Each month, HVP readers get in touch to share their views and reactions to the latest news and content, with the best letter winning a £100 Amazon voucher, thanks to Resideo. Here are the letters from our March 2019 edition.


Time to stop the cowboys

I thought I would add to a reader letter emailed by B. Parish [Ed: see p16 of HVP February]. This email has struck a chord with me as I feel this is fast becoming one of the biggest threats to gas safety within our industry.

As this letter eludes to, there would appear to be so many qualified, not competent, ‘so-called’ engineers carrying out shoddy and quite frankly dangerous work within the plumbing and heating sector. 

You only need to take a look at the horror show pictures which are being sent in to various magazines on a daily basis to see the scale of the problem.

I think the major question that appears to be constantly overlooked is – where do these people get their qualifications from? The answer to this question is not always straightforward, but surely is a question that needs answering as a matter of urgency!

It would appear to all but the industry ‘enforcers’ that, if you stop the flow of poorly trained, ‘qualified’ people, this will surely serve to have a positive impact on the industry. 

The fact that there would be fewer cowboys practicing out there would mean less chance of consumers making the wrong choices based on cost, and more legitimate work for the competent engineers. 

The industry could surely put in place an inspection regime for any establishment that proposes to, or already delivers ACS training and assessment. Should there not also be a mandatory register of approved training and assessment centres? 

All centres and colleges wishing to deliver ACS would need to apply to that register and, in order to enrol onto the register, they would have to be inspected by an independent body to ensure fairness and quality. 

In addition to a register for centres, independent inspectors should also have the powers to carry out random inspections, unannounced, at any time to ensure continued standards are maintained.

This would obviously need to be coupled with real consequences, such as removal from the register for those that don’t meet those standards consistently, maybe on a three strikes and out basis?

We often read about poor standards of training within the industry, surely it’s time the powers that be made a stand to stamp out illegal and immoral practice, before someone else gets hurt, or even worse.

J. Hearn, via email

A question of drainage

The HHIC has very sensibly reminded us of the need to insulate any exposed condensate drains from condensing boilers [Ed: see p12 of HVP February]. Could your readers confirm whether or not water boards now permit connection of these condensate drains to either/both/neither surface water and foul drainage runs? 

There was a time when installers used to run the discharges directly into backyards or gardens, fearing an awkward decision by the local authority or water board, and this is probably the reason that so many condensate drains are exposed.  

The reasons given used to be that the discharge was slightly acidic – true because of the high dissolved CO2 content – but lemon juice, ketchup, and similar foodstuffs are, if anything, more acidic, and were permitted discharges on the grounds that discharges from washing machines are alkaline, neatly neutralising the acid. Of course there are still very valid objections to un-designed discharges of chemically treated water from cooling towers, and this may have caused the earlier prohibitions.

J. Moss, via email

On yer bike

May I also offer some help on the subject of knee pain as previous contributors have done? [Ed: see p16 of HVP February] 

I nearly gave up heating and plumbing after a lifetime doing it. I had a permanent limp and was in permanent pain, and one day my daughter said: “Dad, you need to do something about that, you are walking like Quasimodo.”

I went to the quack – usual fob off; age, wear and tear, etc. – so I got an appointment with a physiotherapist. He suggested a few simple exercises which I didn’t fancy, so I suggested getting back on my bike, and he replied that it would do no harm.

After two weeks of going out twice a week, I had lost the pain in my knee and now, after nearly a year, it is still doing the trick. My knee is still fragile but I can manage that. I also feel a lot fitter, have lost weight, and do not feel tired after a day working even on my knees.

Give it a try, fellow sufferers.

P. Glazin, via email


If there's an issue close to your heart, or problem you want to address, we welcome all correspondence from readers. Please get in touch by emailing HVP Editor Joe Dart at j.dart@hgluk.com.