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Tips

 DO YOUR APPLIANCES NEED TESTING?

Remember to watch out for signs that your appliances need testing.

  • your appliance may not be working properly if it has noisy ignition 
  • your appliances is showing a yellow or orange flame rather than a crisp looking blue flame
  • soot or a yellowish/brown stain is showing around your appliance
  • the pilot keeps going out 
  • look for an increase in condensation on your windows
  • Buy an audible carbon monoxide alarm for your home and make sure it is located near to your gas appliances in accordance with the manufacturer’s guidance. Carbon monoxide can leak from appliances and kill.
  • Only use gas appliances for their intended purpose e.g. don’t use a gas oven to heat a room or use a gas barbeque inside the house.
  • Always ensure there is enough ventilation for your gas appliances to allow them to burn correctly and make sure you are not blocking any air vents that provide an air supply to the gas appliance.
  
REMEMBER:
 
  1.      Always use a Gas Safe plumbing Engineer
  2.      Always ask for ID from you plumber
  3.      Check your engineer’s qualifications
  4.      Get your appliances checked annually
 
Central Heating Tips
 
  • Have the boiler serviced annually - a good time is summer
  • Is the timer/programmer set correctly?
  • Ensure that all pipes are lagged/insulated properly
  • Fit thermostatic radiator valves in all rooms - control the temperature yourself
  • Use your central heating timer to turn heating on and off and not the thermostat.
  • Keep your radiators clear. For example, do not put a large sofa in front of the radiator as it will absorb a lot of the heat.
  • For properties with high ceilings, placing a shelf just above the radiator helps to deflect the heat into the centre of the room rather than it drifting straight up to the ceiling.
  • Put radiator panels behind radiators fixed to external walls to help reflect the heat back into the room.
  • Put draft excluders around the doors and windows. Draft proofing could save you around £25 a year on your heating bills.
  • Use thermal or heavy curtains during the winter and close them at dusk. This will help stop heat escaping through the windows.
  • Remove all draughts around the house to help stop the heat from escaping.
  • Use letter box covers and key hole covers to help minimise draft.
  • Installing cavity wall insulation could save around £135 a year.
  • Installing loft insulation could save around £175 a year.
  • Fit double glazing to reduce heat loss through windows.
  • Make sure the water immersion tank is insulated. This will help keep the water hot for a longer period.
  • Replace boilers older than 15 years old. Also, installing a new condensing boiler and controls could save you up to £235 a year.
  • Installing a hot water cylinder jacket could save you up to £35 a year.
  • Installing primary pipe work insulation could save you up to £10 a year.

how to pressurise a central heating system.

 

 Check your water pressure

If your central heating is not working you may want to check and refill your boiler’s water pressure before calling out an engineer. This step-by-step guide will show you how to do this.

A water pressure indicator can be found on the front of most boilers, they are either a dial or a digital display. The indicator should read between one and one and a half bars of atmospheric pressure, if it is below one then your boiler pressure will need refilling. Here are a few simple steps to refill the pressure in your boiler:

1. Locate the cold water feed to your boiler.

2. Find the small tap on your cold water feed and gently turn until your boiler pressure indicator display reads between one and one and a half.

3. Once it is between one and one and a half close the tap

4. Check to see if your boiler is working again

If you are unsure how to identify your cold water feed or any other stages of this process please contact use.

 

Checking your thermostat and central heating programmer

If your central heating is not working you may want to check your thermostat and central heating programmer before calling out an engineer. This step-by-step guide will tell you how to check both of these.

Thermostat

Thermostats are normally found on the inside wall of a house, most commonly in the hallway. Follow these simple steps to check if your thermostat is correctly set.

1. Check the dial or display on your thermostat to see what temperature it is set to

2. To change the temperature, turn the dial or program the display to your preferred temperature

3. You may hear a click when you turn the dial to the current room temperature

Central heating programmer

Central heating programmers are found either on the boiler itself or in a cupboard. They are used for turning the boiler on and off at specific times of the day. Follow these simple steps to check if your central heating programmer is switching your boiler on at the correct time.

