The pipe most commonly used in plumbing is the copper pipes and this is not easy to bend by hand. If you try to bend it, not only is it very tough but the pipe is likely to distort when being bent. It is therefore useful to use a bending spring.
The bending spring is slid inside the pipe in order to support it as it is being bent, quite likely over your knee. These bending springs have a loop on one side in order to be easily pulled out from the pipe once it has been bent. They come in different sizes in order to fit different pipe. However, if you have a lot of pipe to bend or if you want to bend something like stainless steel or a thicker copper pipe, say over 28mm, which cannot be bent by hand, the best option is to use a bending machine and these can be hired rather than purchased. Bending machines can normally deal with two or three different sizes of pipe and it will make your work a lot easier.
Blowlamps are used for soldered capillary fittings and nowadays these are much safer than the old-school paraffin type. The ones fitted on to a disposable cartridge are perfectly adequate for most types of jobs or otherwise a blowtorch connected via a hose to a gas cylinder can be used. This is a more expensive alternative but the torch itself is lighter and easier to handle than a blowlamp. Not to mention the risk of running out of gas halfway through a job – what a nightmare! Even though you will have to carry the cylinder with you, the positive thing is that a blowtorch allows you to use it upside down in case you need to get under a pipe or if you are fitting one in a tricky position. It is not advisable to use a cartridge-fed blowlamp upside down as it will cause flares. Another use of a blowlamp or blowtorch is when a nut seems to be stuck to its fitting, often due to dried up jointing compound. By applying gentle heath to the nut, it can sometimes loosen it. Just make sure not to use your blowlamp to close to ceramic basins, plastic baths or pressed steel as it can cause further damage. If you need to unfreeze pipes or nuts close to these materials, it might be better to use a hair-dryer or a hot-air gun on a low setting. For safety, make sure to always have a fire extinguisher close by if you do choose to work with a blowlamp.
The most important part to remember for the home plumber regarding the ‘Gas Safety Regulations (Installation and Use)’ is that it is illegal for anyone to carry out any types of work regarding gas fittings – however minor – if they are not competent to do so. Basically what this means is that it would be very, very stupid to attempt to do your own gas fitting. A lot of plumbers and some other contractors points out that there are many similar techniques with gas fitting and those regarding hot and cold water plumbing BUT if anything goes wrong, any potential mistakes can be so much more serious, not to mention the consequences of you getting found out as this holds hefty fines. Always look for a qualified gas fitter when planning any work involving gas. These can easily be found on the CORGI register (Council for Registered Gas Installers).
Contrary to belief, there are no legal restrictions for anyone carrying out their own electrical repairs and/or alterations – with the exception of Scotland. In Scotland, any electrical wiring is part of the Scottish Building Regulations. However, keep in mind that local electricity companies do have the right to inspect and test any electrical work they suspect to be unsafe and they can also refuse a supply if it comes down to it.
The ‘IEE Wiring Regulations’ or the ‘Requirements for Electrical Installations, are generally thought of as a kind of a bible for many electricians. It was produced by the Institution of Electrical Engineers and British Standard (BS 7671). The most current edition which was first published in 1991 is actually its sixteenth edition but just as with the Water and Building Regulations, changes to the Wiring Regulations are intended for new installations and is not retrospective. Keeping in mind that any substantial additions and/or alterations to the wiring of a house might mean making changes to an already existing installation.
There is a useful book called ‘The Which? Book of Wiring and Lighting’ which not only explains the Regulations but also provides illustrated instructions on how to deal with most common household wiring tasks. Obviously, if you are still unsure whether you should tackle it yourself, you can always use a qualified electrician. Just make sure to use one that is a member of the Electrical Contractors Association or ECA for short. Alternatively, one use an electrician on the roll of the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting (NICEIC).