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Getting Started In Plumbing & Apprenticeships

Chris Derrer - Thursday, December 14, 2017
Being a plumber is actually a very rewarding occupation. It utilizes a person’s problem solving, troubleshooting and is also very practical and hands-on, if you’re into that… It also means you may be up to your ‘you know what’ in water at some point where you shouldn’t be, however that’s all a part of the fun… right? Okay maybe not, but on days when that doesn’t happen, you’ll go home feeling productive for the day. But how do you become a top plumber these days? Well we’re willing to impart some of our wisdom of the plumbing world and getting started onto some of you potential plumbers out there who are thinking of donning the chainmail (we mean overalls) and trusty noble steed… (the Van).

How do you get started in plumbing?

Well years ago when there was something called a YTS (Youth Training Scheme) training for tradesmen of all kinds was booming. It was a relatively cheap way of gaining the right qualifications, alongside the relevant workplace experience, to then have a job where you could be essentially self-employed by the end of it… Nowadays we call it an apprenticeship but they can be done in a variable mixture of subjects and interests, including NVQ level 2/3 plumbing, which is essential to become a plumber in England and Wales, Scotland requires a minimum of level 3 NVQ to become a plumber. Nowadays, apprenticeships for those who are young and/or are in education or training still are generally free for those who are studying and they get paid a wage as well, although it may not be that much for your first year or two, it’s surely worth it to be able to know everything required about plumbing so you can be essentially your own boss in a few years time?

Is a career in plumbing really for me?

Whether it is possible in your mind or not, you need to be able to cope with certain things being a plumber…. Water being one of them, obviously, but there are other things to consider, such as long days and long drives if you extend offers to clients who live far away. You must be hard-working, efficient and willing to learn all the time to keep up with the changes in the field which are common. You’ll need an eye and a brain for maths and science as well as the grit and stamina to work under questionable conditions – such as high or cramped spaces. Be sure that you’re okay for unsociable hours and weekend work if you eventually want to become your own boss at the end of it all, because that’s mainly when other people have the time to call a plumber. If you answered negatively to any of the questions above, you may want to re-consider the trade you’re going into. That’s not a bad thing, young people and those in training need time to figure things out and what works for them, it’s always a learning cycle of learn and apply.

What about the upsides?


There’s upsides to plumbing, plenty of them should you choose this very rewarding path. There is currently a shortage of skilled plumbers in the UK, so plumbers are in high demand and there’s plenty of work out there. There is also a movement to get more females into the profession of plumbers, because ladies in this line of work are scarce and therefore highly sought after. Plumbing work is generally well-paid due to the level of skill required to carry it out. You can expect to start on a solid wage after you’ve completed your training and for experienced workers or those who are self-employed the top end is limitless - just ask Charlie Mullins of Pimlico Plumbers. He started out as a plumber aged 15 and now owns a company that turned over more than £35m last year!

Eliminating Rusty Water In The Home

Chris Derrer - Thursday, December 07, 2017

Rust and Water

People up and down the country rely on their tap water to be as clean and clear as possible, so what happens when someone calls you up saying their tap water is reddish brown or smells or tastes quite metallic and bitter? As we’re sure you already know… those are all the classic symptoms of rusty water, mainly from pipes that have gone rusty from years of wear and tear. So, what can you do if a client rings you up concerned about what’s coming from their taps? Well here are just a few things you can do as a plumber…

Identify the Problem:

Now of course there’s more than likely a little bit more than just rust in there, but we don’t need a laboratory test to determine if it is mainly rust if it has a very metallic smell, or taste to it and the water is discoloured to a reddish brown. Now apparently rust isn’t a direct health threat, which is a miracle considering what it actually is (oxidised iron particles). But it can really stain your clients prized porcelain basins and sides, which leaves for an unsightly bathroom and an unhappy customer, that’s not what you want for your client.

