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Future Trends in Plumbing | HPS Merchant | Blog

Chris Derrer - Friday, June 29, 2018

Nobody knows just what the future may hold, honestly, we’re not kidding when we say this because tomorrow, anything can happen. You could win the lottery, you could be offered a dream job, or maybe the weather will be really nice… who knows?! But when it comes to the future, no matter how much we don’t know due to the unpredictable nature of the world, when it comes to work and jobs, we have to be prepared and we do this through looking at trends in data that are currently happening, and from that we can make predictions for the next few years, or so. So, we decided to look into plumbing and what exactly the future may hold.

Technological Advances

That’s correct people! As IT is often merged into every other sector as a way of making things more efficient and easily trackable, or even just in the manufacturing process. But for plumbing we have already seen the implementation of self-cleaning toilets, touch-free taps, Bluetooth controlled electric showers and smart meters. These advances have really only appeared over the last few years, but have become hugely popular already - so we’re expecting to see even more growth in this sector with smart home appliances controlled with a “OK Google” or  “Alexa…”.

Recyclable Materials

As good as plastic is for fittings and traps, it’s also costly on the environment with more and more studies suggesting that plastic is becoming a bigger problem in our water system. Not to mention that plastic is a product of oil production and that also puts a strain on the economy of oil, which as of right now is set to run out in the next 100-200 years (if we’re lucky). So, we will need to switch at some point, to a new, renewable material. Same can be said for copper and chrome fittings, copper is not self-regenerating and our supply within the Earth won’t last forever. We’ve seen things like timber, ceramics and glass being used in contemporary, modern bathrooms over the last few years, but when it comes to pipework, we’ve got our eyes peeled for a sustainable material to replace plastic!

Size Matters

We think that along with technology, plumbing will also obey Moore’s Law, which in simplistic terms basically means that when developing a product, we must aim to double its functionality, whilst halving the size. Look at smart phones for example. The first iPhone was a brick… You could use it as a door-stop! But now, you wouldn’t have much joy trying to use your iPhone as a door-stop. We will see plumbing products such as electric showers become smaller and more hidden away (digital showers anyone?) along with the introduction of more slimline and sleek designed products. All whilst retaining or even doubling their existing functionality. What a time to be alive!

HPS VADO Rally 2018

Chris Derrer - Thursday, June 07, 2018


The VADO Rally is back underway! For those that don’t know, the rally is an event where teams and companies compete to raise money for the Rainy Day Trust and Variety charities. This year, Team HPS are getting involved up to rally through some of Europe’s greatest cities. The VADO Rally has been a major success since its launch last year when £65,000 was raised for the Rainy Day Trust after 37 cars successfully travelled 1,300 miles across eight European countries in a run that lasted four days.


This year, our team will be taking on the task of driving through Copenhagen, Namur, Amsterdam, Lüneburg and Malmo in a road-legal car worth that had to cost under £500… cheap we know, but that’s the beauty of it! To make things even more fun-spirited, our drivers and teams will be participating in the event whilst wearing fancy dress (we’ve gone for the classic cops and robbers theme).


Our car may not quite be a supercar, but the team HPS car does have a paint job that is guaranteed to turn some heads nonetheless! It has been sprayed with a custom Run-DMC motif, designed and created by Glimmer Twin 32.


Our team left Dover TODAY to embark on 4 days travelling nearly 1000 miles through Europe to finish in Copenhagen on 10th, along with around 25 other teams in various fancy dress who will be aiming to complete Top Gear style challenges on the way! Judging by the starting line-up at Dover it looks to be an event of epic proportions and will create memories that will last for some time to come.

To give to our Just Giving page you can view it here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/vadorally18

Thanks again to the Sussex Sign company and GlimmerTwin 32 for the awesome car makeover, you can view Glimmer Twin 32’s work on his Instagram page here: https://www.instagram.com/glimmertwin32/. And visit The Sussex Sign Company here: https://www.sussexsigns.com/

Seriously look at the work that went into this design, from start to finish it is flawless…

Before:


After:

Keep up to date with our progress on our social media channels, we’ll be posting regularly about the team’s progress!

