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Tips To Avoid Freezing Pipes During The Winter

Now that Winter is here, our pipes sometimes freeze and may even burst.

There are numerous was with which you can prepare your home during the winter in order to prevent any accidents from happening.

Some tips include:

  • Protect all pipes that are outdoor by wrapping them with foam tubes which are available at any DIY stores.
  • If your loft is insulated, check to ensure that this insulation covers any exposes pipes.
  • If you are going on holidays, turn off the water stopcock (you can read our previous blog entitled How to Turn off your stop cock on how to do this).

If water in your pipe freezes, this can cause the pipe to burst.  It is also handy to have a good plumber at hand should the need arise.

For a more comprehensive way of protecting your home from any accidents or keeping your home warm during this winter, visit www.thameswater.co.uk

 

 

 
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Road Chaos During Olympic

With the London Summer olympics only a few weeks away, there is a wave of excitement  around.  Some athletes have already began to arrive at London’s Heathrow Airport and pretty soon, there will be nothing but chaos on our roads, buses and trains.

As a business owner who operates a 24-hr emergency company, it is difficult enough to get around on a daily basis much less what is expected when olympics has gotten into full gear.    It is vital that we are able to get to all our customers within the specified time, which in my opinion, most small business may have to turn away work because it may not be cost effective to travel to some areas.

 

While driving around London, it is clear that the olympic organisers may have omitted to take certain things into consideration.  For example, drivers already have limited lanes to travel considering there is a bus lane system in place, now we have to contend with an even smaller space with the implementation of an olympic lane.  These lanes are not properly sign posted and there are different dates for different lanes.  One would think that this would have been done more visibly to show when it starts and when it ends like the bus lanes, taking into consideration that there is a fine of £130 in place.

There are numerous congestion hotspots in place which TfL have advised everyone to avoid.

For motorists, if you can avoid going into these areas, please do.  Do not throw you money down the drain by entering the olympic lane in confusion.

 

 

 
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WATER SAVING TIPS

A couple of weeks ago, it was announced by the UK Met Office that there was an impending drought and as such, a hose ban was put in place where if anyone got caught using a hose, that person would be fined.

During the months of April and some parts of May, the UK was totally drenched in rain to the point where you would get sick of the rain falling daily.  With all this rain, you would think that our drought problem was finally over.  This, however, was not the case and as such a partial lift of the hose ban was put in place for a period of 28 days.  This sadly was only for garden centres.

We can all do our part and there are various ways of conserving water which would in turn save a lot of money.

It is a well known fact that about 24% of household water usage comes from flushing the toilet, yes people, flushing the toilet.  On average UK toilet cisterns hold approximately 6 litres of water, however, to conserve even more water, you could have a save-a-flush device installed or a Hippon device which both save between 1 litre to 2.5 litres per flush.  This is mostly recommended for the older type cisterns as the new ones are up to regulations.

We all know that at times, we sometimes get carried away and run the water constantly while taking a shower.  Did you know, that there are water saving shower heads available that are available that will help to reduce water use by about 60% without us feeling guilty while running our showers and believe it or not, this does not affect the loss of performance.  How fabulous is that!!.  Sadly though, these cannot be used on electric showers or any type of shower with a low water pressure.

This other saving tip might not be beneficial for those of us who take very and when I say very, I mean very long showers.  Are you ready for this, shower timers!.  Yes people, you are reading correctly, shower timers.  What this does is to monitor how long someone actually spends in the shower.  You can also set a time which limits how long the shower is on for.

Another bit waster of water is our bathroom and kitchen taps.  There are inserts that can be placed in our taps which will allow us to use less water.  This is especially useful for those of us who tend to run the tap while washing the dishes or brushing our teeth.

For more tips on how to conserve water, you can visit www.thameswater.co.uk

As we all know, water is a source of life and we all need to do our part in trying to conserve it as much as we possibly can.

 

 
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Change To Gas Safe Regulations as of April 1, 2012

As of April 1, 2012, new regulations are being implemented with regards to safety checks on all appliances that uses gas.  All gas safe engineers who will be fitting, servicing, working on or repairing  gas boilers and water heaters, must be qualified in the use of a flue gas analyser.  The qualification required is called CPA1 (Combustion Performance Analysis 1).  By  having this qualification, this means that the engineer has successfully received the necessary training and assessment in the use of flue gas analysation equipment.

