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Heat Pump FAQs

What is a heat pump?

Heat pumps are often described as being like a fridge in reverse. Although this doesn’t make their operation entirely obvious, it’s not far off! Heat pumps use the same refrigerant cycle as a fridge to move heat from one place to another. Despite the common misconception, fridges don’t work by filling the compartment with cold air – instead, they move the warm air out. A heat pump works in a similar way, but instead of moving warm air out, it moves warm air in. A heat pump extracts warmth from the outside air before concentrating it and transferring it into your home to provide heating and hot water.

How do heat pumps work?

A Vaillant heat pumpAt its simplest, heat pumps transfer outside energy into heat for your heating and hot water system. Some heat pumps extract energy from the air, and these are known as ‘air source heat pumps’. Another type of heat pump extracts energy from the ground, and these are known as ‘ground source heat pumps’. As their name suggests, they pump heat, taking energy (from the air or the ground) from a low temperature source and forcing that heat to a higher temperature for our heating.

Do heat pumps work as well as boilers?

As soon as any new initiative is launched, you can expect some scare mongering in the news and social media! But heat pumps (when properly fitted by an expert) are just as good, and in many ways better, than a conventional boiler. Despite what you might have read online, properly installed heat pumps are more than capable of keeping your home warm on the coldest of days.

It’s understandable that people are concerned about how a device is going to absorb heat from the ground when it’s snowy out – but there’s no need to worry! In the UK, the temperature of the ground doesn’t usually fall below 10 °C. Although you might think that’s a bit nippy, there’s still heat in the ground for the taking. Air source heat pumps will use ambient heat. 

Do heat pumps work when it’s cold?

Yes! Because of the way a heat pumps’ refrigeration cycle works, heat can be extracted out of the air at very low temperatures- even negative temperatures. Back to the fridge analogy, if you touch the grill on the back of a fridge, it feels warm. But it’s cold inside the fridge, and nothing warm has been put in it. This is similar to a heat pump, A heat pump will still operate to get your radiators and hot water to temperature, right the way down to -25c!*

What is an Air Source Heat Pump (ASHP)?

A Vaillant heat pump.An air source heat pump works by using a fan to draw in air from the outside and absorbing the heat into a liquid refrigerant. Using electricity, the heat pump compresses the liquid to increase its temperature. It then condenses back into a liquid to release its stored heat. Heat is sent to your radiators or is stored in a cylinder to provide you with hot water when you need it. Air source heat pumps are easier to install than a ground source heat pumps because they don’t need the network of underground pipes that a ground source heat pump requires.

What is a Ground Source Heat Pump (GSHP)?

Ground source heat pumps collect heat from the ground through a network of water pipes buried underground. A mixture of water and anti-freeze is pumped around the network of pipes and absorbs the naturally occurring heat in the ground. This heat is then transferred to a liquid refrigerant inside the heat pump. At this point, the process is the same as with the air source heat pump – electricity is used to compress the liquid refrigerant to increase its temperature. It then condenses back into a liquid to release its stored heat. Heat is sent to your radiators or is stored in a cylinder to provide you with hot water when you need it. Ground source heat pumps are more expensive than air source, because of the network of underground pipes that need to be installed. But they do tend to be more efficient.

How efficient are heat pumps?

One of the biggest advantages of heat pumps is that they’re incredibly energy efficient – which is referred to as the Coefficient of Performance (CoP). The CoP is the amount of heat generated for every kilowatt of electricity used. An air source heat pump can convert each kilowatt (kW) of electricity into 3-4 kW of heat. This means that they’re between 300%-400% efficient! This is pretty impressive when you compare it to a modern gas boiler with an energy efficiency of about 92%!

 

Why are heat pumps so efficient?

Heat pumps manage achieve their impressive energy efficiencies because they transfer heat rather than generate it. Because your boiler has to generate heat by burning fuel (usually gas), there will always be some energy wasted in the heating process.

Are heat pumps expensive to run?

No – a heat pump that has been installed on a well-designed system won’t be expensive to run. But if you’re in the market for a new heat pump, it’s vital that you contact an expert. As you might expect, designing an efficient heat pump system is more complex than designing a system for a gas boiler. And poor design will lead to high bills.

This is where The Heating People really excel. We are proud to be Heat Geek Elite designers, working with the Heat Geek assured installation scheme. We design and install the most efficient heating systems for homes in the North West. When we design a system for you, we will advise on the projected efficiency of the system, which with a bit of information about your gas and electric pricing, can show you a projected running cost against that of a gas boiler. You have all the facts prior to installation.

What is the Heat Geek Assured Heat Pump Installation Service?

The Heat Geek Assured service means that you can be sure that you have an expert designing your heat pump system. Heat Geek personally vet and train Heat Geek installers to the highest industry standards. Heat Geek engineers have undergone the best system design training available and are heavily involved in ongoing peer to peer training. Heat Geeks know the very latest technology, methods and design practices available. This gives you the peace of mind that your installation is not only working but working to the maximum efficiency. The Heating People are proud to be Heat Geek Elite installers, the highest accolade there is in the industry!

What does it cost to install a heat pump?

An engineer installing a heat pump.The cost of installing heat pumps varies depending on what system is being installed. As a guide, the cost of an ASHP will be around £15-£20,000 before any government grants are applied. Whilst installing a heat pump isn’t cheap, it’s important that you weigh that against the pay back you’ll get on your energy bills – not to mention the environmental benefits! And you may be able to get some financial help too. You can apply for funding for a heat pump under the Renewable Heat Incentive, and there are also grants of £5,000 through the new Boiler Upgrade Scheme.

What financial help is there to install a heat pump?

A heat pump installation by The Heating People.The government has announced it will be giving households grants towards the cost of installing heat pumps, to try and achieve its target of installing 600,000 per year by 2028. Under the new ‘Boiler Upgrade Scheme’ grants of £5,000 will be made available to help households to afford to install air source heat pumps. There will be grants of up to £6,000 available towards the cost of installing a ground source heat pump.The government has set aside £450 million for the grants, with the total money allocated enough to cover 90,000 homes.

How do heat pumps save money on energy bills?

A piggy bank and coins.Because heat pumps are so efficient, they can save you money on your energy bills (certainly once the price of electricity comes down!) To illustrate this, think about a modern boiler with 92% energy efficiency. This boiler will use 92% of the supplied energy for heating your home but the remaining 8% of energy will be lost in the process of generating heat. So, this means that for every £1 you spend on heating your home, this boiler is wasting 8p!

Now think about a heat pump with 300% energy efficiency. Not only is this heat pump not wasting energy, but it’s also giving out more than you put in. Hopefully it’s now easy to see what a positive impact a heat pump can have on your energy bills! However, electricity prices are currently very high, particularly in comparison to gas. But it’s important to remember that heat pumps are so efficient, they can convert a unit of electrical energy into 2-4 times as much heat energy.

Will a heat pump reduce my carbon footprint?

A woman pointing to the symbol for carbon.Yes! The reason that the government has such ambitious targets for the installation of heat pumps, is because they’re much more environmentally friendly than gas boilers. According to EDF Energy, installing a heat pump could cut your carbon emissions by more than 23 tonnes of CO2 over 10 years. That’s the same as 30 return plane flights between Heathrow and Madrid! Heat pumps use some electricity to run. But if you’re able to power them with electricity from renewable sources, such as solar power, they are completely carbon neutral.

Are heat pumps 100% carbon neutral?

Heat pumps are much more eco-friendly than traditional gas boilers, but they are not 100% carbon neutral. This is because they use a small amount of electricity to run. If you want to be completely carbon neutral, you’ll need to run your heat pump on electricity from a renewable source such as solar power.

What is involved in getting a new heat pump with The Heating People?

A heat pump installation by The Heating PeopleIf you’re thinking about getting a heat pump, but are concerned about what’s involved – don’t worry, The Heating People are here to help! We are heating specialists who take the hassle out of high efficiency system design. Here’s what to expect from the process with an installation from us…

Step 1: Contact us

To get started, contact one of our friendly team at The Heating People. We’ll ask you a few simple questions about you and your property, and get you booked in for a discovery call with Heat Geek Elite installer, Liam. You can contact us in the following ways:

  • By phone on: 0151 7926245;
  • By email at: hello@theheatingpeople.co.uk;
  • through the contact form on our website.

Step 2: Discovery call

Katie installing a heat pump for The Heating People.We will call you as arranged on a date and time of your choosing, for a ‘discovery call’. During this call, we will take some more detailed information about your home and what you’re hoping to achieve from your heat pump. We will advise you on the suitability of your home and advise on any pitfalls. We can even give you an estimated installation cost on this call. If you’re happy, and we’re happy at the end of the call, we book an initial survey with you to do a more detailed assessment to provide a fixed price quotation.

Step 3: Technical survey

An engineer installing an aroTHERM heat pump.During the technical survey, we will visit your home and carry out a full heat loss assessment as well as an assessment of your existing heating system. This will allow us to design a heating system that is suitable to heat your home and to provide you with the lowest flow temperatures possible which will increase the efficiency of your system.

Step 4: Proposal

Following the technical visit, we will provide you with a proposal for the installation of your heat pump. We will also provide you with a report containing all of the technical information we gathered and the calculations completed on site. When you are happy to proceed with the work, we will book you in for your installation date.

Step 5: Installation

A heat pump installation by The Heating PeopleOn your installation day, your engineer will discuss the planned work, to ensure that everyone is happy with the plans. They will explain where they will need access to, and for how long, so that you can plan your day. Your engineer will put down floor coverings in all work areas and transit routes, so that you can rest assured that your home will be protected from any debris. Your engineer will decommission your old system, and will set to work installing your new heat pump. Your engineer will then set up your new system. They will complete a handover with you when all the work is complete. This ensures that you are as informed as possible on how to operate the heat pump, how to use all the controls, and how to get the best efficiency from your system.

The follow up

We take pride in our work, and The Heating People will come back and check that everything is working as designed after your heat pump has been operating in winter conditions.

Why do The Heating People install Vaillant aroTHERM heat pumps?

A heat pump installation by The Heating People.The Heating People are proud to be Vaillant Advance Installers because Vaillant has a growing focus on products and systems that use renewable energy. We share their motto of: ‘thinking ahead’ and only use products with high energy efficiency ratings and low carbon emissions. Many Vaillant products are based around the use of heat pumps taking heat from ambient air and the earth. Vaillant is expanding its UK manufacturing facility in Derbyshire to produce its aroTHERM plus heat pumps from 2022, and we really rate this heat pump!

The aroTHERM plus air-to-water heat pump is one of our personal favourites because it is environmentally friendly and future-proof:

  • Future-proof thanks to the most cutting-edge heat pump technology with natural refrigerant, reducing your carbon footprint;
  • High energy efficiency class;
  • Very quiet operation – can even be used in densely built-up terraced housing estates;
  • Outstanding quality and durability.

