The Diary of a SNIPEF Apprentice Day 2

March 2, 2021

Yesterday we introduced you to Iain Winnard, a SNIPEF apprentice who works for Blair Plumbing & Heating Solutions Ltd in Crinan, Argyll & Bute. Iain is a fourth year apprentice, who began his apprenticeship in July 2017.

On the industry, Iain says “When everyone first thinks of a plumber, you immediately think working with toilets and blocked drains - which you do work on from time to time - but it is so much more than that. I have done lots of work on: Oil fired central heating & hot water systems, natural gas work on boilers, fires, cookers, log burning stoves, bathroom and kitchen renovations, air source heat pump servicing/maintenance, unvented hot water cylinder servicing – including thermal stores and overall plumbing maintenance and repairs. The variety of work I have encountered has never failed to impress me


I had a call out to a boiler breakdown first thing which involved problem solving and ruling out what faults may be of issue. The boiler was locking out due to soot build up covering the photocell and chocking the fuel nozzle in the oil boiler appliance. This can be caused by incomplete combustion/dirty fuel. I changed the burner nozzle and cleaned out the boiler, checked the fuel condition and fuel supply line, which was fine. The bigger issue was the inner plate of the blast tube was not set to the correct depth, disturbing the flame picture, and causing the burner to struggle to stay ignited. To come to this conclusion, I contacted Grants the manufacturer of the appliance to help identify this cause and to confirm the setting/depth in which the plate should be set - as the manufacturer’s instructions were not at hand.

On the way to my next job, I got a call out to a burst pipe under an office container at a cemetery. With the cold weather, if there is external pipework incorrectly insulated and the pipework freezes near or in a compression fitting, it can cause the olive to slip off the pipe as the ice in the pipework expands. I renewed and insulated the pipework.

For the remainder of the day, I was busy, with two oil boiler services and another breakdown. One of the boiler services involved a few extra outstanding repairs, so I replaced and re-wired a new on/off pole switch and thermostat and at the rear of the boiler replaced the existing condensate trap.

My next task was to attend to the boiler breakdown. This was caused by dirty fuel in the oil supply line, which had contaminated the fuel pump therefore, I changed the fuel pump on the burner. I drained and pulled the dirty fuel through using a pump into a suitable container, then carried out a full boiler service to get the boiler back up and running.

To finish off the day, I drove back to the yard, tidied out my van and loaded up for Wednesday's work. I discussed with my boss the works for Wednesday to ensure I had a grasp of what work was to be carried out.

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