1. Many programmers have a light to tell you that the central heating is on. If your programmer has one of these, check it is on

2. Check the display to see what times your central heating is on between

3. If the times are wrong then reset the times so your boiler is on when you want it to be on.

If your boiler programmer light is still not on you might want to check:

if there is power going to your programmer and that its fuse isn't faulty

if your thermostat is turned fully up 

 

What to do if you condence drainage pipe has frozen.

If you do not feel competent to follow this guidance then you should contact your use and we can resolve the problem. We will also be able to advise on ways to reduce the likelihood of freezing in future.

There are a number of measures, detailed below, which householders may wish to take in order to thaw the condensate drainage pipe, free the blockage and re-start the boiler themselves provided they feel competent to do so -

1. Confirm that a frozen condensate drain pipe is the cause of shutdown.

It is important to confirm that a frozen condensate drainage pipe is the likely cause of the problem before taking any of the remedial actions suggested below.

The condensate drainage pipe is a plastic pipe (typically grey or white in colour) coming from the bottom of your boiler.

If the following circumstances apply then it is probable that a frozen condensate drainage pipe is the cause -

  • outside temperatures have been below freezing for some time.
  • the condensate drainage pipe runs through the wall and outside the property for part of its length, without any increased pipe diameter, insulation or other measures to prevent freezing. There may also be a problem if the pipe runs through an enclosed but unheated area, such as a garage or loft.
  • the boiler has previously been working satisfactorily.

Shutdown due to freezing and blockage of the condensate drainage pipe will usually be indicated by a “fault code” on the boiler’s digital display, although this may not specifically indicate freezing as the fault. Indication may also be given by some other alarm such as a flashing light, or by a symptom such as “gurgling” noises coming from the boiler.

Note - refer to the boiler manual for guidance on fault codes/alarms and their meaning - the boiler manufacturer or the servicing company you use may also have a helpline or website giving guidance on this.

2. Locate the blockage.

It is likely that the pipe is frozen at the most exposed point external to the building or where there is some obstruction to flow. This could be at the open end of the pipe, at a bend or elbow, or where is a dip in the pipe in which condensate can collect. The location of the blockage should be identified as closely as possible before taking further action.

3. Thaw the frozen pipe.

Note: You should not attempt to thaw a condensate drain pipe if you cannot easily reach it from ground level. Be aware that any water used can quickly freeze if it falls onto pathways - causing a possible slip hazard.

The pipe can be thawed by applying a hot water bottle, a microwaveable heating pack (the sort used for muscular aches and pains) or cloths soaked in warm water to the exterior of the pipe, close to the likely point of blockage. Warm water can also be poured onto the pipe from a watering can or similar container. Do not use boiling water.

4. Reset/re-start the boiler.

Once the blockage has been thawed and cleared, consult the boiler operating instructions or check the manufacturer’s website for guidance on any action needed to “reset” the fault code/alarm and start the boiler.

In most cases, once the condensate drain pipe is cleared and a reset has been carried out, the boiler will re-ignite using an automatic operating sequence.

If this reset/restart does not succeed you should call in a competent engineer to assess the situation and take further action if required.

5. Temporary remedial actions:

If the pipe is successfully thawed and the boiler can be re-started then the following temporary remedial actions may help prevent re-freezing if the severe weather continues.

  1. If the external pipe is not insulated as recommended, you should try to rectify this by attaching suitable water-proof and weather-proof insulation over the outside of the pipe to prevent re-freezing. “Class O” pipe insulation is suitable for external use and should be available from DIY outlets and plumbing/heating suppliers.
  2. During the cold spell it may help to temporarily run the heating system with the boiler thermostat (as distinct from the room thermostat) set to maximum. Turn back to the normal setting used once the cold spell is over.
  3. It may also help to temporarily set the central heating timer/programmer to “continuous” (24hr) mode, setting the room thermostat overnight to around 15oC. Again, return to the normal settings once the cold spell is over.