As Vaillant Advance Installers, we can offer a range of warranties of up to 7 years on parts and labour.

What controls should I use with my new heat pump?

Vaillant sensoCOMFORTWhen installing a Vaillant aroTHERM heat pump, we use Vaillant’s sensoCOMFORT controls. The sensoCOMFORT is Vaillant’s new control for multi-zone heating systems. It has been designed to be simple to install and use, and operates with Vaillant’s eBUS protocol. This ensures all components of the system can easily communicate with each other to provide optimum system performance. It’s perfect for multi-zone gas-fuelled systems, and hybrid or renewable installations.

The sensoCOMFORT comes with an outdoor sensor, providing weather compensation that automatically adjusts the flow rate from the boiler for ultimate efficiency. Load compensation comes as standard.

Are gas boilers being banned and replaced with heat pumps?

A hydrogen ready boiler and heat pump.You don’t need to worry about a ‘ban’ as such. But, the government has announced an ambition to phase out the installation of new gas boilers beyond 2035, in favour of ‘greener’ alternatives. This won’t impact your current boiler, and you can still replace your current one until 2035. After that, we’re likely to see a combination of both hydrogen boilers and heat pumps being used to heat our homes.

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Understanding boiler specifications

A confused womanNeed help understanding boiler specifications?

When you’re shopping for a new boiler, it can be hard to know where to start.

If you’ve taken your boiler search online, you were probably surprised by how much choice there is!

Although boilers essentially do the same job of keeping your home warm, and your baths hot, there’s a vast array of different makes and models to choose from.

And although boilers might all look very similar (to the untrained eye!) – don’t be fooled – not all boilers are created equal!

To find the most cost-effective and efficient way to heat your home, you need to make an informed decision, not one based solely on aesthetics or price.

This is where boiler specifications come in. The technical information found in a boiler specification is important. It will help you to find the most cost-effective and efficient way to heat your home.

But what does it all mean?!

The facts, figures, and general jargon contained in a boiler specification can be confusing. So, we’ve put together this handy guide to help you  understand what you’re looking at.

The three types of boilers

Diagram of the 3 types of boiler.Before we get into the nitty gritty, let’s start with the types of boilers that are available.

There are three main types of boilers for you to choose from: combi boilers; system boilers; and heat-only boilers. Since they all work differently, you’ll come across slightly different boiler specifications for each.

We’ve dedicated entire blogs to each of these boiler types, but we’ll summarise the key differences again here:

Combi boilers

Combination or ‘combi’ boiler is the most common type of domestic boiler in the UK. They provide a combination (hence the name!) of heating and hot water from one compact unit. They don’t require any external tanks or cylinders because they heat water instantaneously on demand.

Read their pros and cons here.

Heat-only boilers

Heat-only boilers, also known as traditional or conventional boilers, are usually fitted to an open-vented system, which require cold water and feed and expansion tanks in the loft. Since they store hot water in a cylinder, they can meet high demand for hot water, and are also perfect for homes with low mains pressure.

Read their pros and cons here.

System boilers

System boilers operate on a sealed system. So they don’t have tanks in the loft, but they do store hot water in a cylinder. As with heat-only boilers, this makes them well suited to homes with a high demand for water.

Read their pros and cons here.

Understanding boiler specifications

Now let’s look at some of the key terms you may come across in a boiler specification:

Understanding boiler specifications: DHW

DHW stands for Domestic Hot Water. This refers to the water that comes from a hot tap or is stored in a hot water cylinder (with a heat-only or system boiler).

With a combi boiler, the central heating and DHW are combined into one appliance. When you turn on a hot tap, a combi boiler prioritises the DHW, and stops pumping water to the heating circuit.

Understanding boiler specifications: CH output

CH stands for central heating. As well as providing your hot water for your taps and showers, your boiler also heats your home. It does this by heating water which is pumped around your radiators, before returning to the boiler for reheating.

Understanding boiler specifications: Boiler efficiency (ErP)

A jar full of coins with a green shoot.Thanks to legislation from the EU, all new boilers up to 400kW come with an ErP rating.

ErP stands for Energy-Related Products. It is a rating system which rates an appliance’s energy efficiency from A-G, with A-rated products being the most efficient.

You’ll also see this rating system on other household appliances, such as your fridge, washing machine and oven.

Combi boilers have two ErP ratings, one for heating your home, and one for heating water for your hot taps. This is because combi boilers power your central heating and hot water independently.

If you have a heat-only or a system boiler, you’ll just have one ErP rating for heating.

The purpose of ErP ratings

The purpose of the ErP rating system is to ensure that consumers are aware of how energy efficient (or not!) their appliances are.

In turn, this helps governments to reduce carbon emissions, while helping homeowners to reduce their energy bills.

All new boilers must be 92% efficient (or ‘A-Rated’ on the ErP label).

If you’re upgrading from a boiler with a lower efficiency rating, you’ll save money on your energy bills each year because efficient boilers waste less energy.

To find out more about this, you should check out our related blogs: What is an efficient boiler, and why should I want one? and What is Boiler Plus?

According to the Energy Saving Trust, if you swap a D-rated gas boiler to an A-rated condensing gas boiler, you could save around £170 a year on your central heating bill. The savings will be even greater if swapping from G-rated boiler to an A-rated one.

And, with gas prices soaring, the savings are likely to be substantially higher than that now!

Understanding boiler specifications: SEDBUK

Although SEDBUK was effectively replaced by the Energy related Products (ErP) directive in 2015, you’ll often still see SEDBUK appearing on boiler specifications.

SEDBUK stands for: ‘Seasonal Efficiency of Domestic Boilers in the UK’. SEDBUK was a UK initiative which provided a basis for fair comparison of the energy efficiency of different models of boilers.

The SEDBUK scale labelled boilers with a letter from A – G, with A being the most efficient boilers.

On the SEDBUK scale, boilers classed as A and B were highly efficient, whilst bands C to G were classed as having ‘standard efficiency’.

Understanding boiler specifications: Boiler power (kWs)

A boiler next to a boy dressed as a superhero.Another key boiler specification you need to be aware of is boiler power.

This can be confusing, because you’re more likely to have heard of people referring to boiler power as boiler ‘size’.

But when we’re talking about a boiler’s ‘size’, we’re not talking about its physical dimensions, but rather, its power.

Boiler power is measured in kilowatts (kW). The more power the boiler can generate in kWs, the bigger it is in terms of ‘size’.

At its simplest, a more powerful (or ‘bigger’) boiler will be able to heat more radiators and provide more hot water. But this doesn’t mean that bigger is always better!

Many people fall into the trap of choosing a boiler that’s too big (or too powerful) for their needs, thinking that it’s better to have too much power, than too little.

The problem with oversizing boilers

Worcester Bosch Greenstar 8000 next to a ruler and a question mark.But oversizing your boiler is an expensive mistake because it leads to ‘boiler cycling’ and excessively high heating bills.

But too little power isn’t good either, because your boiler will struggle to provide enough heating and hot water for your needs.

So, you need to choose a boiler that’s power output can precisely meet your requirements. Whilst a lot of online ‘calculators’ say you can do this by counting your radiators – and this really grinds our gears! – this isn’t true.

The accurate way to size a boiler (and industry standard under Part L of the Energy Efficiency Regulations) is through a heat-loss calculation.

Rest assured, that The Heating People conduct heat-loss calculations as standard as part of your free survey. We will calculate and recommend the correct size of boiler for your home.

But so that you can understand this better, let’s look at what the Kw numbers mean…

What the numbers on the specification mean…

A diagram showing boiler input and output.When looking at a boiler specification, you might see two numbers by boiler power. One is the power input; the other is power output.

Both are measured in kW and, depending on the boiler type, can refer to just your central heating (CH) or both your heating and your domestic hot water (DHW).

Input refers to how much energy goes into the boiler to make it work, and it’ll be reflected in your energy bill.

Output tells you how much of that energy is converted into heat for your radiators and hot water for your taps. This number will always be lower than the input because no boiler is 100% efficient. Some energy will be lost in the heating process.

What is a kW?

A kilowatt is a measure of power, equal to 1,000 watts. Watts measure power generated per second.

So, a boiler with a maximum output of 30kW will produce 30,000 joules of energy per second when in operation. This energy is used to heat your home.

The higher the kW rating of a boiler, the more powerful it is, and the more radiators and taps it can supply at one time.

Why do combi boilers have higher power outputs?

You may notice that combi boilers often have larger power outputs than heat-only or system boilers. This is because combi boilers operate differently, by heating water instantly on demand.

Heat-only and system boilers don’t have to heat water instantly, they can heat it up more slowly because they store it in a cylinder for later use.

What is a kilowatt-hour (kWh)?

You might have come across kilowatt-hours on your energy bill, and be wondering how this differs from a kilowatt.

A kilowatt (kW) is a measurement of power. A kilowatt hour (kWh) measures how much energy an appliance could use if it was on for one hour.

For example, a 30 kW boiler needs 30 kWh of energy for each hour that it’s heating your home. So, if it’s operating for 3 hours then it will use 90 kWh of energy to do its job.

Understanding boiler specifications: Boiler modulation

A diagram showing boiler modulation.You’ll see some specifications talking about boiler modulation. But unless you’re in the heating industry, this probably won’t mean much to you!

So, what does boiler modulation mean, and why is it important?

Boiler modulation refers to the ability of the boiler to automatically reduce its output to suit the demand for heat.

Let’s say you only need 15 kw of heat for your home for the next couple of hours. But you have a 30kw boiler.

Instead of your boiler outputting 30kw and then cycling on and off, your boiler would reduce its output by turning down its flame by 50%.

The advantage to this is that it lowers the amount of gas being used by your boiler. This saves energy, and therefore money on your energy bills.

It also creates a more consistent environment and helps to prolong the life of your boiler by preventing on/off cycling.

What are modulation ratios?

Diagram showing boiler modulation ratios.Boiler manufacturers state the ability of a boiler to modulate as a modulation ratio.

The fraction refers to a boiler’s minimum output in relation to its maximum output. The wider the modulation range, the better the ratio.

Let’s look at some examples to help explain this:

Boiler A

Boiler A has a maximum output of 30kW and has a 5:1 ratio. This means that the maximum power it can output to heat your home is 30kW, and it can modulate this down to 6kW.

Boiler B

Boiler B has a maximum power output of 30kW and a 10:1 ratio. This means that the maximum power it can output to your home is 30kW, and it can modulate this down to 3 kW.

Boiler C

Boiler C has a maximum output of 30kW and an extremely impressive 17:1 ratio. This means that the maximum power it can output to your home is 30kW, and it can modulate this down to 1.7 kW.

So, which of the boilers in our examples is the most efficient?

Boiler C is the most efficient boiler because it can modulate its output from 30kW to 1.7kW with a total of 17 different heat outputs.

Lower power output means less fuel burned, and more money saved on your bills.

