The South's Leading Independent Merchant

01273 511100

HPS Merchant

Plumbing Health & Safety

Chris Derrer - Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Health and safety doesn’t really cross your mind when danger is your middle name… or whatever other cringey, overused cliché you said to your colleague when you were feeling brave. Nevertheless, health and safety needs to be followed for your own wellbeing and to make sure you’re covered by your insurance, should the unfortunate happen. So to make life easier, here’s some tips to make sure you’re being H&S conscious. Some of these all of us are occasionally guilty of not doing. Let us on our social media which ones are most appropriate to you, either on Facebook or Twitter

 

Don’t be a fool… Use the right tool!

Sometimes we can mistakes, other times we’re looking for a quick way around something, but you should use the correct tools for the specified job to limit risk of injury and to avoid the embarrassing botch job. If you don’t have the right tool on you, come back to it when you do. Odds are, it can wait.

 

Carry a pair of goggles

It’s hardly breaking news, but getting things in your eyes can do serious damage, plus it really hurts. Dirty water, drain chemicals or metal dust and shavings from cutting through a metal pipe can all cause blindness. So probably best you just carry a pair of goggles in case any of these tasks come up. Don’t worry about looking daft, it’s better to look daft than not be able to look at anything ever again!

 

Wear Apropriate Footwear

Whether you like steel toe-cap boots or just some good sturdy work boots, these are a life saver to all tradesmen, be they construction workers or plumbers like you. Not only do steel toe-caps give off the “I know what I’m doing, stand back” vibe, but they protect falling, heavy objects like tools, parts and entire surfaces breaking your toes. Seriously they are absolutely solid and you can usually get a decent pair without breaking the bank.

 

Think Clearly and don’t rush

Go back to your training in your head, do you see yourself doing something you remember being told not do, or was shown how to do it a safer way? Then revert back, it’s probably a good idea to apply the sanest practices possible, whilst keeping it simple. You may be hungry or ready to knock off for the weekend, but rushing is where the majority of silly mistakes creep in.

 

Mask Away Mould

Water makes the objects in contact with it… wet, no brainer right? So it’s only natural that you’ll work in some damp environments. Damp brings mould, mould isn’t very compatible with human health, so not good right? Of course! We would recommend masking it with tape while you work, as skin contact can cause irritability and breathing in the spores can cause respiratory problems, especially if you have asthma!

All simple tricks and tips, but they could save you in the long run. If you have any more suggestions, send them us on Facebook or Twitter.

Plumbing tips for Apprentices

Chris Derrer - Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Here at HPS we really do like to see new, young tradespeople rise through the ranks in our world of plumbing. We’re also very glad that the number of trade apprentices has risen for the first time in quite a few years, it’s like we’re cool again!

We are aware that out there, there will be people that will give you all sorts of tips and advice, some may mislead you into making a mistake, be it minor or costly, but you’ll learn more from these mistakes than any textbook could ever teach, so don’t be disheartened. We’re also always here, to help you learn a couple of tips and tricks that may prove useful to make a job quicker or create less hassle and fuss. Let’s look at a few simple problems with quick and easy fixes to help out you apprentices.

Stuck Pipe? Heat it up…

If you have to remove an old threaded connection and it won’t budge, there’s a good chance that it has gone so rigid and stiff that you can’t physically remove it with your hand or even one of your trusty spanners… boo! However, there is a quick and easy fix out there… Heat. Yes, metal expands under heat which means the threaded connection becomes looser through changing shape slightly, then it’s all pretty straight forward. You might need to grab your blow torch for metal pipes, but some boiling water should work for the plastic pipes! Apply the heat until it is loosened and hey presto!

Fixing a clog in seconds… Literally

You don’t always have to snake out the drain, sometime you don’t even need a plunger… sometimes, all you need is a wet and dry vacuum! Apply the nozzle over the waste and turn it on, full suction and ‘thunk’ no more blockage. This isn’t an exact science, but can be a handy tip to try!

Sealing Pipe Threads? Plumber tape!

We don’t think that using duct tape to secure a wall or shower in place is a good idea but for simple pipe threads, it can do a job, even if just a temporary one. Tape is for pipe threads only. Don’t use it on compression or other connections. Be sure to wrap around 3 times (minimum) - Many plumbers will tell you that is the magic number.

Caulk… Not Putty

Putty seems fun… Looks like play-dough, it’s malleable, it’s sticky and it’s got a cool silly name. But what if I told you that not a lot of plumbers use putty… Why? Because Caulk exists. Putty has a habit of reacting with some types of plastic and damaging them, as well as drying out and getting completely stuck. Caulk is silicone based and is a longer lasting, higher durability sealant that will son become your best pal as you develop in your career.

Get on the dope!

You’ve heard of dope before right? No, not that kind… but pipe dope. Pipe dope is used on pipe thread to create a leakproof and pressure tight seal. So don’t be a dope, use dope.

