Monday, 31 March 2014

Basic requirements for the installation of drainage systems

Drainage is listed as a controlled service/fitting. Controlled services and fittings are those covered by Parts G, H, J, L or P in the government Building Regulations. These include:
  • Water supplies 
  • Toilets 
  • Urinals 
  • Hand basins 
  • All sanitary fittings 
  • Drainage 
  • Water disposal systems 
  • Fixed fuel burning heating appliances 
  • Electrical installations 
What this means is that when any of these items are installed, they must be installed in accordance with the requirements of the relevant Building Regulations.

If any work carried out does not meet the minimum requirements stated within the Building Regulations, local authorities will serve a notice, ordering any defects present to be remedied. In some cases a local authority will carry out the work in default and then recover the cost.

Overview of Requirements for Drainage

The regulations detail a number of requirements, please see the following list for an overview of those relevant to plumbing drainage;
  • No material may be used where there is any possibility that contamination of water could occur due to the material. 
  • Water fittings must be protected from erosion and be of suitable strength and thickness 
  • Water fittings must be water tight and constructed to prevent ingress by contaminants/inhibit damage by freezing as well as being adequately supported. 
  • They must be capable of withstanding any internal water pressure not less than 1½ times the maximum pressure. 
  • A water fitting must not be likely to have a detrimental affect on quality/pressure of water 
  • Water fittings must not be embedded in any wall or concrete floor. Where laid below ground level the cover must be sufficient to prevent water freezing. 
  • There is a restriction on concealed water fittings. 
  • Cold water must be kept in such a way that it is not likely to be warmed above 25ºC. 
  • A stop valve must be provided. 
  • The supply system must be capable of being drained down. 
  • The rain water system must be tested, flushed and where necessary disinfected before it is first used. 
  • Any water fittings must bae identified so as to distinguish them from water supply pipes. 
  • There must be adequate devices to prevent back flow. 
  • The pipes supplying water to a storage system must be fitted with a valve to shut of the inflow or a system must be installed so as to minimise the risk and contamination of a store of water and they must be designed to allow free circulation. 
  • Appropriate feed pipes must be provided for water systems. 
  • There must be a temperature device to prevent water heating above 100ºC. 
  • Provision must be made for expansion valves etc in water systems. 
  • A w.c. must be supplied with a water flushing system, by a single flush. 
  • There must be at least one tap conveniently situated for drinking water. 
  • Every bath, wash hand basin, sink or similar must be provided with a watertight plug, subject to certain specified exceptions. 

Foul Drainage

Document H1 (page 17) details the requirements for foul drainage, with information on; bedding and backfilling, rigid pipes, and flexible pipes. This document explains what rate of bedding factor is needed for rigid pipes, flexible pipes and variations for different types of ground. Also detailed are types of appropriate fill material and to what depth should be filled.

Drainage Pipework Requirements

There is a detailed section on pipes including; clayware pipes, concrete pipes, and thermoplastics.

Detailing; the measurements dependant on the nominal size (width of the pipe) laid in fields, laid in light roads, and laid in main roads.

Additionally, H1 details what pipe protection is needed for all kinds of pipes and at all depths. Access points are of course vital when installing drainage, such as; rodding eyes, manholes, inspection chambers, and access fittings, there is a guide to; depth, length and thickness of pipe.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Keeping control of your central heating costs

With the use of non-renewable resources and prices of gas and electricity at an all time high it is more important than ever to minimise consumption. Here are a few reasons why you should care:

  • Gas and oil prices are ever rising; cutting down on their use will save you money.
  • If we all use less resources now, there will be more for our future children and grandchildren.
  • Although there a number of political groups, lobbyists and fringe oil-money-funded researchers opposing global warming, the overwhelming consensus in the scientific community is that it is real, that it is happening right now and that unless people across the world use carbon more sustainably, we will be in big problems in the near future.

The most economical kind of boiler is a condensing boiler, which has the following benefits; 
  • The waste heat that is usually dispersed out of the building via the flue of a non condensing boiler is saved and used by a condensing boiler.
  • Typically a new gas condensing boiler will be around 90% efficient, compared to a new non condensing boiler at 78%, or an older non condensing boiler at around 60%.

