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Leakage in the UK hits record low levels thanks to innovation and pipe repair

Leakage has hit its lowest levels on Britain's water network since records began thanks to technology, innovation and pipe repair

Leaks on the water network were cut by 7% in 2019-20


Leakage levels in the United Kingdom hit a record low in 2019-20 as technology, innovation and pipe repair saw the amount of water lost on the nation’s water network cut by 7%.

216 million litres of water were saved per day – enough to fill 86 Olympic sized swimming pools – to bring the volume of water being leaked down to 2,954 million litres, the lowest since records began in the mid-1990s.

Britain has over 215,277 miles of water pipes, enough to go around the world eight-and-a-half times. Maintaining such a vast network provides a significant challenge for the nation’s water companies, who have been set an ambitious target of cutting leaks by 16% over the next five years by the industry regulator Ofwat.

The 16% figure forms part of a broader target of halving leakage figures from their current levels by 2050.

To achieve this, water companies are adopting the latest technology and innovation to both identify and repair leaks quicker. The faster that a damaged pipe on the water network is logged and fixed, the less water that is lost to leakage.

Smart pipes capable of data capture, noise loggers which listen out for leaks, satellite technology and thermal imaging drones are being used by various water companies for the purposes of leak detection.

SES Water have partnered with Vodafone to create an intelligent water network which helps them detect and fix leaks while Yorkshire Water are currently piloting the UK’s largest smart water network.

Northumbrian Water have begun using satellites to detect and pinpoint leaks in Suffolk and Essex and Anglian Water have adopted thermal imaging drones for the same purpose.

Affinity Water had the best published leak reduction results across the industry, cutting their amount of lost water by 15%. Affinity achieved their figures through data capture and analysis, state-of-the-art technology and innovative ways to find leaks.

Detecting leaks is only half the job; once a leak has been found, it must also be fixed. Sylmasta’s pipe repair technology is helping in the battle against leakage, having been approved for use by Anglian Water, Southern Water and Affinity Water.

Anglian, Southern and Affinity contractors are now carrying SylWrap Pipe Repair Contactor Cases on their vans. More water companies are set to follow suit in the coming months as pipe repair becomes a pressing issue if those ambitious leak reduction targets are to be met.

SylWrap Contractor Cases enable up to six permanent repairs to be carried out to leaking pipes of all types and sizes, even when pressure cannot be turned off.

A repair can be made in less than 30 minutes, significantly cutting the amount of time which a damaged pipe is leaking water for. With a cost-per-repair as low as £18.77, SylWrap Kits provide excellent value-for-money.

Their versatility means they can be deployed in tight spots for difficult repairs, making them more user-friendly and lightweight than traditional pipe repair clamps.

Commenting on the leakage figures, Water UK Chief Executive Christine McGourty said,“Enormous progress has been made in tackling leaky pipes, and that’s brought leakage levels down significantly in the last year.”

“But the water industry is committed to doing much more, and companies are putting innovation and technology at the heart of a commitment to radically reduce leakage over the long-term”

“Intelligent networks, smart sensors, satellite technology and drones are all part of the armoury that’s being deployed to detect and fix leaks faster than ever and at lower cost.”

The improved picture on leakage in the UK came as part of a wider update published on the Discover Water website. It was also revealed that interruptions in water supply were now down to an average of just 12 minutes and the amount of water used per person has fallen slightly from 143 litres to 142 litres per day.

Pipe Repair Contractor Case


The Pipe Repair Contractor Case is easily stored on the vans of water company contractors. When a live leak is detected, vans equipped with a Case can carry out an emergency repair to pipes of any size and type in 30 minutes.

Cases contain enough products to make up to six live leak repairs. They provide a lightweight, user-friendly and much more versatile alternative to traditional pipe clamps.

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Preparing your business for a safe reopening after lockdown from a pipes point of view

Business owners should take some steps to ensure their pipes are in good working order ahead of a safe reopening

As lockdown restrictions in the United Kingdom continue to be lifted, business owners including those who run pubs, restaurants and cafés are preparing for a safe reopening of their doors.

The government have issued COVID-secure guidelines which must be followed to ensure a safe return to work. These directions deal with how to prevent the spread of the disease, but not much attention seems to have been paid to other dangers caused by the extended shutdown of premises, shops, and offices.

We all know that copious amounts of hand sanitiser will be required for clean and healthy hands to stop transmission – but not what should be done to ensure that pipework systems for example do not end up causing health problems after laying unused for over three months.

Here are some steps that business owners should take to ensure a safe reopening relating to pipes.

Flush out your pipes to prevent Legionnaires disease

Legionnaires disease poses a very real threat for businesses whose premises have been completely shut throughout the three-month lockdown period.