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Unforgiveable Plumbing Nightmares

Chris Derrer - Thursday, May 31, 2018

Unforgiveable Plumbing Nightmares

Anybody who is a plumber will tell you they have worked to get the experience that they have now and guess what? Experience means making mistakes and learning from them to become better at your job and better as a person… However, (and this is a big HOWEVER) there is a difference between “oops, silly me… wrong valve” and “Oops, silly me I’ve fixed your leak by plugging a load of chip-shop rappers over it”. Basically, what we’re saying is, here are some massive plumbing nightmares, that nobody should replicate.

  1. Putty = Fixed leak? Right?

Just imagine you’re at work (I know terrible right?) and you’ve ran out of replacement piping – so you fix a minor leak with putty but that’s just a temporary fix right? This one is more for the DIYers as we’d hope you lot are all far more savvy than leaving this as a permanent fix. DON’T DO IT!


       2. Copper and Steel Corrosion

Galvanic corrosion is where steel and copper begin small reactions between the materials, through contact and/or friction. Copper is extremely reactive, and steel is partly made up of iron, which is known to react with the air and water quite well. An experienced plumber will tell you the best way to avoid having rusty water and pipe damage from galvanic corrosion is to connect dissimilar pipes the right way. Unlike whoever fitted this...

      3. Drains and sewers? Not needed are they?

Those of you with a keen eye for plumbing are already holding your head in your hands consoling yourselves as to how one person could oversee this very integral part of our sanitation system here in the UK. In Devon in 2013 an older gentleman living in a mobile home complained of horrific sewage smells. At first he assumed it was the drains, but once it really started to get to the point where he couldn’t sleep anymore he went underneath to floor, only to discover he wasn’t even connected to a drain! For months, the waste water and toilet waste was being flushed into he soil under his house and sitting there. Nasty… and guess who was to blame? His cowboy plumber!

Thankfully, our nation is full of competent and reliable tradesmen like you and occurrences like this are very rare when an employment decision is made through the right recommendations and reviews. Hopefully none of these happened to yourself, or someone you know. But the awareness is very much needed.

How Social Media is changing the plumbing industry

Chris Derrer - Friday, May 25, 2018

Remember how back in the day everything was spread from word of mouth and your work’s reputation? Remember how you had to be good at your job and then (and only then) did you get recommended for work? Well … The days of word-of-mouth and the odd leaflet are over. Everything is done online these days, from your tax returns, to your shopping and that is slowly becoming the reality of people. People are becoming digitalised, placing profiles of themselves on apps and services known as social media. Social media sites (like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) are more popular than ever and not even a recent data scare with Mark Zuckerberg wasn’t enough to turn off 90% of the 1st world population from using Facebook. Facebook doesn’t just have people’s profile’s on there but also business accounts (like ours… check it out here: https://www.facebook.com/HPSMerchant/).

Now that the shameless plug is out the way, how is social media changing plumbing? Well more and more plumbers are becoming tech savvy as the younger generations come through and they post their services, prices and some of their work online… This becomes easier to find for the majority of people, rather than looking for a plumber out on the street, or asking your entire neighbourhood which plumber is best to use. If that wasn’t enough, they can also be rated out of five stars and people can leave comments about their behaviour, professionalism, and the quality of the job, so it’s not like you can get away with being terrible through social media either. Once people see that your account is verified, they’ve seen some photos of your work and read a couple of reviews (and they are all good) then you have yourself a customer.

It’s these new tech savvy plumbers and those that hire digital agencies to establish their online presence that get the majority of the local work as people on social media can share other pages or pictures and tag that plumber in, allowing a whole new person’s entire friend list to be witness to the work, then they’ll think “wow that guy’s work is great, I should bookmark his page so if I ever need any plumbing done, I know I can trust that guy”. And that’s all it is with social media - It seems more legitimate and therefore is easier to get someone hired quicker.

At HPS we have a couple of social media accounts, you can find our Twitter account: https://twitter.com/HPSMerchant and our Facebook account: https://www.facebook.com/HPSMerchant/. Hopefully you’ll find some really good content, plumbing banter and some wonderful plumbing mishaps to laugh at.