To put this in perspective… If you only need a very small increase in heat, Boiler A would fire at 6Kw, but Boiler C would fire at a lower (and more efficient) 1.7Kw.

A non-modulating boiler would fire at its maximum output of 30Kw regardless of the heat demand, consuming unnecessary energy and overheating the home.

Another advantage is that there will be less boiler cycling, and so there will be a lower level of stress placed upon the boiler, potentially extending its lifespan.

If you’re interested in boiler modulation, you might also be interested in our related article on the benefits of low temperature heating.

Understanding boiler specifications: Water flow rate

An important feature specific to combi boilers, is the water flow rate.

Measured in litres per minute, the water flow rate shows how much hot water your boiler can send to your taps in one minute.

Sometimes the output specifications for a boiler will state the maximum flow rate that the boiler can provide at a specific temperature. For example, you might see a flow rate of 15 l/min at a temperature of 40 degrees centigrade.

Generally, the more taps and showers you have in your home, the higher water flow rate you need.

However, you could be wasting your money if you choose the boiler with the maximum flow rate, if the mains supply to your house is lower than the flow rate of the boiler.

If you were to buy a boiler with a flow rate of 12 litres per minute (l/min), but the flow rate of your mains water is only 8l/min, your boiler won’t be able to reach 12 l/min.

If your mains water isn’t coming in fast, it won’t come out of your tap fast either!

Understanding boiler specifications: Pressure

Technical specifications for boilers often include figures related to gas and water pressure, and are typically measured in bars.

‘Minimum inlet pressure’ describes the lowest pressure required for gas entering the boiler in order for your boiler to operate safely and efficiently.

There also might be a minimum and maximum rate for water pressure.

Conclusion

A boiler is a big investment, and you’ll want to get it right. After all, it’s going to be tasked with keeping you and your family warm and comfortable for at least the next decade!

So, we hope that reading this guide has left you feeling better equipped to research your new boiler.

But if you still feel overwhelmed, don’t worry, The Heating People are here to help!  Contact one of our friendly team to set up a free, no obligation appointment with one of our heating specialists.

They’ll visit your home, complete a survey, then talk through your options and answer any questions.

Useful links:

Heat Geek: What is boiler modulation?

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9 Common heating mistakes… and how to avoid them!

9 common heating mistakes…

With winter in full swing, everyone wants their central heating to be reliable, and to run as efficiently as possible.

But unfortunately, we see lots of people making the same mistakes with their heating. These mistakes mean that their heating system isn’t running as efficiently as it could, which ends up costing them on their fuel bills.

That’s why we’ve put together this blog to help you to get the best out of your heating system, so that you and your family are comfortable, without your fuel bills skyrocketing.

1.   Common heating mistakes: Oversizing your boiler

Worcester Bosch Greenstar 8000 next to a ruler and a question mark.Investing in the right size boiler will keep you and your family comfortable, without wasting energy and money.

Unfortunately, far too many people are seduced by the idea that ‘bigger is better’ and choose a boiler that’s too big for their needs, ‘just in case.’

We can see why people fall into this trap – running out of hot water is a situation that everyone dreads!

And it doesn’t help that some manufacturers are bringing out bigger and bigger boilers, such as the Worcester Bosch Greenstar 8000 Lifestyle range, which come in sizes of up to 50kw.

But the truth is, this is far too much power for most homes.

The problem with oversizing boilers

If you choose a larger boiler that has a much higher capacity than you need; you’ll be wasting money not only on the initial purchase; but also on escalating energy bills.

Too much power isn’t a good thing when it comes to central heating.

It’s inefficient, costly, and can generate more power than your central heating system can handle. This leads to ‘boiler cycling’ which will take its toll on your boiler.

So don’t make the mistake of just opting for the same size boiler you’ve had previously.

Your lifestyle has probably changed since you got your last one; not to mention the fact that your previous one might have been the wrong size too!

What you need to do is find a reputable Gas Registered engineer who will carry out a heat loss calculation to determine the correct size of boiler for you.

And don’t accept an engineer who wants to determine your boiler size by counting your radiators! This is completely inaccurate and is not industry best practice under building regulations.

2.   Common heating mistakes: Turning up the thermostat for faster heat

This is a really common mistake.

According to a survey by the Energy Saving Trust, 52% of people mistakenly believe that if they want a room to heat up quicker, then they should crank their thermostat up.

But this is a costly mistake to make because this won’t heat your home any faster.

This is because thermostats don’t have any control over the speed at which your home heats up, that’s not how they work.

A thermostat simply sets the maximum temperature that you want your room to be. It won’t get to that temperature any quicker if you turn it up higher than this.

Increasing the temperature on your thermostat by several degrees doesn’t increase the heating rate, it just means that your heating will be on longer; warming your home past your comfort level.

So set the temperature you want and let your heating system do the rest.

If you’ve let your home get freezing cold before putting your heating on, resist the urge to turn your thermostat up, and put an extra jumper on until your room gets to your desired temperature.

In fact, if you can, you should really turn your thermostat down by 1 degree. Whilst you’re unlikely to notice if your home is just 1 degree cooler; according to Government research, you can save up to 10% on your heating bills by doing this!

 3.   Common heating mistakes: Letting your home get too cold at night

I know we’ve just told you to try turning your thermostat down by one degree to save money – and now we’re telling you not to let your home get too cold – but stay with us!

Whilst it’s a good idea to turn your thermostat down by one degree for a consistently slightly lower temperature, jumping back and forth between temperature extremes is not!

We often see people trying to save money by turning their thermostat right down at night whilst everyone’s in bed. And this seems to make sense, because you’ve got your big heavy duvet to keep you warm at night.

The problem with letting your home get too cold

But the problem with this, is that when you get out of bed, the house will be freezing and you’ll want to crank the thermostat up to get your house warm again.

In this situation, your boiler will have to work much harder to get your home back to your preferred temperature.

And you might even fall into the trap of mistake number 1, and turn your thermostat to a temperature much higher than you actually want, mistakenly thinking that this will get your home warm faster.

Instead of doing this, you should turn your thermostat down by just 1 or 2 degrees at night.

This way you’ll still be saving on your energy bills, but it will avoid the inevitable wear-and-tear that jumping between temperature extremes will have on your boiler. 

Another tip is to program your thermostat to start heating to your desired day-time temperature about half an hour before you have to get up, so you’re nice and toasty when you roll out of bed.

4.   Common heating mistakes: Not using heating controls

Vaillant sensoCOMFORTIt’s surprising how many people are either using no heating controls at all, or have really old ones –  because heating controls are a fairly cheap way of making huge savings on your energy bills.

You can upgrade or install heating controls without replacing your boiler, and it’s a particularly good idea to think about this if your controls are more than 14 years old.

Room thermostats, for example, are much more accurate now than they used to be.

According to The Energy Saving Trust, a typical three-bed semi-detached house would save about £75 a year by installing a thermostat; programmer; and thermostatic radiator valves.

Not only that but installing the heating controls we’ve just mentioned would reduce your carbon dioxide emissions by a staggering 320kg every year!

Types of heating controls

Hands operating a Nest smart thermostat via a smartphone.The type of heating control you need depends on the type of heating system you have. But these are the general types available:

  • Timer – these are the simplest type of control because they simply turn your boiler on and off at preset times.
  • Programmer – programmers allow you to set your heating and sometimes hot water to switch on and off at different times on different days of the week (rather than only over a 24 hour period).
  • Room thermostat – these are load compensating thermostats. They turn the heating on until the room reaches the temperature you have manually set and then off until the temperature drops below your desired temperature.
  • Thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs) – TRVs attach directly to the top or bottom of your radiators, letting you control the temperature of individual rooms. This means that you can turn down the heat in rooms you are not using, which will save energy.
  • Smart heating controls – allow you to control your heating remotely via an app. They make your home heating fully personalisable, whilst also being simple to use and accessible from anywhere.

Savings with smart controls

A statistic about Tado smart heating.Smart controls offer the biggest energy efficiency savings, with some manufacturers promising energy savings of between 20-30%.

Tado says that its smart thermostat ‘will pay for itself within a year’ by reducing your heating bills by up to 31%.

Netatmo claims that its smart thermostat will reduce the energy you use by 37%.

According to Ofgem, a smart thermostat can bring savings of around £150 per year.  Ofgem (2014) estimates that a multi zoned heating system could save up to £400 on the annual dual fuel bill of £1385.

But all of these estimates assume that you previously left your heating on all the time, to maintain a constant temperature. So if you already turn off the heating when you leave your home, you’re unlikely to save as much as the manufacturers claim.

As well as investing in heating controls (smart or otherwise) you should think about how you’re actually using them.

If you just turn your heating up to full blast in the winter, hoping for the best, this will waste energy because you don’t need the heating to be on full blast 24/7 to be comfortable, and you probably don’t need all your rooms to be at the same temperature at all times.

You might like our related blog: Does smart heating save money?

5.   Common heating mistakes: Not booking your annual boiler service.

Unfortunately, people often underestimate the importance of their annual boiler service, until they run into a problem.

But you shouldn’t wait until misfortune strikes in the form of a breakdown, to call in an engineer.

Although most people wouldn’t dream of driving their car without a valid MOT, a survey conducted by The Gas Safe Register found that a worrying 24% of homeowners have either never had their boiler serviced, or haven’t had it serviced once a year as recommended.

This is alarming because if a gas appliance has been improperly fitted, repaired or maintained, its vents, flues, or chimneys may have become blocked – making it unsafe.

Unsafe gas appliances can result in gas leaks; fires and explosions; and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Thankfully all these dangers can be easily avoided by making sure that you have a gas safety check once a year by a Gas Safe registered engineer. 

Not only will your service ensure that your boiler is running safely, it will also help you to avoid a breakdown; maximise the lifespan of your boiler; maintain your boiler’s efficiency; and maintain your boiler’s guarantee.

6.   Common heating mistakes: Not bleeding your radiators

Radiators before and after being bled.Despite being crucial in warming up your rooms, radiators are often overlooked and neglected.

But there’s not much point investing in an all-singing-all-dancing energy efficient boiler if your radiators can’t do their job because they’re full of air.

During normal use, it’s very common for air to build up in your heating system and collect at the top of your radiators.

When this happens, the hot water provided by your boiler can’t circulate around the radiator like it should, and that’s when you’ll notice your radiators aren’t getting warm quick enough or have some large and annoying cold patches.

There’s a simple fix for this. All you need to do is use your radiator bleed key to open a valve (usually at the top of the radiator) to release the air and allow the hot water to flow properly.

7.   Common heating mistakes: Not cleaning your heating system

Statistics from BEISIt might surprise you to learn that your heating system needs the occasional clean too!

Lots of people aren’t getting the best out of their heating system because it’s full of sludge.

This can make a big difference to how efficiently your system will run. A report by BEIS in 2021 found that the build-up of sludge can reduce the efficiency of central heating systems by 15%.

