3 Things That Really Annoy Plumbers

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.

5 Tips to Avoid Winter Plumbing Woes

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.

Before, During & After Winter

Every year when the weather drops colder, the instances of needed plumbing repairs increases and the number of plumbing emergencies also rises. But hey, more work for us then eh? You know what they say; “the more the merrier”, but this isn’t always the case. Often an influx of jobs can mean being over worked, which can then begin to effect things outside of work. So, what are some things that plumbers can do before, during and after winter to make sure that they prevent/fix as many emergencies as possible?

BEFORE WINTER: Clue up your clients

Of course, a real magician never reveals his secrets, you don’t want every Tom, Dick and Harry doing your job for you, right? However, a certain level of basic knowledge and preparedness of the steps for an emergency for your client can save you vital time and stop an intensifying problem, meaning when you arrive on scene you can just do what you do best (fix stuff!) and then leave for your next job… nice! You’ll also become a trusted trader by that client if you look to be offering them advice that could save them future call out costs! Trust = recommendations!

BEFORE WINTER: Insulate water pipes exposed to the elements

Obviously after following the step above, you can use your powers of persuasion (and hopefully knowledge) on your client to get permission to insulate their pipes. Remember not everyone will let you do this as they will think you are just creating jobs you can charge for, but this could save a lot of burst pipes over the coming months. They may regret it if not!

DURING WINTER: Keep the house warm!

Whilst we like to promote energy efficiency here at HPS, one sure fire way of stopping internal pipes from Freezing over the cold winter months is to never let your home get TOO cold. Never let the heating be off for more than a few hours, even if you go away. If the temperature drops drastically, you could come back to frozen pipes that could cause all sorts of problems! Plus, some studies have shown that it can be more cost effective to keep your home at a consistent temperature than having to constantly heat up over and over again from very low temperatures.

AFTER WINTER: Repair all damages sustained in winter.

What follows winter? Spring… which is the most unpredictable time of year for weather, so it is best to make sure that any damages sustained to your clients plumbing system is repaired before moving forward into the new season. Let’s face it, it’s more likely to snow at Easter than Christmas in the UK!

Boiler Maintenance Checklist

Plumbing isn’t just about water and sanitation, it’s also about heating and gas, particularly for those plumbers who are also gas safe engineers. That’s right, without plumbing we wouldn’t just be without clean water and sanitation, but we’d be without the things that give our lives comfort; warm water and central heating.

Whilst boilers aren’t really playing much of a factor in keeping people warm at this time of year, it’s still advised that your clients ask you to check their boiler and hot water heating systems and that they are still working after a long period of inactivity. Afterall, pipes can erode, fittings can come lose, valves can lose pressure and all of these things happen due to a lack of maintenance. This can leave the customer having to shell out on boiler repairs (or a completely new boiler) on top of winter’s extortionate energy bill usage.

What should you encourage your customers to check during the summer?

  • Inspect the boiler equipment for leaking water, particularly underneath and to the side
  • Check temperature readings and pressure readings to make sure all are within the standard.
  • Closely watch for any error codes on the visual electronic display if it has one.
  • If at all possible, inspect burner flame.
  • Take readings of CO (Carbon Monoxide) emissions

Why now? Why not! For heating engineers, it’s the quietest time of the year – which means no long waits for your customers. It also means that they’re preventing the inevitable happening and their boiler breaking down on the coldest day of the year in a few months’ time.

Encouraging boiler maintenance over the summer months and sending past clients reminders such as the above bullet points can really keep your calendar full over the quieter months, plus your customers will be happy and warm during the winter!

Building good customer relationships

We know that having depth in your customer base is ESSENTIAL. If you work as a plumber for a plumbing company then it’s not really your job to worry about building a customer out of a lead, but it’s about building a rapport and a trust with the customer you will ultimately converse with in the flesh, when the job comes to be done. So here are some of our top tips to build a friendly, yet trustworthy rapport with a customer.