Determine the Source:
Using your plumbing diagnostics, it shouldn’t be hard to determine where the fault has started. A good test is to let the tap run on the cold tap only and then collect a small glass and note down it’s consistency and odour. Next, run the hot water for several seconds and sample that exactly the same. Now if the results for this small experiment suggest the rust is only present in the hot water, or if the rust goes away after several seconds of running water, those are both strong indications that the source of the rust is in your home. But if you have continuous rusty water in both taps, you should call the local water provider immediately to report the issue. If you find that it’s coming from within home and rusty water came from the cold-water tap, that indicates a corroding pipe or pipes in your home plumbing system. And if it’s coming only from the hot water tap, that means your water heater is probably rusting out. Trial and error is key here, eliminate all the possibilities and you’ll find your source.

Fixing it:
Now unfortunately for yourself you may not be able to fix the problem at all, because if the rust source is outside the home it means it is the local council then must solve the problem as you will not be covered as soon as you begin work on their pipes… this may lead to a LONG wait for your client. However, if the rust source is within your client’s home you can take out the corroding pipe of fitting and replace it, or replace their water heater if the rust is only present with the hot water tap running. The part that is most at fault for rust in water heaters is the anode rod, which attracts other rust and metallic impurities from the water so that it attacks the rod instead of the tank or the water, of course the anode rod could be completely eroded and eaten away so replacing that part first would be step one and then advising your customer to get it changed every 4-6 years.

Need help with selecting the right parts for this kind of job? Why don’t you pop into your nearest branch to have a chat with one of our very knowledgeable and approachable team, where we can advise you on certain products in terms of suitability for your job, as well as having all the top-quality brands.

Why is being a plumber the best?

Chris Derrer - Tuesday, November 28, 2017
Ever wondered why there are so many other plumbers out there? Ever wondered how (most of them) stay so smiley even during the toughest of jobs? We have put together a list of the top five reasons as to why being a plumber is the best…

1. You’re never stuck in the same place
Plumbers are always being taken to new places, new jobs and new projects. Meaning that a plumber will meet lots of people in his/her lifetime, and have a wide variety in the types of work that he/she does.

2. Great networking
Moving around a lot, and meeting new people on a regular basis means that you will be meeting new contacts and potential clients for your business.

3. Great job satisfaction
By starting a job, working on the job, and finishing the job will give both you and your client great job and customer satisfaction; making our plumbers super happy people.

4. Taking pride in work has never been so simple!
Every plumber knows that the water service plays a very large part in people’s lives, and they also know that when people don’t have it, or there is a problem with theirs, it becomes a huge struggle – especially for families with young children. Therefore, you plumbers take huge pride in your work, as well as knowing you have helped other people fix their problems.

5. Fantastic job opportunities
As with many professions nowadays, most plumbers start as apprentices which means that they will have lots of work experience throughout their years of training to be a plumber, becoming a plumber, and being a plumber. This work experience helps plumbers later in life with new job opportunities.

These are just the most obvious benefits of becoming a plumber, but for those lucky enough to be their own boss, we needn’t mention the joys of self-employment for you and your family! But yes… this is a great benefit! Are you a plumber who loves your job? Let us know on our social media!

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How to treat Hard Water Problems

Chris Derrer - Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Hard water can be major issue in certain parts of the UK. In particular, down the east coast and in the south. Many home owners have tried to stop or slow down the harmful effects of it, which may appear as permanent rings of soap scum in a bathroom sink and tub, or limescale deposits in kettles and dishes, as well as leaving these types of deposits on the inside of water pipes and radiators. While a lot of these house symptoms look like they could be down to poor housekeeping, there are in fact, some harmful effects of hard water and it can be purely down to where you’re located within the country. The south east of England is one such area of the country that is known for increased levels of hard water, you can view the map below to see if your area has high frequencies of hard water:

As you probably know, hard water can damage household appliances like water heaters, washing machines, coffee makers, etc… but most importantly of all it can damage plumbing pipes and according to some studies, it is not good for anyone’s general health. There is no definitive study as of yet, but it has been noted that there is a correlation between certain diseases/bacterial infections and hard water areas. So what can you do as a plumber to help someone with their hard water issues, how can you make this water a lot safer to drink than it currently is and how can you get those pipes rid of deposits and build-up? Luckily, we have some tips here for you!

