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/

When wanting to completely refurbish a bathroom, it can take a number of skills or tradespeople to complete the work. Firstly safely the water supply and any electrics need to be isolated, so that the de-commissioning of the bathroom suite can begin. Then the walls and ceiling can be torn down if required, with the rubble and old suite also having to be disposed of in a responsible way.

Following that any required alterations to the water supply pipes can be performed, as well as sorting out electrical wires, flooring and tacking new plasterboard walls and ceiling.

Once the finish plaster coat has been applied and dried, the bath can be made up and fixed in place. Once carpentry bits such as architrave and skirting boards can be fixed, then the tilling can take place. After this the rest of the plumbing can be completed and the electrics finalised, woodwork painted then if floor covering is going to be used it can go down (however if the floor is to be tiled this should be done before the woodwork).

So if you can organise the different trades or do all of this work yourself if you have the relative qualifications or the relative expertise of experience then managing the project yourself can save you a considerable sum of money , but it can take a considerable amount of time to organise and manage the project .

With a bathroom fitting company that can cover all trades and manage the project it might seem quite costly to begin with, but in the long run if you personally have not managed such a project then it might be advisable to employ such a company. But only after researching them through areas as “county court judgements”, “trading standards” and previous clients that have had similar work done. 

- Mark Lewis 

If you would like to learn more about bathroom fitting yourself, we offer a specially designed DIY Bathroom Fitting course here at Access Training. You'll learn everything you need to know including bathroom design, the fitting of covers, tap connectors, wastes, ball valves, siphons, WC seats and more. For more information about this or any of our other professional trade courses, contact us at 0800 345 7492.

Within industry I feel there is a very bad trend at the moment, many firms are trying to save money in the wrong ways. The main concern I have is with the plumbing and gas industry and their blatant disregard for Electrical safety. There any many companies that put pressure on their installers to wire the heating systems.

News flash - they are not qualified and indeed nowhere near competent to do so, unless they have received adequate training. It might save money in the short term but imagine the lawsuit when someone’s house is on fire or someone dies from an earth fault because of inadequate Earthing.

As an Electrician I’m fed up of being approached by these companies asking if I could sign off their work. Quite frankly a majority of the time their work is like that of a child and nowhere near the standards required for me or any other sane Electrician to put their name to. I have worked for many heating firms over the years and the only way to ensure safety and quality of work is to have a competent Electrician to do the wiring, in my experience one Electrician can easily wire three to five heating systems a day.

This is where I get the title “each to their own”. I am not expected to connect up a gas pipe and I would never attempt it! But Heating installers are encouraged to do Electrical work and in my eyes its madness unless they have received adequate training.

- Neil Thomas

If you need to gain the qualifications needed to wire a heating system, look no further than Access Training's range of accredited intensive electrician courses. We provide PAT Testing training, Part P courses and all the qualifications needed to become a domestic electrical installer. Contact us on 0800 345 7492 to find out more about what we can offer you and discuss exactly what you need.

Following on from part 1 we will now look at what training courses are available to you, as well as factors such as their cost and duration.

At Access Training we deliver many construction courses, including;

 

Each course can vary from a one week taster course to a total of eight weeks, depending on the outcome you wish to achieve. The one week taster course will give you a good insight to your chosen trade, basic use of tools and basic techniques. Then there are two and three week courses which obviously involve a more in depth look at the particular trade. Each of these courses can give you a recognised qualification from City & Guilds.

The eight week course will give you a CAA Level 2 (Construction Awards Alliance) and potentially a NVQ diploma, both of which are again highly regarded and recognised C&G qualifications. The cost of each course varies, so I suggest you contact Access Training Wales and speak to one of the course advisors.

OK you’ve finished the course you’ve gained your qualification, what next? The truth is finding work is not as difficult as you may think. Most trainees after leaving Access Training start by doing small jobs for friends, family and neighbours.  This will build your confidence and give you some indication of how long a job will take. Best of all you will be under no pressure from family to complete by a certain deadline.

Then there are construction “agencies” that employ people to work on various jobs. They’ll find you the work, but be prepared to work maybe one week here, two weeks there and so on. This is a great way of gaining experience quickly and you will be on a fixed hourly rate, usually around £12 per hour.

So now that you’ve gained both experience and confidence, it’s time to go on your own. This is where you can earn a lot more money – it’s not uncommon for a good tradesperson to earn between £600-800 per week. Keep your options open, if you completed a bricklaying course don’t think that you can only lay bricks. Bricklayers can usually lay patios, decorative work indoors, build archways and more. If you completed a plastering course, plasterers can usually fix coving up, lay screed floors etc. One very lucrative area from a plastering point of view is “Venitian” or “Polished” plastering. There is a niche in the market for this type of work, if you have good trowel skills you can learn this method relatively quickly, and the price for doing this work is roughly £60 per square meter. So the choice is yours – there is work about for good tradespeople, so if you feel you need a career change then go for it!