1. Demonstrations of previous work

If there’s one thing that will make a potential client into customer is to show them your previous work (through pictures, video, social media, etc…). This will not only show that you are a competent plumber but also can be trusted to do a job properly and you have pride in your work.

2. Social Media reputation

Firstly, if you don’t have your services as a sole-trading plumber advertised on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc… Then please do so. This can not only act as your portfolio that we mentioned in the previous point, but other customers can leave reviews of your latest work as well as tag you in posts where someone needs a plumbing & heating expert, through a simple recommendation.

3. Go to breakfast mornings & trade days

These are perfect networking events, not only to meet other like-minded plumbers and get your hands on some bargains but also here, you can build yourself a supply chain from merchants and other folk in the trade who may be looking to sub-contract your time as a plumber for an electrician, or construction worker who may need a plumber on-site.

4. Courtesy

This one’s a simple one; basic politeness and flattery will get you anywhere and everywhere, just so long as you are sincere about it and not clearly putting on a front, don’t be THAT guy. You’re supposed to be someone they can count on in emergency to be supportive and efficient, so it only makes sense that you show them your professionalism in your approach to problems… as well as your friendliness and manners.

5. Get listed

Nothing will instil trust in your services as a plumber, than being listed on the relevant listing websites and gaining a whole host of top reviews. Being on a site like Check-A-Trade or Rated People offers a huge advantage over a tradesperson that isn’t listed. Afterall, they could be just any old cowboy, just like you could be any old cowboy. But not now, because you’re listed in all the right places and have reviews that tell the world that you are the real deal!

Conserving Water… Does It Really Matter?

We all know it, water is the most necessary substance on the planet to create and sustain life. It’s even more important to plumbers… as it is a big part of your working life too. Along with consuming water, look at all the other things we use water for; namely washing ourselves, heating our environments and cleaning things around us.

It is thought by most people that water is extremely abundant, but did you know only around 2% of the world’s water is currently fit for human consumption? But what about the remaining 98% of water and why can’t we consume it? Simple, it’s salt water in the oceans, or currently still frozen in the polar ice caps. Oh and not forgetting the water being flushed down the toilet right now! Either way, should we conserve water? Does it really matter?

YES! Here are some reasons why:

1. Summers are getting really hot!

This past summer may just have been the hottest on record and it’s been going that way since the 1976 heatwave across the British Isles. Last year was also a very warm summer, and the year before that… With soaring temperatures, water can dry out in the major cities like London. By conserving water, you can ensure we all have enough water to live at least pretty comfortably… you may just need to give the hose pipes a rest and let your lawn suffer a bit!

2. There is a major over-usage

As mentioned above, water is used in everything; agriculture, Thermoelectric power, industry and the treatment of livestock that we would eat for food. These kinds of sectors and industries run everyday, 24/7 at some kind of capacity. This usually cannot be helped and is often managed as responsibly as possible… however, we can all help. People that take regular baths or those taking long showers, leaving the tap on when brushing teeth/shaving, etc. You’d be pretty amazed how much water we can all save as individuals by switching from baths to showers and turning the tap off while we brush our teeth twice a day!

3. There’s a population increase

Like we said in the opener, we have always needed and always will need water. We constantly use it for heating, Washing, consuming, cleaning and cooking. If the number of people inhabiting the planet skyrockets as predicted over the next 20 years, water conservation will basically have to be law, otherwise people would waste what limited water we would have left. There are lots of water saving innovations we can install in our homes, so just ask in branch for some tips and product ideas and one of our friendly members of staff will help as much as possible!

Customers son raises £1200 to go to scout Euro Jamberee 2020

One of our customer’s sons has taken it upon themselves to complete a 25-mile hike over the South Downs and managed to raise enough money to go to the scout Euro Jamberee next year!

Customer Jason Cooke’s son was trying to raise £1200 so he could attend the huge event for scouts across Europe, set up by the World Organization of the Scout Movement. Not only did he do this, but he did it in absolute style as he was wearing the HPS logo proudly on his hiking jacket as he took to the South Downs.

