Category Archives: Advice

HBRS Trader Competition

  1. By entering our find the tools competition, you agree to be bound by these terms and conditions. To enter, entrants but must be aged 18 years and over and be a resident in the UK. Employees (and their families or agents) of Checkatrade, or any of their associated companies cannot enter the Competition.
  2. To enter the Competition please speak with a member of the team who will register your entry. The competition will be open from 10am on 21/09/2018 and will close at 17:00 on the 23/09/2018. Winner will be announced by Friday 28th September 2018. Entries received before the opening dates or after the closing date will not be entered into the Competition. There will be 1 prize winner of 1 years free Checkatrade membership in total, plus up to 3 runner up prizes.
  3. The winner of the Competition will receive 1 years free membership to Checkatrade.
  4. One entry per person. If more than one entry per person is received only the first entry will be accepted. Entries that do not meet the rules of the Competition will be excluded and Checkatrade will not be liable for entries not received for any reason.  It is each entrant’s responsibility to ensure that the contact details they provide are accurate and complete. No responsibility will be accepted by Checkatrade for the loss or delay of the Prize in the post.
  5. Checkatrade reserves the right to substitute the Prize with a prize of equal or greater value in the event that the Prize described above cannot be provided to the Winner. The Prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative will be given.
  6. The Winner will be drawn at random from all valid entries received between the Opening Date and the Closing Date. Checkatrade will notify the Winner by 28/09/2018
  7. Checkatrade’s decision will be final and binding and no correspondence will be entered into.
  8. By entering the Competition, you agree that, if you win, you will allow Checkatrade to use your name and general location of publicity, news and promotional purposes in any and all media during this and any future promotions or advertising without charge.
  9. Checkatrade shall not be responsible or liable for any expenses incurred by the winner over and above the Prize offered above and the Winner uses the Prize at their own risk.
  10. Checkatrade reserves the right to change, alter or withdraw the Competition at any time.
  11. If any of these terms and conditions are found to be void or unenforceable, that term shall be deemed to be deleted and the remaining terms and conditions shall continue in full force and effect.
  12. These terms and conditions shall be governed and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales. Any dispute arising is subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales.

HBRS Consumer Competition

  1. By entering our caption competition, you agree to be bound by these terms and conditions. To enter, entrants but must be aged 18 years and over and be a resident in the UK. Employees (and their families or agents) of Checkatrade or any of their associated companies cannot enter the Competition.
  2. To enter the Competition you must have attended the Checkatrade stand the Homebuilding and Renovation Show at London ExCel and submitted your guess of the number of nuts and bolts in the Chevkatrade tick via the Online App. The competition will be open from 10:00AM on 21/09/2018 and will close at 5:00PM on the 23/09/2018. Winner will be announced Midday Wednesday 26th September. Entries received before the opening dates or after the closing date will not be entered into the Competition. There will be 1 prize winner in total, selected from all eligible entries through the Online App.
  3. The winner of the Competition will receive One Thousand Pounds exactly.
  4. One entry per person. If more than one entry per person is received only the first entry will be accepted. Any entrants using false or dishonest information or creating multiple accounts for the purposes of entering the Competition will be disqualified. Entries that do not meet the rules of the Competition will be excluded and Checkatrade will not be liable for entries not received for any reason.  It is each entrant’s responsibility to ensure that the contact details they provide are accurate and complete. No responsibility will be accepted by Checkatrade for the loss or delay of the Prize in the post.
  5. Checkatrade reserves the right to substitute the Prize with a prize of equal or greater value in the event that the Prize described above cannot be provided to the Winner. The Prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative will be given.
  6. The Winner will have the closest guess either higher or lower than the amount of nuts and bolts in the Checkatrade tick from all valid entries received between the Opening Date and the Closing Date. Checkatrade will notify the Winner by announcing it on Facebook 26/09/2018 and by email, if details have been provided. If there is a tie the first entry will be deemed the winning entry.
  7. Checkatrade’s decision will be final and binding and no correspondence will be entered into.
  8. By entering the Competition, you agree that, if you win, you will allow Checkatrade to use your name and general location of publicity, news and promotional purposes in any and all media during this and any future promotions or advertising without charge.
  9. Checkatrade shall not be responsible or liable for any expenses incurred by the winner over and above the Prize offered above and the Winner uses the Prize at their own risk.
  10. Checkatrade reserves the right to change, alter or withdraw the Competition at any time.
  11. If any of these terms and conditions are found to be void or unenforceable, that term shall be deemed to be deleted and the remaining terms and conditions shall continue in full force and effect.
  12. These terms and conditions shall be governed and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales. Any dispute arising is subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales.
  13. Please note that the Competition is not in any way sponsored, endorsed or administered by Facebook and that Facebook shall not be liable for anything relating to the Competition.