So, sludge in your heating system could result in you paying 15% more than you need to be on your fuel bills!

But where does this ‘sludge’ come from?

Unfortunately, over time, the water in your heating system will pick up rust, dirt and other debris. This collects and turns into a muddy substance that we know as ‘sludge’.

Left untreated, this sludge will cause corrosion and blockages. A power flush is the answer here – it’s a complete clearing of the system getting rid of any build up of sludge and limescale.

8.   Common heating mistakes: Not insulating your home

Although spending money on insulation isn’t particularly appealing, because you can’t even see this particular home improvement – failing to insulate your home is a big mistake.

Without proper insulation, heating or cooling your house will require a lot more energy.

Think of it this way – do you really want all that lovely warm air that you’ve paid good money for, just rising up, and being lost straight out of your roof?

Because that’s precisely what’s happening if you don’t have good insulation. And not just through your roof either…

According to the Energy Saving Trust, the following estimates indicate the proportionate heat loss from a badly insulated house: 25% of your heat can be lost through the roof; 35% through outside walls; 25% through doors and windows; and 5% can be lost through ground floors.

So from these figures it’s easy to see how Insulation is one of the best investments in your home you can make. Your reduced fuel bills will cover the initial outlay time and time again. 

For more on reducing heat loss, read our related blog: How to reduce heat loss at home.

9.   Common heating mistakes: Not draught proofing your home

Not draught proofing is another big mistake that people make, because it’s one of the cheapest and easiest ways to cut your fuel bills.

Perhaps it’s overlooked because it’s such a simple concept – stop cold air coming in, and prevent warm air from going out.

At its simplest, you just find any holes or gaps where air can be coming in or out, and plug them with something.

This could be as simple as getting draught excluders for your doors; using heavy curtains; and using a chimney balloon when your chimney isn’t in use.

But don’t knock it because it’s simple – The Energy Saving Trust says that if every home were to use draught proofing, the total energy savings could be worth as much as £190 million, and the energy saved would heat nearly 400,000 homes!

Think about your windows

When you’re thinking about drought proofing, it’s also worth looking at your windows. You can stop heat escaping through your windows by using double or triple glazing.

If you’re looking to install double glazing in your home, but are confused by all the choices available, look for the British Federation Rating Council (BFRC) rating.

Similarly to how boilers are rated for their efficiency, windows are too. Window manufacturers can show the energy efficiency of their products using an energy-rating scale from A++ to E.

Whilst there will be a cost to fitting double glazing, the annual savings on your energy bills for an average semi-detached house, is between £75-80, according to the EST.

Final thoughts…

We hope that you’ve found this blog helpful.

If you’re thinking about improving the efficiency of your home with a new boiler, call us today for tailored advice.

Useful Links:

Energy Saving Trust article on thermostats and heating controls

BEIS Household Energy Efficiency headlines Feb 2021

Energy Saving Trust article on draught proofing

The Greenage article on draught-proofing

Which? Tips to reduce your heating bills

Tado savings

Categories
Advice

Where should I install my boiler?

A man holding a question mark.Where should I install my boiler?

If you’re unhappy with the position of your current boiler; or you’re planning on getting a new one; you may be wondering where the best place to install it is.

You might want to change the position of your current boiler if your boiler’s keeping you awake at night; is taking up too much space; or you’re planning a renovation.

If you’re changing from a heat-only; or a system boiler; to a combi boiler; you might have additional options of where to locate your new boiler. Since you’ll no longer need an additional hot-water cylinder.

The good news is that boilers can be safely installed in many different rooms around your home.

But it’s important to choose a Gas Safe registered engineer who will ensure compliance with the Building Regulations.

In this article, we address some frequently asked questions about locations for boiler installations. And outline some factors that affect whether your boiler can be moved.

Where should a boiler be positioned?

Your boiler can be installed in a variety of different locations; if you use a Gas Safe engineer who follows the Building Regulations.

The Building Regulations are designed to make sure buildings are safe to use and inhabit. The Regulations set out detailed rules on the installation of boilers; and these will determine where your boiler can be located.

One of the most important regulations is that the boiler’s flue can be safely routed from a suitable location; where it won’t cause nuisance or danger. This is vital in ensuring that the waste gases produced by your boiler are carried safely outside of your home.

The boiler installation manual gives the minimum legal distances the flue terminal must be from windows; air bricks; other buildings; etc, to comply with Building Regulations.

It’s also important that your boiler is positioned so that it can be easily accessed by a heating engineer; for servicing and maintenance. If it’s located in a cupboard, it must meet ventilation and fire safety standards.

Can a boiler be moved?

Moving your boiler to a different location is possible if you’re not happy with its current position. You can also have a new boiler installed in a new position, rather than just replacing like-for-like.

But moving your boiler can be a tricky (and sometimes costly) job, so you shouldn’t rush into the decision…

Things to consider before relocating your boiler

There are several factors that you should consider before moving your boiler:

Why does your boiler need to be moved?

First off, you should think about what you’re hoping to achieve by moving your boiler. So that you can decide whether it’s worth the hassle.

If your current boiler’s old; or isn’t working like it used to; you should also consider upgrading your boiler and relocating it at the same time.

Where would you like your boiler to move to?

When deciding to move your boiler, you should think long and hard about where you want it moving to.

There are places that can become inconvenient for a boiler; so you should think about how you’re likely to be using your home over the next few years.

Are you planning any future renovations that would be affected by your boiler’s position?

Is your family likely to grow, and need a particular space that you’re not using now?

Do you want to upgrade as well as relocate your boiler?

If you’re thinking about moving your boiler; you should consider whether you want to take the opportunity to change to a totally different type of boiler system.

Think about whether the type of boiler you currently have (combi, system or heat-only); is still meeting your needs. And whether you have the correct size for your needs. 

Having the correct type and size of boiler will improve your energy efficiency, and help to reduce fuel bills.

The Heating People conduct heat loss calculations as part of your free survey; so that we can match you with your perfect boiler. 

What else would need to be moved or rerouted?

It’s easy to overlook the fact that when you move your boiler, you’ll need to move other stuff too!

For your boiler to work in its new location, it’s pipework will need to be relocated. Depending on how far your boiler’s moving; this could involve lifting carpets and floorboards to reroute the pipework; which can be messy and inconvenient.

You should also consider whether you would need to have a new flue and/or condensate pipe installed.

Your engineer will be able to advise you on precisely what would be involved for your chosen location; to help you make the decision. 

What’s your budget for moving your boiler?

We look at the cost of moving a boiler later. But moving a boiler’s position will increase the cost of installing a new boiler; since the boiler’s infrastructure will also need to be changed.

If you’re planning to build an extension or have some home renovations soon; you may be able to tie changes to your boiler system in with that.

Where should I install my boiler?

Traditionally boilers have been hidden away in cupboards, often close to the bathroom or kitchen. But they don’t have to be.

Modern boilers are quieter and more aesthetically pleasing than ever.

Many carry the Quiet Mark for being whisper quiet; and boilers such as the Worcester Bosch Greenstar 8000 Lifestyle range are design-led and stylish. So maybe you don’t want to hide yours!  

Let’s look at some of the common places that people ask to have their boiler installed in…

Can a boiler be installed in my bathroom?

Yes, you can install a boiler (usually a combi boiler) in your bathroom. And there are a couple of advantages to this too.

Firstly, the boiler will be near one of the rooms that uses most of the hot water. And secondly, it’s likely that the boiler can make use of the pipework already located in the bathroom.

But if you choose the bathroom as the place to house your boiler; there are several regulations that need to be followed, due to the potential dangers of having electrics near water.

Your boiler will need to be enclosed within a cupboard to keep it away from water. But an advantage to this; is that you could have it boxed in to create a nice warm storage space for towels!

Your boiler will need to be positioned so that it isn’t reachable from your bath or shower. And the system’s electrical spur must be located outside of the bathroom.

The current Wiring Regulations and Building Regulations explain the different zones in the bathroom where it’s safe to install a boiler. Your engineer will be able to advise you on this.

Can a boiler be installed in my airing cupboard?

Some homeowners who are replacing a heat-only or a system boiler with a combi boiler; choose to install their new combi in their airing cupboard.

A boiler can be installed in a cupboard providing the minimum clearances given in the manufacturer’s instructions are met.

Can a boiler be installed in my kitchen?

As with a bathroom, the kitchen can be a convenient place to install your boiler. As it’s a place where you use a lot of hot water, and you should have easy access to a drain.

Many modern combi boilers are compact enough to be installed inside a kitchen cupboard. So if you’re prepared to lose some space for your plates, you can tuck your boiler away out of sight.

But if you don’t have a spare kitchen cupboard to house your compact boiler; you could consider building your own boiler cupboard.

Can a boiler be installed in my utility room?

If your home has a utility room; this could be a suitable place to install your boiler because it will be out of the way.  So, if you’d rather not be looking at your boiler, this could be a good option!

Can a boiler be installed in my loft?

Putting your boiler in the loft can sound appealing because it will be well out of your way; freeing up cupboards and space elsewhere in your home.

But the downside to this; is that you may have difficulty accessing your boiler if you ever need to; if you’re elderly or immobile.

Although having said that; having modern heating controls will allow you to control your heating without having to go to your boiler directly.

You’ll also need to consider how accessible your loft is for a heating engineer. It’s a requirement that an engineer can easily access your boiler to carry out maintenance work and your annual service. And they’re not expected to be acrobats!

So, if you opt for this location, you’ll need to make sure that your loft is boarded; has adequate lighting; and a suitable ladder.

There must also be enough space around your boiler; for an engineer to work on it during any future service or repair appointments.

Can a boiler be installed in my bedroom?

A cat relaxing on a bed.A slightly less popular but possible location for your boiler is in a bedroom. If you don’t have a utility room; or you have a very small kitchen or bathroom; it could be a suitable location for you.

But one thing to consider here is whether the noise would be disruptive, particularly if you’re a light sleeper. Although boilers are much quieter than they used to be, they aren’t silent, and will still make some noise.

You might be able to reduce the noise by placing your boiler in a cupboard or wardrobe, however.

Can a boiler be installed in my garage?

If you have a garage, this could be another suitable location for your boiler. As with the loft option, it frees up your living space, and you’re unlikely to hear any noise from it. 

But since garages are colder than rooms inside your home; you may want to consider lagging your pipes – although most modern boilers offer in-built frost protection.

How much does it cost to move a boiler?

Remember that relocating a boiler isn’t as easy as just remounting your boiler somewhere else. The infrastructure to your boiler will need to be changed.

The cost of moving your boiler will vary greatly depending on several factors including:

  • The size of your home;
  • location of your existing services;
  • What type of boiler you currently have;
  • How far your boiler is being moved;
  • Where your boiler is being moved to; and
  • What route the flue would be required to take.

Generally, the further you move your boiler, the higher the cost. This is because of the labour involved and the cost of the materials.

