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Can a handyman do plumbing jobs?

Why using a non-specialist tradesperson can be a false economy

Because we specialise in reactive plumbing and heating repairs, we get a lot of messages from people who are experiencing problems, desperate for help. This message, received this week, really stood out:

Last year a handyman flushed out my radiators. Since then, the radiators at the top of the house don’t heat up.”

Clearly the handyman in question felt confident tackling this plumbing job and, while it’s different for boilers, where you do need to be a Gas Safe registered engineer to work on them, there is no such legal requirement for non-gas jobs. There is, however, a very practical consideration – general tradespeople do not have the full breadth of knowledge that a qualified and experienced plumber has, and this is when things can go wrong.

Why did this job go wrong?

That’s a hard question to answer without looking at it, but a central heating system is more complex than many realise and a powerflush is no small undertaking. Presumably the system has some sludge in it as that’s usually the reason for having one conducted as it flushes all the build up of dirt and limescale through. On this occasion, instead of fixing the issue, it seems to have made it worse. This is definitely not what you pay for when you ask a tradesperson to conduct work for you.

This issue may be as simple as leaving automatic bleed valves closed, though it seems unlikely that this would have been done on multiple radiators. It may be that the upstairs radiators need bleeding. Or it could be something more complex; the handyman could even have created damage that wasn’t there before through not really knowing what he was doing.

What should have happened?

Firstly, the tradesperson conducting the powerflush should have tested the system on completion and not left until they were satisfied all parts of the system were working. Secondly, any issues in the following days should have been reported back to the tradesperson so that they could return to resolve them. Deferring the issue to the following year leaves you with little recourse with the original contractor, who can, reasonably, suggest that something else may have happened in the intervening period.

A valuable lesson

The main reason that many people choose to use a general handyman/builder/decorator is perceived cost. They may do the job cheaper or as part of other work they’re having done, and it can seem more convenient to do it that way.

Sometimes it will work out fine, especially with smaller, simpler jobs such as fixing a dripping tap or changing a toilet flush. However, you should always be aware that they simply will not have the experience in this specific area that a qualified plumber will have and more complex jobs, such as a powerflush which can be quite involved and take several hours to complete, may be beyond their level of expertise. It can, therefore, be a real false economy to go down this route.

If you have a plumbing issue and would like it resolving first time with no ongoing issues (or even new ones!), call us on 0333 577 0151 or complete the enquiry form.

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