Caption This Competition

 

  1. By entering our caption competition, you agree to be bound by these terms and conditions. To enter, entrants but must be aged 18 years and over and be a resident in the UK. Employees (and their families or agents) of Checkatrade or any of their associated companies cannot enter the Competition.
  2. To enter the Competition please comment on the Facebook post a caption relevant to the picture we have posted with 20 words or less. The competition will be open from 4:30PM on 17/09/2018 and will close at 12:00 midnight on the 30/09/2018. Winner will be announced Midday Monday 1st October. Entries received before the opening dates or after the closing date will not be entered into the Competition. There will be 1 prize winner in total, selected from all eligible entries through Facebook.
  3. The winner of the Competition will receive One Thousand Pounds exactly.
  4. One entry per person. If more than one entry per person is received only the first entry will be accepted. Any entrants using false or dishonest information or creating multiple accounts for the purposes of entering the Competition will be disqualified. Entries that do not meet the rules of the Competition will be excluded and Checkatrade will not be liable for entries not received for any reason.  It is each entrant’s responsibility to ensure that the contact details they provide are accurate and complete. No responsibility will be accepted by Checkatrade for the loss or delay of the Prize in the post.
  5. Checkatrade reserves the right to substitute the Prize with a prize of equal or greater value in the event that the Prize described above cannot be provided to the Winner. The Prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative will be given.
  1. The Winner will chosen by Checkatrade staff picking their favourite caption relevant to the picture from all valid entries received between the Opening Date and the Closing Date. Checkatrade will notify the Winner by announcing it on Facebook 01/10/2018.
  2. Checkatrade’s decision will be final and binding and no correspondence will be entered into.
  3. By entering the Competition, you agree that, if you win, you will allow Checkatrade to use your name and general location of publicity, news and promotional purposes in any and all media during this and any future promotions or advertising without charge.
  4. Checkatrade shall not be responsible or liable for any expenses incurred by the winner over and above the Prize offered above and the Winner uses the Prize at their own risk.
  5. Checkatrade reserves the right to change, alter or withdraw the Competition at any time.
  6. If any of these terms and conditions are found to be void or unenforceable, that term shall be deemed to be deleted and the remaining terms and conditions shall continue in full force and effect.
  7. These terms and conditions shall be governed and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales. Any dispute arising is subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales.
  8. Please note that the Competition is not in any way sponsored, endorsed or administered by Facebook and that Facebook shall not be liable for anything relating to the Competition.

WHERE TO LOOK WHEN YOU CAN’T FIND YOUR STOPCOCK

When a pipe has just burst, what’s the worst that can happen? You can’t find the stopcock.

Leaks are unpredictable but acting fast will help to prevent water damage destroying your property, so you need to get to your stopcock as quickly as possible.

Where is my stopcock? 

The stopcock is usually found under the kitchen sink, but this is not always the case, especially in older properties. If you can’t find yours under the sink, try looking in:

  • The back of a cupboard in the bathroom
  • The airing cupboard
  • Near the boiler
  • Next to the front door, concealed behind a panel

Do I need to check if it works? 