Good heating controls are vital for keeping cost and waste to a minimum. There are four main kinds of controls for your heating and hot water;
  • Room stat (thermostat), this measures the room's temperature and adjusts the boiler temperature accordingly.
  • Boiler programmer, settable for different times and days of the week, so that you can ensure the boiler is off when you are not at home.
  • Boiler timer, switches your boiler off and on at set times.
  • Thermostatic radiator valves (also known as TRV) knobs on radiators that adjust the temperature of the radiator.

According to The Energy Saving Trust, reducing your heating temperature by just one degree can save £55 per year on heating bills.

Money and energy saving tips; 
  • Update your heating controls, see the above for different kinds of controls.
  • Zone your heating, it is possible to zone areas of the house and not just rooms. You could, for example, zone the upstairs and downstairs at different times of the evening.
  • Set your thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) and room thermostats low then increase the temperature day by day until the optimum temperature is reached. You can then leave the temperature as it is until the season changes.
  •  Do not cover the tops of radiators as they work by convection; cold air enters the radiator at the bottom and leaves through the top as warm air. Thus it is important to keep a good flow of air; watch out for loose wallpaper or anything else that prevents the flow.
  • There have been recent changes in technology and it is now possible to download an app to your mobile phone that controls your central heating system, one such system is British Gas’s Hive system. The system allows the user to remotely control their heating system.

Keep a good eye on how much you are paying for your utilities, there are a few price comparison companies that you can use, such as;

You could also speak to a handful of utility providing companies directly to speak to them about the best rates for you. If you do not have a contract with a company with a fixed rate you may be paying a high gas and electricity price per KWh. Contact details for a few utilities companies are as follows;

Alternatively this article may be of interest, it details lesser known companies;

If you live in the Bath or Bristol area, consider giving BPM Maintenance a try, for affordable, safe & high quality boiler installs and gas work.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Waste management and recycling

Hazards and issues related to the incorrect management or neglect of correct waste management are extensive, they include;
  • Harmful substances – when dealing with waste and recycling the following can include, cleaning solutions, varnishes, bleach, paint, batteries, pesticides, and garden products such as weed killer.
  • Biological agents – human waste, used needles, syringes and drugs.
  • Rodent infestations
  • Animal waste, such as pet litter, hutches , hay and straw

Exposure can be made in a number of ways including;
  • Inhalation
  • Skin penetration through pricks and cuts
  • Skin contact
  • Ingestion

Employers are responsible for taking measures to minimise and control exposure to the hazards. The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH 2002) contains the main relevant legal requirements. Employers must assess the risk from harmful substances; this includes reducing the risk at the source by either promoting usage of schemes such as hazardous waste return and needle return schemes.

Most hazards and risks are hugely reduced by using simple measures to control waste.

Waste Carrier's Licensing

If a business, such as Bath Property Maintenance Ltd, carries any form of waste, including their own, then they need to register for a license. Businesses can register as waste carriers on Registering as a lower tier carrier allows you to carry your own waste, registering as an upper tier waste carrier is required for businesses that carry the waste of others. By law, all businesses that carry the waste of others are required to fill out a waste transfer note for each load of waste transferred.

As an example, for an electrical job where the waste generated includes only the packaging of materials that the contractor purchased themselves, then only a lower tier license is required. But if the electrical work involves replacing wires, the existing waste wiring removed requires an upper tier license to transport it.


COSHH requires employers to take general steps to manage and assess employee’s exposure to hazardous substances, such as;
  • Identify which employees may be at risk and how
  • Monitor and review the risk and who may be at risk regularly
  • Implement measures to control the risk


Employers must state clear instructions, and provide adequate training for the following;
  • Details of the hazards and risks they may face
  • Guides for good personal hygiene
  • The companies procedures for dealing with contamination and incidents
  • The companies procedures for reporting incidents
New employees must receive induction training in the company’s policies and existing employees must have regular refresher training and be made aware of any changes or additions to the company's policies.


