Friday, 23 June 2017

Planning a BBQ this weekend? Most of us are savvy enough to avoid food poisoning, but are we aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning?

Barbecue season is upon us, but did you realise that you could be at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning?

Research by the Gas Safe Register has found that 80 per cent of people are unaware they are at danger of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning while having a barbecue.

This is something that needs highlighting as about half of the country will have five barbecues this summer. 

CO gas is released during a barbecue when a carbon-based fuel, such as gas or charcoal, isn’t given enough ventilation to burn adequately.

CO poisoning is known as the silent killer because it is a colourless, odourless and tasteless poisonous gas - so you can’t see it, taste it or smell it!

When CO enters the body, it prevents the blood from bringing oxygen to cells, tissues, and organs. CO can kill quickly without warning or cause serious harm to health if breathed in over a long period of time. In extreme cases paralysis and brain damage can be caused as a result of prolonged exposure to CO.

Symptoms of CO poisoning to be aware of include breathlessness, headaches, nausea, dizziness, collapse and the loss of consciousness. 

The side-effects of exposure to low levels of carbon monoxide are not always obvious and can be similar to those of food poisoning and flu. 

General published advice to reduce the dangers of CO poisoning whilst barbecuing includes never using a barbecue indoors or inside a tent or other structures and areas where there isn’t sufficient ventilation. 

Simply, never bring a barbecue inside - even when the barbecue appears to have burnt out! 
More than 200 people go to hospital in the UK each year with suspected CO poisoning, which leads to around 50 deaths.

Gas, oil and solid fuel burning boilers and appliances also produce carbon monoxide. Therefore you should safeguard against CO poisoning with regular servicing and maintenance checks.  It is also recommended to have a CO detector in every room where a gas, oil or solid wood burning boiler, fire or stove is situated.

If you are concerned over CO fumes, you can source a qualified plumbing and heating engineer at who can investigate the presence of fumes and inspect your appliances.

The Association of Plumbing & Heating Contractors have published a guide to ‘Understanding the dangers of Carbon Monoxide’. 

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

16.5% of people are unhappy at work due to the condition of their employer’s toilets

We have recently conducted a research project which found that 16.5% of people are unhappy at work due to the condition of their employer’s toilets. Whilst on the surface this may seem like a trivial matter, employers have a legal requirement to adhere to.

The research has revealed alarming insights into the negative impact that the state of workplace toilets are having on workers.

We distributed a press release to the national media detailing our findings and recommending for employers to use an APHC member via to source a qualified plumber.

We surveyed over 1,000 workers in England and Wales asking about the condition of the toilets at their place of work.  Our research found 43.8% of the people surveyed felt their workplace toilets needed to be better maintained.  And when asked if their workplace toilets require updating or refurbishing, 44.4% said they did.

London seemingly has the worst workplace toilets with 50.9% of workers surveyed believing they need to be better maintained and require refurbishing.

Most alarmingly, 16.5% of workers stated that the current condition of their workplace toilets negatively impacts their happiness at work.  This figure rises to 20% in Wales and to 20.9% in the South-East of England.

John Thompson, Chief Executive of APHC, commented: “There are too many employers who are seemingly neglecting the up-keep and maintenance of their toilet facilities.  Employers have a legal requirement to adhere to. The Health & Safety Executive state that where it is reasonably practicable, employers have to provide adequate toilet and washing facilities for employees.  In 2010, a businessman was fined £30,000 because he failed to ensure that his premises were equipped with clean and functioning toilet and welfare facilities.

“However, over and above all legal requirements, employers have a moral duty to provide clean, safe and well maintained toilet facilities. 

“From a commercial point of view, investment in employee well-being is crucial for a business in order to be successful, as an unhappy workforce can cost employers dearly in reduced productivity, low quality levels, increased sick-leave and in staff turnover with the recruitment and training of new members of staff.”