Yes, we highly recommend testing your stopcock. Sometimes they seize up if they haven’t been used for a while, so we advise to give it a quick turn once or twice a year, just to be on the safe side.

Can Checkatrade help? 

If you have any questions or need help locating your stopcock, don’t wait until there is an emergency, get in touch with one of our Checkatrade members for help. Find a trader you can trust online at www.checkatrade.com

WHAT TO DO WHEN A PIPE BURSTS

Last winter saw more snow days than we can remember, resulting in lots of home disasters – which is why we need to start preparing our pipes now to help avoid flooding and other costly water damage.

Having a plumber check if your pipes are prone to freezing is the best way to prevent potential problems. You could also help stop water freezing in your pipes by insulating water tanks and lag pipes, making sure that there are no gaps at bends, valves or fittings – and don’t forget your outside tap! You can pick up any products needed from your local DIY store.

What do I do if a pipe bursts?

Step 1: Turn off the water supply at the stopcock. [HYPERLINK THE WORD STOPCOCK TO BLOG POST]

Step 2: Open all taps to reduce flooding

Step 3: Block off the escaping water with thick towels to stop other rooms from flooding

Step 4: Turn off all taps until the pipework is repaired

Step 5: Call a qualified plumber from www.checkatrade.com

GET YOUR GUTTERS SORTED FOR THE NEW SEASON

The nights are drawing in, the weathers on the turn and the leaves are going brown and crispy. It’s officially autumn and time to start thinking about getting your gutters ready for the changing seasons.

Great Britain is renowned for our heavy downpours, blustery winds and colourful falling leaves and this unfortunately means that the gutters of homeowners are prone to build-ups and blockages. It’s important to keep your gutters clear as they are such an integral part of your home – controlling the flow of rainwater and protecting the walls, roof, foundation and surrounding landscape.

Why should I clean my gutter? 

You’ll probably be amazed by the amount of leaves, moss and other debris that can build up over the year. Once a gutter gets clogged up, it can cause all sorts of problems such as rotting of fascia boards which make it easier for water to enter the house and cause wall and ceiling damage and blocked downpipes.

How do I clean them?

If you are confident enough to use a ladder, cleaning out your gutters should be straightforward but you can always call on a Checkatrade trader to help you if needed at www.checkatrade.com. To clean your gutters yourself:

Step 1: Start by cleaning the gutter near the downspout.

Step 2: Remove all debris with a trowel and put into a plastic bag or bucket.

Step 3: Flush the gutter lengths with a hose starting at the end opposite the downspout.

WHY YOU NEED TO CLEAN YOUR EXTRACTOR FAN

How often do you think to clean your extractor fan? We think that this is one of the most overlooked household jobs, but you need to make it a must-do.

Why do I need to clean my extractor fan? 

Extractor fans draw up plenty of airborne particles and dust which collect in the vents, filters and blades of the fan which can lead to a build-up of mould and mildew.

How do I clean it?

By removing the fan and following our four simple steps, you can clean out the extractor fan yourself. But if you don’t feel confident enough, you can always ask a Checkatrade member to do the job for you.

Step 1: Make sure you have turned the power off. Most models have a plug located directly behind the cover.

Step 2: Removing the cover and fan can be messy and awkward. To reach yours easily, use a ladder safely. Most covers will have two prongs either side, but some might have screws. When removing the fan, take care not to knock it as the blades are easily chipped which can make your fan louder and less effective.

Step 3: Give the cover a vacuum to remove all the build up excess dust and dirt. Take a clean paint brush or old toothbrush and clean out all of the hard to reach smaller areas. Wipe down with a damp cloth and leave to dry.

Step 4: Reinstall the fan back in place and reinsert the exhaust pipe. Then screw the bracing back into place. Double check that the power is still off and then give the fan a test by carefully using your fingers to spin the blades a few times ensuring that it’s not knocking or ruining anything. Pop the cover on, turn the power back on and the fan should be as good as new.

Top Tip: Do this job twice a year – at the beginning and end of the spring and summer months is best.