A good standard of personal hygiene is very important for employees, facilities must be provided to employees such as;
  • Protective clothing
  • Adequate washing facilities where appropriate
  • Company procedures for when gross contaminations occurs

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Brief Overview of Health Safety Issues 1

Electrical shocks are a common risk for many building sites and it’s a rare risk assessment that does not mention them in some regard. Couple this with the fact that the vast majority of shocks are non-fatal and result in little more than a light sting and you have a recipe for underestimating danger.

The HSE is warning contractors about this very danger to try and end electrocutions of engineers. They believe that vigilance and a commitment to following best practice will be enough to prevent shocks of any kind.

That’s what we believe at BPM Maintenance too; our Health & Safety Manager holds regular toolbox talks and a common theme is the dangers of electrical currents.  The Manager trains our operatives to never underestimate the risk involved and treat it just as seriously as working at height or with gas; even if the danger is not always as obvious.

As technology evolves and the use of electricity becomes ever more integrated with our lifestyles, awareness and caution of currents become ever more important for any building worker.  Our electrical engineers are always provided with the most up to date training and relevant information for all areas of electrical works that we deal with. Additionally, all of our operatives receive electrical awareness training to keep

Asbestos is a real and present danger in the UK.  Due to its unique fire proofing abilities it was used prolifically in the building of residential dwellings and commercial buildings during the 1960’s and the 1970’s. 

It was later discovered that the inhalation of asbestos fibres causes serious illness and often death.  Diseases caused by asbestos include; Non malignant pleural disease, Asbestosis, Asbestos related lung cancer and Mesothelioma.

Asbestos can be found all over a building, it is mostly found where an area has been made to be fire retardant, such as, meter cupboards, fuse boxes and in commercial buildings some riser cupboards.  It was also used in floor tiles and for rainwater items, such as roof gutters, soffits and downpipes.

At BPM we do the following to manage asbestos:

  • All of our engineers have taken a training course on dealing with asbestos in buildings
  •  Engineers ensure that works carried out are not significantly dangerous enough to warrant using a licensed contractor
  • Protective equipment and clothing is always used where appropriate
  • Waste is dealt with cleanly and safely, for example clearing as they go and double bagging waste, and finally disposing of as per regulations.

Working at Height

All of our on-site representatives know that working at height means any height where if somebody was to fall, personal injury would be caused.

Every time an operative from BPM Maintenance works at height they ensure that:

  • All equipment used is properly maintained and regularly inspected.
  • Any risks from working on or near fragile surfaces are managed.
  • All jobs are properly organised and planned so that any potential dangers are highlighted before works have started.

Monday, 11 November 2013

The Proper Use of Septic Tanks

Choosing/building a suitable septic tank

There are several key properties that your septic tank requires to be legally compliant and satisfy health and safety regulations.
  • Any factory-made septic tanks should meet the British Standard EN 12566-1.
  • If you have constructed your septic tank out of brickwork or concrete, ensure that it is roofed with heavy concrete slabs. Bricks used in the walls of the tank must be an engineering brick model that is at least 220 mm thick. Mortar used must be a 1:3 cement-sand ratio. In-situ concrete should be at least 150 mm thick.
  • The septic tank must have ventilation and this should be installed such that there is no leakage of the contents and the ventilation is kept from buildings.
  • The capacity below the level of the inlet of the septic tank should be 2,700 liters for up to 4 users then an additional for 180 liters for each user above that.
  • Ideally, there should be two chambers within the tank that operate in series and prevent immediate disturbance upon the entry of new waste through the inlet.
  • If the septic tank has a width of 1.2 metres or less then the inlet must be a dip pipe.
  • Steeply laid drains should limit velocity of incoming waste by laying the last 12 metres at a gradient of 1/50 or flatter to prevent turbulence.

Required marking of your septic tank

  • Nearby habitation must have a notice regarding the septic tank affixed to a wall.
  • The notice must state that the septic tank is in use for foul drainage discharges, the type of secondary treatment used, the maintenance required and that the owner is legally responsible the system does not cause nuisance, pollution or a health hazard.