Encouraging women into the plumbing industry

Chris Derrer - Monday, April 30, 2018

It’s fair to say that Britain has one of the most multi-cultural societies in the world, with people of all roots coming together to make us one of the most diverse nations on the map. We’re known for progressing quickly and welcoming all kinds of change. Since 2018 has been celebrated as The Year of the Woman, we have decided to dedicate this blog to encouraging women within, and into the plumbing industry. We want women competing for those top plumbing jobs, and we want to start seeing a rise of female employment within the plumbing world – and quickly.

We can’t help but notice that certain industries, such as those within engineering, and trades – as well as our own unfortunately, often make the integration for women difficult. This is often due to stereotypes, sexism, and employees who believe that the once male-dominated industry should remain just that… and as the latest EDF advert states, “We’re pretty serious about changing that”.

We’re not going to list all the ways that one might think that plumbing is preferred by males, because quite frankly – all we want to talk about is listing all the reasons why women should be working the plumbing industry, just as well as they work all other industries. Just because there’s a slight amount of manual labour, and a potential mess if you get it wrong – shouldn’t automatically make people believe it’s a job for a man. We’re pretty certain that if your house was flooding due to a burst pipe, you wouldn’t care who walked through the door if they were the only one who could fix it, would you?

Many women have already started making waves within the plumbing industry, by creating their own female-only companies. These companies are becoming increasingly popular with women themselves who are looking for plumbers and would feel more comfortable with them being female too. This is just one way that women are using their ever-growing creativity to smash the obstacles in their way. If you’re doing something you love, then you’re not going to care whether you get a bit grubby on the job! Much like a dentist, if you love teeth it’s the career for you, if you don’t love teeth then maybe not so much, right?

We don’t need to overcomplicate it, we just need to change it. You’re not paid to pass opinion on women or men in the workplace – you’re paid to do your job. If you’re good at your job, you reap the benefits and are recognised for this – equally, if not… well, you get the opposite. The younger generations of girls and future generations need to be given the same opportunities as boys when it comes to jobs and experience within the engineering or trade industries. This is very simple too. The more we encourage women and girls to pursue their work in something they enjoy, rather than putting them off because “it’s messy”, the more we will gain extra pairs of skilled hands within our industry. If you’re already in the industry (male, female, unicorn) then it’s down to us to encourage our girls to get involved!

Keeping an eye on the little things

Chris Derrer - Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Many people don’t tend to worry about the smaller things in life, it’s just one of those things that is installed into your brain early on, like the saying “If you spend all your time on the little things you end up missing the big picture”. Now although that is mainly true, it’s not so much in the world of plumbing! Overlooking those little things can lead to slightly bigger little things, which leads to even bigger little things, then that all eventually turns into one or many BIG problems… not fun to tackle on a Monday morning we’re sure… Here are some smaller things you may or may not know to check next time you’re called out on some maintenance.

Check pipe insulation

Firstly, this isn’t about checking for holes in the pipe itself, any holes in pipes are pretty evident (water – duh), this is looking more into the insulation that keep your clients water warmer for longer and their pipes from rusting in the elements. Just giving the insulation a once over with the eye from all sides should be enough to tell you if any parts need changing.

Check under the kitchen sink

We’ve all heard the saying “Everything but the kitchen sink”, but in this case even the kitchen sink needs a look in… The reality is that many people’s under-sink cupboard is full of cleaning chemicals, baskets, cloths, carrier bags, tools… anything and everything is kept under there. Unfortunately all it takes is one jolt on the sharp edge of a container, or a chemical spill and the pipe that goes under there is compromised. Just keep an eye out for anything lodged against it, and advise your client to make ample room for their pipework to make sure they don’t interfere with the pipes. A slight knock could loosen a seal enough to cause a leak!

Check for Rust

Spotted some rust appear on your pipes? Worse still… noticed rust coming out in your water from taps etc? Act now. A small bit of rust may just suggest a small component needs changing, a very rusty pipe is a leak waiting to happen, not t mention the potential health risks should that rust be in your drinking water!