Dealing with Drain Flies | HPS Merchant | Blog

Chris Derrer - Thursday, July 26, 2018

Dealing with Drain Flies

We all hate those nuisance bugs. All we want is a nice clean kitchen or bathroom, but a heatwave hits and then you notice some little pests flying around your home. Or perhaps your client called you up on a lazy Saturday morning with complaints of flies around their drains at home. Whether you are a plumber or a homeowner in need, here’s all you need to get rid of those annoying drain flies.

What are drain flies?

Drain flies are small bugs that typically like sewage, drains, warm and moist environments. Basically, your kitchens and bathrooms during hot weather.

How to locate the breeding ground

Place sticky tape over your drains for a couple of hours and return to them later, if that’s where the flies are coming from, you’ll probably find a few of the little blighters stuck to the underside of the tape!

How to deal with the flies

There are numerous ways you can remove drain flies once they are located, which is good news! First of all, DON’T POUR BLEACH DOWN THE DRAIN. Mixing certain bleaches with coating of older pipes can cause corrosion. Also, you may kill off a few larvae but that is literally all you will do, the bleach doesn’t stay in the drain long enough to cause damage to all the caked amounts of eggs and flies on the inside of the drain. First of all, if possible remove the drain cover, get some non-corrosive drain un-blocker, a plunger and a metal pipe brush. Apply the drain un-blocker and wait for that to take effect, then give the drain a good scrub with the bendy pipe brush, pushing down as far as it will reach to move the blockage/bugs as far down the pipe as possible.  

You may then want to use a little more of your drain unblocker/cleaner, followed by a damn good plunging to make sure the little pests have been flushed away. As an alternative to drain un-blocker, remember that adult drain flies hate detergent, so mix a bit in some water in a spray can and get to work attacking those last few remainders. The only thing to do now, is keep those drains clean! The pests will return if the drain is prone to clogs and blockages, so if that’s a common occurrence you may want to consider reworking the pipework underneath… but that’s a story for another day.

We hope this has been useful, as reports of drain flies approach peak times around end of July/August when humidity is at it’s greatest. Remember if you’re not an expert, then you can always call a plumber… just make sure they get their stuff from HPS 😉

Plastic vs Copper

Chris Derrer - Tuesday, July 24, 2018

As plumbers, we’re a decisive bunch, aren’t we? We solve problems with logic, yes or no answers and simple black and white analogies…. But there has been one war within the plumbing community that has raged on since the first man applied a spanner to a valve; plastic, or copper fittings and connectors? We think the answer is very simple. Use both.

Okay that’s not a real answer and a bit of a copout answer actually.

But both do have their advantages and disadvantages in terms of properties, let’s look at the rounds where plastic and copper will go head to head:

 

Round 1: Longevity

In terms of endurance and how long the product can remain in use for before it fails to complete its purpose; you may expect copper to win… but a standard copper pipe would last a shorter amount of time in comparison to plastic one, because copper is mainly iron based and iron sadly reacts with water and will become subject to erosion. So plastic is the victor here in round one.

 

Winner of round 1: Plastic

 

Round 2: Leaking

This one is complicated because there are many reasons as to why a pipe would leak. Would it expand under heat and then split? Perhaps there is too much water pressure? Or maybe even we’re talking about general wear and tear? Well, as mentioned above copper wears and tears easier than plastic through erosion, but copper can take more pressure. Plastic can withstand 10 bars of water pressure, where as copper can take up to 25 bars of pressure (or so they say).  

 

Winner of round 2: Draw

 

Round 3: Heat Resistance

Although pipes don’t necessarily deal with blowtorch levels of heat, pipes that connect into or just outside of boilers, radiators and the like are best left to the copper variety. Plastic melts, not under hot water temperatures per-se, but certainly won’t last very long either. Water flowing through a plastic pipe should not exceed 70oc, as the melting point of plastic is just below 100 degrees and at this point, will cause warping and deformation. Copper however, will not start to deform till just under 1000oc. It seems excessive to have a material to withstand 1000oc to contain a liquid that won’t really exceed 100oc, but copper wins this round on a technicality.

 

Round 3 winner: Copper

Tie Break: Which is more convenient?

When we talk convenience we’re looking at several things: how available said material is, how much does it cost and how easy is it to fit? Well in terms of availability plastic and copper fittings are just as common as each other in the market so that isn’t an issue. When it comes down to cost, plastic is definitely cheaper and copper is always rising in price, even scrap copper is worth A LOT! But the biggest question is which is easier to fit? Well, if we take into account that plastic is more flexible and manufacturers of plastic pipes tend to put them in ready-made, easy-fit style kits a plastic speed-fit fitting can take 5 seconds by a professional, whereas copper can be 5 times longer.

Tie Break Winner: Plastic

So there we have it, plastic is technically better (but it was a split decision) even though both are pretty good at what they do, if you want the best then you’d better get yourself some from your nearest HPS Branch: http://www.hpsmerchant.co.uk/hps-branch-locator

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!

Follow us here: Facebook | Twitter


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.



Search all products