The Diary of a SNIPEF Apprentice Day 4

March 4, 2021

The diary of a SNIPEF apprentice this week has shown an in-depth look into the workday of a plumbing and heating apprentice, however, college is also a key part of the process.

Of his time at college, Iain reflects “Everyone in your class comes from different working environments whether it is on a construction site, commercial industry, bathroom fitter, or overall a bit of everything.  You learn so much from each other, with everyone having different areas of expertise, if you have an issue, your classmates may be able to help you out at work or for college. These scenarios build trust within each other and people you can rely on


My first job of the day was a call out to a school that had developed a leak coming from the loft space. The school was just under an hour away, so I left sharp to get there at 8am for when the school opens.

Upon arrival, I got up into the loft space and on a tall platform in the loft space, there was a feed and expansion tank right above where the drip was coming through the ceiling. The tank had been leaking from the overflow tank connection.

  1. The first step was to see why the tank was overflowing in the first place;
  2. The ball valve was off but had over filled so I isolated the cold supply and removed the ball valve stripped the parts and replaced the washer, then re-adjusted the arm so the water will cut off at a lower level;
  3. Emptied some of the feed and expansion tank water out via a bucket, to drop the level below the overflow;
  4. Re-installed ball valve;
  5. Stripped overflow tank connection and replaced washers as they had perished;
  6. Once re-instated, I turned on the water to see the ball valve switch off at a suitable height;
  7. To test the overflow, I push down on the ball valve forcing it to overflow so I know if it was to happen again in the future this leak will not re-occur.

My second job of the day was at another school conveniently on the route back, to my other planned works for the day, this job was a bit simpler.

When flushing the staff toilet, the cistern fills and makes a loud rumbling sound. This is caused more commonly by the old ball valve washer perishing and jumping up and down on the inlet nozzle seat inside the valve. The arm pushes the washer down and does not sit on the nozzle tight resulting in vibrations, causing a water hammer effect. The vibrations cause the pipework and the ceramic cistern to make a loud rumble. It is an easy fix by replacing the ball valve washer and adjusting the valve height if necessary.

The final job of the day was to replace a mixer shower and rail and install an outside tap for the couple’s home, nice customers to work for. They happened to know my family background and knew my parents as they come from Islay where the couple had just moved from a couple of years ago, it is a small world. The people you meet on the job can sometimes make your day. Their old mixer was passing, and the cold feed was cooling down the hot water supply to all the hot outlets round the house when the shower was running. It was near enough a straight like for like swap with the old shower, so turned out to be a relatively quick change.

The next step was the outside tap. I pilot drilled a hole from under the kitchen sink through to the external wall, then drilled a 22mm hole from the outside in so I did not cause any blowout from the external wall if I drilled from the inside out. Once drilled, I sleeved the hole with plastic pipe to protect the 15mm copper pipe supply to outside. I soldered an elbow and pushed through the pipe, then connected it all up to the outside tap with a wall mounting plate. So, when I connect the pipework inside the pipes are not spinning outside. Once finished outside, I connected the pipework by T’ing off the cold supply to join the pipe I brought in from outside, and in between I installed an isolation valve and a check valve to stop any backflow contamination which this tap had built in.

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