So there you have it, 3 simple things to keep an eye on if you want to make sure you keep those bigger problems at bay.

Join the conversation over on our Facebook and Twitter channels now.

When should you call a plumber?

Chris Derrer - Wednesday, March 21, 2018

There’s an old saying in the world of plumbing… “We’re here to fix what your husband broke” and believe us when we say… although it is often said in jest, there can often be some truth in it! We think that the plumbers out there will agree with us when we say that sometimes people shouldn’t attempt to do DIY on their more complicated and crucial plumbing! Some things are okay to do (especially as a confident DIYer) like replacing valves or bleeding the radiators. That’s absolutely fine… But doesn’t it seem logical that only a professional in a certain field should do that particular line of work? You wouldn’t fancy yourself to program a rocket to the moon would you? Maybe not quite the same, but you get the point!

Here are 3 things that we think you should definitely call the plumber in for, instead of doing it yourself. More importantly, for the plumbers out there who may be reading this, you could look at this as a list of things you should nominate yourself to do when the client brings up what they are planning to do.

  1. Boiler Maintenance:

Old boilers used to need servicing a lot more regularly and they weren’t as efficient as the boilers today, so luckily for the average Joe on the street, this piece of maintenance doesn’t need to be carried out as often. However, because it is “just maintenance” doesn’t mean it’s easy and it doesn’t mean you’ll do it thoroughly enough. Perhaps it’s best to call the plumber to be on the super safe side and cover yourself in case anything does go wrong? It’s really not worth having no heating or hot water!

  1. Major Modifications:

People want the most for their money, it’s just something that is important to almost everyone these days. So what some people end up doing is trying to DIY a new bathroom or kitchen, however with very little plumbing experience, the average non-plumber could very easily cause more problems than improvements. Then what? That’s gonna take a long time and a lot of money to fix, meaning you’re more out of pocket in the long run.

  1. Installing a toilet:

OK, so we know it may not be as complex as boiler maintenance or installing a new shower cubicle… but do you really want to risk a mistake when it comes to the toilet? That’s a whole different kettle of fish! Broken porcelain = a leaky toilet and that is a hygiene catastrophe waiting to happen, not to mention it’s a little bit gross. Make sure you ask a professional to install your new throne if you want the best finish and best results possible (and no dodgy smells).

Underfloor heating, is it the right choice?

Chris Derrer - Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The idea of underfloor heating feels like quite a new one doesn’t it? Most of us haven’t grown up with underfloor heating in our homes, at best we may have heard that it was placed under top flight football pitches, to stop the ground freezing over for the game, but that was about it. Underfloor heating hasn’t been readily available to regular family home owners for very long, in comparison to other plumbing luxuries and services. So that being said, imagine this scenario… You’ve finished unclogging a wet wipe induced clog for what feels like the 100th time this week, however as you’re about to leave they quickly want to pick your brains for a second about getting some underfloor heating for the cold, hard, tiled floors in the winter. How do you know whether it’s a suitable solution for them, as oppose to getting some new radiators or insulation? Well here’s what to think about when your client asks:

 

Is there enough room?

Depending on the solutions available, your client must have ample space underneath the floor to insert the system. This can vary by quite a large margin, so best you familiarize yourself with all the available systems so you can offer solutions for whatever space you have available to install in.

 

Is wall-space an issue?

One of the reasons for getting underfloor heating is the fact that the walls are either too small to fit a sizeable radiator to, or the walls are blocked by art work or furniture. If wall space seems to be an issue, then underfloor heating could be the one. Fitting a radiator is generally always the easier job and therefore it will cost  dramatically less than underfloor heating… which is vital information that your client need to know before making a decision.

 

Budgeting

Does your client have ample budget? Underfloor heating can cost quite a bit of money to install because it requires a lot of work. Getting the flooring up, possibly having to replace it is hard enough as it is, as well as the intricate placement of pipes and/or electrics depending on if you have a dry, or wet system. Different systems have different cost implications from a materials and labour point of view, so best you know the budget before you suggest any options so as not to scare any clients off!

 

What can HPS do?

