Plumbing

How Much Are Home Improvements? Depends Who You Are…

Many of us rely on tradesmen to help us build our dream homes, whether that be building a new conservatory, painting and decorating or fitting a new bathroom. Lots of us are clueless when it comes to understanding what’s involved in the work we ask our tradesmen to do, meaning we readily accept their quotes.

So, do quotations really differ depending on who you are, or where you live? We gave a middle-aged woman, a middle-aged man, and an elderly man a list of 90 plumbers across 9 English counties. We asked them to call listed plumbers to obtain a quote for fitting mixer taps in their kitchen.

Fitting a mixer tap is usually a straightforward job for a plumber. With the plumbing already in place, it’s a case of swapping the older tap, for the new tap.

So, how much did quotations differ?

Differences by Region

London emerged as the most expensive for this particular job at £85. That may not come as a surprise, given that Londoners are used to inflated prices. The West Midlands was the second most expensive at £70. Those in the North West are in luck if they need the services of a plumber as it was cheapest at £63. This was followed by South West at £64.

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Quotes for the work varied across all regions, and in some cases, the range was quite extensive.

While London had the most expensive overall average, the difference between the lowest and highest quotes was just £7. This means that London plumbers are the most consistent when it comes to quoting, which I guess is good news. In contrast, there was a £20 difference between the lowest quote of £55 for the male caller and the quote of £75 for the elderly caller in the North East.

Ok, so calling a tradesman might cost you more money depending on location, we can live with that. But let’s take a look at how quotations vary depending on the caller.

Male, Female and the Elderly

Our three callers contacted the same plumber over a two-month period, asking for a quote for exactly the same job. We analysed quotes obtained by our three callers to find the average for each, and the results were concerning.

The average price across all quotations for each caller was as follows:
Male: £62
Female: £71
Elderly: £75

So, the male caller managed to obtain the cheapest price overall. He was charged nearly 15% less than the female caller and 21% less than the elderly caller. But was this the case in every region?

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Unfortunately, it was. In every single region apart from one, the male caller was quoted the lowest average price. London was the only exception, with the female caller receiving a lower average price by just £2.

The elderly caller fared the worst in 7 out of 9 regions, levelling with the female caller in the West Midlands.

Male VS Female

Now that we’ve established that the male caller obtained the cheapest quotes, we wanted to find out the worst offending region for overcharging women. We did our sums and figured out the percentage difference between the average price for males and females.

We can reveal that plumbers in the North East are the most likely to quote different prices based on gender, with a 53% increase between the male and female caller.

Male VS Elderly

When it comes to overcharging the elderly, the North East is the worst offender once more. The Elderly caller was quoted 36.36% more than the male caller in this particular region. The North West was the second worst offender, charging 27.27% more, followed by the West Midlands with 27.1%.

Lowest VS Highest

The range of quotes for the male, female and elderly caller varied significantly.

Lowest Quotes

For the female caller, the lowest quote was £40 and this obtained from a plumber in the North East.
The lowest quote for the male caller was £45. Plumbers in the North East, East of England, South West and North West all gave this price.
The most modest quote given to the elderly caller was £50 and this was obtained from three plumbers based in the North East, East of England and West Midlands.

Highest Quotes

The highest price given was £120. The quote was given by a plumber in the North East to the female caller and by a plumber in London to the elderly caller.
£90 was the highest price given to the male caller and that was quoted by a plumber in London.

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Of course, we acknowledge that plumbers and other tradesmen might not be able to give a precise quotation up front, without seeing the work in question. However, it does seem from our research, that on the spot quotations favour men over women and that the elderly pay the highest price. How much do your home improvements cost? Well, the data suggests that it depends on who you are.

Methodology

The aim of this study was to investigate the extent in which costings in the plumbing industry can vary depending on location and the caller. Anchor Pumps acknowledges that quotations will vary depending on region and the way in which a quote is calculated. For example, if the plumber charges a flat hourly rate or whether they charge by job type.

In total, quotes were obtained by ten plumbers for 9 different areas of England. Plumbers from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were not included in the study. Each plumber was contacted on three separate occasions across a three-month period. First by a female caller, secondly by a male caller and then by an elderly caller. Each caller requested an over the phone quotation for the same job.

The Request: A new mixer tap installation to be fitted in the kitchen, a straight swap with the plumbing already in place.   

Please note that there were twenty-two additional plumbers who stated that they could not provide a quote over the phone without inspecting the work via a photograph or in person. These were not included in the study as no upfront quote was provided.