Choosing where to place your septic tank

  • Ensure that your septic tank is at least 7 metres from any habitable sections of buildings.
  • If possible, place the septic tank downslope from any habitation.
  • Place the septic tank in a position such that it is within range of a hose such that the tank can be cleaned and emptied but does not endanger any occupants of nearby buildings.
  • The septic tank should be no more than 30 metres from any vehicle access point (to allow access for a tanker to take and remove the waste.
  • Ensure that the invert level of the tank is a maximum of 3 metres below the level of vehicle access.

Maintenance of your septic tank

  • The septic tank must be emptied at least once every 12 months by a licensed contractor.
  • An inspection must be carried out monthly of the outlet chamber or the distribution box to observe the effluent is free-flowing and clear.
  • The septic tank must be used in conjunction with a secondary treatment such as a drainage field, drainage mound or a constructed wetland & this will have its own maintenance procedure.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

How You Can Use Your Access Control System to Save Money

No, I'm not talking about the savings you make through reduced thefts of your property; but a clever way of integrating your access control system with your heating system.

The key is in being able to extract data from the access control system’s usage. Many systems used in large office, commercial or public buildings will store their usage data within a linked database. The idea is to extract this data and create graphs to show the activity within each room against the time and day of the week. You can then get an idea of which rooms are unoccupied at what times of the week. Then, you simply calibrate the heating such that when rooms are unused, they’re not heated.

The approach will not only significantly reduce your heating costs but is also a great way to improve sustainability. What’s more, it’ll look particularly impressive as it’s such an out-of-the-box solution in an area that can be quite difficult to improve & devise initiatives for.

A way to take this even further is to use a Building Energy Management System (BEMS). This approach is particularly useful for large buildings & organisations where the number of thermostats that need to be changed each day makes all those cost savings disappear into maintenance wages.

BEMS were designed to be more of a self-contained system that monitors temperature and other indicators throughout a building and respond accordingly. However, with clever use of databases and a little computer know-how you can automatically feed the BEMS the data from your access control system. The next step is to program the BEMS to apply heat loss algorithms to calculate the minimum amount of heat required for a building, based on which rooms are used when. The BEMS will also need to factor in routines; if an occupied or unoccupied room doesn't fit a developing pattern then the anomaly should be ignored.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Part P: Making your Electrical Installation Safe

Part P is one of a series of documents approved by the Secretary of State (of the UK Government). Each document in the series is ordered by lettering; therefore Part P is the sixteenth approved document. The purpose of the documents is to explain to builders how to meet the Building Regulations 2010 for England. Although it not necessary to follow everything in Part P or any other approved document, you still have to comply with the Building Regulations, and the approved documents offer perhaps the best way of doing that.

Part P focuses on electrical safety; designing and installing electrical installations such that anyone who interacts with them is safe from injury.

Injury Risk Sources:
  • Electric shock. 
  • Fire hazards. 
  • Mechanical damage. 
  • Thermal damage. 

Electrical Inspections of Installation Work

One key part of the Building Regulations about electrical safety is that for an installation to be deemed safe, it has to be inspected by a ‘competent’ person. If you’re getting an electrician to do the job for you, then hopefully he is Part P certified (all of BPM Maintenance’s electricians are), because then he will be deemed a competent person and self-certify any work he carries out.

If whoever carried out the electrical installation isn't a competent person, then you’ll have to get certificate from a registered third party or a building control body, otherwise your DIY job will be breaking the Building Regulations 2010 legislation. That means if you do a DIY installation, then it turns out it isn't safe and someone gets injured, you’re going to have a bad time (not to mention your newly electrocuted friend).

Third Party Inspection

A registered third party could be an electrician who inspects your work when you’re done. If you’re going with this route, then you will need to arrange for this certification to happen within 5 days of work completion.

Building Control Body Inspection

If you want certification from a building control body, then you will need to arrange this before you start. A building control body will be part of your local authority. This body will ask you for your qualifications and competence with regards to electrical installations and then arrange for inspections to be carried out to ensure the installation is safe.

It’ll depend on your local building control body, but applications for electrical inspections can take weeks or longer to process with charges of £200+ or more.