What is a High Integrity Consumer Unit and When Should It Be Used?

Often hidden away from view, the consumer unit is the central hub of the home’s electrical network from where all circuits are connected to the main supply and isolated when required.

Protecting circuits, appliances and crucially the occupants, it is in many ways, the single most important electrical device in the home.

Yet it’s only on those rare occasions when rewiring our homes that we give any thought to this box of wires and devices that allows us to live our comfortable modern lives.

Every home, just like the people living within, is different. There are consequently vast differences in the way that electricity is consumed and thus distributed throughout the dwelling.

However, since the rules that govern how circuits are protected in the UK are quite precise there are surprisingly few types of consumer unit. In fact, (ignoring size, enclosure type and manufacturer) there are only four:

1. ‘Main Switch’
2. ‘Dual RCD’ (also known as ‘Split Load’)
3. ‘High Integrity’
4. ‘RCD Incomer’

These four types – in combination with the circuit protection devices they house – MCBs, RCBOs and RCDs – allow for infinite configurations and circuit design.

For much of the last decade, the Main Switch and Dual RCD boards have reigned but the relative newcomer – the High Integrity consumer unit is beginning to take over. Before we look at it in detail, let’s first remind ourselves of the context in which it was born.

Context:

In seeking to improve safety, the 17th Edition Wiring Regulations, released in January 2008, introduced one of the most significant pieces of legislation determining how circuits are protected. In essence it stipulates that all circuits must be protected against earth leakage.

Earth Leakage describes the fault situation in which electricity leaks or is lost from a circuit. Electricity, like water, seeks the path of least resistance and if that pathway happens to be a human then they will receive an electric shock – which of course can be fatal.

It is also useful to remember what the protection devices are and what they do:

  1. MCB – Mini Circuit Breaker. Costing between £2 and £3. Protects cables from overload, thus preventing fire and protecting appliances. All circuits must be protected from overload…even prior to the 17th Edition.
  2. RCD – Residual Current Device – Costing between £20 and £40. Protects a group of circuits and bank of MCBs against earth leakage. When earth leakage is detected on one circuit, the RCD will cut power to all the circuits it is protecting… which may be very undesirable if afault with the garden lighting cuts power to your freezer or fire alarm.
  3. RCBO – Residual Current Breaker with Overload. Costing between £15 and £25. As the name suggests, a combination of both MCB and RCD, an RCBO protects against both overload and earth leakage.

A popular solution which answered the demands of the new 17the Edition Regulations was – and indeed still is – the ‘Dual RCD’ consumer unit. Housing two banks of MCBs protected by two RCDs, the dual RCD board is both inexpensive – so liked by the home owner – and easy to configure, so often chosen by the electrician.

The problem with dual RCD boards is that they offer virtually no circuit separation and to reiterate that which is stated above – When earth leakage is detected on one circuit, the RCD will cut power to all the circuits it is protecting, which could cause serious problems for the homeowner, depending on what circuits are under that RCD.

Dual RCD Board                                                       Main Switch Board

On the other hand one could employ a ‘Main Switch Board’, in which all circuits are protected against earth leakage independently by RCBOs. This offers total circuit separation, but since RCBOs are considerably more expensive than MCBs, this solution comes at a price.

The High Integrity Consumer Unit

A compromise was needed – a consumer unit which offered the best of both solutions at an affordable price and recognising this need the well-known British manufacturer, Wylex introduced the High Integrity Consumer Unit.

With three neutral bars the HI unit allows for two banks of RCD/MCB protected circuits and a further bank of individually protected RCBO circuits. Indeed, it may be thought of as a combination of a Dual RCD and Main Switch board.

The MCBs and RCDs are used for whatever the homeowner considers ‘standard’ circuits, for example lighting, sockets, oven and electric shower. If any of these circuits suffer earth leakage it doesn’t really matter that the RCD cuts power to all the circuits on that bank. This is a cost effective way of protecting multiple circuits from earth leakage simultaneously.

