Archive for the 'plumbing work' Category

Would you Interview someone who contacted you like this

I know it must be annoying for people looking for work when they hear no reply.  We get too many unsolicited enquires to be replying to everyone.  I don’t think I will make special exception for the person who sent us this email:

“Hello I am just enquiring to see if you have any apprenticeship vacancies available to start as soon as possible, I have heard a lot of good things about your company and I would love to be part of that, I am very interested in the plumbing sector and always have been I am Available for a trial and a interview as soon as possible also a CV can be sent if needed. I can either be contacted through this email address or my mobile number xxxxxx

Posted from my iPhone”

That was it. No name, no information, no separate paragraphs.  I’d quite like to see a better attempt at punctuation too.  I guess this sort of communication passes for acceptable among the youth who have grown up in the TexT message age.

I would not know where to begin but the honest answer is If this is the best you can I doubt if plumbing is the right career for you.

Which? consumer magazine now checks out plumbers

The which trusted trader scheme is still just a baby, less than one year old.  This week they launch radio ads to advertise the scheme, to let the public know that Which? endorsed business are scrutinised.

They say approved businesses are “not rated” and “not checked” they are “assessed and then endorsed.”

Here is the ad that explains it


The dreaded water bill and life with a Water Meter

I am interested in MY water bill and the use of water in my house, not the theoretical average house that I have read about.


It is said that only about 12% of the average household water use is within the shower and this is the sort of figure that I think is meaningless.  Some showers use 2 or 3 times as much water as others and the size of the household will also make a difference. I noted in my blogs last week that we could make considerable savings (hundreds of pounds per year) in our house by changing our shower head.

I can’t reduce the amount of water we use in the toilet so forget about that: then in our house I believe the shower is possibly our biggest single area of water use.   Our shower uses 14 litres of water per minute and there are 5 people in this house.  Many showers use 20 litres or more but around 15 is typical.  Our new one is on order it is a 9 litre per minute device, you can get lower than this.

In the future, when we are ready to invest in more than just a shower head (at less than £50) there are loads of super efficient showering options that could save more water and energy.

In my recent blogs I suggested that in my house we might shower for about 7 hours per week.  That was a guess.  Sometimes I am in and out of it in minutes but an hour a day is a nice round figure to work with.


If it flows for 30 minutes per day at a rate of about 14 litres per minute it will cost about £500 per year in water.  I don’t know how much it will cost to heat the water.

It is said that approx 30% of water is flushed down the loo.  If you have an old loo then it could be using 13 litres per go, one of those FREE water saving devices you put in the cistern will save you a fortune.  Encouraging your children to be scared of the flush is also a money saving strategy, I sincerely believe that loud noise will awaken the monster that sleeps in the loft and it might come crashing through the ceiling to eat its favourite food: young children.

HOW MUCH WATER IS USED by a modern dual flush toilet?  4 or 6 litres per flush.

I’ve got no idea how many times we flush per day but it is the sort of thing that interests me so I might just start counting!


If you are buying a new washing machine then spending an extra £100 or two to buy a more efficient model could quickly pay for itself.  I based my previous calculations on doing 20 loads per week at 40 litres per load – I like round numbers.  I have checked the details of my model, it is a more efficient larger capacity model (8kg) and about 40 litres per load is a good estimate.  I have worked out that I can’t possibly be doing anything like 20 loads per week and for the sake of easy maths lets say it is about 10 loads per week.  I don’t think I can make any savings here.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO RUN MY WASHING MACHINE? In my house the cost of water for laundry I estimate will be a little less than £90 per year.

HOW MUCH WATER DOES MY DISHWASHER USE? About 10 litres per wash – for a modern model.

I already do most washing up in the dishwasher, it is always full and I will be doing as much as possible in there in the future.


Reduce My water Bill by Changing My Shower Head

There is one area where the Tara Plumbing family have huge water usage that could be cut dramatically – without an impact on lifestyle – in the shower.

I did some maths in my last blog and discovered that in my house because I have a modern dishwasher I should be using that instead of doing any washing up in the sink. And even though I do tonnes of laundry I can’t really save any more money there as I have a new super efficient model.