So far, two European Scout Jamborees (or EuroJam’s) have been held as a dress rehearsal for the World Scout Jamborees to be held one or two years later at the same site, each with about 10,000 participants so it’s clear as to why the youngster was keen on attending. the World Scout Conference in Baku 2017 decided that the 25th World Scout Jamboree would take place in Korea in 2023, Scouts from almost 30 European countries requested the Polish Scouting Association to consider organizing Eurojam. European Scout organizations therefore set into motion that EuroJam 2020 will take place on Sobieszewo Island, in Gdańsk, Poland, with a target of 25,000 participants, and is in the planning process.

We’re very honoured to be associated with this act of hard work and perseverance and we’re very happy that the young man’s walk over the South downs was able to raise the cash needed to attend the event.

Dealing with Drain Flies

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 😉

Eliminating Rusty Water In The Home

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.

Encouraging women into the plumbing industry

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!

Friendly advice for your customers

Customers don’t like being made to feel daft… But when you are a plumber, there’s never a shortage of people who create their own problems for you to fix. Repeat business is good, however, being called out to fix silly problems customers cause themselves isn’t, especially if it’s the same customers again and again… you know the sort!

So, what can you do to best advise customers on their destructive habits?

  1. “Sorry but, cooking oil doesn’t belong down the sink”

If you find yourself unclogging the same sink again and again, perhaps it’s time to nicely approach the customer and say “You wouldn’t happen to pour your used oil down here would you?”, if they reply yes then tell them this simply isn’t the place to just put it. Used cooking oil needs to be mixed heavily with water before going down the drain, or it can be soaked up by paper towels and then dispose of them in the bin.

  1. “Call us when you first notice the problem”

Most problems in plumbing can be dealt with most easily if they’re dealt with straight away. Much like with human health, if you’re worried about a problem, get a professional to check it and make the odds of an easy fix much greater! For example, if your client has an issue with the lack of drainage from their basin, then we all know this is usually a sign of a clog that has started somewhere underneath. However, the seriousness of most blockages can be reduced by catching the blockage early, by noticing when the delay between pulling the plug and the basin being empty is starting to become noticeably longer.

  1. “Don’t flush that”

If it hasn’t come out of their body and if it isn’t toilet paper, don’t flush it. Simple as that. Toilets aren’t made to flush wet wipes, nor are they made to flush old makeup sponges. They’re certainly not made to flush dead goldfish! If your customer has kids that love flushing unsuitable items, you know… like toys, the odd sock, your car keys, then advise them on babyproofing the loo to save any more costly call outs!

Future Trends in Plumbing | HPS Merchant | Blog

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!

Getting Started In Plumbing & Apprenticeships

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!

Having a bad day? Hopefully not as bad as these guys…

We’ve all had bad days at work. Some days we can’t wait to just go home, eat some food, get showered and get in bed, prepared and hoping for tomorrow to be a better day, sometimes that works… other times? Not so much.

But if you did happen to wake up on the wrong side of the bed this morning we’re here to tell you “hey, it’s not all bad” and “look at the day these guys have had!” and we can all have a share a cheeky laugh together and then get on with the rest of our days. Sound like a good idea? Of course it is!

1. Job gets robbed

Ben is a good plumber, he’s a one-man-band and very conscious of cost and his customer’s satisfaction. One day he got a call out from a customer who had a backed-up sewer line and a broken sump pump. In order to fix it, he would have to drain it, but as a small one-man-band at the time, Ben didn’t have sewage pumping tanks, so he subcontracted that part of the job to another company. The bad thing was he was stood there the entire time and the company had completely poached his customer, offering to take on the job for mere pennies less.  Full story here: https://imgur.com/gallery/rrFO5

2. Swimming Lessons?

Matthew was just another plumber who had narrowly avoided the cruel finger of fate up until he was called into a job where is primary skill set of plumbing would also be joining forces with art of swimming. That’s right! Matthew got called into a basement that had become a swimming pool overnight, so what did he do? Drain it? Nope… time is money! Instead he put on the snorkel and a wet suit and had to swim along all the pipes in the basement that added up to 20m in total length! Maybe he should become a swimming instructor. Full story here: https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/7259759/tsunamis-of-poo-and-swimming-through-drains-of-fat-british-plumbers-reveal-the-grossest-parts-of-their-job/