Meanwhile the RCBOs are used on circuits that are considered ‘mission critical’ and should be separated from all other circuits and potential nuisance tripping. It is important to note that what one person considers ‘standard’ and ‘mission critical’ can be very different from someone else.

The image shows an example lay out of a 10 way HI unit. (The colours are merely for illustrative purposes).

Here we can see two RCBO circuits protecting the smoke alarm and stairwell lighting circuits, and 8 MCB circuits, in two separate banks under each of the RCDs.

The more popular High Integrity consumer units tend to be larger, offering 20 to 34 ways. This is because larger properties have many more circuits and usually more varied uses of electricity.

These larger units are supplied in ‘Duplex Enclosures’ with two rows of circuits, such as the model pictured – the 26 way VML71214CU from Hager.

  1. Bottom Row
    1. 1.1.  Main Switch (red toggle)
    2. 1.2.  Next to this, 6 RCBOs, (with yellowlabels and blue fly leads)
    3. 1.3.  RCD 1
    4. 1.4.  6 x MCBs
  2. Top Row2.1. RCD 2
    2.2. 10 x MCBs
    2.3. 6 x Blanks for future circuits

Modern electricity requirements in the UK are becoming ever more demanding and varied, such as Jacuzzi baths, garden offices, home entertainment systems, tropical fish tanks, intelligent lighting systems, security and fire alarms, door entry systems etc etc.

For this reason HI units have grown rapidly in popularity, offering much greater flexibility over circuit design with the dual benefit of circuit separation and inexpensive earth leakage protection.

Information supplied by Consumer Unit World

What Does Health and Safety in Construction Look Like in 2018?

The construction sector represents 7% of the UK workforce, which equates to around 2.2 million people. As a result, the health and safety of those who work in the industry is paramount to ensuring construction sites – in terms of both large, commercial projects and smaller, residential briefs – operate in a time-efficient and secure way in order to benefit both clients and construction staff.

In today’s post, we’re delving deep into the history of health and safety within the construction industry, exploring the origins of hard hats and risk assessments and their importance in 2018.

Image source: Unsplash

 History

The Industrial Revolution of the 19th century led to a high demand for construction workers to help create roads and railways across the UK. The extreme quantity of available work that was created because of this resulted in poor living conditions for those employed in long-term, large-scale projects – which often left workers weak, ill, and therefore more susceptible to serious harm and injury. This movement lasted well into the 20th century, when cranes, power tools and heavy equipment created hazardous working conditions for site workers.

In fact, it wasn’t until the 1970s that the government finally recognised the significance of implementing solid safety regulations for those working in the sector, at which point they issued the Health and Safety at Work Act in 1974. The implementation of this act encouraged others to ask questions about the safety of themselves and others in the workplace, and would ultimately lead to other mandatory regulations, such as the 2005 Work at Height Regulations.

Advertisement

Beginning in the latter half of the 20th century, poster advertisement campaigns began the process of raising awareness of the dangers behind work in the building and construction industry with the British public. The posters created by the British Safety Council (BSC) in the 1980s targeted the use of hard hats in the workplace as a new and essential practice on construction sites, alongside warning workers against using old, broken and unsafe tools. Finally, at the end of the decade, earmuffs and hard hats became frequently used pieces of protective equipment recognised by all site managers and operational personnel.

Protective workwear

It wasn’t until the 1990s that protective workwear became a solidified, mandatory requirement for workers in the building and construction industry. In 1993, the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations, otherwise known as PPE, came into effect, and made wearing protective clothing in and around the site a necessary health and safety provision in the industry.

Today, protective gear goes far beyond the obvious hats and reflective jackets. Offsite, outdoor construction can be tough in harsh weather conditions throughout the winter period. As a result, workers need to make sure they’re dressed appropriately – ready for a variety of weather dependent circumstances.

Long, protective sleeves are often worn to shield the skin from exposure to unpleasant, irritable materials – while durable, denim men’s jeansare worn as a safeguarding measure due to their thickness and resilience – making it harder for workers to sustain cuts and small injuries from work equipment.