Quotes included in the study do not include additional VAT.

Below are quotes obtained for each region. The overall averages have been calculated to the nearest whole number.

If you would like to discuss the study, please email apmedia@gmail.com for further details.

London

South East

South West

West Midlands

East Midlands

East of England

Yorkshire

North East

North West

Common Water Leaks in the home!

Common Water Leaks

Water leaks in the home can be from a variety of sources, from dripping taps to leaking toilets. Water leaks can be costly, so looking after your heating and water system correctly should be a priority. Many properties use macerating pumps such as the Saniplus. These should be regularly maintained to avoid any leakages.

Even if a leak is relatively minor, it may still cause plenty of damage over time, and if you’re on a water meter it could cost a lot too. Fixing a leak will save you money and avoid damaging your property any further. Here are some of the most common water leaks found in the home.

While some will require the services of a professional plumber, many can be dealt with by anyone with some competent DIY skills.

Dripping Taps

Possibly the most common water leak is the dripping tap, usually caused by a washer wearing out. There are several reasons a tap may become leaky: they are not turned off properly; over-tightening of a tap; turning a tap off with force which can cause wear to the tap washer; a quarter-turn tap may develop a leak due to debris becoming wedged in the quarter-turn tap valve or water being too hot. Turn off the water supply before investigating.

Leaking Radiator

This is often discovered around October time when the heating is turned on and radiator valves have become stuck over the summer months from lack of use. Replacing the valve is a fiddly job and best left to a professional, but it is a good idea to check if tightening up the coupling nut will solve the problem first. Corrosion of the pipes is also common, as they are permanently exposed to water.

Leaking Toilet

Possibly the most irritating water leak is from the toilet, and this can leak in several ways. A crack in the tank or bowl must be replaced immediately. A damaged or broken ballcock and float valve can lead to an overflowing cistern. A faulty fill valve or worn feed line can cause water to constantly drain into the cistern. Combine this with a blocked overflow pipe and the tank may overflow.

Leak Under the Bath

A leak from the bath, especially in an upstairs bathroom, can cause some very serious damage to ceilings and floors, so it is essential to not only spot it early but to get it fixed immediately. A leaking bath can be caused by poor seals around the wastes (overflow or plughole), the sealant around the bath failing or leaking pipes which may require the side panel of the bath to be removed to spot the issue. Bath leakage is commonly identified by damage and staining to the ceiling of the room beneath.

Leaking Shower

A leaking shower hose is very common and generally occurs when the hose has exceeded its life expectancy (which is normally long). It is easy to replace with a new hose. Enclosed shower leaks can be similar to bath leaks. Check the pipe work and sealant joints. Pipes can be hidden behind tiles so are harder to get at. Look for signs of damage such as tiles lifting. Shower pumps can help improve the performance of your shower and increase the water pressure. High-quality pumps have good safety and durability records and continue to improve, but there is always a chance that a pump valve is the cause of the leak.

Leaking Sink

This is normally caused by one of the following three issues: a leaking water hose that causes lots of mess, spraying water everywhere; a leaking drain line that can be identified by letting water run down the drain or emptying a full sink; a faulty drain seal around the plughole that is easily identified by filling the sink and leaving it and seeing if the level drops or if moisture appears beneath the sink.

Leaking Pumps

You may have booster pumps, domestic sanitary pumps or heating circulation and hot water pumps in your home. It is always best to use high-quality pumps that are known for their durability and safety records. Cheap, low-quality pumps may be the cause of leakages in the home. Pumps are becoming increasingly more reliable, but leaks do occur, mainly due to the vibration they produce when the power shower or central heating is on.

Leaking Boiler

This is possibly one of the most expensive leaks to fix. A boiler can leak at any age, but cheaper boilers are more likely to leak than more expensive ones. There are many boiler parts that can go wrong and start to leak, and it is advisable to call out a professional plumber if your boiler is leaking.

These are the most frequently found water leaks in the home. If you discover a leak, you should try to ascertain where it is coming from. Turn off the water supply to prevent more water from leaking. Then either attempt to fix it if you feel it is something you can do, or call out a professional plumber to carry out the repairs. The quicker you deal with a leak in your home, the less damage it will cause and the cheaper it will be.