As a rough guide; installing a new boiler in a different position in the same room as your existing boiler will cost around £2,500.

The Heating People would need to provide you with a free quotation to move a new boiler further than this; because the cost will depend entirely on your home and existing services.

Conclusion

A Vaillant boiler with a big ribbon.When it comes to boiler installation; there isn’t one place that’s always best to locate your boiler – every home is different.

Provided that your Gas Safe engineer complies with the Building Regulations; you can safely have your boiler installed in any room; including your loft or garage.

If you want to install a new boiler anywhere, you should contact The Heating People. As part of your free survey; one of our expert engineers will be happy to go through all your options with you.

Useful links

The Heating Hub: Gas boiler Regulations

Gov.uk: Building Regulations 2010

Categories
Advice

Broken boiler? What to do next

Broken boiler? What to do next…

We rely on our boilers more than any other appliance in our homes. We need them to keep us warm, and our showers hot. So, when they run into an issue, it can be alarming. But try not to panic!

Whilst modern boilers are generally very reliable, they are still very complicated machines. They work hard for us 24/7, so it’s inevitable that they will run into a problem from time to time.

And a glitch doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s something wrong with the boiler itself, you might have an issue with fuel supply or a frozen pipe.

But although it’s understandable, it’s no less inconvenient and annoying. Nobody wants to be without heating and hot water, particularly in winter.

So, what should you do if your boiler has suddenly stopped working?

In this guide, we outline some simple checks that you can do to try and figure out what might be going on, and some steps you can take to get up and running again if it’s just a simple niggle.

Broken boiler? Safety First

A hazard sign.But before we get into our ‘niggles’ checklist – we want to add a safety warning here…

Unless you’re a Gas Safe registered engineer, you should never take the cover off your boiler or attempt to ‘fix’ your boiler yourself.

Not only is this against the law (only Gas Safe engineers can legally work on gas), it’s also very dangerous.

So, aside from making the basic checks we discuss below, you should always consult a trained professional.

And if you ever think you can smell gas, you must act fast and follow the steps below – smelling gas is never something you should start investigating yourself!

If you think you can smell gas

If you think you can smell gas, it’s vital that you act immediately. The Gas Safe Register sets out the following steps that you need to take:

  • Get fresh air immediately; make sure you open all doors and windows to ventilate the area.
  • Turn off the gas emergency control valve (also called gas emergency shut off valve) at the meter, unless the meter is located in a basement or cellar or at the LPG bulk tank or storage vessels.
  • Extinguish all naked flames and don’t smoke.
  • Don’t operate electrical switches (including turning light switches on or off) because this can ignite escaping gas.
  • Contact the relevant National Gas Emergency service number (0800 111 999 for England, Scotland and Wales).
  • If the attending emergency operative identifies an issue with any gas appliances, follow their advice concerning the use of the equipment.
  • Where advised, contact a Gas Safe registered engineer to fix the appliance and check it’s safe.
  • If you’re feeling unwell, visit your GP or hospital immediately and let them know you may have been exposed to carbon monoxide.
  • Don’t turn the gas supply on again until it’s been checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

Broken boiler? Things to check

Ok, now we’ve got the serious Gas Safety issue out of the way, let’s get into the checks that you can make if your boiler has stopped working, or is on the blink:

Check whether your thermostat has stopped working

Before blaming your boiler, it’s a good idea to start with the basics, and check that your thermostat is working.

You should check that your thermostat is:

  • switched on with a full charge or working batteries;
  • connected to the Wi-Fi;
  • set to the temperature you want;
  • has not accidentally been switched to ‘holiday mode’.

 

Broken boiler? Check whether your boiler is showing a fault code

A logical place to start when your boiler stops working, is to check for a fault code. Most modern boilers will display a code when they run into a problem.

By checking what the fault code means, you’ll be able to narrow down what this issue is. You can pass this information onto your engineer, or you may potentially be able to address it yourself. 

Different boilers will display different fault codes to indicate different things, so you’ll need to check your boiler’s manual to identify what your boiler’s telling you.

Your manual should contain a chart of fault codes for your boiler, with a description of what the code is signaling, and what action needs to be taken to address it.

If you can’t find your manual, you can use Google to search for an online manual for your boiler.

Check whether you have a problem with your gas, electricity or water supply

Although it’s often overlooked, your boiler will stop working if your power or water supply is disconnected from your boiler.

It’s worth checking the connection to your fuel and power sources, because they could have been switched off accidentally or through a power outage.

To check for issues with your power and fuel, you can check other household appliances to see whether they’re working.

If you find that a power cut has turned your boiler settings off, you can fix this issue yourself by checking your main fuse box and turning the boiler switch on.

If you find that your gas hob isn’t working either, it’s worth contacting your gas supplier who will be able to advise you on any issues in your area.

Broken boiler? Check your boiler’s pilot light

If your boiler is old, you might have a problem with your pilot light.

The purpose of a pilot light is to provide a small flame which lights the gas for your boiler to burn as fuel. If this goes out, your boiler won’t work.

If you have an older boiler, check the state of the pilot light. It should be bright blue. If the pilot light is out, follow the instructions in your boiler’s instruction manual to turn it back on.

If you see a flame, but it’s flickering, dim, orange or a pale yellow then this indicates a problem. You should turn off your boiler and contact a Gas Safe engineer for assistance.

If you don’t have a pilot light at all, don’t panic – this is normal! Most modern boilers use an electronic ignition system instead of a pilot light.

Check whether there’s a problem with your water pressure

Boilers need constant water pressure to function properly. If the pressure drops too low or rises too high, you’ll have a problem. 

Low boiler pressure can cause your system to cut out, preventing your central heating from working.

Alternatively, if there is high boiler pressure, the system will be strained beyond normal capacity and could potentially fail.

You should check your boiler’s pressure gauge to see whether the pressure is at the recommended level. As a rule of thumb, the normal boiler pressure is between 1.0 and 1.5 bars.

Your boiler might also flash an error code to indicate that there is a pressure-related issue.

If the pressure in your heating system has fallen below 1 bar, it needs to be topped up. Boiler pressure systems differ, so it’s always best to check your manual, to see if you can re-pressurise it yourself.

Broken boiler? Check whether you have a leak

If you notice a leak around your boiler, you should contact a Gas Safe engineer immediately.

While you wait for assistance, you should switch your boiler off, and turn the water off at the mains. The stop tap is usually found under your sink.

There are several potential causes of a leak, including:

  • Corrosion of pipes
  • High pressure in your heating system
  • Broken seals
  • Part failure
  • General age/wear and tear

Check whether you have a frozen condensate pipe

If it’s freezing out, it’s possible that your boiler’s condensate pipe has frozen. This pipe takes the wastewater produced by your boiler outside, and into a drain. 

If the condensate pipe freezes, your boiler will automatically shut down as a safety measure until it’s resolved. Your boiler will likely display an error code for this problem on its display panel.

Luckily, this isn’t a big problem, and you can resolve it by thawing the pipe with warm water. After you have thawed the pipe, reset your boiler and wait a few minutes and check that it is working properly.

Broken boiler? Check whether your boiler is making unusual noises

If you suddenly notice your boiler making unfamiliar, loud or strange noises, they could indicate a problem, and are a cause for concern.

Try to determine whether the noise is coming from the boiler itself, or from the pipework; and what sort of sound you are hearing.

For example, does your boiler sound like an aeroplane is taking off?

Or are you hearing banging, whistling, or gurgling?

The sound that your boiler is making can be a clue to the problem, and you should describe it to your heating engineer to help them diagnose the fault.

Check for cold radiators

If your boiler seems to be working, but there isn’t much heat coming from your radiators, it could be a sign that your radiators need bleeding.

Bleeding a radiator means releasing air that has become trapped inside your heating system. The good news is that this is an easy job that you can do yourself, using your radiator bleed key.

If bleeding your radiators doesn’t work, or your radiators have cold spots, this could indicate that your radiators have ‘sludge’ in them, rather than air. In this case, an engineer can cleanse your heating system with a power flush.

Still no luck?

If you have followed these simple checks and your boiler is still playing up, you’ll need to contact a professional.

Don’t ignore any warning signs that your boiler has a problem, because this will allow a fault to develop into a bigger and more expensive one.

And remember, that like with so many things in life – prevention is better than cure!

The best way of avoiding breakdowns is to look after your boiler by having it serviced every year by a Gas Safe engineer.

An annual service will:

  • keep your boiler running smoothly and efficiently;
  • allow any minor issues to be fixed before they develop into more serious ones;
  • maintain your boiler’s guarantee. 

Useful links:

Gas Safe Register: What to do in a gas emergency

Categories
Energy efficiency

How to make your central heating more efficient

A family putting money into a piggy bank next to green shoots.How to make your central heating more efficient…

Looking for some heating and energy saving tips that will help you to save money on your fuel bills?

Then you’ve come to the right place!

We’ve put together this list of 10 tips on how to make your central heating system more efficient.

A more efficient heating system means that you’ll be forking out less money on your energy bills. And will be reducing your carbon footprint too. 

In this blog we’ll look at 10 energy saving tips. Ranging from making small changes around the house, to bigger renovation works.

All these tips can help you to make savings whilst still keeping your family cozy.

1.   Make your central heating more efficient with a power flush

Statistics from BEISHave you been neglecting your heating system?

Although we understand that most things need to be cleaned and maintained in order to perform at their best; (just think about how grim your hoover filter looks, when it’s overdue a clean!); – we don’t often think about cleaning our heating systems. But we should.

Your boiler is working hard for you every day of the year, pumping water all around your house.

But inevitably, over time, this water will deposit unwanted by-products like rust and dirt. This gathers to become a gunky substance, known as ‘sludge’.

Having sludge in your pipes and radiators wreaks havoc with the efficiency of your heating system.

A radiator can’t get hot if it’s full of gunk, and your boiler will be working overtime trying to compensate.

Not only is this likely to increase your energy bills; but it can damage parts of your heating system; leading to breakdowns; and possibly the need for a full boiler replacement.

What is power flushing?

Before and after a power flush.But there is a simple solution – a power flush.

A power flush is a cleansing process which cleans your entire central heating system; removing the sludge, which would otherwise cause damage and reduce efficiency.

So, if your radiators haven’t been warming up like they used to (and they don’t need bleeding); it might be worth asking your heating engineer about getting a power flush.

During a power flush your engineer will connect a pump to your central heating system. This pump will push chemicals and a descaler through the pipes, boiler and radiators at a high pressure.

These chemicals remove sludge, rust, and limescale.

They will also use a corrosion inhibitor to help prevent future rust from forming. Your Gas Safe engineer will collect and dispose of any contaminated water; debris; or particles that they remove from the system. 

Depending on the condition of the system; your engineer may also use special tools on the exterior of the radiator to dislodge stubborn blockages.

They should be able to measure the temperature of your radiators before they have started work; and then show you the improvement after the power flush.