3. “Just testing”

It’s not uncommon for artists to step back to view their work, it’s not uncommon for a chef to taste his own food, so maybe it shouldn’t be a crime for a plumber to spend a penny or two after he’s finished working on installing a new toilet, right? … Well… unfortunately for Tom, he left quite the odour, in-fact it was still there when the homeowner came back at lunch. The owner wished to talk design and installing the new tub in the bathroom, but Tom tried to sway the owner from walking into that room. Eventually, the homeowner walks in and makes quite the face at Tom who could only apologise profusely and left him rather embarrassed.  Full story here: https://www.plumbingzone.com/f13/funny-plumbing-stories-9393/

How Social Media is changing the plumbing industry

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.

How to Install the Perfect Bathroom for your Client

Bathroom designs and styles are always changing. Wet rooms and shower rooms are becoming increasingly popular and can often be the best-looking room in the house. Your clients may ask that you advise on what YOU think they should have installed. So, what are the factors to consider when giving this advice?

  1. Will it fit?

A pretty obvious one to start with. We tend to post occasional pictures of botched plumbing jobs done by cowboy plumbers on our Facebook, so believe us when we say we are no stranger to people who have made silly mistakes like not considering this one. Basically, don’t be that guy/girl! Measure and stick to the units you started with, preferably mm. Just to be safe!

 

  1. Water System

The choice of shower can be limited due to a certain number of factors, one of which is the type of water and heating system. Mains pressure systems requires a large water cylinder to store the heated-up water in, where as a combination boiler system will rely on the mains pressure, but does not need any additional storage cylinders. Basically, it heats the cold water as and when used. Finally, there’s the Gravity system which uses (you guessed it) Gravity within it’s mechanics. Pumps are often used in upstairs water sources to drag the water up to the taps/shower etc, otherwise it would all flow downwards, towards the centre of gravity.

 

  1. Tray/Tub/Former?

Depending on the space you calculated, from the first point on this list, you now must make a decision on what style shower to put in. Obviously, what the client wants has to come first, but you can use your expertise to sway them towards a more suitable option for the space. For example, a shower with a tub at the bottom will take up more floor space than a tray. If your customer is pushing for more functionality and accessibility, a walk-in shower is best, especially for people who use wheelchairs.

 

  1. Type of shower

The market today has many kinds of showers, but lets keep to the main ones that you most likely will choose between, for now. There are thermostatic showers which reduce temperature change issues, as turning on a tap/flushing the loo elsewhere in the house will not shift the temperature. Mixer showers have a hot and cold feed and the two then ‘mix’ together to get the perfect shower temperature you desire. Along with standard electric showers which heat the water from the cold feed before outputting it, there are also new digital showers which can offer increased control (and style). They can be touch pad activated, or even voice controlled through Bluetooth devices to set the correct temperature and flow.

 

  1. Budget

This one is very important, as it basically decides what is and what isn’t possible for this installation. With a low budget comes limited options, but with a larger budget and a larger shower room there is more freedom of market choices. Talk to your client about the prices of the different shower options and then they can decide what they want and how much they wish to spend.

 

If you consider all 5 of the above points, you’re on to a winner and it all comes down to your installation skills… but we know you’ve got that side covered!

How to treat Hard Water Problems

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 it 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 these 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 these water issues; 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.

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

HPS Raise Over HALF A MILLION POUNDS for Great Ormond Street Hospital

Great Ormond Street Hospital has always been a charity close to our hearts here at HPS, and we are proud to say that we have been making significant donations over a time period of nearly twelve years! We raise money for GOSH in a number of various ways that everyone everywhere can get involved in, from sports events, to raffles and auctions. We would love to share some of these events with you.