If a registered engineer does not hold a valid CPA1 certificate, they will have their work categories suspended by Gas Safe Register until they obtain their CPA1.  Should an engineer not have this CPA1 qualification, they will not be legally able to work with central heating boilers or any other gas related appliances full stop.  This means no repairs, services or installation of any gas appliance using a flue.  Obviously this is not required on gas hobs because they are non-flue appliance but is required on gas cookers.

If you are unsure as to whether the engineer is qualified to carry out the work and has the required CPA1 qualification, you can visit the Gas Safe website to check.

All our engineers at Platinum, have the required CPA1 qualification in readiness for the change.

For qualified and competent London gas safe engineers, contact us at Platinum Emergency Services.

 

 
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SMALL BUSINESSES GETTING HAMMERED AGAIN

With less than 48 hours to go until the chancellor’s annual budget, one might wonder what is in store for small businesses.  Oil prices are at an all time high and there is no sight of any stabilisation soon.  One hopes the chancellor starts realizing the worth of small businesses and stop playing into the hands of “fat cats” and greedy bankers.  After all, it is left to small businesses and average workers to sort the economy out so the debt isn’t passed unto our children and future generations.

The chancellor needs to remove the ridiculous amount of tax that is levied unto fuel cost in order to help small to medium businesses start the recovery process instead of reducing the 50p tax rate for people earning over £150,000 per annum to 45p which is about 1% of the population.  These people can afford to pay lawyers and accountants to mitigate their tax bills anyway, so what’s the point?

 

 
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CARBON MONOXIDE (CO) THE SILENT KILLER

Carbon monoxide (CO) is very dangerous and is often referred to as the “silent killer” as it has no colour, taste or odour, which makes it difficult to detect.  Even the symptoms are misleading and you may think that you are coming down with the flu.

Because it is very difficult to detect, there are steps that you can take which may end up saving you and your loved ones lives. Carbon monoxide poisoning may occur when gas appliances such as boilers, ovens, free standing cookers or gas fireplaces aren’t burning their fuel properly which may be caused from bad installation or in the case of gas fireplaces, the chimney flue becomes blocked.  Not only is it gas appliances that can cause CO, but any product that burns oil or solid fuel (coal, wood, petrol).

If you notice that you or those around you are getting flu like symptoms which seem to come and go, it is best to that this checked out by your GP.  Even animals are able to get CO poisoning, so if you have any pet, keep an eye on them.

Some signs to look out for at moderate levels are; dizziness, headache, nausea, some people even faint.  Low level poisoning may cause mild headaches, mild nausea and may have longer term effects on your health.  As stated before, some of these symptoms are similar with flu symptoms but as always, if in doubt go to your GP.  As well as going to your GP and telling them that you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, open your windows in order for fresh air to come in, turn off all combustion appliances and leave your house.

It is wise to have a CO detector installed in your home.  There are numerous ones available today and authorities have stated that these are just as important as having smoke alarms.  When choosing a CO detector, choose one that makes noise should the presence of CO be detected.  What is a CO detector?  This is a device that detects the presence of carbon monoxide gas.  These are inexpensive and can be bought from most plumbers merchants.

Early designs were basically a white pad which would fade to a brownish or blackish colour if carbon monoxide was present. Such chemical detectors were cheap and were widely available, but only give a visual warning of a problem. As carbon monoxide related deaths increased during the 1990s, audible alarms became standard.

The alarm points on carbon monoxide detectors are not a simple alarm level (as in smoke detectors) but are a concentration-time function. At lower concentrations (e.g. 100 parts per million) the detector will not sound an alarm for many tens of minutes. At 400 parts per million (PPM), the alarm will sound within a few minutes. This concentration-time function is intended to mimic the uptake of carbon monoxide in the body while also preventing false alarms due to relatively common sources of carbon monoxide such as cigarette smoke.

There are four types of sensors available and they vary in cost, accuracy and speed of response; electrochemical, semiconductor, digital and portable. The latter three types include sensor elements that typically last up to 10 years.

Preventing CO is the key:

  • DO have your appliances inspected by a registered gas safe engineer.  If you have a working fireplace, ensure the flues and chimneys are properly connected, in good condition and not blocked.
  • DO choose appliances that fumes are vented outside and have then installed as per manufacturers guidelines.
  • DON’T use a gas oven to warm your home, NOT even for a short period.
  • DON’T ignore symptoms, especially if they are being experienced by more than one person.
  • DON’T sleep in any room with an unvented gas heater

This is not something to mess with, Carbon monoxide can kill.  Be vigilant and take all possible steps to prevent CO poisoning.