2.   Make your central heating more efficient with a new boiler

An ATAG Economiser Plus.If your boiler is on-the-blink; or is coming to the end of its lifespan; and a power flush just won’t cut it – you should consider replacing it with a new efficient model.

Boilers are much more efficient than they used to be. And a more efficient boiler will save you money on your energy bills.

To find out how efficient your boiler is; look for a sticker showing where it sits on the ErP (Energy-related Products) scale.

Boilers are rated on a scale of A to G, with A being the most energy efficient.

The Boiler Plus Regulations require that new combi boilers are A rated for efficiency; and are at least 92% efficient. Older Grated boilers can have an efficiency of 70% or less.

If your boiler is at the lower end of the scale; your boiler could be wasting more than 30p in every £1 that you spend on fuel. So the savings can be big!

Not only that, it’s also a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. Because boilers account for 60% of the carbon dioxide emissions in a gas heated home.

You might like our related blogs: 6 signs you need a new boiler; and 6 Top tips for buying a new boiler.

3.   Make your central heating more efficient by replacing your radiators

A mother and child sat above a radiator.It’s not just boilers that have become more efficient,  radiators have come a long way too.

According to Chris Harvey at Stelrad Radiators; radiators manufactured after 2000 can be up to 50% more efficient than older ones. This is due to the increased surface area of newer radiators and the improved convection fins.

People often fall into the trap of thinking that bigger radiators must be better at warming your home; because they have more area to ‘radiate’ heat from. This is an understandable mistake.

But the name ‘radiator’ is misleading. Only 20% of the heat generated by a standard radiator is radiant heat – 80% is caused by convection.

And radiators that are sized to run at a cooler temperature, while still heating your room; allow your boiler to work more efficiently.

This is because modern gas condensing boilers are more efficient at lower temperatures. And are only fully condensing when the flow temperature is below 55℃.

So, if you’re upgrading your boiler, it’s well worth looking at your radiators too.

4.   Make your central heating more efficient with insulation

Thermal image of a house losing heat.When your central heating’s on, you want it to be warming you up, and not your garden!

But if your loft hasn’t been insulated, you’ll have lots of heat loss.

Lofts are one of the most common places in the home for warmth to escape from. All homes lose heat, but adding insulation will slow this process down.

 Insulating your loft, or thickening any insulation that’s already there; is an effective way to retain heat where you want it. The same is true of filling your cavity walls with insulation.

According to the Energy Saving Trust, with decent loft insulation, you could save between £120 and £225 a year. And filling your cavity walls could save you between £70 and £255 a year.

5.   Make your central heating more efficient by replacing your windows

Can you feel a draft coming in through your windows? That means your heat is getting out, too – and you don’t want that!

Heat loss through windows can be reduced by using double or triple glazing.

These windows have air or a vacuum between two or three panes of glass; which are then sealed in a frame.

Just like how a vacuum flask works for keeping your tea warm; creating a vacuum between the panes of glass, will reduce the heat loss through your windows.

If you’re looking to install double glazing in your home; but are confused by all of the choices available; look for the British Federation Rating Council (BFRC) rating.

Similarly, to how boilers are rated for their efficiency, windows are too. Window manufacturers can show the energy efficiency of their products using an energy-rating scale from A++ to E. 

Whilst there will be a cost to fitting double glazing; the annual savings on your energy bills for an average semi-detached house, is between £75-80, according to the EST.

But if you can’t quite stretch to secondary glazing right now, even some heavy curtains will help!

6.   Make your central heating more efficient with programmable heating controls

A woman controlling a Nest Smart Thermostat.If your heating system is poorly programmed or has limited to no controls, you’ll be wasting lots of energy.

Updating your heating controls can make a big difference to how much energy your home uses.

Heating controls are really important for two main reasons. Firstly, they keep you in control of your comfort and your energy bills; and secondly, they help you to reduce your carbon footprint. 

Heating controls allow you to keep your home warm and cosy when you need it to be; whilst simultaneously keeping your energy bills as low as possible.

According to the Energy Saving Trust (EST), you can save £75 a year if you install and correctly use a programmer; room thermostat; and thermostatic radiator valves.

Another advantage of updating your heating controls is the added comfort and convenience that they bring.

Heating controls make your heating work for you and your schedule. They allow you to schedule your heating and hot water to go on and off when needed. And smart controls allow you to control your heating from wherever you are.

You’ll have the peace of mind in knowing that your home will be nice and cozy when you get home from work; without wasting energy heating an empty home.

7.   Make your central heating more efficient by turning your thermostat down by one degree

Lots of people mistakenly believe that if they crank their thermostat up when the cold weather hits; their home will warm up faster. But this is a mistake!

Thermostats have no control over the speed at which your home heats up. They simply set the desired temperature of your heating.

So, if you fall into this trap, you won’t get warmer any quicker. And chances are, you’ll just heat your home past your desired temperature, wasting more energy and money.

What you should be doing, is turning your thermostat down by one degree. Let’s be honest, you probably won’t even notice one degree difference in your room temperature. But you will on your heating bills!

According to the Energy Saving Trust, this one simple tip could reduce your energy bills by around £80 a year.

Maybe you’d still be comfortable turning it down by more than one degree?

Why not try turning your heating controls down until you find the best temperature for your comfort levels; and your wallet!

8.   Make your central heating more efficient by spending less time in the shower and fitting a water saving showerhead

Showers are the greener option to taking a bath, right? Not necessarily.

According to a study by Unilever, the average person takes an eight-minute shower. Which uses 62 litres of hot water, compared with an average bath’s 80 litres.

The study also suggested that if you use a power shower; then an eight-minute shower would require twice as much water and energy as a bath.

So, if you’re spending twenty minutes or more in the shower, you’re probably using much more energy than you think!

There are a couple of simple tricks to try here. One option is to fit a water saving showerhead; because this will help you to cut back on the amount of water and energy you use.

Secondly, if you cut the length of your shower by just two minutes; you could save £20 a year, according to Which.

9.   Make your central heating more efficient by requesting an energy monitor

Do you know how much energy you waste? You can find out by investing in an energy monitor.

These little devices let you know how much electricity you’re using; so you can cut back where you need to, and save money on your energy bills.

They cost around £25 to £40 but some gas and electricity companies give them to customers for free.

So, if you want to be able to keep a closer eye on the amount of electricity you’re using at home; you could ask your energy supplier for an energy monitor.

10.  Make your central heating more efficient with weather compensation

A diagram of weather compensation.Weather compensation controls are one of the energy saving devices listed in the Boiler Plus regulations.

We prefer weather compensation devices over the other options; because they offer the biggest efficiency gain and are a simple technology to integrate.

Weather compensators allow your boiler to automatically adapt to how warm or cold it is outside.

This sounds a bit strange, but the speed at which we lose the heat from our homes (through the fabric of the building) depends on the outdoor temperature.

On a cold day, the heat will be lost more quickly than on a warm day.

A weather compensator tells your boiler to increase or decrease the temperature of your radiators to match the heat loss caused by the weather.

This means you won’t be wasting energy heating a home when it’s already nice and warm; or having to worry about it coming on when it’s cold.

ATAG boilers come with weather compensation as standard, which is one of the many reasons we rate them.

Final thoughts…

We hope you’ve found these tips helpful. You might like our related blog: How to choose an energy efficient boiler.

To discuss any upgrades to your central heating system that you’re thinking of making, contact The Heating People today.

Useful Links:

Energy Saving Trust information on insulation

Which? reviews of energy saving shower heads

Which? article on saving water at home

BBC news article on Britain’s showering habits

Article on radiator efficiency

Categories
Advice

What to ask when getting boiler quotes

What to ask when getting boiler quotes…

Getting a new boiler is a big investment, and you want to be sure you’re getting it right.

Here at The Heating People, we know our stuff, and we welcome questions so that you know that you’ve made the right choice for your home.

In this guide, we help you to ask the right questions, so you can get a feel for how professional and knowledgeable your heating engineer is, before installing your boiler.

You might like our related blog: 6 Top tips for buying a new boiler.

What to ask: Do I need to replace my old boiler?

A zombieHave you noticed your boiler is struggling to do what it used to do; is breaking down regularly; or is not working at all?

If so, you might be wondering whether you should try to repair what you have; or whether the time has come for a replacement. 

You should read: 6 signs you need a new boiler.

But here are just a few warning signs to look out for:

  • Your boiler is in its ‘golden years’;
  • You’ve noticed that your energy bills have crept up without explanation;
  • Replacement parts are hard to find;
  • Your heating system isn’t working like it used to or keeps breaking down;
  • You’ve noticed strange noises from your boiler or radiators;
  • Your boiler is leaking;
  • You have no heating or hot water.

The Heating People are happy to talk to you about how your current system is working for you, and whether it’s time for an upgrade, contact us today.

What to ask: Is my current boiler still under guarantee?

A woman relaxing on a sofa.Before investing money in a new boiler, it’s worth checking whether the guarantee on your old boiler is still active.

Even if your current boiler is old, it might still be under a guarantee. If you still have one, this means that your boiler manufacturer has a legal obligation to repair or replace the boiler within a reasonable period of time without quibble.

All new boilers from The Heating People come with a guarantee of up to 14 years.

What to ask: Are you Gas Safe?

Only Gas Safe engineers can legally work on gas. You can read more about why this is so important, in our related blog here.

Ask your heating engineer to confirm that they’re Gas Safe registered by giving you their registration details.

All of our team at The Heating People are highly trained and accredited engineers, who will ensure all work is carried out safely, and in accordance with the law.

What to ask: Are you Heat Geek Accredited?

Find out if your engineer is Heat Geek Certified.

Heat Geek Certified engineers have undergone the best heating design training the industry has to offer.

This certification ensures knowledge of heating systems and system design to maximise the efficiency of your heating system.

The Heating people are proud to be Heat Geek Elite installers and Heat Geek Assured heat pump installers.

What to ask: What type of boiler is best for my home?

It’s important that you choose the type of boiler that’s best for your needs and lifestyle.

All modern boilers are condensing boilers but there are three different types of boiler system available. These are: heat-only or conventional boilers; combi boilers; and system boilers.

Contact The Heating People to get tailored advice on what type of boiler is right for your home.

What to ask: Do you complete a heat loss calculation before specifying a boiler?

Whole house heat loss calculations are the industry standard for sizing boilers under Part L of the Energy Efficiency Regulations.

These regulations provide guidance on the conservation of fuel and power under The Building Regulations Act 2010.

This Energy Efficiency Best Practice means that a new boiler should not be installed without having first completed a heat loss calculation. So any installer who isn’t doing one, shouldn’t be installing a boiler!

Rest assured that The Heating People always complete a heat loss calculation as part our quotation process.

This is because an undersized boiler will not heat your home properly, and an oversized boiler will work inefficiently, and is likely to fail prematurely.

By completing a heat loss calculation, we can find the most energy efficient boiler for your home and lifestyle.

