Female plumbers have more plans in the pipeline

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BLOCKED toilets and busted flushes are not the only things that Laura Swanston and Kate Milton are fixing.

The pair, who quit well-paid desk jobs to start their own plumbing firm, are taking on the outdated stereotype that it is only men who wield the wrenches.

The-all female theme is something they want to keep, with their long-term aim to take on a third woman to train up.

Ms Swanston, 30, said feedback from clients had been positive, adding: “Quite a few women have said they felt more comfortable with having us in their home and some ethnic minorities can’t have a man who is not their husband alone in the house with them.”

But she added: “Sometimes it’s a bit comical, because the males in the house want to help and come up with their toolbox. A few people have been a bit surprised when they open the door and ask: ‘You’re the plumber?’.”

She and Ms Milton, 34, who run Milton & Swan from home in Islip, specialise in designing and plumbing-in bathrooms and central heating.

They juggled distance learning and practical training for City and Guilds qualifications – Ms Milton in plumbing and Ms Swanston in wall and floor tiling – with their old jobs. Ms Swanston was previously a project manager for Network Rail, while Ms Milton was a school sports co-ordinator. Both said they had been able to use skills from their old jobs, including project management.

Ms Swanston said: “Our stress levels are lower now we’re both self employed and we are able to be more flexible. “It’s really motivating because we’re fixing things and the more hours we put in, the more we earn.” They got the bug three years ago when they bought an old property in Leighton Buzzard and spent a year renovating it. Ms Swanston said: “It was an old stable block which was in a really bad state. We’ve always been keen on DIY and took that on as our first project.”

Posted in Plumbing Industry News

Poorly Maintained Plumbing Often Leads to Legionnaires’ Disease, CDC Says

As New York City struggles to contain an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, two new U.S. government reports show the bacteria that causes the potentially deadly illness can take root in a myriad of water sources.

Those sources can include poorly maintained hot tubs, water fountains and cooling towers, the researchers said.

“The variety of settings and water sources implicated in the Legionella outbreaks reported here highlights the complexity of Legionella control . . . particularly in settings where susceptible persons congregate, such as hospitals, long-term care facilities, and other health-care settings,” Karlyn Beer, of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and colleagues wrote.

The New York investigation has pinpointed cooling towers used for air conditioning as the source of more than 100 illnesses and 12 deaths in the South Bronx. But across the nation, improperly treated drinking water accounts for a rising proportion of outbreaks, the CDC team said in one of their two reports.

Two-thirds of 32 outbreaks of drinking water-related illness reported in 2011-2012 were traced to Legionella bacteria — twice the figure documented in 2007-2008, the researchers said.

Improperly maintained building plumbing and private groundwater — not publicly regulated water supplies — were the culprits in those 2011-2012 outbreaks, according to the agency. Fourteen deaths and more than 430 illnesses occurred from Legionella in that period.

“The key to preventing these outbreaks is maintenance of building plumbing systems,” according to Beer and her colleagues. Beer’s group conducted both studies published in the Aug. 14 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a CDC publication.

Outbreaks often occur in hospitals or health-care facilities, “illustrating the disproportionate disease burden among hospitalized persons, who are more likely to be older or have underlying conditions that increase their risk of developing Legionnaire’s disease,” the team said in background notes.

A type of pneumonia, Legionnaire’s disease strikes vulnerable people, especially the elderly and those with other underlying medical conditions, the hardest. It can cause coughing, wheezing and breathing problems, but it is not spread from person to person. It is typically treated with antibiotics, according to the CDC.

Identifying and correcting flaws in plumbing systems, private wells and contaminated groundwater supplies could prevent many outbreaks and illnesses, the authors noted.

New York officials and legislators are already working on tougher laws and regulations for cooling towers in response to the outbreak there.

In the second report, the researchers said Legionella bacteria caused 15 of 18 outbreaks and 10 deaths associated with environmental or undetermined water exposures in 2011-2012.

Four outbreaks occurred in hotels and motels, three in hospital settings and three in long-term care facilities. An office, a factory and a mobile home park also experienced outbreaks, the findings showed.

Ornamental fountains were implicated in three of the outbreaks, the researchers found.

Maintenance of water systems — including drinking water systems, hot tubs, decorative fountains and cooling towers — is necessary to prevent Legionella and other bacteria from growing, the study authors said.

source news.health.com

Posted in Health and Safety

Strong UK quarter for Nobia

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The latest results from the Nobia Group (April – June 2015) with 20-or-so brands including Magnet, Poggenpohl, ewe, Goldreif and Rixonway Kitchens enjoyed increased growth in its UK region with net sales up to SEK 1,571m. compared with SEK1,173m. for the same period in 2014.

UK growth, says Nobia, was primarily attributable to the lower price segments in the market, with organic sales growth was chiefly attributable to Magnet, but B2B sales also increased. Meanwhile, Magnet’s transition to the Group’s common standard dimension was completed

In Magnet, growth was mainly attributable to sales to consumers, but the project segment also grew. The Simply Magnet product range, which was launched during the third quarter of 2014, was well received by customers. Rixonway Kitchens, which was acquired in the fourth quarter of 2014, reported net sales of SEK 104 m. during the second quarter of 2015.

Gross margin declined slightly, negatively impacted by lower sales values and an effect of the acquisition of Rixonway, and positively impacted by favourable currency gains and lower prices of materials.