Legionella, the bacteria which causes the fatal disease, grows and thrives in stagnant water between 25°C and 45°C. If a business has left water to lie in pipes and tanks for three months, then conditions will have been ripe for legionella to form – especially given the warm weather of recent months.

People contract Legionnaires disease when they inhale droplets of water containing legionella through mist or vapour. Individuals with underlying health conditions, weakened immune systems, respiratory problems and lung disease are most at risk. One in 10 people who become sick with Legionnaires disease will die due to complications from their illness.

Removing legionella from pipes and tanks ahead of a safe reopening for business is thankfully straightforward. By turning on your taps for between 10 and 30 minutes (depending on the size of the premises), you can flush out any stagnant and contaminated water so that it does not come into contact with customers or employees.

Beware of lead leaching into water

Another threat posed by pipes being out of use for a significant period of time comes from lead. If your business is located in an older building which still contains lead pipes somewhere in the system, then you need to flush stagnant water in the same way as the method for removing legionnaires.

Lead leaches into water which it has extended contact time with. This can happen in as short a time frame as overnight, so a three-month period in which water has not moved presents a huge risk when it comes to contamination.

Exposure to lead is harmful to infants and children in particular with studies showing adverse effects on their mental development and behaviour. Subsequently, the World Health Organisation advises that exposure to lead is kept at a minimum.

The British government prohibited the use of lead in many products with the ban encompassing water supply pipes in 1970. Most business owners will therefore not be effected by water contaminated with lead, but if you have any doubts about the makeup of your pipework system then it is advised to flush them ahead of a safe reopening.

General pipe repair and maintenance

Three months is a long time for a business to have been shut and while your pub, restaurant, café or shop has been in lockdown, problems might have developed within pipework systems.

That PVC plastic pipe which needed repair because of a small leak might have developed a larger leak. Issues that were seen as minor back in March may have become more pressing over the course of the last 15 weeks.

The last thing any business owner wants is to be affected by pipework problems, especially if they are then force to scale back services or close altogether just a matter of days after a safe reopening.

You can avoid that fate by checking your pipes before reopening to make sure everything is in good working order. If you spot any holes, cracks, leaks of problems then take steps to fix them now before throwing open your doors rather than risk a bigger problem down the line.

The SylWrap pipe repair and maintenance range contains products for fixing leaking pipes and strengthening and protecting old and worn pipework systems.

SylWrap pipe repair solutions are easy-to-use, do not require the costly services of a plumber or other expert and are effective inside 30 minutes, making them ideal for preparing a business’ pipes ahead of a safe reopening.

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What is epoxy putty, how does it work and what is it used for?

Epoxy putty is a repair compound with many uses in DIY, maintenance and plumbing

Welcome to the wonderful world of epoxy putty


Epoxy putty is one of those repair materials that every household should have a supply of. Why? Because it is so versatile that you can use it in almost any job you can think of.

Need to fix a leaking pipe? Use putty to plug the hole. Have a cracked concrete paving slab that requires repair? Use putty to fill the gap.

Bathroom tiles or ceramics that are chipped? Epoxy putty. Wood that could do with filling in? Epoxy putty. Hole in metalwork caused by rust? Epoxy putty.

It is a powerful adhesive. It bonds to virtually any surface. It is waterproof. It can be shaped, moulded, sculpted, drilled, sawed, cut and painted. And perhaps best of all – it is one of the easiest repair compounds to use.

What is epoxy putty?

Epoxy putties are made up of two soft parts. When these two parts are mixed together, a chemical reaction takes place, causing the putty to harden.

Whilst soft, epoxy putty can be kneaded by hand and moulded into use for the repair or bonding task it is required for. By the time it has cured and set, you have a material which can be as hard as steel when measured using the Shore rating.

How does epoxy putty work?

The key component in an epoxy putty is the hardener. The chemistry of the hardener determines how quickly the putty will cure. Some users may want a rapid working putty while others carrying out larger projects or more detailed work might need longer to work with the material.

Take Sylmasta One Minute Steel. It has a cure time of one to two minutes, offering a rapid repair solution for steel, iron and other ferrous metals. It is the perfect epoxy putty for when time is of the essence.

When epoxy putties are used by model makers, sculptors and restorers, they in contrast require time to be able to shape the putty and carve intricate details into their creations.

Over on Sylmasta’s craft, restoration and model making site SylCreate.com, the putties on sale therefore come with a much longer working time of up to two hours – Green Stuff, Magic Sculp and Geomfix Original A+B.

AB Original is Sylmasta’s super-strength repair putty. It also comes with a two working time, allowing for more putty to be mixed without wastage for use in large-scale repair and maintenance tasks.