What to ask: Which boiler manufacturer do you usually install and why?

A range of different boilersThe Heating People can work with all boiler manufacturers. But we have our favourites!

The Heating People’s favourite heat-only boilers are Worcester and ATAG.

For combi systems, we recommend the Vaillant ecoTEC Exclusive 835 with Green iQ and the ATAG iC Economiser Plus because they have built-in flue gas heat recovery making them more efficient than standard boilers.

In terms of system boilers, we rate ATAG due to the advanced control options available; high build quality; and relatively low cost.

We are experts in our field, so feel free to ask us about the pros and cons of the manufacturers that you’re looking at.

You might also like to read: The best combi boilers 2022.

What to ask: How efficient is my new boiler?

A family putting coins in a piggy bank.Make sure that you ask what the efficiency rating of the new boiler will be. A more efficient boiler will save you money on your energy bills.

The Boiler Plus legislation requires that all boilers must now have a minimum ErP (Energy related Products) rating of 92%.

And all gas and oil boilers must have appropriate time and temperature controls fitted. In addition, when installed, combi boilers must have one of four add-on efficiency measures.

What to ask: Do I need new heating controls?

Google Nest smart thermostat and a smartphone.If your heating controls are very old, there are lots of benefits to replacing them.

Heating controls and smart controls can create a more consistently comfortable environment for you; and are more convenient.

Modern heating controls also offer efficiency benefits which allow you to save money on your energy bills, as well as reducing your carbon footprint.

The Heating People ensure that all the systems and products that we recommend, offer you the best in terms of cost effectiveness and energy efficiency.

What to ask: Is there a guarantee with my new boiler?

ATAG iC boiler.Ask about the guarantee that will come with your new boiler.

A new boiler will come with a guarantee, so that in the event that your boiler develops a fault or breaks down, the manufacturer will send an engineer to fix or replace your boiler at no extra cost.

New boilers with The Heating People come with a guarantee of up to 14 years.

What to ask: Does my boiler automatically register for its guarantee?

Once The Heating People have installed your new boiler, we will register it with the manufacturers to activate its guarantee.

We will also notify your local building control of the installation on the Gas Safe register.

Remember that you will need to have your boiler serviced annually to maintain its guarantee.

What to ask: Will my heating system be flushed as part of the installation process?

Before and after a power flush.Depending on how clean your existing system is, and on your budget, The Heating People can offer various types of flush with every installation.

This ensures that your new boiler runs as efficiently as possible, and is not hampered or damaged by a dirty or clogged system.

What to ask: Where will my new boiler installation be?

This depends on your current boiler’s location and whether you’re looking to change your whole heating system, or just replace like-for-like.

Generally, the easiest and cheapest place for boiler replacements is in the same location as the old one. This is because the pipes are already there.

But, if you’re converting from a system boiler to a combi system, there’s a good chance that the cold and hot water pipes will have to be run to the new boiler.

Generally, a boiler can be installed anywhere, providing that we can route a flue to a suitable external termination point.

What to ask: How long will my boiler installation take?

How long a boiler replacement will take, will vary depending on what work is needed, if your boiler is moving location or if you are swapping like-for-like.

As a guide, a boiler replacement typically takes between one and three days.

What to ask: How much will a new boiler cost?

The price of replacing a boiler costs less than you might think.

It obviously depends on what you are changing from, and what you are changing to. But as a rough guide, at The Heating People:

  • Replacing an existing combi boiler with a new combi boiler will cost between £1800-3000.
  • Changing from a heat-only boiler to a combi boiler will cost between £2200-£3500.
  • Swapping a heat-only boiler to a new heat-only boiler will cost between £1800-3000.
  • Replacing a heat-only to a system boiler will cost between £1800-3000.
  • Swapping a system with a new system will cost between £1800-3000.

What to ask: Do you balance the heating system as part of the installation process?

Most heating engineers will balance a heating system to make sure that all radiators feel hot. At The Heating People, we will complete a full hydronic system balance to ensure that your boiler is working as efficiently as it can.

What to ask: What is your after-care service like?

At The Heating People, we take great pride in our after service. We can offer service and maintenance packages to ensure that your boiler stays in perfect working order.

If you would like more detailed answers to these, or any other questions, please feel free to contact one of our friendly team at The Heating People.

Final thoughts…

We hope you’ve found this guide helpful. A boiler is a big investment, so make sure you ask the right questions!

Useful Links:

https://www.heatgeek.com/find-a-heat-geek/

Categories
Advice

How to top up the water pressure in your boiler

A cold woman with no hot water.How to top up the water pressure in your boiler…

Are you feeling the pressure? Or more specifically, the lack of it?

If you’ve been experiencing boiler problems such as a lack of hot water; it could be that low pressure in your boiler is to blame.

This is because modern boilers require constant water pressure in order to function properly.

If your boiler is losing pressure, it will cause problems, such as the dreaded, no hot water, situation.

The good news is that low pressure is usually easy to spot. And, in some cases, you can address it yourself.

To help you stay calm under low pressure; here’s our handy guide to what low pressure is, and how to fix it.

What is the difference between water pressure and boiler pressure?

It’s easy to get confused between the terms boiler pressure and water pressure; but they actually refer to two different things.

Boiler pressure refers to the pressure of hot water running in your sealed central heating system; while water pressure is the pressure of the water coming through your taps.

What is boiler pressure and why does it matter?

Your gas central heating system works by heating cold water and pumping it around your pipes and radiators.

Older heating systems may have used a small storage cistern in the loft to supply water into the heating system.

But most modern (and some older) heating systems are sealed.

This means that there aren’t any vents to manage the water expanding and contracting as it heats and cools. Instead, the system is pressurised in order to ‘push’ the water around your system.

To work efficiently, your boiler must maintain a stable pressure; which is determined by the volume of water in your heating system.

What pressure should a boiler be at?

It’s important that your boiler pressure is just right.

Low boiler pressure can cause your system to cut out, preventing your central heating from working.

Alternatively, if there is high boiler pressure, the system will be strained beyond normal capacity and could potentially fail. Re-pressurising your boiler will help to keep your boiler working well.

Not all boilers will experience these difficulties though.

The Worcester Bosch Greenstar 8000 boasts an optional unique intelligent filling system. This new technology ensures that your system pressure is kept at its optimum level. Which is great if you’re sick of the problems associated with high or low boiler pressure.

The intelligent filling system monitors the boiler pressure and automatically maintains the system pressure at around 1.3bar; removing the need for you to manually top up the boiler pressure.

But if you don’t have this, read on!

What causes boiler pressure to drop?

Although the pressure gauge on your boiler will alert you to the fact you’re losing pressure; unfortunately, it can’t tell you why. There are several potential reasons why your boiler pressure keeps dropping:

Pressure drop caused by leaks

The main culprit for a loss of pressure, is that water is escaping from somewhere in your heating system. In other words, you have a leak.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll see water gushing out of a burst pipe; or you’re wading through a flood though.

A leak may well be tricky to spot.  A tiny leak anywhere throughout the pipework in your home; which may be underneath a floorboard; could lead to a gradual drop in pressure if it’s gone unnoticed for some time.

You can trace the pipes around your home to look for signs of damp patches. Pay particular attention to the joints and bends of the pipes, where seals might have weakened over time.

Radiators before and after being bled.Pressure drop caused by bleeding radiators

Another potential reason for a loss of pressure is if you’ve bled your radiators recently.

This is because boiler pressure relies on the perfect balance of air and water in the sealed system. When you bleed a radiator, air (and possibly some water) is released, which lowers the pressure in your boiler system.

After you’ve bled your radiators you should check the pressure gauge on your boiler.

If the pressure is correct, the needle gauge on your boiler will be facing green. If it’s on yellow then you will need to re-pressurise the system, using the steps outlined below.

Pressure drop caused by a faulty pressure relief valve (PRV)

Pressure relief valves, as their name suggests, are designed to prevent a buildup of pressure in your boiler.

The valve opens to release pressure when the level becomes too high; usually when the boiler exceeds 3 bars. And closes again when the pressure has dropped to within a safe range.

If this valve becomes faulty; it will start leaking water from the central heating system; which can cause a drop of pressure. 

You can check for this by looking for a small copper pipe exiting your property; which is usually close to the boiler or cylinder.

If this is dripping, you need to call a Gas Safe engineer to change the valve.

Pressure drop caused by a damaged expansion vessel

Another potential cause of a loss of pressure is a faulty expansion vessel.

Expansion vessels act like a shock absorber; keeping the pressure in a combi boiler stable while water expands as it heats and contracts as it cools.

If this valve fails, your boiler pressure will rise to 3 bars when it heats up. The valve will then let out the pressure from the boiler, so it can return to a safe level. This will cause a significant drop in the pressure gauge.

During your annual service, your expansion valve will be re-pressurised, which will hopefully avert this problem.

What pressure should my boiler/heating system be at?

If you have a system or a combi boiler; it will usually have a pressure gauge built into the appliance itself. But you might be wondering what pressure it should be at.

As a rule of thumb, the normal boiler pressure is between 1.0 and 1.5 bars.

It’s normal for this pressure to increase slightly when the system gets hot. But if the pressure in your heating system is over 2.5 bar; you may already have a fault, or a fault might be developing.

How can I check my boiler pressure?

 Checking your boiler pressure is very simple. The pressure gauge will usually be on the front part of your boiler.

If you have a digital gauge, you should see a flashing pressure reading, if there’s a low (or high) pressure warning.

If you have a hydraulic pressure gauge, the correct boiler pressure will be indicated with a green zone. And the maximum safe operating pressure with a red zone.

 When the heating system is cool, the pressure should be between 1 and 1.5 bar on the pressure gauge; and the indicator needle should be in the green section.

If the pressure is below 0.5 bar, down in the red section; water has been lost from the system and must be replaced.

But if the pressure is too high, over 2.5 bars, the needle will be in the red section.

Where the pressure gauge indicates high pressure as a result of over-filling; you’ll need to bleed a radiator until the pressure gauge returns between 1 and 1.5 bar.

Can I fix low boiler pressure myself?

If the pressure in your heating system has fallen below 1 bar, it needs to be topped up.

Boiler pressure systems differ, so it’s always best to check your manual, to see if you can re-pressurise it yourself.

Re-pressurising your boiler means allowing more water to enter the system, from the water mains supply; through something called the filling loop. If in doubt, you should consult a professional.

What is a filling loop?

The filling loop is a small, braided hose with connections on either end.

It provides a temporary connection to the mains so that you’re able add additional water to your heating system.

Because the volume of your heating system is fixed, adding more water increases the pressure.

Filling loops can be either part of the boiler itself, or it can be fitted close by it. They are usually located on the underside of the boiler fixed to the pipework.

How long does it take to repressurise a boiler?

The whole process, including attaching the filling loop; opening and closing the valves; and removing the filling loop; should only take a couple of minutes.