The improvement in UK operating profit was mainly due to positive currency gains and higher sales volumes.
Nobia’s market in Central Europe meanwhile is deemed to have declined compared with the year-earlier period. The Austrian market performed particularly negatively during the period. Organic growth was negative too, and this said Nobia was attributable to both the Austrian operations and Poggenpohl. The decline in sales in Austria was due to a negative market trend. Poggenpohl’s sales decline was due to lower sales in own stores, and lower project deliveries to Asia.

Morten Falkenberg, Nobia’s President and CEO said:

“The Group’s organic growth amounted to 7 per cent and the operating margin improved in all regions. Net sales in our two largest regions, Nordics and the UK, increased to both consumers and professional customers,”

“The introduction of the low specification Simply Magnet range in the UK was well received.”

“We are continuing to focus on profitable growth, both organically and through acquisitions. Providing that the current market situation is maintained, we expect to be able to achieve the target of an operating margin of 10 per cent during the next calendar year.”

www.nobia.com

Posted in Bathrooms and Kitchens Tagged with: ,

Broader retail distribution for ILBAGNOALESSI One

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The iconic ILBAGNOALESSI One collection from Laufen, launched as a prototype in 2014 and initially sold through a limited number of retailers, is now available throughout the Laufen retailer network.

Sporting the same elegantly soft curves and beautiful design that have become synonymous with this legendary range from Italian designer Stefano Giovannoni, the latest additions stay true to form, with timeless pieces designed to integrate seamlessly into the contemporary bathroom.

All the beauty and elegance of the collection’s original ‘Tuna’ countertop washbasin is now available in smaller sizes, of 900mm or 1200mm widths, making them ideal for any bathroom space.

The washbasin’s sculptural bowl is combined with an easy-to-wipe clean countertop shelf, while its gentle curves and soft lines combine perfectly with furniture from the same range, in a choice of Canaletto walnut or a white lacquered finish and now available in a new 2400mm wide unit to accommodate double washbasins.

Also in the ILBAGNOALESSI One collection is a luxurious solid surface bathtub, available as either a freestanding or built-in version and with an optional air massage system. This is joined by a new siphonic WC, crafted from one-piece for a seamless, hygienic finish that offers a powerful flushing performance.

Introducing Laufen’s revolutionary new ceramic, SaphirKeramik, into the collection for the very first time, the new additions also include accessories made from this material, including a shelf towel holder, a toilet paper holder and a hanger.

www.uk.laufen.com

Posted in Bathrooms and Kitchens Tagged with: , ,

New checklist aims to boost solar across UK commercial rooftops

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The Solar Trade Association (STA) has published a simple and clear checklist to give managers in commerce and industry the confidence to put solar on their roofs.

Commercial and industrial roofs dominate the solar market in Europe, but in the UK commercial roofs account for only five per cent of all solar deployment to date.

However, as part of DECC’s 2014 Solar PV Strategy, the emphasis is now changing significantly towards boosting rooftop installations and the STA and its members are working closely with government to help unlock the huge potential across the UK.

The small commercial roofs sub-market (50kW-250kW) is growing steadily but slowly, with 170MW installed in total across 1,200 installations. One of the limiting factors to the market is commercial awareness and confidence from rooftop owners who need reliable guidance. The government focus on this sector and the STA work to support, identify and break down barriers, is now showing signs of significant growth in this market: the first quarter of 2015 saw deployment double compared to the first quarter of 2014.

However, the latest DECC data shows there are only 70 larger-scale (250kW+) solar roofs installed across the UK, and this is where more focus and support is required to tackle the limited deployment. More high profile schemes like the Jaguar Land Rover and BMW car factory roofs are needed.

Paul Barwell, CEO of the STA, said:

“From Apple and Amazon, to Marks & Spencer and Walmart, many well-known companies are going solar to reduce their carbon footprint and because they want the reliable and clean power supply solar provides during work hours. Many companies want to follow suit, and if we can help them to identify competent contractors then we will have more UK success stories. We hope our Confidence Checklist will empower more commercial sector managers to install solar on the roofs of their company premises.”

Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom MP said:

“Solar is an integral part of the UK’s energy mix. It’s great to see industry initiatives like this boosting confidence and take-up, so hardworking families and businesses can benefit from low-carbon energy and lower bills.”

The checklist, which can be downloaded from the STA website, is applicable to all size of commercial rooftop installation from schools and small businesses to large supermarkets and factories. Solar has been installed on a huge range of structures across the UK including bridges, airports, city skyscrapers, railway station roofs, car parks and even motorway sound barriers. Solar can also be integrated in to buildings, embedded in glass as windows, and also included as a vertical building facade.

The STA’s technical specialist, Chris Roberts, who developed the checklist in partnership with STA members, said:

“Speaking to our members and interested commercial companies, it is clear that many commercial managers will benefit from guidance to help them navigate the installation of a solar scheme, which can be complex. Much of the currently guidance is simply too technical. Managers want to know how to identify a quality contractor to work with. Our checklist helps them to do this, and to monitor the project effectively as it proceeds.”

The STA has previously identified administrative barriers to the incorporation of solar power on commercial premises. Government is acting to remove several of these, including permitted development rights for solar up to 1MW (meaning it will not need planning permission) and the ability to shift rooftop schemes if companies move premises.

Paul added:

“We need more ambitious rooftop targets and changes to the policy framework by government to ensure commercial rooftop solar can fulfil its potential in future, but there is no reason why companies cannot take the initiative to go solar today. We hope that our Commercial Rooftop Solar Confidence Checklist will give a little push to companies that have been thinking about going solar to take the plunge. If they follow our advice, it’s a move they won’t regret.”

Posted in Construction, Renewable Energy Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,