How To Use Spirit Levels

October 6, 2015

A spirit level is a simple but essential piece of your DIY toolkit and it’s useful to have a couple of different sizes – a 230mm and a 600mm level will cover most small DIY projects.

Most spirit levels have at least two vials (a vial is the transparent tube where the bubble is). These levels can be used for ensuring things are vertical levels as well as horizontal. Some levels also have a third vial which allows you to find a 45 degree angle too.

Sprit Level 3

On each vial there are two marks that are spaced apart. When the bubble sits between them it indicates a horizontal or vertical level (or 45 degree if you are using the third diagonal vial).

Checking Horizontal Levels

To use a spirit level correctly, it should be positioned in the centre of the object you are levelling. If the object is level the bubble will sit between the two marks.

Level Spirit Level

If the bubble sits to the left side of the marks that means the left side is too high (or the right too low) and vice-versa for the opposite side.

Checking Vertical Levels (Plumb)

If you need to check that something is vertical (also know as plumb), place the back edge of the spirit level against the object.

If you are checking something quite tall like a wall, fencepost or doorframe you should use the longest spirit level you can – alternatively use a small level together with a long straightedge which you should position against the vertical surface that you are checking.

Level Bubble

Now, looking at the vial which is at right angle to the base of the spirit level – if the bubble is between the marks, the surface is vertical. If the bubble sits outside the marks, move the level until the bubble is centrally placed.

This will allow you to see where adjustment needs to be made to get things vertically level.

What’s The Diagonal Vial For?

The diagonal vial is often used by scaffolders to ensure that stabilisers and braces are fitted at the correct angle – this is why some small spirit levels have magnets in the base – so they stick to the metal poles.

Should you need to check a 45 degree angle for a project, the method is similar to horizontal and vertical checking – simply place the base of the spirit level on the surface you are checking – focussing on the diagonal vial – if the bubble is above the marks then the angle is greater than 45 degrees so the top of the object needs lowering until the bubble sits perfectly between the marks. If the bubble is lower than the marks the angle needs increasing.

At DSL Direct we have a range of spirit levels to suit your needs, whether you’re doing some DIY or you’re in the Trade. Click here to find the right level for you.

Minimising work disruption in snow

Our Health and Safety manager Chris Pendrey discusses methods to reduce the work disruption of bad weather in the workplace.

“In 2018, The Construction Products Association claimed the construction industry had faced “huge losses” in the wake of extended poor weather and businesses would struggle to make up for the delays suffered. As we enter the new year bad weather is set to take its toll on planning and productivity once again. But there are things that you can do to help minimise disruption to your projects.”

Read the full articles here.


Health and safety apprenticeships in the workplace

Chris Pendrey discusses introducing a health and safety apprenticeship in the work place on

“With UK businesses losing an estimated £4.8bn per year in lost productivity due to workplace injuries, employing a dedicated health and safety specialist is a wise investment. Last year, the Institute for Apprenticeships launched a new health and safety course, aimed at teaching the essentials for preventing workplace incidents.”

Read the full article here.

Increasing Health and Safety awareness in the work place

Our very own Chris Pendrey discusses Health and Safety awareness in the workplace and how to increase employee awareness in your organisation in a new article in Employee Benefits magazine.

“According to the Health and Safety Executive’s Health and safety statistics, published in November 2017, UK organisations lost over 31 million working days to workplace injuries alone in 2016-2017. The benefits, therefore, of defining an adherable health and safety plan are clear; greater productivity, reduced absenteeism and potentially lower costs for injury compensation.”

Read the full article here.

How to Store and Care For Your Harness and Lanyard

Far too often, workers take off their harness & lanyard at the end of a shift or when taking a break and throw them in the back of a work van, locker. When leaving height safety equipment at the workface they are exposed to the elements: rain, heat, freezing temperatures, and direct sunlight. All of this can potentially result in serious damage. To properly care for your equipment, it is important to store and transport your harness and lanyard in a clean, cool, dry place free from direct sunlight. Remember the primary purpose of a harness and lanyard is to arrest a fall so why would anyone not respect it and look after it!?


The harness and Lanyard should be hung, so it doesn’t get crushed, bent, damp and dirty or torn by other objects in the storage area. Sharp objects and tools can damage the fibres of the webbing and harmful substances such as acids, alkalis, fuel, paints and solvents can cause harm to the polyester and nylon fibres. Any wetness of the equipment should be allowed to dry naturally away from direct heat.

Ensure that your storage area is not in direct sunlight or exposed to a heat source. The heat and UV rays can compromise the materials that make up your harness and lanyard. This also applies to other PPE, such as hardhats, as well. Extensive exposure to ultraviolet light can cause degradation of the fibres and could fail when they are needed most.

Store them somewhere where nobody else can get them. Somebody may pick them up and use them when you are not around and who knows what damage they may cause. At the very least, they’ll readjust your harness to fit them and, if you’re not diligent, you may end up putting on an improperly adjusted harness on your next shift. You can practically guarantee that somebody borrowing a harness and lanyard off the ground isn’t going to clean it before returning it – if they return it.


Your equipment should be cleaned on a regular basis. This helps to ensure that there is no substance on the harness and lanyard that could degrade the materials. It also ensures that you can properly see all parts of the equipment so you can do a thorough inspection.

You need to be careful when cleaning the equipment. Soaking the harness or lanyard, for instance, can cause potential damage to the fibres as they relax and re-tighten.

    • Using bleach, chlorine or abrasives can also cause damage. To properly clean your equipment, follow these steps: Use a damp sponge (warm water only) to wipe away any residue on your straps and buckles.
    • Then, use soap and water to work up lather on the straps. The soap should be nothing more than dish soap or laundry detergent. Do not use anything containing chlorine, bleach, or abrasives.
    • Rinse the lather from the straps using a sponge with clean water. Remember, you are not SOAKING the harness or lanyard. That can cause damage. Finally, wipe the equipment and hang it to dry naturally away from direct heat. If you don’t hang it, you could be left with creases or other structural problems.

Remember: Follow the Golden Rules to protect yourself and others.