As many of your clients will tell you, limescale and hard water is a real headache to keep on top of, it also makes housekeeping a nightmare in general… nobody wants to let guests use their bathroom, only to find the sink has rings of un-cleanable build-up and the toilet doesn’t look to friendly either. The easiest way to protect home appliances and water pipes is to install a water softener system. These systems are designed to get to the permanent solution by targeting the specific minerals that cause hard water; calcium and magnesium ions. Water softeners work by replacing calcium and magnesium ions with sodium ions, thus, eliminating scale formation. Salt/Sodium operating water softeners will prevent limescale build up and possibility of health problems, however salt-free water softeners will only prevent the limescale build up and not prevent any connected health issues, it’s important to know this in case your client wants this type of filtration in place to protect them.

The resulting soft water from using a salt-based water softener doesn’t scale, and helps avoid appliance breakdowns and energy inefficiencies. Your client’s bathroom will also be free of limescale build up around their sinks, taps, showers and toilets, their health will also not be as at risk to bacteria build up within the hard-water.

Come and speak with your local HPS branch and see what we can do for you and what products we can suggest to keep your clients in hard water areas happy! We are the South’s leading independent plumbing & heating supplies merchant and we’re happy to help you. Find your nearest branch: http://www.hpsmerchant.co.uk/hps-branch-locator

5 Tips to Avoid Winter Plumbing Woes

Chris Derrer - Monday, November 13, 2017


Winter is usually the time when everything inconvenient starts to happen, simply because November through to January are the most expensive months. Christmas is coming, the heating bill always goes up much more than what you were expecting, and of course – something important always breaks. Just to keep you in the festive spirit.

One of the most popular visitors during this season, is a costly plumbing leak, so we have put together our six top tips which will help you avoid such a visitor.

1. Drain your water heater!


Live in a location with hard water? This one’s for you! Due to the water type, sediment can build up in your tank, causing rust to develop inside. Unfortunately, this rust can find its way into your drinking, cooking, and cleaning water! If your hot water heater is already rusted or is too cold, it would be a good idea to consider purchasing a new one before the cold weather gets worse.

2. Protect your plumbing pipes from freezing!


This might sound a bit obvious, but it’s a tip that people always forget. When the temperatures plummet during the winter, water usually freezes inside the pipes, often causing them to burst (water expands when frozen). This can lead to huge disasters… even an entire home flood! To reduce the chances of your pipes freezing, wrap each of your un-insulated pipes in a blanked of foam.

3. Close and drain pipes leading outdoors!


If you have interior shut-off valves leading to outdoor sinks, close them and drain the water from outside lines. If there is water that remains in the lines, it will freeze and may could major damage.

4. Clean your sump pump pit!


You will need to inspect and clean your sump pump and the pit in which it lives. When it is exposed to extreme cold, your pump can freeze, which can cause it to stop working. If you don’t, it could flood your entire cellar and possibly your ground floor too!

5. Fix any existing leaks NOW…. while you still can!


If you notice a leak, or something not quite right in your plumbing – get it fixed now! For example, if you’ve noticed a leaky tap, get it sorted straight away to get those pipes ready for the winter.

We hope our top tips and tricks help you this winter! Remember, for all the parts you could possibly need, visit HPS.

HPS Raise Over £500,000 for Great Ormond Street Hospital

Chris Derrer - Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Here at HPS it’s no secret about our admiration for Great Ormond Street Hospital. Over the past 12 or so years, we have raised money for GOSH through a number of fundraising events such as sports events, raffles and auctions. Formerly known as The Hospital For Sick Children, the hospital opened in 1852 with only ten beds but the devoted staff, high standards of care and volunteer workers have raised the profile of this hospital to a high level of growth and it’s now known the world over. We believe that donating money to GOSH is not only a great opportunity to give something back to the local communities but to help them in the future with caring for those who are in need.