In 2016, we raised an incredible £89,000 which when added to the previous year’s efforts meant than in 12 years of raising and donating, we have raised over £500,000 for Great Ormond Street Hospital! We couldn’t be prouder that, as a company, we have contributed towards changing the lives of children, adults, and families throughout the United Kingdom. It has also given opportunity for our own company to come together throughout the branches, with other companies and our great customers to do something really special!

Recently, we have conducted seven charity golf days which everyone loves taking part in but also have offered us a great opportunity to raise even more money. As well as swinging our clubs, we hold raffles and auctions for people to get involved in – with each participant donating their hard earned money. The 2 most recent events have enabled us to raise a staggering £10,000 each time!

“It’s ni“It’s nice to give something back” – Peter Wilson (HPS Merchants Sales Director)

Not only do we plan sports events to raise money for GOSH, but events that allow our teams to bond and communicate with our customers, all while having fun and raising money. We hold company curry nights, bowling competitions, and breakfast mornings around our many branches.

As a company, we have to also recognise the efforts of some individual team members, of which there are too many to mention here – for their solo fundraising efforts for GOSH. We’ve had marathon runners, mountain climbers and long distance endurance cyclists amongst our ranks over the last 12 or so years – who all wanted to raise money for their exploits which we have been able to add to our running total.

Rebecca Robertson – Senior Fundraising Executive of Great Ormond Street said “Thousands of children pass through the hospital doors each year. Each one of these young patients is unique and we do everything we can to help them, and the families who love them. Knowing that we can rely on fundraisers like Heating Plumbing Supplies Ltd. enables us to plan with greater confidence and means our young patients can continue to rely on the excellence of care for which the hospital is renowned worldwide.”

Here at HPS, we take pride in the fact that we are doing everything that we can do in order to raise money for such a kind-hearted charity, whilst bringing communities all over the south of England closer together for an amazing cause at our events.

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.

HPS VADO Rally 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

Keeping an eye on the little things

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.

Modern plumbing has come a long way…

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!

Plumbing Health & Safety

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 Myths – solved!

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.

Plumbing tips for Apprentices

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.

Promotions & Offers In Store

We have offers on in-branch for select ranges of certain top, high quality brands in the world of plumbing and heating and they are currently running until March 2019, so you’ve still got a few more weeks to get some vital shopping done for your outstanding jobs! Let’s have a look at the main product offers that you can find in your local HPS branch, remember if you’re stuck on anything you can always rely on our trade counter staff to clarify for you and make the transition seamless.

ADEY Products:

Some of the highest quality filters and chemicals come from ADEY. On offer right now are:

  • NEW Atom Filter (Use Code: ATOM)
  • NEW MagnaClean Pro 3 Sense Filter (Use Code: MAGPRO03)
  • New MagnaClean Pro 3 Sense Filter with MC1/MC3 Chemicals

+ MANY MORE!

Grundfos Products:

Grundfos manufacture some very nice shower pumps and we’ve managed to get them onto our promotions list:

  • Grundfos 1.5 Bar Twin Shower Pump
  • Grundfos Amazon 3 Bar Twin Shower Pump

Vaillant Boilers Offer:

Vaillant are a producer of quality standard, energy efficient boilers that we stock at HPS. Our Vaillant special offer is on the entire Vaillant Ecotec Plus range when bought with the Vaillant system filter. You’ll also get one of our snazzy HPS & Vaillant Regatta body warmer to keep you toasty and stylish on the move! But wait… There is more, you also get a 10 year warranty, piece of mind for a whole decade!

Henrad Products:

Henrad radiators are now on offer in your local HPS branch! When you buy a Henrad radiator you can also pick up an Entity TRV & LS Pack for just £5.50 + VAT, which is a bargain for unmarked quality. There are also other Henrad offers you can ask about to our trade counter staff.

MANY MORE:

You can ask our trade counter staff for information on pretty much all of our offers, we’d advise asking about offers on Entity products and Barlo radiators as they are also listed in our Promotions brochure, which you can read online here.

Self Employed or Firm Work?