Specific responses from the survey about the poor state of workplace toilets included there being bad smells, cracked tiles, broken toilet seats, toilet bowls, sinks and taps, poorly flushing toilets and tired and dirty decor.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Don’t let a DIY plumbing project washout your bank holiday

Given the current weather, it might be safe to assume that the majority of the country is in for a warm and sunny Bank Holiday.   However, with insurance companies claiming that water damage claims almost double over a Bank Holiday, don’t let a plumbing DIY project turn your Bank Holiday into a washout.

As this blog has touched on previously, before attempting a plumbing project, stop, think and ask yourself whether you might be best calling in a professional as it’s all too easy to drill into a hidden pipe or flood your bathroom whilst fitting a new tap. 

Accidental water leakage tops the list of home insurance claims, with a 42 per cent increase over the Bank Holiday, according to home insurer Zurich.  With average repairs nearly hitting the £3,000 mark, a DIY project just may end up costing you much more than you had bargained for.

If you’re tackling a DIY job this Bank Holiday, it might be pertinent to get professional advice first.  This can save damage, disruption or even a potential injury.

In reality, doing a plumbing job yourself will be cheaper than calling in a professional, but it is important to know where to draw the line. 

You can find a local qualified plumbing and heating company who are members of the Association of Plumbing & Heating Contractors (APHC) at

Being a member of APHC distinguishes professional businesses from the rogue traders.  As a consumer, using an APHC member gives you reassurance as their work is guaranteed by APHC - the leading trade body for plumbing and heating contractors in England and Wales.  

Did you know that 87% of consumers would instruct an APHC member over a plumbing and heating contractor who wasn’t a member?

Friday, 5 May 2017

Let’s remember the important role that plumbing plays in hand hygiene

World Hand Hygiene Day, marked globally on May 5, is led by the World Health Organisation and highlights the importance of hand hygiene in health care.  However, World Hand Hygiene Day plays an important role in highlighting how everyone can help make proper hand hygiene an everyday practice to reduce the spread of infections and therefore save the lives of millions.

Hands are one of the easiest ways for bacteria to travel from person to person, with estimates suggesting that 80 per cent of infectious diseases are spread by touch.  Consequently hand hygiene plays an enormous role in reducing the spread of dangerous bacteria.

World Hand Hygiene Day is important as there appears to be a global lack of awareness in the dangers of not handwashing, as according to the World Health Organisation a million deaths per year could be prevented if everyone practiced proper hand hygiene.

Let's not forget the vital role that the plumbing industry plays in protecting public health. Plumbers and plumbing work are vital for global health including frontline health workers. The ability of plumbing and sanitation systems to deliver clean water and remove waste has protected people from communicable disease throughout history. The plumbing profession protects and extends lives and is an essential support industry for the health care sector.

If you need to find a local qualified and reputable plumber, you can use our search facility at The online database allows you to search via a number of criteria including postcode, town or by specific business name.

As well as offering high levels of customer service and workmanship as standard, APHC members are fully vetted with their work checked annually to uphold high standards of workmanship. Read more about the benefits of using an APHC member at

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Will turning the central heating off bring peace to your household?

Although large parts of the country recently experienced the warmest temperatures of the year so far, 14 April is the date when most British homeowners switch off their central heating in readiness for the warmer weather; that’s according to a survey by npower.

So, will this and the fact that we have waved goodbye to winter and that British summertime has now officially begun bringing longer daylight hours, deliver peace to our households?

Well according to research by APHC, the leading membership trade association for plumbing and heating businesses in England and Wales, turning off the central heating should bring peace to our household as there appears to be a trend for arguments to occur over turning the heating down and over the temperature which the thermostat should be set to. 

APHC’s research found that 29% of householders reported that control of the thermostat temperature causes disagreements within their household. Respondents also reported that disagreements were specifically about the cost, which is why the research also found that 73% of households reported having turned their heating down at some stage to save money.