Just last year we raised around £89,000 for Great Ormond Street, through our fundraising events and also our wonderful customers donating through the ‘Just Giving’ pages online, which means that over 12 years of doing this it totals up to £527,618.36 raised, which is something we are very, very proud of here at HPS. Therefore, on Monday 25th September 2017 we decided to make a special visit the hospital with our good friend, magician Andrew Kelly who wowed the kids, parents and staff!

We also took the opportunity to meet many of the staff, including resident GOSH legend and Head of Nursing, Jilly Hale and have a walk around the historic building and the Morgan Stanley Garden (which was of course created by the DIY SOS team).

As well as a charitable project, it has been a great team building exercise for HPS as a company, as many different branches have really got involved with the events, breakfast mornings and sport activities. Not only is it a great way to bond the individual teams and branches together but it also brings us closer to our customers on a personal level, which is just fantastic. We’ve been glad to have been able to be in a position where we can raise money for such a kind-hearted charity and a good cause, whilst bringing communities and customers from all over the south of England closer together.

If you would like to find out more about what we do to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital, or how you could get involved, please contact us or visit our JustGiving page.

The emergence of ‘Smart Plumbing’

Chris Derrer - Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Who knows what we’ll see in the future when it comes to plumbing and plumbing supplies; we already have Bluetooth shower systems in place, perhaps we could see self-cleaning toilets? Or LED Bathtubs? Future plumbing innovations are in demand, believe it or not. From flashy gadgets to smart innovations, the indoor plumbing tides are changing fast and for the better, with smart plumbing. In many modern buildings, luxury gadgets, maybe even like those described above in the future, go hand-in-hand with what is called smart plumbing.

Smart plumbing trends in new building design and old building renovations focus primarily on:

  • Promoting water efficiency
  • Waste removal efficiency
  • Methods of collection and storage of clean water
  • Economical heating systems

Smart plumbing, or green plumbing, aims to reduce water waste through new wastewater technologies, more efficient plumbing design, and practical landscaping. Green plumbing zeroes in on the conservation of our most important natural resource, by developing technologies such as WaterSense meters, that can regulate incoming water pressure for residences. Also greywater systems can be put in place to reuse excess waste water from the home, to be cleaned and then back into the water system or into irrigation. In the future these simple upgrades will have the potential to save hundreds on water and energy costs, which will in-turn add to your homes value.

Sanitary water supplies and adequate indoor plumbing supports families, businesses, industries, and agriculture across the UK and also the rest of the world. In-fact, 83% of people recognise that indoor plumbing and smart plumbing is essential to their own health and safety, as well as their families.

We have a range of smart plumbing solutions, here at HPS. Find your nearest branch here and pop in to see for yourself exactly what’s on offer.

why PolyPlumb is a good option

Chris Derrer - Tuesday, August 22, 2017


At HPS we have a wide range of materials for fittings and products, as we want to expand your and our knowledge of which materials are suited better to specific environments. For example, can you use PolyPlumb where hot water is needed to pass through? What will allow for the best joint integrity? What pipe stiffener should be used? And also what benefits and cons does PolyPlumb have? Don’t worry we’re going to get right onto it and make sure you’re an expert by the time you’ve finished reading!  

Robust and reliable, PolyPlumb has stood the test of time. PolyPlumb fittings feature a single step jointing process and a high performance stainless steel grab ring within the fitting, which allows for superb joint integrity. Use with Polypipe grey polybutylene flexible pipe, or you can combine PolyPlumb fittings and copper pipe. We recommend the use of a Polypipe metal or plastic pipe stiffener when used with plastic pipe.

PolyPlumb is suitable for use in most plumbing and heating installations including hot and cold water and underfloor heating applications. The system offers a number of benefits, including: time efficient, no nonsense one step joint process, high performance stainless steel grab ring ensures superb joint integrity, demountable only by disassembling reducing potential for tampering. On top of this, it is inexpensive, durable and easy to maintain, which makes it incredibly popular with plumbers who rely on plastic pipes and parts to have greater resistance to corrosion and degradation and a big bonus is that won’t transfer any taste when used with drinking water systems.