Because the cure speed of epoxy putty is impacted by heat, putties with long working times are more suitable for warmer climates. AB Original has proven a popular product with Sylmasta’s pipe repair customers in the Middle East.

Types of epoxy putties

Different epoxy putties are formulated for different tasks and use on certain materials. Specialist wood putty for example is coloured brown and will often be wood-filled, allowing it to bond more effectively.

Concrete putty cures to grey to match concrete. Milliput, a Welsh epoxy putty manufacturer, produce a terracotta putty which can be used to repair terracotta and clay ornaments.

Epoxy putties are not just formulated for colour. Specialist formulations are produced for high temperature applications, such as Titanium High Temperature Epoxy Putty which is resistant up to 280°C for use with steam pipes and other pipework in industry.

When it comes to epoxy for domestic plumbing, then finding a putty which is WRAS approved is vital to guarantee the safety of the repair. WRAS approval means that the material in question has been certified for use with drinking water.

Using putties that are not WRAS approved and which encounter water designated for human consumption could lead to contamination.

Epoxy putty formats

Epoxy putties can come in several formats. The two most common formats are the putty stick and the two-part putty.

The Putty Stick is the easiest to use. It combines the two parts in one handy stick with the hardener running through the middle.

You simply cut off the required amount of putty and knead by hand until it feels ready to apply. Because the Putty Stick is pre-formatted, there is no need to worry about the mixing ratios of the two parts.

Some epoxy putties will come with the two parts kept separate. When this is the case, you take the required amount of each part and mix them together. This allows for greater control over the mixing ratio; including more hardener for example will quicken the working time and can lead to a less sticky putty.

Having such command over the properties of the putty is desirable when it comes to model making, sculpture and other creative tasks. It is much less important in the majority of general repair tasks however, which is why putty sticks are suitable for most maintenance jobs.

One alternative format is the epoxy putty tape or reel. The two parts are combined in one easy-to-store reel and just like with the stick, you cut off the required amount of putty and knead it by hand.

How to use epoxy putty

The biggest selling point of epoxy putty is how easy it is to use. Once you have mixed it by hand, you simply apply it to the material or area requiring repair.

It is soft enough to push into holes and cracks, fixing leaking pipes and creating watertight seals around faucets, drains, and other plumbing parts.

Repairing cracked and chipped masonry and concrete is equally straightforward; just mould the kneaded putty into place. As an adhesive, it can be used to stick one material to another in the same manner that you would apply blue tac.

Once the putty has cured, you can do practically anything to it. Paint it, drill it, saw it. It won’t shrink or pull away.

When you have finished carrying out the repair job or task at hand, then you can keep the remaining putty. All epoxy putties will stay fresh when kept tightly sealed in their original packaging, ready and waiting to serve you again in the future.

Sylmasta Epoxy Putties


If you have any question about which product is most suitable for your repair or require technical assistance, then please contact Sylmasta via email or on +44 (0)1444 831459 and a technician will be happy to advise you.

Epoxy putty repairs


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No plumber, no problem: How to fix a leaking pipe in coronavirus lockdown

A leaking pipe may be hard to fix durng coronavirus lockdown as plumbers begin downing tools

Burst pipes are bad news at the best of times. During Covid-19 coronavirus lockdown, a leaking pipe can quickly turn into a disaster as plumbers and other tradespeople across the United Kingdom down tools.

In theory, all trades can continue with call-outs as their work cannot be carried out from home. They are also offering an essential service when it comes to emergency repairs.

In practice though it’s a different story. Many are choosing to shut down to help prevent the spread of the virus as well as protect themselves and their families from catching Covid-19.

This is a sensible course of action as Britain attempts to battle the pandemic. But it might leave households and businesses in something of a quandary about what to do if a pipe on their property develops a leak during lockdown.

Which is where Sylmasta come in. We’re still accepting orders and despatching them via next day delivery.

If you need to carry out an emergency pipe repair, then order a SylWrap Pipe Repair kit before 2pm Monday to Friday and within 24 hours you’ll have all the products and equipment needed to fix a leaking pipe, depending on courier performance during Covid-19 coronavirus lockdown.

There are two versions of the SylWrap Pipe Repair Kit. The Standard Kit contains Superfast Steel Epoxy Putty Stick and SylWrap Bandage and is used for repairing leaking pipes where water pressure can be turned off.

The Universal Pipe Repair Kit includes Wrap & Seal Pipe Burst Tape in addition to the products in the standard kit. It is used to seal live leaks when flow cannot be turned off.

Both kits are easy to use and come with full instructions. The Superfast Steel Epoxy Putty Stick is hand-kneaded and used to plug holes. Wrap & Seal is a self-fusing silicone tape which stretches by 300%, providing maximum pressure when wrapped over the leak area.