In my house, with a family of five, the biggest area of concern is the shower.  I don’t think spending less time in the shower is realistic but having a more efficient shower is very achievable. Many showers are using about 30 litres per minute or more.

Today Mr TP got out is impressive tools, there was one that particularly impressed me.  I got to hold it and we both got very wet.  The outcome was that we established our shower flow rate is about 14 litres per minute.

But most low flow showers are 9 litres per minute and (according to rumours) it is even possible to get a good shower at less than this.

If we put a restrictor on our pipework (which costs just a few pounds) to reduce the flow to 9 litres with our existing shower head the result would be pants, the sort of shower that you complain about.  But I must add this simple solution could work for some of you readers.

A different design of shower head can give far better distribution of water.

I am looking at the Hansgrohe range of products, I have heard good reports about these low flow shower heads and they come with a reassuring 5 year warranty.

Another one that comes with good recommendations is EcoCamel. So consider their products too.

Considering the costs involved, based on one hour of showering every day of the year, that is 21,900 minutes in the shower in one year.  If we can save 5 litres per minute that is a total saving of 109,500 litres or 109 units at £3.3 each (explain in previous blog).

This would reduce my water bill by £360 per year.

As an added bonus my gas bill would also be reduced as my combi boiler will be heating up less water.

If we were going to replace the whole shower system then we would look at Aqualiser and Mr TP is very keen on digital showers, but simply replacing a shower head (and or adding a flow restictor) is a good value for money easy option, typically costing less than £50 so it will pay for itself within weeks.

Any downsides? Well they might not work well in your house! Appart from that I have read the shower head can store bacteria so must be cleaned regularly.

the brown “food” waste bin – do we want it in Ramsgate?

Lots of Thanet residents are most upset by the new set of recycling bins that we are about to use. Mr TP, for example, is most resistant to this particular change even though he was among the first to get a mobile phone and Windows Vista.  The second example could be enough to make anyone never want to upgrade anything ever again.

I am really pleased by the new bin system.  I like to think that lots more stuff will be recycled in a useful way and waste food will go to some gigantic composting pit instead of being mixed with non-biodegradable land-fill-junk.  I’m not sure how it will work out using those bins in practice.  Will they smell or attract (more) foxes or rats?  I was told they can go in the dishwasher.

Mr Tara Plumbing thinks he has the perfect alternative so we are about to have a matrimonial show-down as to whether we get a…

Waste Disposal Unit

All our scrap food could be washed away with our washing-up and bathroom ablution waste.

They cost between £100 to to £365 to buy plus installation cost – I’ve got a husband who can do that.  They need power and in our house it would fit well in the utility room next to the kitchen.

Is DIY gas work against the law? Or is it ok in my own home?

DIY gas work is illegal in the UK (with a very few exceptions) and anyone working on a gas pipe or a gas appliance (such as a boiler or fire) MUST be on the Gas Safe Register (with a few exceptions – I’ll get on to those).

A quick web search will uncover many pages saying DIY gas work is legal – these pages are misleading and wrong.  Or they are writing about the law in a different country.

The Gas Safety Installation & Use Regulations 1998, (Gas Regs 1998) is the relevant law for the UK, you read the full document if you want, I have.

Gas Regs 1998 apply to everyone – including people at work, landlords, people in their own homes.

Note: I have seen it written in forums that the Gas Regs are part of Health and Safety so only apply to employees at work – this is not true.  The Gas Regs are enforced by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) and most of the HSE work is concerned with workplaces and most of the Health & Safety legislation is about work places – BUT NOT TOTALLY.

The HSE produce a guide book to the Gas Regs 1998, its catchy title is The Approved Code of Practice (ACOP).  Don’t be put off by the title the latest draft version (L56, edition 4, May 2013) is very readable and even in the introduction it clearly explains who it applies to.

The law says anyone doing gas work and being paid for it (self employed or as an employee) must be approved – i.e. on the Gas Safe Register (GSR).

You do not have to be GSR to do gas work if you are not being paid e.g. in your own home (on a DIY basis though) you just need to be competent.

