You don't have to take a plumbing course to know that there are a number of different things people can do to save water. Here are some of my suggestions for inside the home;

 

  • Getting smaller toilet cisterns which deliver 4 and 6 litre flushes
  • Water saving taps that aerate the water
  • Taking short showers rather than having a bath
  • Using a dishwasher that is full instead of washing a few items in a sink bowl
  • Using an A-rated washing machine, which not only saves water but also electricity
  • Brushing your teeth with a cup of water and not letting the tap run constantly
  • Having a fitting in your cold water pipe that enters the building to cut off the supply if there is a burst pipe or excessive loss of water (which would be considered abnormal usage)
  • Upgrading your open vented heating system to a sealed system
  • Changing the hot water open vented system (copper cylinder with stored water in the loft) to an unvented hot water system

Meanwhile here are some more tips for saving water outside;
  • Install a device that fits in the rainwater down pipe to divert the water to a barrel, where can collect the rainwater for garden use
  • Wash your vehicle with a bucket, not a hosepipe
  • Having a special water unit fitted underground to collect the rainwater. Here it can feed the toilets and washing machine as well as giving you the ability to water the garden from a dedicated hose (even in a hosepipe ban!). Also the water from the bath, showers and hand wash basins can be recycled with the rainwater.
Using some or all of these items will help conserve water. There is even a water purification unit that turns rainwater and "grey" water into drinking/bathing water again! Personally I think we should do whatever we can to not only save energy but also save on water usage. In the short terms this will help dramatically but in the long term will save you money, especially since suppliers have raised costs.

- Mark Lewis

If you are interested in learning more about plumbing and the range of water-saving alternatives out there, have you considered a career as a professionally qualified plumber? Access Training have a variety of plumbing courses available to those looking for industry qualifications and those looking to sharpen their DIY skills. For more information call 0800 345 7492 today.

 

At Access Training our bricklayer courses will train you up to the highest possible standard. However there have probably been instances where you've seen newly built houses or walls with high quality brickwork, only to see white patches unevenly spread over the structure. This is most probably "efflorescence" and this post aims to teach how you can help prevent it in your future work.

So what is efflorescence? It is the formation of (usually white) salt deposits on the surface of brickwork, which causes a change in appearance. Apart from the unsightly appearance and discolouration, efflorescence can sometimes indicate serious structural weakness.

While there is an agreement that it is caused by a multiple of factors being combined with materials, views differ as to which factor is the main cause of efflorescence. It is usually impossible to deduce the exact causes with absolute certainty.

To help prevent efflorescence, some factors to consider are;

Cement: The type/make of cement chosen can influence efflorescence in exceptional cases. Pigments in coloured cement and other admixtures added to the mortar may contribute to efflorescence through their salt content.

Aggregates: These can contribute to efflorescence if they contain soluble salts. Sand contaminated with salt is a major factor, therefore sands in close proximity to the sea are an obvious risk.

Salts: Soluble salt is present in the materials used to make bricks, therefore it is capable of being transported and deposited on the surface as efflorescence.

Water/Cement ratio: Generally a high water-cement ratio encourages the movement of water and salt through the brick, giving rise to efflorescence.

Mortar Constituents: The composition of mortar is of significance. Lime used should be hydrated and free from calcium sulphate. The use of unwashed sand or sand contaminated with salt, or pigments containing soluble salts can also contribute to efflorescence in brickwork.

The following practices may also cause efflorescence;

  • No protection from the rain, especially during construction.
  • Materials left uncovered on site.
  • Lack of drips on cills.
  • Poorly filled joints/bad workmanship.
Look forward to future articles which will cover other types of staining to brickwork - including lime staining, vanadium and peacocking.

If you are interested in learning more about bricklaying and would like to train professionally, Access Training have a variety of professional bricklaying courses available. Learn more by calling 0800 345 7492.

- Richard James

Full story: Support for Housebuilding should be chancellor's priority says CBI

It was roughly three years ago when the Government announced there was a considerable sum of money that was to be used for social housing building programmes. At the time of the announcement I was uplifted to think that the prospect could bring about an end to the recession. And being a country that isn't known for production, the only way we can produce a financial economy that breaks a recession is by a large scale house building programme.

With all the products used to build homes and all the new products that go into them, the wages earned by the construction workers goes back into the economy. Throughout my career on the tools, I was fortunate to go through two bad recessions - one in the late 80s and then another in the 90s, both of which I was constantly working within the M25 area doing new build work. I personally feel that, and the CBI agree, our most instant way to relieve this recession is to undertake a 50,000 new build affordable home project. If the Government had started their own social housing programme back then, things wouldn't have turned out the way they are today.

- Mark Lewis

Thinking of going self-employed? Need to join a Competent Person scheme? Well if you don't have the current entry requirements (an electrical installation qualification, 17th Edition Wiring Regulation qualification plus anything else your chosen scheme requires of you), you may well encounter problems if you haven't applied for membership by 6th April 2013.

As of this date entry requirements to a Competent Person scheme are changing. You will need a level 3 NVQ that includes installing electrical installations, Inspection and Testing of electrical installations and Ensuring Compliance of Electrical Installations with building regulations.

Sounds easy? A number of awarding bodies have produced relevant qualifications, but the problem will be the time it will take people to achieve the required level of competence and produce a portfolio as the proof that all the elements have been covered. I would suggest that you will be looking at 18+ months to put the portfolio together!

The knock-on effect of this will be that no one will be eligible to join a Competent Person scheme for some time, causing a void in so-called competent persons. Home owners may find it difficult to find existing electricians that are prepared to take on small jobs - such as installing extra sockets (these are the kind of jobs newly qualified persons use to gain experience), as the current competent electricians will be looking for bigger contracts.

Does this mean home owners will be more tempted to "have a go" themselves? Causing mistakes to be made that could result in dangerous situations occurring? Possibly!

- Mark Jenkins

Today at Access Training we are celebrating World Plumbing Day not only across our plumbing courses, but also what it means to become a plumber and the importance it has.

In the UK it's quite easy to take for granted the benefit of having safe drinking water and functioning sanitation systems. However many countries do not have this luxury, and following the aftermath of the 2010 Haiti earthquake and 2011 Japan tsunami (which happened 2 years ago today) it has become clear just how far the advancement in plumbing has come over the years and the devastation it can cause when it is taken away.

World Plumbing Day is an event initiated by the World Plumbing Council to be held on March 11th every year, celebrating the role plumbing plays in the health and safety of modern society. According to research, preventable diseases related to water and sanitation claim about 3.1 million lives a year, most of them children under the age of 5. Of these, around 1.6 million die of diseases associated with a lack of safe drinking water and adequate sanitation.

By training to become a plumber, you are not only giving yourself a job and skill for life. You are providing a service which mankind has depended on for centuries and is constantly improving not just to make our lives better, but to also improve humanity's impact on the environment. Though its often underappreciated by the general public, plumbers play a huge role in keeping people safe and healthy every day.

There may only be one World Plumbing Day a year, but that doesn't mean we should only appreciate plumbers once a year.

For more information on Access Training's range of plumbing courses, contact us at 0800 345 7492

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