 Image source: Unsplash

In 2018, before a potential construction project can begin, a full health and safety risk assessment is completed in order to evaluate all potential risks to those working on the site. Risk assessments have become a normalised, common practice since the 1990s, and are so well-integrated into today’s contemporary construction culture that, without the completion of thorough site evaluations, a site cannot be worked on.

We’ve come a long way since the dangerous working conditions of the 1800s and the high fatality rate of the early 20th century to ensure construction sites are a safe and productive environment for all workers – and in the years to come, we can’t wait to see what other health and safety innovations make their way into the sector’s standard practices.

Author bio: Luke Conod is Managing Director of Buy Jeans and its parent company Denim Nation, providing competitively priced men’s jeans and other high-quality clothing from leading international labels.

Why professional carpet cleaning?

Anyone that has attempted diy carpet cleaning in their home will know what a chore it can be and what disastrous problems can result! Even with the best intentions and enthusiastic Googling of the subject, carpets can easily be damaged and look worse than when you started, and you have probably spent money to achieve that! Carpet cleaning is a task that is best left to the professionals. Here are a few reasons why you should choose a professional local carpet cleaning service and avoid headaches and expense!

Professional equipment

Even if you decided to “do a proper job” and hired a machine from your local supermarket, you will have to part with money to cover the hire, deposit and cleaning fluid for the machine. The cleaning fluid is bought by the bottle and typical usage is a bottle per room, the price you pay soon adds up and you may not be saving as much money as you thought. These diy machines and products are bulky and typically well used and not regularly serviced. They are capable of reasonable results, but they are designed as a one size fits all approach to cleaning your carpets and do not adapt to suit the age, style, material and level of cleaning the carpet requires. These machines are underpowered when it comes to vacuum pressure, this means that your carpets will be over wet which can result in a variety of problems (more on this later).

Professional equipment cleans deep into the pile of the carpet, but the powerful vacuum removes the majority of the water immediately leaving the carpets dry in a fraction of the time and avoiding any damage from over wetting of the carpet. Most professionals will utilise a variety of machines, products and techniques to tailor make their service to the customers requirements and type of carpets.

Carpet material & construction

Carpets are constructed from a variety of different natural (eg. wool, cotton, sisal) and synthetic materials (eg. nylon & polypropylene) using different techniques (eg. tufted, woven, looped). Each carpet can react in a variety of ways to the cleaning process sometimes causing irreparable damage. Professionals are trained to identify different materials and methods used to produce carpets and how to clean correctly in order to get the best results without any risk of damage.

Stain removal

When accidents happen in the home, most householders will reach to whatever cleaning product they have in the cupboard without much thought and scrub the carpet to an inch of its life. Carpets generally should never be scrubbed in this fashion as it damages the pile noticeably and can not be repaired. Whatever product you use is then left in the carpet indefinately until it is extracted using a carpet cleaning machine. Professional carpet cleaners will use a product suitable for the type of carpet and the source of the stain before thoroughly rinsing the carpet. Using a professional to remove stains avoids the stress and will keep your carpets looking better for longer, saving you money in the long run.

Over wetting the carpet

Using too much water on a carpet can cause expansion and then shrinking as the carpet dries. This can leave the carpet sagging in places and out of shape which cannot be repaired. Older carpet and rugs from certain part of the world have a natural plant based backing, this backing when wet can cause the whole carpet go brown from a process called “cellulosic browning” where the colour of the plant material wicks onto the rest of carpet fibres making them go brown! Wet carpets take longer to dry leaving the room unusable and smelling bad.

Professional equipment and techniques minimise the moisture in the carpet, removing the water with powerful vacuums before it has a chance to do any expensive damage to your carpets.

Premier Carpet Cleaning is a professional carpet cleaning company based in the Stevenage area of Hertfordshire. They provide carpet & upholstery cleaning to both domestic and commercial customers. Please visit them on Checkatrade for free quotations & advice on the cleaning of your carpets & upholstery.