There are just over 100,000 people on the GSR. Of the 50,000,000 or so adults in the UK only perhaps 0.1% or less who are not on the GSR and are competent to do DIY.  I think it is fair to say DIY gas work is illegal because for 99% of the population it is.

Competent in this context is not the same compos mentis  *of sound mind” and it is not the same as being a good jack of all trades.  I know some people who are great at DIY but they do not qualify as competent to do gas work.

To be competent to do gas work if you are not actually gas safe registered you must have completed and passed the same training course as those who are GSR.  So the very few exceptional people who actually could legally do DIY gas are those who could apply tomorrow to be GSR if they want to: they would be people who were registered but didn’t renew their registration in April because they retired or changed career; they will be employees of a GSR company who do not have GSR in their own right.

You may ask where I got this definition from.  Conveniently is is in the new draft ACOP, click on the link to the HSE consultation and you can download it.  The same definition has been around for a long time but written in difficult language and buried in other HSE documents.

Who is Competent To Do DIY gas work?

To make it easier for you to check I am right I have copied and pasted the section here from the ACOP:

  • 57         Anyone who works on a gas fitting…. Therefore, do-it-yourself gas engineers and those performing favours for friends and relatives all need to have the required competence.
  •   58        Competence is a combination of practical skill, training, knowledge, experience to carry out the job in hand safely, and ensuring the installation is left in a safe condition for use. Knowledge must be kept up-to-date with changes in the law, technology and safe working practice.
  •   60         Gas work should not be undertaken except:
  • a) by a person who has successfully completed an industry recognised training course followed by assessment of competence. Training that leads to assessment of competence in safe gas work must be recognised by the industry’s Standards Setting Authority. or
  • b) in the case of a previously Registered person, they have proved competence through a Certification Scheme. or
  • c) for those working at premises that fall outside the scope of the Regulations (see regulation 2(4) and associated guidance), by a person who has successfully completed an industry recognised training course followed by assessment of competence.
  •   61        Training should be of a standard to enable a gas engineer to achieve competence in the safe installation, purging, commissioning, testing, servicing, maintenance, repair, disconnection, modification and dismantling, of the gas systems, fittings and appliances with which they are working. This should include an adequate knowledge of associated services, such as water and electricity, of the dangers they may give rise to and the precautions to take.

What is Gas Work?

You should be asking at this point.  It is also defined in the Gas Regs: installing, disconnecting, servicing, repairing of gas pipes and gas appliances are all activities described as gas work.

What Will Happen If a Home-owner Does Illegal DIY?

There is a sliding scale of possible outcomes from good to very bad.

At the good end the DIY work will be safe and sound, no-one will know, end of story.

At the very bad end house explodes and people die

Or also very bad – with less of a visual impact – people become ill from Carbon Monoxide poisoning, they might die, they might suffer irreversible long-term health problems.

In between the extremes you might have to pay someone to put the work right or make it legit. You might be prosecuted and you could face a prison sentence.

Why is Mrs Tara Plumbing correct and when miscellaneous websites say something else?

When you look at any thing on the inter-web you should think about who has written it and are their references.  The pages that tell you it is easy to install your cooker, disconnect your gas fire, etc are written by anon and without references that you can check.

Mrs Tara Plumbing – I am not anon – You can contact me through my business.

I have an established back ground in the gas installation industry and as the author of factual articles and books. You can check up on what I have written – I have provided the references.

Best Carbon Monoxide Alarm to take on Holiday

Very few people are killed accidentally from Carbon Monoxide poisoning – but it is always tragic and totally preventable.

I think I am pretty safe in my house but what about when I go on holiday: I  may not even know that there could be a risk of CO poisoning.

I don’t want to worry you but carbon monoxide travels through walls and floors.


  • people in a hotel unaware that they are sleeping next to the boiler room or above a room with a fireplace.
  • a family were poisoned in a tent – the CO came from a smouldering BBQ -OUTSIDE.

The last time I stayed at a Have Holiday caravan park the first thing I noticed was that the Gas Safety Certificate was out of date!  I reported it, of course – and credit to them, the safety check was done the very next day.

I plan to take a CO alarm to any future holiday destination.

