What do I look for in a plumbing and heating engineer?
If your engineers are not qualified you could be putting lives and property at risk!
Please read through this list of basic checks, to make sure your plumbing engineers are qualified to do the work, you’re paying for.
Check your plumber is fully insured, this make sure you will be covered for any accidents or damage to your property. However be aware, if he/she is fully insured, but does not have the correct certification in place to complete a particular job, the insurance will be void!
Water regulations certification
The Water Fittings Regulations (or Bye laws in Scotland) are national requirements for the design, installation and maintenance of plumbing systems, water fittings and water-using appliances. Owners, occupiers of premises and anyone who installs plumbing systems or water fittings have a legal duty to ensure that they satisfy the regulations.
Their purpose is to prevent misuse, waste, undue consumption or erroneous measurement of water, to ensure hot water is stored correctly without running risk of legionella or scalding and most
importantly, to prevent contamination of drinking water. They‘re in place to ensure the installation of plumbing systems are in accordance with Building Regulations Approved Document G. The easiest
way to comply with this is to use an engineer who holds a current Water Regulations certificate of competence.
This is relevant to almost all plumbing works.
Anyone working within this scope should hold a Water Supply (water fittings) Regulations Certificate. Compliant contractors can also be found at http://www.wras.co.uk/
Unvented Hot Water Certificate
An unvented hot water or heating system is one which is pressurised, or not vented to atmospheric pressure. To be able to carry out work on an Unvented Hot Water System, installers need to be able to demonstrate their competence; certified engineers will hold a current certificate of competence. This is to ensure the correct operation of all safety devices i.e. pressure and temperature relief and to ensure correct installation of the components. Failure to comply with this could result in an explosion!
This includes work on any sealed hot water systems and sealed heating systems, i.e. combination boilers. The best way to tell if you have a sealed hot water system is if there is no cold water storage in the loft. Likewise for sealed heating systems there will be no header tank in the loft and will require a competent engineer to work on this system, who will hold an Unvented Hot Water Certificate.
Engineers working on any gas appliance/ pipe work, must be licensed by Gas Safe to do so. Fully qualified engineers will carry a Gas Safe photo ID with their own unique license number. In addition to this, there will be a list of appliances on the back of the ID, which the engineers can work on. I.e. Gas Boilers, Gas Fires or pipe work etc.
Before any gas work is carried out, always make sure you ask to see their Gas Safe Register ID Card.
Experience, knowledge and expertise
In addition to having the certification to work on your particular system, you will want to make sure the engineer is competent and fully trained. The best way to ensure experience, knowledge and expertise, is to look for an engineer with a City & Guilds NVQ certification.
On the UK government careers website it states, that the qualifications needed to be a plumber are the City and Guilds National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) Level 2 and 3 in Mechanical Engineering Services-Plumbing (Domestic).
Level one City & Guilds will be OK for very small and simple plumbing jobs, such as small leaks and tap changes etc. You would preferably look to use somebody with a Level two city & guilds certificate; however, these certifications do not guarantee any experience as they can be completed in classroom.
The next certification is a lot more credible, which is an NVQ Level two City & Guilds Qualification. These plumbers must have had experience in the trade to be able to qualify. They can safely re-plumb most hot and cold water pipework, cold water tanks and most heating issues, an NVQ level 3 certificate requires yet more time on site. These engineers will have had more training, and have a better understanding on more complex heating systems, they will be competent to work on all plumbing and heating systems.