Plumbers! It’s time to address the most important question, do you join a plumbing firm or do you go self-employed? Well, the answer may be clearer than you think, but it totally depends on you as a person.

Are you an apprentice, or perhaps just fresh out of your education and looking to start your plumbing career? Then it’s probably best to join a firm or under a sole trader that will train you or be looking to expand a team. The reason for this is mostly down to experience and having finances set-up to run a business.

Younger people tend to be paid slightly less in the UK on average and may have to take out a loan to set up a business. Luckily though there’s nothing stopping you from setting up your own business once you have gained enough experience and saved up enough on the side to begin a business.

If you’ve decided to switch careers to become a plumber and already have your qualifications and have some experience of business before then you could think about realistically setting yourself up.

What about the pro’s and con’s of being a self-employed plumber?

PRO’s:

  • You can end up paying less tax
  • You get to choose the work you want to take on
  • You are your own boss
  • Job Security is 100% guaranteed (you won’t fire yourself)
  • Expenses like fuel can be classed as “business expenses” and claimed back

CON’s:

  • You are responsible for your accounts
  • Working hours could be more irregular than the standard 9-5
  • Various insurances (that would’ve been your employer’s responsibility) have to be taken out by yourself
  • You MIGHT be called out for emergencies on Sundays
  • If you don’t work then you don’t make money
  • No guaranteed income!

So what do you think? Is self employed work for you? Let us know over on our social channels!

The emergence of ‘Smart Plumbing’

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.

The Vital Link Between Plumbing & Health

As it was world plumbing day earlier this month, we learned a lot about the crucial link between indoor plumbing, sanitation and their effects on health, it is more vital than you imagined. Lets just look back 300 years ago in the 1700’s, the life expectancy was 47 years old! Compare that to now where we have people living to 90 and beyond and you’ve got to ask yourself, what changed?

Well, the difficult thing about finding this link between plumbing and sanitation is that so many technological and medical advances were made in that time, but even if medicine were as good as it is today, we’d be far from safe from the dangers of having no plumbing and sewer systems.

Before the invention of the sewer and indoor plumbing systems, people would throw their waste into the gutters out of their windows because they couldn’t get rid of it elsewhere. The towns and streets would smell of sewage, rats and other vermin would become associated pests and this would transmit disease.

So what did indoor plumbing do for the UK when it first came into use? Well, in the decades that followed cases of Cholera dropped significantly and now Cholera can’t be found in the UK at all, thanks to indoor plumbing and water treatment. So it’s thanks to plumbers that you don’t have worry about anything like that coming out of your taps.

We should also point out that Only 40% of the world at the moment has this luxury of sanitation. When you consider that very few 3rd world countries have indoor plumbing and the 3rd world does make up 75% of the population, it’s very easy to just take this system we have for granted and people do… That’s where your guys’ funny pictures of things you found down the drain comes in 😉

Underfloor heating, is it the right choice?

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

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.

What does the bathroom of the future look like?

Technology is an ever growing progression and as time moves on we will only see more technology pop up in our lives, look at the huge technological jump between the year 2000 to the year 2010 and then compare that to the advances between 1975 and 1985 and you can see that more happened in this decade than it did in the past.

In the bathrooms and plumbing sector there have been advances too and those advances will continue on into the future, so we want to ask ‘what does the bathroom of the future look like?’. Well first of all, showers and toilets have seen the most advances so far. Electric showers with ultimate flow and temperature control as well as stored user profiles (for different users) are already used (all be it sparingly at the moment), leading to a personalised shower experience that is 100% comfortable to the user.

Toilets have already seen major advancements in other areas of the world and you’ve got to think that maybe those will make their way over to the western world sooner or later. Countries like Japan have hugely advanced toilets with remote controls and buttons that all set up height, the seat, flush/flow settings, some of them even have an on-board A.I that talks to you and can guide users living with disabilities.

