In an interesting attempt to make the life of a tradesman easier, Installer Online have come up with an interesting new iPhone app that may just lighten your toolkit somewhat and make sure you're never without some important tools.

The free app is named InstallerTOOLBOX and has been developed "provide a range of functions that will make every day - and every installation - that little bit more straightforward." It incoporates a number of things that are essential to your job and keeps them all within your phone, meaning they'll be in your pocket at all times!

Altogether the app includes:

  • A TORCH for when you need that extra bit of light dealing with pipes under the sink or rummaging around in boiler cupboards. It features three brightness settings to give you maximum visibility.
  • A quick, easy and above all accurate SPIRIT LEVEL that "measures down to 0.1° to ensure that it is more than just a gimmicky add-on". It can also switch between horizontal and vertical settings.
  • A UNIT CONVERTER that covers everything from temperature to velocity so that you don't have to make any rough calculations in your head or require a pocket conversion guide. All you need to do is enter the amount and choose what units you want it in.
  • Finally, every tradesman loses a pen once in a while so here you can do away with pen and paper for good with the JOB SHEET. With this you can make notes, jot down job specs, prepare invoices and more! It also allows you to build you a record of every project you complete, including photo attachments. These are saved to the app and can be emailed out to colleagues, customers and whoever else may need them.
Sound like your ideal piece of kit? As mentioned earlier InstallerTOOLBOX is a completely free iPhone (sorry Android users) app and can be downloaded from the Apple App Store now!

Last month not-for profit training charity JTL launched a new initiative aimed at encouraging more women into trade (particularly electric and plumbing) apprenticeships. Its launch was marked by a parliamentary reception and is back by a number of MPs, including Labour Party leader Ed Miliband.

Currently, women make up just 2% of apprentices in the construction sector, and around 1% of apprentices within the electrotechnical industry. To help try and raise these numbers, JTL have appointed 10 inaugural apprentice ambassadors (all of which are former JTL apprentices) - chosen for their personal success and passion when it comes to promoting apprenticeships. These people will then travel across England and Wales, speaking at schools and local events in an attempt to encourage more young women to sign up. The apprentice ambassadors will also act as mentors to any girl who signs up for a JTL apprenticeship, with the charity also hoping to appoint more ambassadors next year as the scheme grows.

JTL chairman Dr Ian Livsey said: “We wanted to bring the ambassadors to Westminster to highlight the issues which prevent women from entering these apprenticeships. We have helped more than 40,000 apprentices train over the last 24 years, but only a small percentage have been female. This has been because women don’t see building services as something that they can do. This perception is something we need to change. Hopefully, by hearing the stories from the ambassadors and by seeing that employers are willing to support female apprentices, more young women will want to take up apprenticeships in the electrical, plumbing and heating and ventilating sectors, and make that first step to a skilled career.”

Now in their 23rd year, JTL was originally established by the Electrical Contractors Association and Unite the Union to manage training in the electrical sector. The company works with more than 120 colleges/private training centres, to which they sub-contract the knowledge syllabus elements of the NVQ Diploma.

While good practical training may be the most vital quality to have in a plumber, it's important that they also have a good grasp of the common terminology they may come across while on the job. So Access Training have put together a very basic glossary of various plumbing terminology, which will hopefully be of benefit to some of you.

Actual capacity: The amount of water contained in a cistern or other container when it is full to its practical working level.

Air-lock: Air trapped in pipes, causing a reduction or complete stop in the flow of liquid.

Back-siphon: A condition where the flow of liquid is reversed and siphons back towards the source, which can lead to contamination.

Bar: The unit that water pressure is measured in.

Bleed valve: A valve that releases air from the central heating system.

Cistern: A contained used for holding water at atmospheric pressure.

Flow rate: The volume of water that is delivered to a tap, recorded in litres per minute (l/m) or litres per second (l/s).

Grey water: Waste water from domestic processes.