The repair is then overwrapped with a SylWrap Bandage. When activated using water, the resin soaked bandage sets rock hard to provide a permanent, impact resistant layer.

SylWrap Pipe Repair Kits come in a variety of sizes depending on the diameter of pipe requiring repair. They are effective on pipes of all materials in domestic and industrial settings and are WRAS approved, meaning they are safe to use with drinking water.

If you suddenly find yourself needing to perform an emergency pipe repair and you can’t get hold of a plumber due to the Covid-19 coronavirus lockdown, then please get in contact with us today.

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Copper pipe repair – 4 ways to fix a leaking copper pipe

Being able to repair a copper pipe is a task that most homeowners will need to be able to carry out at some point in their life

Copper is one of the most frequently used materials for pipe systems in the domestic home. Which means that at some point in our lives, most of us are going to have to attempt to repair a copper pipe.

To the uninitiated, this can seem like a daunting task. Your first reaction might be to reach straight for the phone and call a plumber under the mistaken belief that only a trained expert can fix the problem. And they will charge you an average price of £100 for the privilege.

There is another way. Or several other ways, to be more precise. Fixing a leaking copper pipe can be a straightforward task carried out by anyone willing to spend a few pounds on one of the many pipe repair products available on the market.

Copper pipe repair epoxy putty

Copper repair epoxy putties provide one of the easiest ways to fix a leaking pipe. Epoxy putties consist of two components, a resin and a hardener. When mixed together, these components form a material that can be used to plug holes before setting into a hardened material.

The Superfast Copper Epoxy Putty Stick combines the two components in one ready-to-use stick. You simply break off the amount of putty required and mix it by hand. Once the epoxy putty has been completely mixed, the two contrasting colours will blend into one.

When mixing has finished, the putty can be placed over the area requiring of copper pipe requiring repair. It will fill the hole or crack, offering a complete seal within one hour.

Pipe Repair Tape

If you need to fix a leaking copper pipe which cannot be turned off, then the water pressure running through it may make a repair with epoxy putty difficult. If this is the case, then pipe burst tape can be used to seal the live leak.

The most popular types of pipe burst tape on the market are those which self-fuse as well. These tapes are made from silicone and other advanced polymers and will seal the leak by forming a tight rubber band around it.

Wrap & Seal Pipe Burst Tape is one of the most effective pipe repair tapes on the market. It stretches by 300% and is extremely easy to apply.

You start by anchoring the Wrap & Seal next to the leak area before stretching the tape to its full length and wrapping it around the copper pipe until the leak is sealed.

Repairs can be carried out in under 30 minutes. There are however limitations to where pipe repair tape can be used; it can be difficult to achieve the required stretch around inaccessible copper pipes which are positioned up against walls or inside cupboards.

Pipe Repair Bandages

For a longer lasting repair of a copper pipe, then you should overwrap either the epoxy putty or the pipe repair tape with a SylWrap Pipe Repair Bandage.

These bandages are fibreglass wraps coated with a water-activated resin. Once dipped in water, they set rock hard in less than 30 minutes to provide an impact resistant layer over the original repair material and a permanent repair.

For convenience, Sylmasta now sell Superfast Copper Epoxy Putty Stick, Wrap & Seal Pipe Burst Tape and SylWrap Pipe Repair Bandages in one Pipe Repair Kit for fixing a leaking copper pipe. All of the products in the Universal Pipe Repair Kit are WRAS approved, meaning that they are safe to use with drinking water.

Soldering

Another way in which you can repair a leaking copper pipe is through soldering. It’s harder work than the other three methods which we’ve listed and it does require a degree of practical ability, but it can provide a permanent solution to fix a copper pipe.

Before soldering, you have to shut off the main water valve and then drain the pipe in question from below where the hole is. Any sitting water needs to be removed before you begin the soldering process.

Clean the damaged area with an abrasives pad and then add the flux which you will use for soldering to the pipe. Heat the flux with a blowtorch until it changes colour and then add solder into the hole. This will block up the hole, sealing the leak and returning the pipe to full working order.

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What are pipes used to transport?

Pipes are used to transport many different materials around the world from crude oil to natural gas to water

When you think of pipes, what do you imagine them being used to transport? Oil and gas go without saying. Water could never reach homes and businesses without the many pipelines that run under our roads and properties.

Pipeline transport isn’t just restricted to those three. Almost since the Romans developed their futuristic plumbing system – which proved crucial to the rise and stability of their Empire – pipes have been used to transport liquids across a variety of distances.

