once his teenager ‘flew’ the nest to go to university. He calculated that he was saving £10 a month on his electricity bill alone, that’s an annual saving of £120. It may not seem a vast amount of money but it’s a saving that has allowed him and his wife to start a new hobby together, allowing them to have ‘more’ quality time with each other.

He is also making savings on his heating costs as windows are not being left open for the heat to escape and the heating isn’t being left on when no one is in the house! Is the way to save money on energy bills as simple as getting the teenagers to move out? From where I’m sat it looks like a viable answer.

“You can’t do that!” I hear some of you scream. You could try putting timer switches on the sockets, so devices are not left on unnecessary. You could use lamps that are more energy efficient or of a small wattage. These are little things that could make a difference to your wallet at the end of each month.

- Mark Jenkins

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.

With Action Fraud recently reporting that fraudsters in Caerphilly have begun to use the Green Deal as a means of conning unwitting householders, it’s important that people know the basics when it comes to this new Government initiative.

The Green Deal’s aim is to encourage home and business owners to adopt more energy-saving technology in their properties, with the incentive of no upfront costs. Examples of possible improvements include:

  • Insulation (Such as loft or cavity wall insulation)
  • Heating
  • Draught-proofing
  • Double glazing
  • Solar panels/wind turbines

The installation cost will eventually be paid over time through your energy bill. What makes this unique is that the bill is attached to the property rather than the person, as this is where the money is being saved.

 

What to do to get involved

  • You will need to get an assessment of your property so that it can be determined what improvements can be made to your home. The assessor will also explain how much money you could be saving on your energy bill.
  • Choose a Green Deal provider to do the work for you. All Green Deal providers will have a mark of quality (pictured below) – it’s important you look out for this to make sure you are getting the right people for the job.

  • If you agree to the work, you will be signing a Green Deal Plan which is a contract stating what work is being done and how much it costs. Once the work is done, you’ll pay off the cost periodically through your electricity bill.

Further reading: https://www.gov.uk/green-deal-energy-saving-measures/?&gclid=CMjpsI3I6LYCFe3MtAod7kQAlw

http://www.greendealinitiative.co.uk/

The most common part of a building that usually requires new pointing after it’s been built is the chimney stack. Due to the adverse conditions put upon it, it’s not surprising that it requires re- pointing. Usually you will find that the old cement/mortar will come out fairly easy. A cavity wall tie is often used for this process when the bricks are hard, as no damage will occur to the arris (edge) of the brick. If the bricks are of a soft nature you could use a piece of wood cut down to the width of the joint. Failing this you could use a “plugging chisel” which is a tapered chisel and can be purchased from most building supplies.

PROCEDURE

Take out all the mortar/cement to a depth of no more than 15mm, ensuring you are wearing the appropriate P.P.E. (safety glasses. dust mask etc.) After all the mortar/cement has been taken out brush all the joints to make sure any loose material is removed. This also make sure the arrises are clean. Do not use a wire brush as this will damage the brick. Wash down the wall with clean water - stubborn patches or stains can be removed using a scrubbing brush. Allow the wall to dry out, if you don’t it will become difficult to point the wall and the bricks may get soiled with the mortar. Also the more water there is in the wall, the more shrinkage movement there may be when the wall dries out. If this happens (moisture trapped in the joints), the first sign of frost the moisture will freeze and will expand and the wall gets damaged.

MORTARS FOR POINTING

If the area to be pointed is built with hard bricks in exposed places, a mix of 2:1 is preferred. This is two parts sand to one part cement, not mixed to wet. For general brickwork a mix of 3:1 is preferred.

In Part 2 I will explain the procedure to carry out the pointing sequence.

- Richard James

 

If you would like to learn more about bricklaying or any of aspect of the construction trade, Access Training offer a wide variety of construction courses to both beginners and existing tradesmen in need of new/updated qualifications. If you would like to find out more upon what's on offer, give us a call on 0800 345 7492 and arrange a visit of our accredited training centre.

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