Whilst peace will hopefully surface in our households this spring (at least until September when the majority of households will turn their heating back on) you shouldn’t forget about your boiler  .  In fact, spring is a good time to have your boiler serviced, as the winter will have put your boiler to the test and if any damage or wear has been caused, it’s best to identify it now rather than waiting until the weather turns cold again.  Plus a spring boiler service will mean that you’ll beat the rush, as the majority of households decide to have their boiler serviced in the autumn - when they switch their boilers back on.

Make the wise move and get your boiler serviced this spring.  You can use APHC's Find a Quality Plumber search facility at to find a qualified and reliable plumbing and heating engineer local to you.  As well as offering high levels of customer service and workmanship as standard, APHC members are fully vetted with their work checked annually to uphold high standards of workmanship.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

DIY – Don’t risk destroying it yourself this Easter

The extended Easter bank holiday sees many a DIY project commence and whilst the vast majority of us are competent enough to do a spot of decorating, or flat-pack furniture assembly or changing a tap washer, there are some jobs that should be left to professional trades people.

Plumbing and heating are two areas where you need to be 100% confident in your capabilities and are certain that any work you do doesn’t fall foul of the law, as a great deal of plumbing and heating has to be compliant with Water Regulations and Building Regulations

Conducting DIY work on a heating system runs the very serious risk of causing an explosion or carbon monoxide poisoning, and remember, Gas appliances and boilers should only ever be worked on by a Gas Safe registered engineer, whilst oil firing systems and solid fuel burners need to comply with Building Regulations.

Plumbing systems are also complicated and shouldn’t be underestimated.  They provide a vital service to your home and attempting any form of DIY to the system that supplies you with clean drinking water and disposes of waste water and sewerage has the potential to go wrong and could ultimately damage your home and your health.

Before starting a DIY project this Easter, first contemplate whether it would be wiser, less risky and even more cost effective to have a professional trades person complete the project.

You can find a local qualified plumbing and heating company who are members of APHC at

Being a member of APHC distinguishes professional businesses from the rogue traders. APHC is committed to helping plumbing and heating engineers run professional and profitable businesses, whilst ensuring consumers have better standards of workmanship and service.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Finding a quality plumbing and heating engineer doesn’t have to be difficult

According to a Toolstation survey, a quarter of UK homeowners struggle to find a reliable plumbing and heating engineer, with more people wanting a professional to take on tasks involving gas or water than any other home improvement, meaning the demand for plumbing and heating engineers is consistently high.

But finding a quality plumbing and heating engineer doesn’t have to be difficult. By following a small number of steps, you should be able to source a local, qualified and reputable plumbing and heating engineer.

The first step is to find out whether they are members of a trade association and always check their credentials. Trade associations will always validate a person’s claim to membership, so a two minute phone call could be invaluable. Trade associations usually have minimum requirements to join and should be able to provide you with a list of members in your local area who are able to carry out the specified work.

APHC requires its members to stick to a code of practice and offer recourse if anything goes wrong. You can contact APHC directly on 0121 711 5030 or use their online search facility to source and check that a plumbing and heating engineer is a member.

‘Word of mouth’ recommendations can be useful in determining the reliability of a plumbing and heating engineer, so try and find a trade’s person who has worked for someone you know. Ask friends, family and neighbours and don’t be afraid to ask to look at their work to gain an understanding of how well they carried out the work.

You should also ascertain whether the plumber or heating engineer is qualified, competent and capable of carrying out the work. Make sure you check the person's qualifications and experience of carrying out similar work and get two or more references. Check online for any customer feedback. Read the trader's Facebook page and Twitter feed to see how they are interacting with other customers.

Once you've decided on your plumbing and heating engineer, ask for a detailed written quotation with start and finish times and agreed payment terms. Always use a written contract as it offers you protection should anything go wrong.

When it comes to maintenance work only pay for work that has been done and not by advance payments. Where materials need to be bought in advance, it is reasonable for the plumbing and heating engineer to ask you to pay a fair percentage of these costs as the job progresses, but the amounts have to be reasonable. APHC warns against using a plumbing and heating engineer who demands 100%, or a large proportion, of the fee up front.