Here are 10 liquids which pipes are used to transport

Natural Gas

To transport natural gas via pipes, the gas is pressurised into liquids known as natural gas liquids. Natural gas pipelines are vast, magnificent structures which can often span countries and continents – the longest pipeline in the world being the West-East Natural Gas pipeline which runs for 8707km across China, passing through 66 different cities and provinces.

Natural gas pipelines play a crucial role not only in meeting the world’s energy demands, but in politics too. A 2009 dispute between Russia and Ukraine over transit fees that the Ukrainian government received from the Druzhba pipeline saw Russia cut off supply, leaving European residents from Milan to Sofia who were connected to the line feeling the effects.

Crude Oil

The fist crude oil pipeline was built in the second half of the 19th century. There are two competing claims as to who constructed it between the Russian scientist and architect Vladimir Shukhov and the Oil Transport Association, who used pipes to transport crude over a distance of 9.7km in Pennsylvania.

What we do know is that the transportation of crude oil around the globe is vital – and not without controversy. While many countries talk about moving to sources of renewable energy and becoming carbon neutral, crude oil pipelines continue to be constructed.

None has gained more widespread media attention than the Keystone XL pipeline between Hardisty, Alberta, Canada and Steele City, Nebraska. President Obama quashed its construction in 2015 after many years of battles between local government, federal government, the White House, residents along Keystone XL’s path and environmentalists.

One of President Trump’s first acts in office was to overturn that ruling in January 2017, paving the way for Keystone XL to be built. Over three years on and construction is still yet to begin as campaigners fight to stop the pipeline passing through Nebraska’s sensitive Sandhills region.

Water

Water has been transported via pipelines for over 2000 years, starting with the aqueducts of ancient Rome which helped to move water through the Empire. They may seem a far cry from the PVC and copper pipes which carry water around our 21st century homes, but all these water pipelines have the same purpose.

It isn’t just the plumbing systems in our homes or running under our streets which are used to transport water either. Some countries have past pipelines for transporting water over vast distances, particularly in warmer climates.

Arguably the most famous water pipeline in the world can be found in Libya. The Great Manmade River supplies 3,680,000 cubic litres of water every day to a number of cities including Tripoli, Benghazi and Sirte. The pipeline is over 2800km long.

Hydrogen

The world’s longest hydrogen pipeline is the Rhine-Ruhr which was constructed in 1939 and still remains operational today. It covers over 250km of Europe, running from Germany into the Netherlands and France.

The United States has also used pipes to transport hydrogen in Texas. Hydrogen pipelines are scarce because it is a highly corrosive material with an active electron which can easily migrate into the structure of most other metals.

Ammonia

One alternative to transporting hydrogen via pipelines is to use ammonia instead, from which hydrogen can then be extracted from liquid ammonia once it reaches its final destination.

The advantages of transporting ammonia are that, unlike hydrogen, it is non-corrosive. In the US, around 2 million tons of ammonia are transported around 4800km of pipes every year which equates to 350,000 tons of hydrogen.

Traditionally, the transport of liquid ammonia has allowed it to be used in the fertiliser industry.

Ethanol

Pipelines are used for the transportation of ethanol in Brazil with the US also transporting minimal amounts. Ethanol comes with its own challenges as, like hydrogen, it is highly corrosive.

It has a tendency to absorb water and impurities from the pipelines it travels in too, which means that any pipes used to transport ethanol have to be kept as clean and sterile as possible. As a result, most ethanol transportation is carried out via rail or road where conditions can be more carefully managed.

Coal and ore

Slurry pipelines are used to transport coal and ore across vast distances from mines to shipping ports. The material is mixed with water before entering the pipe system before being dried at the other end.

Slurry pipelines are popular in Australia and South America, where mineral-rich areas are often a long way from the coast. The oldest slurry pipeline in the world is the Savage River Slurry which covers 85km in Tasmania while a 525km pipeline runs out of the Minas-Rio iron ore mine in Brazil.

The US had planned to trump both of those with a proposed 1675km slurry pipeline running between Wyoming and Louisiana. Known as the ETSI Pipeline, it would have been the longest in the world but was never commissioned.

Milk

How do you go about getting milk off a Dutch Island? Between 1978 and 1994, the answer to that little conundrum was through a pipeline running 15km from the island of Almeland to Holwerd on the mainland.

Every day, 30,000 litres of Almeland-produced milk made the journey through the pipe, including an 8km stretch which was buried under the Wadden Sea.

Brine

Hallstatt in Austria has long laid claim to be the home of the oldest industrial pipeline in the world. The village is known for its salt mining and in 1595, constructed a 40km set of pipes made out of hollowed-out tree trunks which was used to transport brine.

