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.
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.
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.
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.