7 Most Common Summer Plumbing Problems

Common Plumbing Problems

Summer is finally here – time to relax and enjoy the warmer weather with friends and family. With trips to the beach and fun out and about, your plumbing can get a real work-out in the summer heat. Water systems can experience small problems that can be fixed by a simple plunger or bigger problems that might need the help of a submersible dirty water pump. Whatever the weather, keep your plumber’s phone number handy just in case.

Here are seven common summer plumbing problems and what you can do about them.

1. Sprinkler Problems

Automatic sprinklers can show signs of wear and tear after a break from use. Lawn mowers are especially unforgiving on sprinkler heads when you’ve been mowing over the winter. Check your heads for damage and your hoses for small leaks that will waste water when you most need it over the summer. You should be able to get replacement parts at your local hardware store.

2. Sewer Line Backups

Summer brings with it sudden heavy showers that can be bad news for your sewer line. Rain soaks into the dry ground, bringing with it loose soil that gets in through small cracks in your pipes, causing blockages. Tree roots can also get into the sewage system, making small cracks larger. Call your plumber if you have water backing up in your toilet or bath.

 

3. Blocked Toilet

Everyone’s worst nightmare is a blocked toilet, especially when the family is all at home for the summer. Remind the kids to use only as much toilet paper as is necessary, and things like food and baby wipes should not be flushed! Keep a plunger on hand to deal with small blockages, and your plumber’s number handy for bigger emergencies. Here is a list of things you should never flush down the loo.

 

4. Slow-Clearing Shower Drains

While a trip to the beach is fun, your shower can suffer when you all get home. Sand, shells and pebbles get caught up in bathing suits at the beach and empty out in the shower, blocking the drain. To avoid ankle-deep water pooling in your shower, get the kids to rinse off at the beach in the public showers and take off their bathing suit before they get in the shower. Keep an eye on the drain cover, and regularly remove hair that will trap the bits and pieces from the beach.

 

5. Washing Machine Overload

Summer fun can put a strain on your washing machine and your pocket. The more washing you have, the harder your washing machine has to work. Stick to small loads to avoid blockages that can lead to messy overflows. Regularly check the hoses to and from your machine for leakages or kinks. Consider shifting your washing machine out from the wall a little to reduce the risk of overheating.

6. Clogged Garbage Disposal

Summer brings out the barbecue and casual outdoor dining. They bring with them a host of food scraps that shouldn’t go down the garbage disposal. Bones, corn cobs, melon rinds and stones from fruits such as nectarines and apricots don’t belong in a garbage disposal unit. Oil and grease from cooking can also cause clogs in your disposal system. TIP: Let the cold tap run for about ten seconds before and after you use your garbage disposal to avoid blockages.

7. Sump Pumps

If you’ve got a basement or cellar that is prone to flooding, you’ll probably have a sump pump. Remember that it also rains in summer, sometimes in heavy, unexpected downpours which can quickly turn into a flooding problem. Make sure your pump is still in good working order after a winter of use to ensure you avoid summer drama.

 

Don’t let plumbing problems ruin your summer holidays. A bit of attention and care can stop problems from occurring at a time when you should be relaxing with your feet up. Contact your plumber for advice and support with summer maintenance. And, of course, Anchor Pumps is here all year round for all your specialist pump needs.

 

Blocked Drains: Problems With Drainage In Your Home

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One of the most common problems faced by householders is blocked drains. These can lead to all kinds of issues from unpleasant smells to, at worst, flooding of your property. While some drain problems can be easy to fix, others need the help of a professional.

Here are some top tips to help you identify and deal with drain problems at your property.

Causes of Blocked Drains

Drains can be blocked by by many things. In kitchens, for example, it could be a build-up of grease and other debris in the sink drain; in bathrooms it may be due to flushing unsuitable items – like wipes, cotton wool or disposable nappies – down the toilet. Hair and soap can block basin wastes and showers.

External drains can become blocked by tree roots or collapsed pipes due to traffic, for example. Debris such as twigs and leaves getting washed down drains can also lead to problems over time.

Blockage Symptoms

There are a number of things that indicate you may have a problem with your drains. Slow draining of sinks and baths is often an early sign that something is wrong. In severe cases they may not drain at all and you can get waste backing up into toilets and other outlets.

Smells are another sign that there is a problem. This can be a sign of damaged pipework or faulty seals, allowing smells back into the house. It may also simply be a dry trap in a sink or basin that hasn’t been used for some time.

Outdoors signs of a blockage may be water overflowing from drainage grids or manholes or gutters that can’t cope with heavy rain.