Beer

We’ve saved the best until last with the humble beer pipeline. In Bruges, a 3km beer pipeline was constructed to reduce congestion and traffic on the streets of the Belgian city from lorries transporting Bruges’ famous range of beers around.

The Danish city of Randers has copper pipes which take beer from the Thor Brewery directly into the city centre. When Thor moved to new premises in the 1990s, they didn’t want to remove the Thor Pipeline and so built a giant tank on the site of their former home to ensure that the pipes remained operational.

And then there’s Gelsenkirchen’s Veltins-Arena. All the bars within the stadium are connected by a 5km pipeline which keeps beer flowing for thirsty football fans. Prost!

You might think that SylWrap Pipe Repair Kits are only of use to plumbers. But our solutions can help fix any of the pipes listed above. If you’ve got a leaking or damaged pipeline which requires repair, then please contact us and we’ll be happy to advise.

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WRAS approved: What is WRAS approval and why is it important?

WRAS approval guarantees that WRAS approved products and materials will not have a detrimental impact on water taken from public supply lines

If you’ve ever bought from our range of SylWrap Pipe Repair Products before, then you’ll have heard about WRAS approval or seen the WRAS logo on our website. Beyond that, you probably don’t know much about what being WRAS approved means.

That’s understandable. After all, it isn’t exactly exciting. But it is important. WRAS approval ensures that the pipes, appliances and fittings which are responsible for bringing water in and out of buildings through connections to the public supply provide water of the highest quality.

Here’s how it works.

What is WRAS approval?

WRAS stands for the Water Regulations Advisory Scheme. The scheme grants its approval to products and materials only after they have undergone extensive testing to ensure that the application in question will not cause waste, misuse, undue consumption or contamination of the water supply.

When a customer buys a product or fitting which has WRAS approval, they do so knowing that they are installing applications which are safe and of a high standard.

Gaining WRAS approval itself is voluntary. Companies like Sylmasta submit their products to testing because we want our customers to know that our pipe repair solutions don’t contaminate water supplies and aren’t hazardous to human health. We take our responsibility to clean and safe water seriously.

How many types of WRAS approval are there?

There are two types of WRAS approval: WRAS Product Approval and WRAS Material Approval. Product Approval is where an entire fitting has been WRAS approved, such as valves, showers and boilers.

Material Approval is where specific materials which come into contact with water once it leaves the public supply line are certified as being safe to do so. These materials might include rubber sheet material and ‘O’ rings.

When a product has WRAS Material Approval, it guarantees that it won’t give an undesirable flavour or colour to water, impart toxic chemicals or create conditions in which bacteria can flourish.

How does a product become WRAS approved?

A product only becomes WRAS approved after undergoing rigorous testing on its mechanics and the way it interacts with water. These tests are carried out by independent laboratories.

To ensure that high standards remain, WRAS approval only lasts for five years, after which products and materials must be subjected to new tests. This guarantees that any fittings or materials which are WRAS approved are consistently produced to a safe, national standard.

Certain products have to be installed in a certain way in order to meet the standards of WRAS approval. The company manufacturing or installing the application will be able to advise you should that be the case.

Is WRAS approval a legal requirement?

The legality of WRAS approval is a complicated area. As already noted, seeking WRAS approval is a voluntary procedure. There are other similar schemes out there which companies can sign up to in order to get their products certified.

By and large, you should always seek to use WRAS approved products though. While the repair of a leaking copper pipe in your bathroom doesn’t strictly require a WRAS approved product, why wouldn’t you want to ensure that the materials which you are exposing your home’s drinking water supply to are certified as being safe?

There are no grey areas when it comes to connecting to the public water supply. No water company will facilitate a connection between their public supply lines and new builds or extensions without proof that every product involved once the water leaves the mains is WRAS approved.

The same goes for any upgrades of public buildings. Hotels, shopping centres, leisure facilities, hospitals – anywhere which supplies water to the general public through any means must use WRAS approved products. This guarantees that the supplies are safe for human consumption and will not harm the public.

What does WRAS approval mean for pipe repair?

When you see a pipe repair product from Sylmasta which has WRAS approval, you know that it can be safely installed anywhere which requires a WRAS standard installation.

Currently, the following products have achieved WRAS approval:

We’re extremely proud of our WRAS approval at Sylmasta. The design and manufacturing process to achieve the standard is by no means easy. We’ll continue to work hard to achieve the accreditation for further products in our range, so that they might be used for pipe repair solutions.

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What to do if you accidentally drill a hole in a pipe

What steps to take if you accidentally drill a hole in a pipe during home DIY work

There are plenty of dangers which come with home DIY projects. One of the biggest is to accidentally drill a hole through something you shouldn’t, especially if that something is either carrying electricity or is a water pipe.