So there you have it, PolyPlumb systems are suitable pretty much across the board, from waste systems to drinking water systems, with a number of benefits. Care to find out more or wish to purchase some for your next job? Not a problem, all of our PolyPlumb materials are listed and explained here http://www.hpsmerchant.co.uk/polyplumb

Plumbing Myths - solved!

Chris Derrer - Thursday, August 17, 2017
There is a myth for everything, everywhere – especially when it comes to plumbing and heating! Here at HPS, we have researched the most common myths many DIY-ers believe and we have the answers…



1. “My pipes aren’t clogged, water is still going down the drain!”
Well, would you believe us if we told you it’s actually about how quickly the water goes down the drain? For example, if your drain is slow to clear its bubbles when you turn on other faucets (or flush the toilet) you may be at the beginning of a bigger clog! It’s a very common mistake to wait until a drain is completely blocked until you call in the plumber; the damage and inconvenience could be terrible.

2. “I only need a plunger to remove clogs”
Plungers are simple, they work by plugging a clog free with suction – a great tool! BUT, unfortunately it won’t work on every single clog you come across. If the clog you are faced with is caused by something sturdy and stubborn like a tree root, you need a more forceful solution. Often, if a plunger doesn’t work, you should usually turn to your trustee plumbing snake. If this doesn’t work, try hydrojetting; this targets high-pressure water spray to break up and flush out clogs.

3. “My leaky tap can wait…”
What’s the one thing that people tend to put off? You guessed it… a leaky tap. This is because most people don’t think that it’s a big deal – but trust us, it is. The main issue is that the extra water running out of your tap is costing you money on your water bills... quite literally going down the drain! As well as this, a leaky tap can be a sign of trouble brewing elsewhere within your pipes – like other potential leaks. Getting to the bottom of and/or fixing what is causing the leak could actually save your home from some serious water damage.

4. “Creatures can’t get through the pipes… can they?”
The answer to this one is a simple yes. If a creature is small, flexible, and able to swim… they can get up your pipes. Which means, if they can get up your pipes, they can get into your home. Common uninvited guests include snakes (mainly in warmer countries), frogs, and rats. To stop the intruders from coming in, install a flap over the waste tube of your toilet; this will let waste out, while keeping the creatures out too!

So, there you have it, some of the most common plumbing myths, busted! If you would like to find out more about our services here at HPS, please do not hesitate to Contact Us.

Modern plumbing has come a long way...

Chris Derrer - Friday, July 28, 2017
Plumbing can be seen, to an extent, as early as 6000 BC. Hundreds of years ago, people realised water was important, and everyone needed access to it. The slaves in ancient civilisations, who would initially collect water down at the rivers and take it back up to the land in giant pots, were to be instructed to build rudimentary pipes. Substitutes for such can even be found in areas where ancient civilisations lived. Of course, there were a limited number of tools at that point in time and whatever tools they did have were standardised or guaranteed in any way. So, as a whole plumbing wasn't standardised like it is today, where it has an industrial presence of its own.

Clearly today it has come a long way with new materials for pipes, filtration systems are in place, and there is generally more efficiency for water transferal due to the scientific calculations that would make sure the piping can provide and retain the right amount of water pressure. Plumbing has become a part of everybody's house hold in the modern era, this is a massive change to the times where plumbing first arose, where only royalty, such as kings and VIP's would have a set of pipes to remove liquefied waste and supply their clean water. Even as late as the 18th Century people in western Europe would remove their waste by throwing it out of windows into the streets. One of the major reasons we saw a boom in residential plumbing was the factor of hygiene and the life expectancy was low at this point due to the poor sanitation.

Since the 19th Century there has been many adaptations to plumbing and fittings for the general public. The first tap to have hot and cold under a single tap handle was made in 1939, which made life more convenient and then later developments saw an increase in sanitation through water filters and pipes designed with retention of pressure in mind which could later make shower head fittings possible.

Plumbing has been one of the most important developments in human history and could’ve been the difference between a sanitised, developed world and one ridden with disease, infection and millions of people who live many miles in-land, would be without water. Good job plumbers! You’re saving the planet every day!


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