If you need more information contact Access Training Wales on 08003457492.

- Richard James

 

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.

When hiring a plumber or any other tradesperson, there are a number of things you should find out beforehand. Questions such as what kind of plumbing training they've had, their qualifications and previous experience are crucial when it comes to getting the best value for money.

The first and foremost way to find a reputable tradesman is to ask friends, family or other tradespeople for a recommendation. Others who can recommend a tradesperson have had the experience of what he/she is capable of, how much they charge for certain works, how reliable they are and most importantly how good their work is.

Failing this, there are schemes where tradespeople register with known as competent person schemes. Any tradesperson who has joined such a scheme is prepared to have his work regularly checked by such people as Building Control officers from the local council, water authorities and competent person scheme inspectors. These control the quality of the tradesperson's work, and can be trusted.

Unfortunately there is nothing to stop cowboy tradespeople setting up and trading. Only when they have ripped off a number of people who have subsequently complained to Trading Standards will there be an investigation into the quality of work and the prices they charge.

But if you have employed such a tradesperson who has not done an acceptable level of work to your property, then you have the right to call them back regardless of the price you paid them. The attitude of "you didn't pay a lot so what do you expect" is not an excuse for poor quality of work. As a tradesperson who has been in this industry for over 30 years, the price you pay for a job should not reflect the quality, and any tradesperson with a good work ethic towards their customers will not overcharge and do the job to the standard required. Their customers will feel they have had value for money and won't have to call the tradesperson back for a fault on their work.

- Mark Lewis

 

Are you looking to change careers and become a professionally qualified plumber yourself? Access Training Wales offer a number of accredited plumbing courses, not just for those looking to start a new career but also for DIY enthusiasts wanting to earn some new skills. For more information on what courses are available to you give us a call on 0800 345 7492.

Now that you've completed your patio course and it's time to lay the slabs, how do you decide which ones to use? Cost will usually have some effect on choosing the materials you use. Bear in mind whether you have a large or small budget, however the difference between a good looking patio and a rather dull looking one may be just a few pounds difference per metre, so is the cost saving any benefit?

Remember, a patio should last you years - to change it later could become costly. If possible the choice of slab should be in-keeping with the surrounding areas. Laying a patio that, when finished, does not look right in its surroundings will only cause disappointment and make you feel like it was a waste of time and money. You need to consider what the patio area will be primarily used for. Some patio slabs become very slippery when wet - riven slabs are less likely to become slippery but are slightly uneven, which may cause a few issues with your table and chairs (they may wobble).

During rainy periods, take into consideration that certain types of slabs require more to lay. Budget slabs are quicker to lay as each slab is the same size and thickness, while high priced slabs of natural sandstone etc. will require a longer time span, due to them being irregular in size and shape. A lot more skill is required when you lay this type of slab, but having said that they look amazing down and you will probably feel the cost was worth it. Remember if you are laying random sized slabs or mixed patio sizes extra time will also be needed. With this type of slab plan the layout (dry) before actually getting to work - if you don't know where the last slab is going don't lay the first one.

Again, this is a very brief explanation and no substitute for one of our dedicated patio-laying courses. If you would like more information on this or any other of our range of construction courses, contact Access Training Wales on 0800 345 7492.

Best of luck and fingers crossed for a good summer this year!

- Richard James

With the weather liking to change for the better over the next few days many of you are probably starting to look forward to what hopefully will be a proper summer this year. If you are in need of patio for your barbeque/sun loungers etc, here is a quick insight from Access Training on how to do it;

Step 1: Decide where you are going to pu the patio. Mark out its postition using pegs and a string line. Be sure to clear the area of any vegetation.

Step 2: Dig out the soil to a depth of about 150mm (6") below your intended finished patio level.

Step 3: You will need to lay a layer of hard-core of at at least 100mm (4") thick. Compact this layer using a place compacter (also known as a wacker plate).

Step 4: Using the line you created earlier start laying your slabs on a mortar bed approximately 50mm (2") thick. Tap each slab down with a rubber mallet and keep checking for level. Make sure there are even gaps between each slab. You can make a wooden spacer of around 10mm (½") to do this.

Step 5: Continue until all your slabs are laid, making sure you follow the fall as you go. If you need to cut any slabs use an angle grinder, making sure that you wear the appropriate personal protective equipment.

Step 6: When the patio is finished wait a few days for the mortar to set and fill the joints with a semi dry sand/cement mix. Wait a few days and then get the barbeque going and sit back and relax.

Obviously this is a very brief explanation and involves a little more knowledge on setting falls and levels. If you would like to learn more, here at Access Training we run dedicated courses on laying patios, which will give you a more in-depth look as well as practical training. For more information, contact us on 0800 345 7492.

In the second part tomorrow we shall look at deciding the best patio slabs to use for the job.

- Richard James

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