Unintentionally cutting into a water pipe can be a chastening experience which happens far more often than you’d think. It only takes one screw hanging up one medicine cabinet to be one millimetre out of place in a bathroom renovation and it could cut through the plumbing which supplies water for the entire bathroom.

The natural reaction to accidentally drilling though a water pipe is to panic – but repairing the damage isn’t as difficult as you might think. In fact, with the correct procedures and the right equipment, you can carry out a permanent repair yourself.

Here’s what to do if you accidentally drill through a water pipe.

Turn the water off

Turning the water off is the number one priority after you’ve accidentally drilled though a pipe. Locate your home’s stopcock to turn off the mains supply, which will stop water continuing to flow through the damaged area. You should also open the faucet at the sink to allow water to drain out.

In older properties, the stopcock or mains water valve could be impossible to turn due to age or rust. If this is the case, then it doesn’t have to be the end of the world – there are means and ways to repair pipes even when flow cannot be turned off.

Gain access to the damaged pipe

In order to inspect and repair the damaged pipe, you need to gain access to it. If it is behind a wall, then remove the drywall around the area using a drill or a drywall saw. If it is underneath the floor, then take up the floorboards.

You should take extra care when attempting to reach the damaged pipework. The last thing that you want to happen is to drill accidentally drill another hole into the pipe.

Inspect the damage caused to the pipe

Once you’ve gained access to the pipe which you’ve accidentally put a hole in, you can get a better idea of the damage caused. A leaking pinhole for example is going to be a much easier fix than a deep longitudinal cut several inches in length.

You’ll also be able to see the type of pipe and the size which you’re dealing with. Sometimes, a copper pipe may be better suited to a different repair than a plastic pipe.

This is especially true if the pipe can be fixed using only epoxy putty, with Superfast Sticks for example having different formulations depending on the material that requires repair.

Decide if you can fix the leaking pipe yourself

After assessing the pipe type and the damage caused by you accidentally putting a drill through it, you can take a decision over whether to carry out a repair yourself or if the services of a fully qualified plumber are required.

DIY pipe repairs have become incredibly easy over the past 10 years or so thanks to the introduction to the market of all-in-one pipe repair kits, such as our SylWrap range.

These kits contain all the products needed to permanently fix a leaking pipe inside of 30 minutes and they are effective on pipes of all materials and sizes – you simply seal the leak either with the epoxy putty or pipe repair tape provided and then overwrap with a pipe repair bandage.

There are multiple advantages to fixing damage yourself which has been caused when you accidentally drill a hole into a pipe. Calling a plumber will set you back anywhere between £40 – £60 per hour based on average rates in the United Kingdom in 2019.

Given that this will be an emergency call, you may also find yourself subjected to a call out charge which will be fixed around the same price. Already, you are looking at having to pay over £100 to get the problem repaired.

Contrast that to a pipe repair kit being available from as little as £13 and you can already begin to see the saving that you can make my repairing a broken pipe yourself.

If necessary, call a professional

Repairing a leaking pipe yourself is easy, but there could be a number of reasons why you don’t wish to carry out the task yourself. If that is the case, then you should find a reputable local plumber to come and carry out the work for you.

As always when hiring any sort of tradesman, be sure to carry out thorough checks on their credentials. If you’ve already done damage when accidentally putting a drill into a pipe, then you won’t want to compound it with a substandard repair.

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How leaking pipes can affect your health and make you sick

Mould and mildew caused by leaking pipes can be extremely damaging to human health

You’re probably well aware of the damage that leaks can do to the value of a property and its structural integrity. Everybody notices a rise in water bills too. But arguably the most damaging aspect of leaking pipes is the one that doesn’t get talked about – the effect on human health.

When pipes start leaking, conditions suddenly become ripe for the growth of mould and mildew – two organisms which produce spores that pollute the air and can do serious damage to long-term health.

Mould and mildew

Mould and mildew are fungi which can appear anywhere. Even in newly built properties, mould spores will find a way to appear in nooks and crannies. This isn’t a problem – when left in dry areas, the organism can remain dormant for decades, never posing a threat to human health.

It’s when conditions are ripe for mould and mildew to grow and thrive that they become a real problem. For this to happen, they require air, food, the correct temperature and – crucially – moisture.

How can you prevent mould and mildew?

There’s only one realistic way that you can prevent mould and mildew, and that is by preventing access to moisture.

The other conditions that mould and mildew needs to thrive are uncontollable. Oxygen is present in every home, the organisms feed off all types of household surfaces including wood, fabric, wallpaper and paint and the optimum temperature for mould and mildew to thrive in is between 5°C and 40°C.

Keeping your home dry and ventilated is therefore the best way to combat the problem – which means fixing leaking pipes as soon as problems occur.

