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Top tips to avoid a DIY Disaster

The Consumer Protection Alliance (CPA) has launched a DIY campaign to make sure that consumers stay safe whilst either attempting home improvement or handing the reins over to someone else. Here are the CPA’s top tips to help ensure that improving your home doesn’t become a headache:

Research your trader

Judith Turner, Deputy Chief Ombudsman at the Dispute Resolution Ombudsman advises to “carry out proper due diligence to make sure you know who’s entering your property (it might seem obvious, but it’s amazing how many people don’t follow this simple step). Any traders who are members of the organisations that make up the CPA are committed to best practice and responsible trading and you can obtain unbiased information about the traders from these schemes”.

Always use a Gas Safe registered engineer

If you’re part of the 28% of households who plan to carry out home improvements over bank holiday weekends, it may be tempting to try and extend that to working on your own gas appliances. But if you’re not qualified to work on gas, you could put your family and property at risk of gas leaks, fires, explosions and carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Some things are best left to the experts – visit the Gas Safe Register website to find a Gas Safe registered engineer in your local area. Also, don’t forget to check your gas engineer is qualified to work on the job in hand by checking their Gas Safe ID card.

Stay safe with your electrics

Like gas, it may also be tempting to try and carry out electrical jobs yourself. But also like gas, electricity can prove deadly in unqualified hands. NICEIC’s advice to ensure that your home is safe and in good shape electrically is to employ an electrician registered with NICEIC. They’ll be able to carry out a Periodic Inspection of your home and provide you with an up to date Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR). This is an up to date report on the current condition of the electrics in your home – much like an MOT. They will also be able to carry out any electrical work that you might require around the home safely and in accordance with the appropriate regulations.

Avoid a plumbing horror story

Plumbing is another area where you may try your hand to save costs – but it’s best to think before you take the plunge. Which? Trusted Traders spoke to Kris Barry, from Absolute Bristol plumbers, who recounted a tale of DIY gone wrong: “One time, a lady decided to disconnect the trap (a water filled area of pipe that stops waste gases entering the room) on her bath to try to clean it out. She couldn’t get it back on again, and had a bath full of water because she was in the middle of cleaning her bathroom. So when she went to let the water go, it was going through the ceiling… and there was a load of damage to the house.”

Take the following steps to avoid a similar problem:

  • Use a Which? Trusted Traders-endorsed plumber in your area
  • Ensure you know where your stopcock is, so you can turn water off at the mains before starting any plumbing job
  • Don’t try to force pipes and connectors together – it may well damage them.

Founded by Dispute Resolution Ombudsman, Certsure LLP (trading as ELECSA and NICEIC), Gas Safe Register, and Which? Trusted Traders, The CPA aims to inform, educate and alert householders about staying safe at home.

The CPA is a non-commercial, not-for-profit organisation. You can find tips and advice on what to look out for when employing a tradesperson, your consumer rights, and where to go if something goes wrong on the CPA website http://consumerprotectionalliance.org/

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