Our branches are full of knowledgeable staff that can talk you through the different kinds of underfloor heating available and the features and benefits of each. This can enable you to advise your clients on what would work best for them whilst offering super competitive prices. Find your nearest one here: http://www.hpsmerchant.co.uk/hps-branch-locator

3 Things That Really Annoy Plumbers

Chris Derrer - Friday, February 23, 2018

As plumbers we have a very skilled, yet simple job. Everything flows downwards, payday is Friday and all you gotta do in the meantime is make sure remember not to bite your nails if you forget your gloves. Okay maybe it’s not that simple, some of us work hard and we don’t fit into the status-quo -  however, there is one thing that we can all agree on: there are certain jobs that don’t need to have been done, but you had to do them because the client messed up big time. And that’s okay. It’s our job at the end of the day, but sometimes, we really wish these things weren’t in our to-do list.

Here are 3 things that us plumbers would rather our clients wouldn’t do:


 

  1. Use drain unblocking products

There’s nothing more frustrating than causing a problem by trying to prevent another problem. But that’s exactly what a lot of people are doing by pouring corrosive drain cleaners down their plug holes to stop hairballs etc from causing a blockage. The highly corrosive nature of these products can cause them to irreparably damage your pipes and cause expensive work to be carried out.

 

  1. Use the toilet as a bin

For heaven’s sake! This one is kinda unforgiveable isn’t it? I mean, we can understand the confusion when it comes down to deciding if something is general waste or recyclable but having a crisp wrapper in your hand and having to decide between the bin and the porcelain is a little silly. Basically, rubbish clogs up pipes, and we know that only water and human waste is supposed to fit down there – NOT WET WIPES.

 

  1. Fiddle with valves 

Heating and radiator valves are specifically designed to retain pressure inside the hot water system, so why does the average Joe feel like he should fiddle with it? Answer: they just shouldn’t. If you have a tiny dribble or a great whacking leak… always call a professional. For a tiny dribble, the cost of the repair will usually be so low that it’s not worth risking disaster by fiddling. If it’s a big leak… don’t even think about trying it yourself.  Hot water inside a pressurised area with a hole in it spells disaster. Imagine pressured scolding water bursting out the system and into the home! It’s not safe, it’s not easy to fix and it could really damage the property.

Why a water filtration system could be good for your clients

Chris Derrer - Wednesday, February 21, 2018
“What’s wrong with the water that comes out of the tap?” we hear you ask… “Surely it must be safe and regulated” Well… yes, but it’s not quite that simple. Which is why a home filtration system could be something to make your clients aware of...

Environmental Conservation

Globally, around 1 million plastic bottle are sold per second. So if we take the words of Sir David Attenborough on Blue Planet II seriously and put down that plastic water bottle production is terrible for the environment, there’s a problem. Especially when you take into account that only around 38% of plastic bottles are recycled… we need a solution. We’re not saying water filtration systems in the home are that solution, but if every home had one, how many less bottles of water would people buy?

COMPLETELY safe drinking water

So this is really just a well-known fact by now; tap water contains cleaning agents and chemicals, like chlorine and also a bunch of negatively charged metals such as magnesium and calcium which are not only bad in high doses, but also makes the water taste less than pleasant. Filtration systems clean water between entering the home and being released from the taps, leaving only the filtered, low level contaminating (and better tasting) water for us to drink.

Little to no aggravation of skin

This one’s a bit of a no-brainer… our skin is very absorbent, meaning the water we wash with can get absorbed. The bad thing is when the un-filtered water comes through the shower all the chemicals that are absorbed with the water can block up pores, cause spots, eczema or psoriasis. This is common in areas with hard water issues. The secret to clear skin? Maybe it’s a water filtration system?

Money Saving

Doing your job once and correctly is the best way for you not to waste your time and for your clients to not waste money. So, what if you could remove all the contaminants and metals away from the pipes, taps and showers etc? It stands to reason that your clients would end up with longer lasting home plumbing systems, it can mean that radiators will have to be bled less often and so on. All because metals aren’t starting to cake all around the inside of the pipes and cause their inevitable damage.


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