What damage to human health can leaking pipes cause?

Failing to repair a leaking pipe can allow moisture to gather in your home, giving mould and mildew the conditions it needs to grow.

Mildew is considered the less severe of the two organisms. It forms only on surfaces rather than within them and can be easily removed with bleach or vinegar. Its spores can cause severe allergic reactions, but it is less harmful than mould.

When exposed to moisture, mould grows quickly, producing spores in 24 hours. Unlike mildew, it penetrates surfaces rather than simply forming on the top which makes it much harder to eradicate as it will eat away at materials such as wood and drywall.

Mould’s most damaging feature though is that its spores contain allergens and irritants which cause serious health problems when inhaled from residents of visitors to properties where the organism is present.

Health issues that mould can cause include throat and skin irritation, itchy eyes, frequent coughing and sneezing as though affected by an extreme allergy, respiratory infections, breathing problems, congestion, rashes, tiredness and fever.

These problems become more severe in those with pre-existing respiratory conditions, such as asthma. Mould can even grow inside the lungs of people with severe conditions such as tuberculosis, emphysema, or advanced sarcoidosis. Children who grow up in a mould-infested house are also far more likely to develop asthma.

That’s why preventing mould and mildew from forming in the first place is so important.

How to combat the impact of leaking pipes on your health

Because mould and mildew cannot thrive without moisture, your best chance of preventing these organisms from growing and developing is to find and repair the leaking pipe which is causing the dampness.

One of the reasons that people fail to fix a leaking pipe is because they mistakenly believe that it will be a costly and timely consuming process which could involve hiring the services of a plumber.

This isn’t the case, however. With a SylWrap Pipe Repair Kit, the user can permanently seal a leak inside of 30 minutes with no formal training required.

Recognising and fixing leaking pipes as soon as problems arise can prevent the growth and spread of mould and mildew, in turn helping you and your family from suffering potentially serious health complications.

It’s just another reason why pipe repair is so important.

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What can we expect from water companies in the UK in 2020?

Water companies in the UK have been set some ambitious targets for the 2020-21 year

The water regulator Ofwat has released its draft forward programme of what we can expect from water companies in the UK between 2020 and 2021.

There are three strategic goals laid out in the document, which Ofwat Chief Executive Rachel Fletcher describes as an “ambitious agenda” ahead of an “important and exciting year”.

For consumers, the most eye-catching aspect of Ofwat’s 2020-21 forward programme is to deliver greater value for money and to keep water affordable even for those on low income.

This ties in with the demand laid out in Ofwat’s PR19 review of the industry that water companies in the UK reduce bills by 12% before inflation over the next five years, an average saving of £50 per customer.

Here’s what else is set to happen over the coming year.

Transforming water companies’ performance

Ofwat wants to greatly improve the performances of the United Kingdom’s water companies over the course of the next year.

The regulator is vowing to use the powers that it possesses to take swift and targeted action against companies who it feels are not delivering and it wants to make smarter use of markets to benefit customers and the environment.

Ofwat is also reviewing itself by looking back at the way it conducted its PR14 and PR19 reviews into the water industry. If Ofwat can improve its own regulatory performance – particularly with regards to the five-yearly analysis it carries out – then that too can help deliver improvements across water companies in the UK.

Addressing long-term challenges

Climate change, population growth and other environmental issues will all provide significant challenges to the water industry over the next five years.

Ofwat has already begun to investigate and address these issues by carrying out joint projects with the Environment Agency, the Department for Environmental, Food and Rural Affairs and Natural Resources Wales.

Water companies in the UK will be expected to better manage their assets with a special focus on how climate change could impact on supply and demand.

Ofwat have also confirmed that their eagerly-anticipated innovation fund will launch its first competition in 2021.

Water companies will be encouraged to work with other companies and industries to find innovative solutions to problems facing the sector, including leak prevention and reduction.

For a company like Sylmasta who specialise in easy-to-use and permanent pipe repair solutions, this is a particularly exciting development.

Data and partnerships

As well as their joint projects with the Environment Agency, the Department for Environmental, Food and Rural Affairs and Natural Resources Wales, Ofwat will build partnerships with other regulators, consumer bodies and policy makers within both the UK and Welsh Governments.

A dedicated Ofwat office has opened in Wales and the water regulator is working with other industries and organisations to learn how they can become more effective.

Data will also play an increased role in the water industry over the next five years. Ofwat has developed its first data strategy, which will allow it to carry out more effective analysis into the UK’s water companies, becoming a more efficient regulator in the process.

You can read the full Ofwat consultation here with the regulator inviting comments on the document until Friday 21st February. The final document will be published at some point between April and June this year.