6. Longer term actions:

As previously stated, British Standards, Building Regulations etc. currently allow condensate drainage pipes to run either internally or externally (or a combination of these). These documents give recommendations on how to run the pipe and use insulation, if required, in order to reduce the possibility of freezing, This guidance was based on the UK winter conditions prevailing until very recently, however it may not have been sufficient to prevent freezing in extreme conditions.

Should you wish to take action in order to reduce the risk of freezing in future, by relocating the condensate drainage pipe or taking other measures, then more detailed guidance is available use at Ecoheat plumbing feel free to call 02086739944

7. FAQs

What is condensate and what does the condensate drain do?

High efficiency (condensing) boilers remove more useful heat from the combustion gases, resulting in additional water vapour which has to be collected within the boiler, as condensate, and taken to a suitable drainage point via the condensate drainage pipe.

Why has my condensate drain only frozen recently?

Recently the UK has suffered from unusually cold weather, over unusually prolonged periods. Existing recommendations for condensate pipe installation, such as pipe insulation, were based on prevailing UK weather conditions and may not be sufficient in the extreme conditions recently experienced across much of the UK.

Shouldn’t my condensate drainage pipe have been installed correctly in the first place?

British Standards, Building Regulations etc. currently allow condensate drainage pipes to be run internally, externally or a combination of these. These documents give recommendations on how to run the pipe and use insulation in order to reduce the possibility of freezing, This guidance was based on the UK winter conditions prevailing until very recently, however it may not have been sufficient to prevent freezing in extreme weather conditions.

 

What type of boiler do you need?
When choosing between boilers there are several things to consider. The size of your boiler, the type, construction and energy efficiency will all have an impact on your home and your energy bills. Take some time to consider your options and think carefully about which boiler to choose.
Conventional boilers
Conventional boilers use a storage tank to supply hot water. The water is heated via cast iron heat exchangers and combination boilers can supply gallons of hot water at one time. Once the stored hot water runs out, there may be a delay in supply as the tank refills.
Conventional boilers tend to require more space than combination boilers as the hot water cylinder requires connection with a cold water storage tank that will typically be placed in the loft. This also means that installation is often more complicated than with a combination boiler.
Older models of conventional boilers tended to be less energy efficient, but advances have been made and newer models can be adjusted to match the specific heating requirements of your home.
Ecoheat plumbing offer a range of conventional boilers including compact systems that can easily be fitted into most modern kitchens.
Combination boilers
Combination boilers, or combi boilers, supply water directly from the mains without the need for a storage tank. As a result, combination boilers supply hot water on demand in unlimited supply.  
Combination boilers are ideal for smaller properties where space is at a premium.
Combi boilers also provide water at mains pressure, meaning you can enjoy a strong, hot shower without the need for an additional shower pump.
Combination boilers include condensing technology and an ECO mode, both of which improve your control over water heating by maintaining boiler temperature whilst in standby mode.

 

Boilers: Boiler maintenance tips

Open-vented boilers

Checking the flame

 You can check the flame through the pilot window on older boilers

On older boilers – typically those more than 20 years old – you should be able to check the pilot light. There will normally be a see-through window that allows you to see the flame. If your boiler is combusting properly the flame should be blue, if it has turned yellow, you’ll need to call out an engineer.

 If your pilot light goes out, consult your boiler manual to find out how to turn it back on again. Typically, this will involve holding down the reset button and clicking the ignition switch.

 After the flame reappears, you’ll most likely need to keep the reset button held down for at least 30 seconds before releasing it. If this doesn’t work after a few attempts, you’ll need to call out an engineer.

 No heating or hot water

On an open-vented system, if the pilot flame is lit, but you don’t have any heat or hot water, you may find the ball valve is stuck in the feed and expansion tank.

 Typical symptoms include upstairs radiators being cold, and no air or water coming out of them if you try to bleed them. The circulation pump may also be particularly noisy.

