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Plumbers urged to update skills

Plumbers are being encouraged to update their skills to adapt to the changes in how homes will be heated in the future.

According to John Kerr of the plumbing parts manufacturer RWC, the Future Homes Standard, a government initiative, means that conventional boiler systems will no longer be installed after 2025. He advises plumbers and heating engineers to update their skills long before the 2025 deadline.

Kerr predicts that alongside alternative heating technologies, more households will want underfloor heating. He says that this form of heating, when combined with heat pumps, is 40% more efficient than radiators. Though underfloor heating is expensive, the cost of systems is coming down. It is recommended that a skilled engineer installs heat pumps, but underfloor heating installation is suitable for a do-it-yourself project, as it is not a highly skilled job.

The government’s BEIS Skills Training Competition is an initiative to train tradespeople in how to install low-carbon heating systems. As home heating systems move away from gas boilers to heat pumps and underfloor heating, there’s a danger that there will not be enough plumbers who are skilled in installing more energy efficient systems. Writing for Modern Building Services, Kerr said:

“Plumbers should begin training themselves in more sustainable heating systems as the market shifts to renewable energy technologies.”

Kerr also wants better apprenticeship schemes to train the next generation of plumbers. Many plumbers are one man or small businesses that cannot afford to train apprentices. The government is offering grants towards the cost of employing an apprentice.