One thing that could become extinct from your bathroom over the se of the next 20 years is your towel… why you ask? Well, the thing is towels retain a lot of bacteria and they are actually quite unhygienic. So how will people get dry in the future after a long, luxurious soak? Body dryers – a unit in your bathroom that blows air at a set temperature and pressure to dry you off efficiently and comfortably. Again there are some already on the market, particularly in use by the accessible bathrooms sector to help those with limited mobility to get dry, but as with bidet toilets, we predict these will be pretty common place in years to come!

What is Water Hammer?

Often the most common issues pop-up the most regularly such as leaky taps, burst pipes and a broken water heater or boiler, but what about one that a lot of clients seem to overlook, despite its obnoxious effect, yes … we are talking about “water hammer”.

What is Water Hammer?

We’re pretty certain that the majority of you plumbers out there already know what water hammer is but, for the general homeowner or maybe apprentice plumbers we’ll go ahead and explain it for you. You know when someone uses the tap for about ten seconds and then when you shut it off and you hear a bassy thud come through the walls? That is water hammer.

What Causes Water Hammer?

Water hammer is the sound of pressurised water hitting a closed valve when closed suddenly. Imagine that when you have the tap on that the water begins to flow through the valve, then all of a sudden, the tap is shut off and the valve shuts immediately. All that water that was moving freely towards the valve has been stopped in it’s tracks and the kinetic energy of the water has to be subdued, so as it hits the valve it absorbs that energy from the water, resulting in a waste product (sound), which manifests itself as that bassy thud that comes through the wall.

Is Water Hammer Dangerous?

It can be if it’s very severe. Imagine that every time the valve closes it and the connected pipes take a high amount of impact damage from the kinetic energy of the water, this could lead to a burst pipe, a valve being knocked loose or broken and both of those have their own knock-on effects, the worst being indoor flooding.

How can water hammer be prevented?

Choosing the right products for your valves, fittings and pipes is the first solution in a minor water hammer situation as this will ensure that the components last longer under the effects of water hammer. In a potentially dangerous situation, it’s always best to call a certified plumber, you’ve got nothing to lose in that situation, by calling them.

What makes a good merchant?

Here at HPS, we’d like to think we know what makes a good merchant for plumbers so, we decided to collect and present the top qualities in a good merchant that you would typically expect… yes, we do all of these!

  1. Products

Let’s start with an obvious one. Products are the main reason that merchant’s make their money and get people in the shop, therefore it is important to source the right products. It’s not just about the best and most expensive however, it’s about finding a balance and offering choice between robust and the most popular products that are proven to work and also offering those that are cheaper, or even easier to install. What we’re saying is it’s important to have a good RANGE of products. Of course, all at super competitive prices so you can make your markup!

  1. Staff

When you walk into a merchant, we’re pretty confident that as plumbers, you know what you want and what you are on about, but even the best of the best get confused sometimes and a second pair of eyes or ears is what you need to throw on the situation. Who should you call on for this? None other than your trusty branch staff! If the staff have been a great assistance to you and know how to best attack the situation you are in, then you are in the hands of very good branch staff and therefore a very good merchant.

  1. Promotions

Having in-store promotions shows a caring nature for your customers pocket (as well as yours), almost as the merchant is saying, “We care about your cash flow and we want you to buy more often from us, so we’ll make this cheaper for you”. Not only does it show that, but it also shows a creativeness behind the scenes in marketing and pricing as well as the ability to strike ideas and deals with suppliers.

What do you think makes a good merchant? Let us know!

When should you call a plumber?

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).

Why a water filtration system could be good for your clients

“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 water 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.

Why is being a plumber the best?

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!

Why is the boiler losing pressure?

You’re nice and toasty in bed at 6:30am and ring, ring, ring, ring! After taking a few seconds to stir, and asking yourself what kind of person is up this damn early complaining, you answer your phone. The person on the other end of the phone has no heating… the cause? Low boiler pressure. As much of a common problem this is, we would like to take your through the quickest and easiest, yet most effective steps to take in determining the issue and fixing it.