 

 

 
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BE CAREFUL OF COWBOY BUILDERS

With the impending budget for citizens of the UK only a few weeks away, there is already a buzz going around that the Chancellor will be squeezing UK consumers even tighter.  There is talk of a proposed scrape of additional duty on diesel, which seems to be “heading south for the winter”.  Consumers will be left having to dig even deeper to survive daily with the ever increasing high cost of living which does not seem to have time of easing down.

Although this is the case, our homes still remains our pride and joy, after all it is the biggest asset that one will ever own in their lifetime as our homes seem to appreciate in value instead of depreciate.  As a home-owner, there will come a day when you decide to renovate your property after years of sacrifice and saving, you have managed to scrap enough money together to finally build that extension or do some internal work done.

Before you decide to call in the builders, be careful in your selection because there are untrustworthy people around who will use to their advantage and sadly your disadvantage the current economic climate in order to swindle hard working people like yourselves out of your money.  They often do this by giving you a very ridiculously low price which because you are gullible and you are trying to save as much as possible, would think that you are getting a bargain for a job which would have cost you a bit higher the amount from other builders.  Always be cautious of something that seems too good to be true because in the long run, you may end up having to pay another builder to have the work done.  Another thing to watch out for from these cowboy builders, is asking for too many stage payments or they may have their business name as one thing but ask for cheques to be written out to someone else, which should ring alarm bells.   I am not saying that anything is wrong with stage payments, but for most reputable builders, they normally request a portion of the total build cost as a deposit and the rest on completion or they request stage payments in four parts.  The more stage payments the better as it protects you the consumer and the builder as well especially if you have never worked with each other before.  There are, however, those cowboys who wants majority or sometimes all the money up front before their tools have even left their work van.  These are the type of people you do want to do any type of work for you.  Always ensure that you keep a close eye on your spending because if you are not careful, you will be paying more than what was agreed.

As good business practice, always have everything in writing because this could be used against such a builder if every the need arise because although an oral contract is accepted, sometimes in these type of situations it would be best to have something in writing.  It is wise to obtain at least three different quotations and NOT estimates.  This is because a quotation is more precise whereas an estimate is basically a rough idea and as we all know, these cowboys will be saying that this and that needs to be done especially if they think that you have no idea about what is required when renovating your home.  Once you have chosen the individual or company to carry out the renovation, ask them for references of previous customers and their telephone numbers.  Do not accept written references because for all you know, these could be written by them or their family.  If at all possible try and inspect previous work as well.  I know this is a lot to do, but it will save you a lot of heartache in the long run if you do your homework properly, after all you are entrusting someone with thousands of pounds of your hard earned money to do a good job, which may bring additional value to your property.

Always inspect any work that is being done at your home, at the end of the day you are the one who will have to live with it in the long run.  I am sure that at some point or another, you may have seen programs on the television about these type of people and the very unprofessional jobs that they do, which leaves consumers disheartened that all their hard saving have or is about to go down the drain.

 
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Help With Plumbing Problems

With the economy the way it is at the moment, more and more people are now turning to DIY.  This is why at Platinum, we are committed to helping people who do not have a clue as to what to do or for those who have started but have become stuck.

If you have any queries about plumbing issues, whether it be design of a bathroom or kitchen, post your question and we will endeavour to assist.

Post us your questions.

 

 

 
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DON’T BE FOOLED BY CHEAP LANDLORD’S GAS SAFETY CERTIFICATE

In the United Kingdom, all rented properties whether private or through an estate agency, must have an annual gas safety check/CP12 Certificate done.  This must be signed by a responsible person as per the Gas Safety and Use Regulations Act 1998.

“(2) Every landlord shall ensure that there is maintained in a safe condition—

(a)any relevant gas fitting; and

(b)any flue which serves any relevant gas fitting,

so as to prevent the risk of injury to any person in lawful occupation or relevant premises”.

While doing my own research as to the prices that are being charged to carry out Gas Safety Check/CP12, I was very alarmed at some of these prices considering what is involved.  I rang various estate agents around London and on average, they were getting prices between £35 – £45 per inspection of a rented property.  This immediately rang alarm bells when I heard these prices because they are too cheap considering what is involved in carrying out all of the required gas safety tests in conjunction with the legal requirement.

It is not only the duty of the gas safe registered engineer to ensure that the job is done properly, it is also the duty of the landlord/agent to ensure not only that the person carrying out the required inspection is “a member or class of person recognized by the relevant authorities”.  Landlords and agents shall also be held accountable for these inspections to be carried out properly.

Unfortunately, there is at present a culture of the cheaper the better in London for landlords/agents getting annual gas safety certificates carried out to their required properties.  It therefore demonstrates that these annual gas safety certificates are not being carried out properly and are putting people’s lives at risk.