Any new CO alarm with a Kitemark and British Standard EN 50291 should be OK.  For it to be useful you must get it out of your suitcase and out of the box!  Put it on a table, bookcase or chest of draws and away from a draught – so not on the window ledge.

British and US Carbon Monoxide alarms will be triggered by the right (or wrong)  combination of events:

  • as CO levels rise and
  • as higher than normal CO levels are recorded over an extended time period.

Normally CO will be resent in very small amounts, less than 10 parts per million.  CO is created when ANY fuel is burnt – where there is a flame there could be CO (eg. gas cooker) – but usually in small measure.

Naturally, CO can rise and fall in a way that is not any danger to health.  So a rise in CO will not trigger your CO alarm unless that level remain high for sometime.

This may sound vague but this is because it depends on how high and for how long – levels of 50 ppm are not usually dangerous but not ideal and may led to long term health consequences.

I want a CO monitor that actually gives me values for the CO in the atmosphere so that I can see if the long term levels are high even if they are not high enough to trigger the alarm. Or if there are exceptionally high peaks for very short period, which also would not trigger the alarm.

If you buy an alarm that reports this data you need to understand it.

Here you will find a useful table indicating the time-scales for exposure to CO at different levels and associated symptoms:

In summary 10 ppm or less is ideal and considered safe.

Up to 50 ppm or even higher for a while is nothing to worry about.

When the CO level exceeds 100 ppm we want to see it fall again quite quickly.

Exposure to CO at 400 ppm is life threatening after about 3 hours (less for children & pets).

If CO levels rise much above 800 ppm you can consider this to be an emergency – everyone must get to fresh air quickly to avoid unconsciousness: so open all the door and windows before getting the children or you run the risk of all being knocked unconscious.

Levels over 6,000 ppm can kill with 25 minutes but that doesn’t mean you have 25 minutes because the CO can render you unconscious very within seconds.

Getting back to the original question:

Which Carbon Monoxide Alarm would I buy?

I am more familiar with Honeywell and FireAngel brands, though others should be just as good.

At £22.50 this is a good buy from Tesco: the Fireangel Digital Carbon Monoxide Alarm Catalogue Number: 100-6185  you can also buy it from B&Q at a slightly higher price.  Or here it is on amazon:

Corgi have recommended the Honeywell H450EN carbon monoxide detector without all the extra data, it can generally be bought for about £23.

For information on Carbon Monoxide you could visit the website a wide range of films have been gathered onto this site to provide information to adults and children of all ages about the dangers of CO.

Landlords you must get a Gas Safety Check between Tenants

There is a common mistaken view among Landlords and Letting Agents that you just need an Annual Gas Safety certificate.

No it is not that simple.

The other day our GSR heating engineer went to a rented property where he thought there was just a boiler.  He was surprised to see a gas cooker and he quickly noticed a whole load of defects with that cooker – believe me, you would not need to be a qualified gas engineer to see these problems – I would have spotted them too.

He dashed off an email to the Landlord telling him it could be repaired but recommending he scrapping the oven.  (BTW We would not recommend letting a property with any gas appliance other than a gas boiler.)

The landlord replied with some surprise – he did NOT know there was a gas cooker in the property.

He was not pleased to discover that the previous tenant had left it and that the Letting Agent had not dealt with this.

The question obviously arises – whose fault it it – especially if a serious incident or death occurred as a result of this cooker.

The Gas Safety Law says something along the lines of things being safely maintained.  The Approved Code of Practise states there must be a GAS SAFETY inspection prior to each new tenancy, even if the current gas safety report is not nearly a year old.

And GAS Safety is the Landlords responsibility.

This offending cooker is not the responsibility of the ex-tenant and not the new tenant.  It is the landlords responsibility.

He MIGHT pass the blame on to the letting agent but that can be a grey area…read the content of your contract with the letting agents very carefully!

I suspect that if the Letting Agent have not taken responsibility for gas safety and for arranging gas safety checks then if there was a Gas Incident the blame will be pointed at the landlord.  The landlord who failed to get a Gas Safety check prior to a new tenancy.

In my book about Gas Safety for landlords I give full relevant legal references for this very issue. See Right – See Amazon.