Hard water: Water which contains a higher level of calcium salts, making it an alkaline. When heated it deposits the salts on various components in a system, causing "furring up".

Main water valve: The main water shutoff that prevents any water from going into any of the pipes or plumbing. Plumbers may refer to it as the main shutoff valve.

Nominal capacity: The amount of water contained in a cistern or other container when it is full to the top edge.

Soft water: Rain water that falls on peaty, moorland and sandstone areas and is acidic. Soft water is better for washing, but can lead to many corrosion problems.

Stopcock: A hand operated on/off valve permitting water flow in one direction. The house stopcock is located where the supply enters the property, and can be used to shutoff water to all fixtures in the house.

Storage cistern: A specific type of cistern used for storing water to be used, such as delivering hot and cold water through pipework.

Supply pipe: A pipe that carries mains cold water around the home.

Tank: A container that is not open to atmosphere, usually a non-cylindrical closed vessel.

Vent pipe: Pipe that allows the release of air or water from a hot water system.

Of course this is only a very brief glossary, and missing many of the things you'll need to know as a professional plumber. If you would like to learn more and perhaps even gain the qualifications needed to become a plumber, an Access Training plumbing course could be exactly what you're looking for. To find out more please visit the courses section of our website or give us a call on 0800 345 7492.

New research conducted by Pink Plumbers, a national brand delivering female plumbers, has found that more women have the desire to become their own boss in the workplace then men.

The research, which was carried out last May, had a sample of 2000 adults from across the UK. It found that almost two out of three people (63%) wanted to take the steps toward self-employment. A total of 66% women wanted to be their own boss, narrowing out the males asked who came in at 60%.

Pink Plumbers was set up by single mother and entrepreneur Jo Lawrence, who created the franchise to make it easier for women wanting to join the plumbing trade by offering support and confidence. There is a clear gap in the market for female plumbers, with her research also noting that 86% of women think there should be more women working as plumbers. 69% of men also agreed.

Apart from setting up her Pink Plumbers franchise, Lawrence has also been proactive in organising a series of college roadshows across the UK, speaking to students about her own experiences as a plumber. She will also be publishing a book titled Hints and Tips for the Practical Plumber, which is due for release in September. It is designed to provide business and plumbing tips to help plumbers navigate through the difficulty of setting themselves up. 

Encouraging trainee plumbers to take the steps to become self-employed is also something we encourage here at Access Training. As well as providing you with vital qualifications through our range of bespoke plumbing courses, our teaching staff will also guide you on how to set up your own plumbing business. If you would like to find out more about what Access can offer you, please contact us on 0800 345 7492.

Via HVP Magazine

Gas Safe has proved time and time again to be an effective method in separating genuine gas engineers from cowboy traders, so that the general public know that when they hire a tradesman he or she is legitimate. But despite this, this sort of system is currently only available for gas engineers - so Joe Bloggs may not have the same level of certainty when hiring a plumber for wet work.

Until now that is. Or more precisely, October 8th 2013.

WaterSafe has been put together to provide a search facility of all Approved plimbers working in the UK, thanks to a partnership between UK water suppliers and the seven Approved Contractors' Schemes working across the UK. It will promote compliance with the Water Supply Regulations 1999 and Scottish Water Byelaws in order to protect the public and make it even more difficult for unqualified dishonest plumbers to get work. Unlike the Gas Safe register this isn't a legal requirement, but will publically show plumbers are both fully qualified and competent in their trade. So arguably its something that's probably in your best interest to do.

WaterSafe's website isn't open just yet, however it can be found at www.watersafe.org.uk where you can find all the relevant contact details to find out more about the scheme. Keep checking back to this blog, as we're sure to be covering more of this brilliant new scheme closer to its official launch.

In the meantime - if you have any outstanding plumbing qualifications or are looking to become a professional plumber yourself, have you considered a comprehensive plumbing course from Access Training? Our courses are suitable for both newcomers and experienced plumbers alike, so give us a call on 0800 345 7492 or check out the courses section of the site to find out more.

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