 If you go to the feed and expansion tank (normally next to your cold water tank) and find it is empty, try moving the ball valve up and down. The valve should start working again, and the feed and expansion tank should start to fill up.

 Save money with a new sealed system

Older, open-vented non-condensing boilers take air in from inside your home, whereas newer, sealed condensing systems take air directly from outside. This means that a newer sealed condensing boiler will normally take in cleaner air and be better at retaining energy.

 A new sealed condensing boiler will be at least 25% more efficient than an older non-condensing type.

 Is it cheaper to run my central heating all day or use the timer?

Generally only use heating when you need it, systems that are run all day raise the average internal temperature of the dwelling, which costs. The more control you have over the time your central heating and hot water are on or off, the more you save on fuel costs. Note the system would have to be designed for this type of 'on off' operation. Ask your plumber to advise on upgrading your controls.

As a rough guide, you can work it out for yourself if you have a gas fired system. First read your gas meter and then run the system for a week using the timer, then read the meter again at the end of the week. Then leave the heating on all day (regulated by the thermostats) for the following week and take another meter reading.

 

The difference between the readings will tell you which was the most economical, given that the weather was similar for both weeks. This is a useful test for assessing the most effective way for you to heat water, using gas or electric.How can I set the controls to reduce my running costs?

Reduce the temperature settings: We find that the temperatures customers choose to set their controls at, vary according to their particular needs, but would recommend you set your hot water cylinder thermostat at 60 C (140 F)

Set room thermostat at 18 C - 21 C (65 - 70 F) With young children or elderly in bed, the temperature should not be allowed to fall below 12 C (55 F). For severely disabled people or babies a room temperature of 23 C (73 F) may be more appropriate . Setting your room thermostat down 1 0C can save up to 10% on your fuel bill.

If you have thermostatic radiator valves these will allow you to set individual radiators to lower settings such as in bedrooms where you may prefer a lower temperature (try setting TRVs on middle numbers and if too hot turn down one notch - if too cool, turn up one notch.) You could even turn them off completely when a room is not in use. If you do, remember to close the door, otherwise warm air will escape into there from the adjoining hallway or landing and reduce any savings. Watch out for condensation/dampness occurring in these rooms though.

Reduce the time the heating is on:

You will probably find that you can save energy without loss of comfort by setting the system to "come on" about half to three quarters of an hour before you get up, and to "go off" half an hour before everyone goes out. Set it to "come on" again half and hour before you get home and to "go off" again half an hour before going to bed.

 What is an Unvented hot water system?

An unvented hot water system takes it’s cold water supply directly from the incoming water main. It is not gravity fed by a tank in the loft. They can be direct or indirect.

How an Unvented Cylinder Works:

As we have said an unvented cylinder is supplied by the incoming main. When you open your tap, that high pressure cold water enters into the unvented hot water tank at the bottom, forcing hot water out of the top outlet and to your taps.

If you’re interested in buying an unvented cylinder, click here.

 Advantages:

1. Pressure is much higher on all outlets.

2. No loft tanks which reduce risk of contamination and legionnaires

3. No pipes in the loft so no frozen pipe risk.

4. Very high heat recovery rate after use. Typical warm up time 15-20 minutes.

Disadvantages:

1. The hot water pressure will only be as good as your incoming main, however this is fine for most people.

2. You cannot fit shower pumps on mains water supplies. However you shouldn’t really need to.

3. When feeding multiple outlets the pressure can drop. This also applies to vented systems. On unvented systems it can be due to a small incoming main pipe (15mm for example). To overcome this on an unvented system, you need to install an ‘accumulator’.

Cylinder Sizes:

It is important when buying any hot water cylinder, unvented or not, to size it correctly for the demand it will supply. Most families of 2-4 people will only require a 150 litre tank. This will accomodate a house with one bathroom with a power shower and ensuite. Any household that is larger and has more bathrooms will be looking at 200 litre+ tank.

 

Ecoheat Plumbing,12 Fieldhouse Road,Balham,London,SW12 0HJ.