PS – the Gas Safety for Landlords book has special reduced price at Amazon now for a short while…..

Are the Dirtiest Toilets in Thanet in Ramsgate?

Over the past 10 years I have only visited these toilets because needs must. Given their location in a large retail establishment, with a cafe, it is quite amazing at just how bad they are. Not the state of repair but the total lack of cleaning! This is not just recently – they have always been shocking.

Interesting that this chain is attempting to market itself as well located to offer an alternative to motorway services. Well the food and atmosphere might be be nicer but motorway services have far nicer, cleaner toilets and that is important to me.

I don’t think the photos taken with my phone really show you how bad they are but I can only think that management and staff there must have their own staff facilities and never visit the public ones.

MR TP has a slightly different view on this. He tells me that some materials used are very hard to keep clean and that there are hard-wearing easy to clean and maintain products that should be installed in public toilets.







What are those plant pot, half full of pot-pori, bringing to the rest rooms?

Boiler stopped working in Freezing Weather. Frozen Condense pipe

When temperatures are below 0C we recommend keeping your heating on all the time round the clock.

Just turn the thermostat down when you are out or going to bed. I would turn it down about 5 or so degrees lower than normal and in a really warm house I would turn the radiators off in the bedrooms, you don’t want to cook over night.

This should help prevent freezing pipes and boiler problems.  If you have a new ish boiler and it suddenly stops working you might not need a heating engineer – take a look at the Worcester boiler’s website:

Stay Warm!

The Silent Killer at Home Carbon Monoxide free ebook by D Percy from smashwords

Gas Safety In the Home ebook by D Percy

Gas Safety In the Home ebook by Deborah Percy FREE at

Buy my books

Available at Amazon / Kindle. You can order print copies from this website or Amazon. The Landlord's Guide and Carbon Monoxide are both in print now. Coming soon (in 2014) Do Gas Fires Make you Sick?

Mrs Tara Plumbing’s books at

buy books at

Landlords & Gas Safety book

Landlords & Gas Safety book

Landlord's Guide to Gas Safety available in all ebook stores

All plumbing questions here at the UKPF



Gas Safety Week sept


RSS tara heating

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS Tara P Bathroom & Wetroom blog

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS Eastcliff Richard

RSS Thanet Star

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS Carbon Monoxide CO blog

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS Garden Geek

  • Hardy Plants for your garden December 30, 2021
    If you are looking for a garden that can maintain a great appearance, with ease, then hardy plants could be for you. Hardy plants are those that can withstand low temperatures and this makes them great for gardens in the UK. With the ever unpredictable British weather, there aren’t even any guarantees when it comes ... Read more The post Hardy Plants for you […]

RSS Bathroom Etiquette blog site

  • Etiquette, Shame and The Huffington Post May 25, 2014
    I was a guest on HuffPost Live this week in a segment purporting to discuss the ins and out of workplace bathroom etiquette. We’ve been here before, but it seems like bathroom etiquette at work is the hot topic that just won’t go away. It was one of those slightly awkward four-way video chats but […]

Mrs TP’s latest tweets….

(function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i['GoogleAnalyticsObject']=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore(a,m) })(window,document,'script','//','ga'); ga('create', 'UA-49499672-1', ''); ga('send', 'pageview');


RSS UKIP in Thanet

  • UKIP in Thanet District Council promise to reopen Manston Airport
    or at least they did before the election. It almost sounded too easy. Well, it’s too early to comment on progress but it it not looking so easy.    
  • Thanet District Council tackle Dog Poo
    I’m sure the overwhelming majority of residents will be pleased if UKIP can get on top of the dog poo problem. There is no easy solution as councils around the country have tried to tackle this with the Keep Britain Tidy campaign for at least 30 years (that I know of). One council tried Doggie Loos […]
  • We have a UKIP Thanet District Council but a Conservative MP
    For those who enjoy the maths behind the headlines or have been enjoying #thanetrigged I can share with you this extract from a much larger spreadsheet of results. In the South Thanet parliamentary constituency there are two wards that are part of Dover District Council (by the way Dover are responsible for elections in that […]