 

Firstly (and likely the most obviously)

 

Check for any leaks in the system… This includes the boiler itself, any cracks in radiators or gas/central heating pipes. This means checking radiators, valves, inputs, outputs, pipework, and joints. Whilst that sounds like a lot, it’s quite quick and easy and lost pressure is most commonly found in central heating systems that have cracks or lose valves. Once you have repaired or replaced these items, pressure should rebuild naturally within the system. Hey presto, we have heat!

 

What if you can’t find any leaks?

 

Then the problem is not down to a leak, but what it could be down to is a faulty pressure release valve. You should be able to locate and either repair or replace the valve, though the second option is likely to be more effective for your client as a long-term solution. Be sure to tell your client to keep an eye on things after it has been fixed and to see if the pressure slowly returns towards it’s normal status.

 

Boiler maintenance?

 

Often a lack of pressure comes down to pure lack of maintenance of the system. If the system is maintained properly then there is less chance of a breakage, split, or faulty valve occurring to a such an intensity where pressure is lost. Tell your client to maintain the boiler by doing certain easy-to-do tasks. One of which is getting it serviced frequently, either by yourself or a gas safe engineer. Servicing boilers regularly also means there will be less chances of malfunctions that can lead to Carbon Monoxide poisoning and other horrendous and lethal accidents. Carbon Monoxide poisoning from faulty boilers causes around 3,450 deaths a year in the UK and that’s only for people aged between 16 and 64, according to a recent study. We should always be making our clients aware of the dangers associated with central heating and boilers, because one day it could be a cracked valve… the next it could be a rather expensive fix, or even worse human health issues.

Wireless Thermostats: When and How they should be installed

Controlling our heating from a distance wirelessly, whether it’s to heat up the home with more fluidity, or simply the convenience of not having to walk to the thermostat all the time is becoming a real trend. Wireless and Bluetooth heating control devices are becoming more and more popular as of late with apps like Hive and Nest becoming super popular with the market and are well integrated into smartphones and smart home devices such as the Amazon Echo and Google Home. We know that some of you may have installed one of these before, but for those who are unfamiliar with this kind of application, here are some things to consider when and if should you fit these pieces of technology, considering the kind of environment they will be in.

Expected Range of communication:

Within the average household, wireless signals and Bluetooth products should communicate, to a reliable extent, up to a distance of 30m in any direction from the source. It is important to consider which product you will grace your customer with as the signal will have to be strong enough, or persistent enough to travel through walls and ceilings. Also note that older houses built in the 30’s tend to have very thick walls and ceilings, so that is something that could impact the communications. They may also struggle in very large properties where the control device is more than 30m away from the thermostat… we’re thinking this won’t be a problem 99% of the time though!

Other devices:

The last thing you need when you’ve finished your day of fitting a wireless thermostat, is to be called back and the client is very adamant you’ve done something to their internet, or automatic garage door. Many wireless thermostats work off something called a frequency and it is measured in Hertz (Hz) and the average frequency for the wireless thermostat is between 433MHz (Mega Hertz) and 868MHz, which are the frequencies that control garage doors, remote doors, etc… By far the best and most sophisticated frequency is 2.4GHz (Giga-Hertz) and that is very well controlled and globally accepted by WI-FI and Bluetooth devices. It is a very busy waveband and can handle much many more devices at once. This is always the safe option, but can be slightly more costly.

Consider the environment & boosting:

In the majority households there is only 1 or 2 floors; a ground floor and an upstairs. However, some houses end up with loft conversions, an extra floor or an extension, which means that the device could be out of range as we mentioned earlier. If you think that extensions, thick walls, or extra floors/loft conversions are going to promote any problems look into signal repeaters and boosters that take the original signal received and amplify up to another 30m in any direction from the source of the repeater.

And there it is, a good idea of the things to consider when installing wireless heating controls. Like we said earlier, they can be really useful and help the homeowner to save a lot of money in utility bills if managed correctly. Knowing how to install one without any major problems with connectivity and bandwidth occurring is a good thing, because in the future this is something that will pretty much be everywhere and in everyone’s homes, like the basic boiler controls are in today.