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Before you start a DIY plumbing job, it’s worth checking whether there are any legal requirements you need to fulfill. And of course, you should make sure any work you carry out is done safely.
Any repairs involving gas can only be legally performed by a Gas Safe Register approved heating engineer. Before hiring a plumber, check they’re registered, as it’s your responsibility to ensure you hire a Gas Safe registered plumber.
Your plumbing systems, water fittings and water-using appliances must be installed, maintained and used to comply with the Water Fittings Regulations or Scottish Water Byelaws. These set legal requirements for the design, installation, operation and maintenance of plumbing systems, water fittings and water-using appliances. Their purpose is to prevent water contamination, misuse, waste, undue consumption or incorrect measurement of water.
The Water Regulation Advisory Service (WRAS) suggests using an approved plumber, as they will have had training in the regulations and byelaws, and they’ll issue a ‘work completed’ certificate which can provide you with a legal defence if sub-standard plumbing work is found.
If you’re doing work yourself, WRAS advises that you make sure you know the legal requirements, so check their website, or the government’s planning portal or contact your local authority for more info. The regulations are also available online and can be purchased from HMSO.
Staying safe should be your priority with any DIY plumbing job. Remember, if you’re not completely confident, it’s best to call a professional. Accidents are more likely to happen if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Protect your eyes - Wear safety glasses when doing any plumbing work.
Keep hands safe - Wear the right work gloves to protect your hands. They’ll come into contact with lots of different materials and chemicals when you’re working, and gloves are an easy way to prevent injuries.
Protect your lungs - If you’re sawing, sanding or soldering, or working in a dusty environment, wear a face mask.
Wear non-slip shoes - Wear shoes with rubber soles to help avoid slipping over.
Avoid loose clothing - Loose clothing and jewellery can get stuck in machinery and other small spaces when you’re working. Jewellery can also be damaged, so always take it off.
Don’t mix chemicals - Unless the instructions tell you to.
Protect your face - Don’t look down a drain after pouring chemicals into it. Solutions can boil up and produce toxic fumes.
Be cautious with power tools - Be very careful when using power tools, and always read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully before use. Only use a power tool when you’re confident of how it works, and how it can be switched off in an emergency.
Be careful with hot pipes - Where possible, turn off the heating system and let everything cool before starting work. Protect yourself with eye or face shields, and insulated gloves.
Know the electrics - Avoid electric shock by familiarising yourself with your home’s electrics, and find out how to shut-off the power.
Locate stop-valves - Know where your stop-valve is. It’s good to know when carrying out any DIY, as well as for emergencies.
Get the right tools - Before starting a job, make sure you have exactly the right tools. Trying to ‘make do’ with a similar tool could be dangerous and lead to costly mistakes.
Use ladders with care - Ensure A-Frame ladders are properly locked in the open position and that all four feet are in contact with the ground on a stable and level surface. If you’re leaning a ladder against a wall it should be at a 75-degree angle, that’s the equivalent of 1ft away from the wall at the base for every 4ft of height.
Any problems to do with heating generally means that it’s likely to involve gas so it’s imperative that you call a professional.
When it comes to installing a new heating system (or parts of) in the UK, here’s what you need to know about the law:
It’s not necessary to get planning permission to install or replace a heating system if it’s all internal. However, if you live in a listed building, you may have to check in with your local planning authority.
Heating pumps should carry the CE mark in accordance with EU law. Whoever last worked on your heating system is responsible for its safe running. And they should issue a certificate to show the necessary checks have been carried out.
New boilers will need to be approved according to the Building Regulations. This is for two reasons: safety and energy efficiency. To get this done you must use an installer that is registered under one of the approved schemes – https://www.gov.uk/building-regulations-competent-person-schemes].
They need to follow the guidelines under Approved Document.
Minimum efficiency for a gas boiler is 86%
Minimum efficiency for an oil boiler is 85%
It’s highly likely you’ll have to have a condensing boiler unless you can prove it would be too difficult to install (the assessment for this is in Building Regulations Approved Document L1)