Just because landlords/agents tick the required box of having a member or class of person carrying out their gas safety checks does not mean they will not be held accountable under the law.

Please find for your reference a list of the required procedures a gas safe registered engineer has to undertake when carrying out a gas safety certification to a property (this list was correct at time of publishing).

 Gas Pipework and Fittings

  1. A visual inspection of all gas pipework and fittings throughout the property where accessible.
  2. A gas tightness test of the gas pipework and emergency control valve.
  3. Inspection of gas meter.
  4. Inspection and operation of emergency control valve (ECV).
  5. Electrical bonding to ensure electrical continuity present to gas pipework.

Gas Appliances

  1. Visual Inspection of each appliance.
  2. Inspection of gas Isolation points to each appliance.
  3. Operational checks to each appliance to include controls.
  4. Operational pressure/burner pressure to each appliance
  5. Checking each appliance is burning gas properly (Flame Picture).
  6. Safety devices fitted to each appliance and operational.
  7. No signs of any spillage or distress to each appliance.

 Flues and Ventilation

  1. Visual inspection of flues.
  2. Checking there is adequate supply of fresh air to each appliance including any vents fitted and there operation.
  3. Visual inspection of all flue terminals where accessible.
  4. Flues in voids NB* (New Regulation) every change of direction of a flue needs to have an inspection hatch fitted so all connections to a flue can be checked.
  5. CO2 otherwise known as gas analysis CPA1 as of 1st April 2012 needs to be complied with on each appliance that operates gas.

It does take a competent gas engineer about an hour to carry out the above relevant checks on two appliances.  I read online the other day you can get your oven cleaned for about £65, which takes about an hour.

I leave this question in your mind, to have an hour’s consultation with a solicitor may cost between £150 – £400 and a solicitor will not kill you but gas does, make sure that your gas safety inspections are carried out properly and your gas appliances are serviced annually.

For competent Gas Engineers in London contact Platinum Emergency Service.

 

 
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Ignoring a Leak Could Be Costly

With all the cost cutting measure around and the constant budgeting of everyday expenses, fixing a small leak is something that most of us ignore if we are honest to ourselves as human natures suggests it can wait. You may think that there are enough stresses out there and a small leak is not as important.  In our own experiences, this is never the case as most small leaks do go undetected and can end up costing thousands of pounds, especially if your building/home is of a timber construction type.

As with most things, leaks normally tend to start out as a tiny dribbles which sometimes goes undetected for weeks, sometimes even months.  My advice to you is; should you notice any type of dampness or leaks, have this checked out as soon as possible because should this be allowed to build up, it could end up costing you more money than you bargained for.  A leak maybe caused by numerous reasons, but whatever it is, do not leave it to go for a long period of time.

There are some signs to look out for to determine whether or not you have a leak:

  • When checking pipework for any signs of leaks, it is important to keep in mind if the pipework is of a metal property i.e.: copper, iron, these types of pipes can gather condensation on the pipework.  This is primarily because the outside air temperature is different to the liquid temperature inside the material. Always try to keep pipework well insulated using foam sleeves or other suitable protective materials.
  • If you notice that the area around you kitchen/bathroom tap is a bit wet, the first thing you could do it to wipe the area then check back in about say 15 minutes, if it is wet, then the chances are you may have a leak.  Also check on the floor in the area around the face basin.   Also, if you notice that you have a wet patch on you ceiling, chances are you may have a leaking pipe somewhere.
  • A good physical detector for determining a small leak is either leaving some tissue or kitchen roll around the suspected area or pipework for a period of time under observation, if you have access to this area.
  • If you have a water meter fitting to the property, you can simply turn the metre off which is the same principle as turning a stopcock off.  (Please see my previous blog titled – How to turn off your stopcock – on how to do this).  Leave the meter off for a given period of time (the longer the better), ensure that nobody else in the property turns on a tap or flushes the toilet as this would cause the water levels to drop thus giving you a false reading at the metre.
  • After a period of time, slowly turn the water back on to the property, ensuring that you keep an eye on the meter dials/reading.  Any perceivable movement at the meter would indicate a leak within the property.

If in doubt, always have a competent plumber come and have a look at this leak with a view to repair it.  It is best to try and go for a more permanent repair than a temporary one because as the name suggest, a temporary repair will not last.  Maybe at the time you can only afford to do a temporary repair, that is perfectly ok but please remember to have a permanent one done as soon as possible.  This will ultimately save you money because these things sometimes have a knock on effect.

 
 
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