Preventing Blockages

There are some simple steps you can take to prevent blocked drains. The first is to monitor carefully what you put down there. Avoid flushing bulky paper items down the toilet, and be careful not to drop items like hair clips down the toilet, as these can accumulate with other debris and lead to a problem. In basins and shower trays make sure you clear any hair from the plughole.

In the kitchen avoid putting oils and fats down the sink. Pour them into a container to cool and then dispose of them in the bin. When cleaning cooking utensils, it’s inevitable that some fat goes down the drain. You can prevent this causing problems by using plenty of washing-up liquid to break it down.

Make sure your gutters are cleared regularly, and keep any gratings free of leaves and other debris so that water can drain away freely.

Dealing with Blockages

You can often deal with minor blockages yourself. There are products you can buy that will dissolve minor blockages caused by soap scum or fat. An old-fashioned sink plunger may also be all you need to clear minor problems.

For more severe problems, you’ll need to consult a plumber or drain specialist, who can diagnose the cause and take appropriate remedial action.

Coping with Floods

If you have a severe blockage, it may lead to flooding of your property, particularly if you have a basement or cellar. It’s important to deal with any flooding swiftly before it causes more damage to your property. There are submersible pumps available which are designed to be submersed in water can clear flooding quickly and help you get back to normal.

Choosing a Tradesman

If you need a professional to clear a blocked drain, ask your friends and neighbours for recommendations for reliable tradesmen. Failing that, look for members of professional trade bodies and check for independent reviews online.

Drainage problems are something that most householders face at one time or another, but if you understand the likely causes and deal with them quickly, you can prevent them from developing into a major crisis.

 

What causes Water Hammer & how to eliminate it

Water Hammer

Many of us have experienced banging pipes when a tap is turned off. This is usually caused by a mains pressure system which is at high pressure. Fast-acting valves causing banging.

Alternatively, the cause can be fast-acting valves on appliances such as washing machines or dishwashers. These valves suddenly stop the water that is moving along the pipes. A shock wave results, and this causes the pipes to shudder, causing the banging.

The banging gets worse if the pipes aren’t properly supported or if the valves are worn. The trouble is that the noise isn’t just irritating: it’s also a sign that damage may be occurring. So you do need to do something about it.

New Dishwasher or Washing Machine?

You may be aware that the noise only started after someone worked on your water system or plumbing. Or maybe it began after a new washing machine or dishwasher was installed. If so, these are the areas to start looking at. Be aware, however, that when one part of a plumbed system is changed to correct the water hammer, you may find it starts up in another part of the system. Dishwashers and washing machines have a water supply that is controlled by solenoid valves. These are electrically operated, and they stop the flow of water immediately, so they can cause water hammer or a “bang” sound as the valve shuts off. However, the flexible hose that is used to connect to water supply is usually resilient enough to absorb the shut-off.

Ball and Float Valves and Fixings May Be Culprits

The hammering may also be caused by ball and float valves, worn stop valves or badly fixed pipework. Pipes must be fixed securely to the surface they are on at every couple of metres. Be aware that pipes run under the floor and through woodwork where they have been boxed in. It may pay to look at these first because as they’re not seen, they may have been less carefully fixed. When you look at the pipes, make sure that the pipe clips keep the pipes securely in place, but also that the clips are the right size and don’t allow the pipes to move in their fixings.

Water Ripples from the Tank

Another cause of hammering pipes is water ripples happening inside water tanks which have a ball/float valve controlling the water level. When water flows into the tank, the valve float rocks up and down, constantly closing and opening the valve. This causes a wave system to be set up, and this echoes along the pipes, causing the hammering sound. Plastic water tanks can flex considerably, so they should have a reinforcing plate (metal) to stop them moving.

How to Avoid Water Hammer

There are several ways to avoid this if it does occur (http://uk.grundfos.com/service-support/faqs/home-owner.html).

If the ball/float valve is no longer fit for purpose, this may cause water ripples, and another cause is if a low-pressure nozzle has been fitted to a value which is connected to a high-pressure water supply. Alternatively, UPS pumps can help ensure even circulation of liquids. The Grundfos circulating pump is a high-efficiency answer to these kinds of problems, with low noise levels and the ability to adapt to different environments within the water system. Grundfos Alpha is highly innovative but user-friendly – leave it on the factory setting and it will sort out what it needs to do to operate at peak efficiency.

If the problem persists, you may want to look at an equilibrium valve. This uses the water pressure from the inlet to promote valve closure – but these valves may be difficult to source in the UK.