Depending on how low the pressure of your boiler is; you should allow water in through the valves for around 10 seconds. If it takes longer than this, you could have a leak in the system.

Step-by-step – How to top up the water pressure in your boiler

To top up the water pressure in your boiler, follow these steps:

  1. Switch off your boiler and allow it to cool.
  1. Double-check that both ends of the filling loop are securely attached.
  1. Open both valves, to allow cold mains water into the system (you should hear it). To do this, turn the lever(s) or flat headed screws at either end of the flexible braided hose. The levers or screws should be turned individually. They will likely only turn a quarter of a rotation from the off to on position; and you should observe the pressure gauge while you are turning each one.
  1. Wait for the pressure gauge to read 1.5 bar
  1. Close both valves, one after the other. The lever/s (or screws) should then both be turned fully off again to prevent the system pressure from getting too high.
  1. Switch the boiler back on and, if needed, press the reset button.
  1. Undo both ends of the filling loop and remove.

If you accidentally overfill your heating system; you’ll need to reduce the pressure in your system by bleeding your radiators or calling in a professional.

Why won’t my boiler re-pressurise?

If your boiler pressure drops immediately after you’ve followed the steps above; this could indicate a leak somewhere in the system; or a damaged pressure relief valve.

If you’ve tried to re-pressurise the system once and it hasn’t worked, don’t keep trying it. At this stage, you should contact a heating engineer to have a look at what’s going on.

How often should I top up my boiler pressure?

Whatever the cause, your boiler shouldn’t be low on pressure all the time. If you’re having to top up your boiler more than twice a year; you need to call in a professional to get to the bottom of it.

If you have a leak; or a faulty boiler part; and you don’t get it fixed; the situation will get worse. And your boiler could suffer irreversible damage.

 Not only that, repeatedly topping up your boiler allows in oxygen; which will encourage further corrosion and a buildup of sludge. If this happens, you will need a power flush to cleanse your system.

Final thoughts

If you’re regularly having problems with pressure, now might be the time to consider a boiler upgrade.

Contact one of our friendly team at The Heating People, who can provide you with tailored advice.

Useful Links:

Worcester Bosch: Pressure problems

Categories
Advice

How to extend your boiler’s lifespan

How to extend your boiler’s lifespan…

Our boilers are indispensable workhorses that keep our homes warm, and our baths hot all year round. We simply couldn’t live without them.

And yet, they’re often neglected and not given a second thought until they run into a problem.

Nobody wants the expense of having to replace their boiler sooner than they need to, so it makes sense to look after yours.

How long your boiler will last depends on how well you look after it. You can help your boiler run reliably and efficiently for longer by keeping it regularly serviced and well maintained.

We’ve compiled a list of things you can do to help extend the lifespan of your boiler, so that it can keep you warm and comfortable for many years to come.

How long should my boiler last?

The average lifespan for a boiler is about 10-15 years.

Many boiler manufacturers have increased the warranty periods for their boilers in recent years, reflecting the quality and reliability of boilers on the market.

As ATAG Selected Partners, we’re able to offer extended guarantees of up to 14 years on ATAG boilers. And all ATAG boilers come with a lifetime guarantee on their heat exchanger!

But precisely how long your boiler will last, depends on how well you look after it.

How to extend your boiler’s lifespan

Boilers aren’t cheap, so here are some steps that you can take to ensure that your boiler provides you with stress-free and reliable service for as long as possible:

Extend your boiler’s lifespan by starting well!

Extending the lifespan of your boiler starts from before it’s even out of the box! To get off to the best start, you should:

Choose a quality boiler

An ATAG installation by The Heating People.Not all boilers are created equal, and as the adage goes: Buy cheap, buy twice. It’s important to invest in a good quality boiler, rather than the cheapest option.

Buying a cheaper but inferior boiler is a false economy, because a low-quality boiler is likely to have a much shorter life span than a high quality one.

A boiler that’s initially cheaper to buy, might end up costing you more to run; more in repairs; and you might have to replace it sooner.

So, rather than shopping by price, get expert advice on reliable models from an engineer you can trust.

The Heating People can work with all boiler manufacturers, but in terms of quality, we rate: Worcester Bosch; ATAG; and Vaillant boilers.

Choose the correct size of boiler

Worcester Bosch Greenstar 8000 next to a ruler and a question mark.In addition to choosing a quality boiler, it’s important to install the correct size for your needs.

An oversized boiler will suffer from a problem called ‘boiler cycling’ which will put pressure on its component parts, thereby shortening its lifespan.

An expert engineer will specify the correct size of boiler for your home and lifestyle, after conducting a heat loss calculation for your home.

 

Extend your boiler’s lifespan by using professionals

An engineer advising customers.To keep your boiler running safely, smoothly, and efficiently for as long as possible, you need an expert to maintain it.

You should only allow a Gas Safe registered engineer to install, service or repair your boiler.

Allowing an unqualified person to work on your boiler is illegal and puts yourself and your family at risk of a fire or carbon monoxide poisoning.

Being Gas Safe registered is your assurance that your engineer has had the right training and knows what he or she is doing.

Rest assured that all engineers at The Heating People are Gas Safe registered.

We’re also proud to be certified Heat Geeks, which is your assurance that we have undergone Heat Geek’s in-depth heating system design course. This means that we can get the best out of your boiler and heating system for years to come.

Extend your boiler’s lifespan with regular servicing

Having your boiler serviced annually by a Gas Safe registered engineer will extend its lifespan.

During your service, your engineer will check, clean, and maintain your boiler to keep it running safely and efficiently. This significantly lowers the chances of your boiler developing faults and breaking down.

Research by Which? in 2021 found that the chances of your boiler breaking in its first six years are doubled if you don’t get an annual service.

So, aside from the essential safety checks, a service is a proactive way of ensuring that your boiler stays in good working order. And any minor issues can be fixed before they turn into bigger and more expensive problems.

So, if you want to keep your boiler healthy (and maintain it’s warranty) you need to get booked in for your service!

Extend your boiler’s lifespan by getting repairs done quickly

Regular servicing will help to keep your boiler running smoothly and safely all year round. But if you notice anything unusual with your boiler in between services, you should have it checked right away.

Ignoring warning signs that something’s amiss with your boiler is a bad idea. By kicking the can down the road, you’re running the risk of minor issues turning into major (and expensive) faults.

By getting repairs done quickly, you’ll extend the lifespan of your boiler.

Extend your boiler’s lifespan by testing it in the summer

Although we only tend to think about our boilers in the winter months, we need our boilers all year round.

The Heating and Hotwater Industry Council (HHIC) says that summer is the perfect time to have your boiler serviced to avoid any nasty surprises when winter arrives.

And although your boiler will still be working for your hot water in the summer, it’s a good idea to switch your heating on now and then to keep it ticking over.

Extend your boiler’s lifespan with a magnetic filter

Another way to look after your boiler is to install a magnetic filter. This is a device that collects the corroded metals that can build up in your heating system over time.

The constant movement of water through the metal pipes of your heating system can result in rust, dirt and debris building up. This so-called ‘sludge’ causes blockages and interferes with the smooth running of your boiler.

A magnetic filter attracts the sludge, whilst allowing the water to continue flowing through your heating system. This can help your boiler to last longer and can reduce your energy bills as your system’s efficiency is improved.

But if you have a significant build-up, you may require a power flush. 

Extend your boiler’s lifespan with an inhibitor

A second way to protect your boiler from problematic sludge, is to ask your heating engineer about adding a central heating inhibitor to your heating system.

An inhibitor is a chemical solution which is added to the water in your central heating system. This breaks down the sludge, thereby protecting your boiler from damage caused by blockages, and improving overall efficiency.

Again, an inhibitor won’t be effective if you have a big build-up of sludge, for that you may need a power flush.

Extend your boiler’s lifespan with a power flush

Before and after a power flush.A power flush isn’t something you should do regularly for boiler maintenance, per se. But we’ve included it here, because it’s a solution where you have a big problem with sludge, and magnetic filters or inhibitors simply won’t cut it.

And a power flush can help to extend your boiler’s lifespan, where it’s needed.

A power flush works by sending high-pressure water through your radiators, pipes and boiler. This flushes out any sludge and blockages and allows water to flow freely throughout your system.

This will allow your radiators to heat up properly, and your boiler won’t have to work as hard to heat your home.

Extend your boiler’s lifespan by bleeding your radiators

Radiators before and after being bled.Similarly to when your radiators are full of sludge, your boiler also has to work harder if they’re full of air.

But how does air get into your system?

Well… when water is heated and cooled, air bubbles are produced. Since there is nowhere for the air to escape from, it can build up over time, and can create air pockets inside your radiators. This explains why you sometimes get cold spots on your radiators.

Bleeding your radiators releases the trapped air and ensures that your boiler can heat your home efficiently.

Bleeding your radiators is a simple task that you can do yourself, and all you need is a radiator key. You just need to fit your key into the bleed valve at the top of your radiator, turn it, and the trapped air will be released.

Just remember to have a container to hand to catch any water that trickles out, and close the valve afterwards.

 As a guide, bleeding your radiators once a year should keep them working well. 

Extend your boiler’s lifespan by insulating your pipes

Looking after your boiler extends to looking after its pipes!

In winter, a large number of boiler problems are caused by frozen condensate pipes. A frozen condensate pipe will cause your boiler to stop working completely.

Thankfully, a frozen condensate pipe has a simple fix – you just need to thaw it out with warm water. But to prevent the problem from recurring, you should look at insulating it with pipe lagging.

How do I know if I need a new boiler?

A clock next to a Worcester Bosch boiler.Whilst all the tips in this article will help to extend the lifespan of your boiler, unfortunately it won’t last forever! There will come a time when you’ll need a boiler replacement.

But how do you know when that is?

Your heating engineer will be able to advise you on whether it’s time for you to replace your boiler with a new model.

But you might like to read: 6 signs that you need a new boiler.

If your boiler is approaching the average lifespan of 10-15 years, it won’t be running as efficiently as it once did, and it may not have been that efficient to begin with!

Add to that the extremely high price of gas, and it’s easy to see that you could make big savings with a newer, more efficient model.

For tailored advice on whether it’s time to replace your boiler, contact one of our friendly team today.

Conclusion

Boilers are often overlooked until they’re causing a problem. But if you proactively look after your boiler, you can drastically reduce your chances of a breakdown and extend your boiler’s life.

By following the tips in this guide, your new boiler should last for at least 10-15 years. And you’ll be reducing your chances of having to pay out for costly repairs.

But your boiler won’t last forever. If it’s on its last legs and you’ve followed our guide, then it might be time to invest in a new faithful friend.

Contact The Heating People today to book your free survey.

Useful Links

Heat Geek: Find a Heat Geek

Which? article on preparing your home for winter

Categories
Advice

What happens during a boiler service?

An engineer conducting a boiler service.What happens during a boiler service?

Booking your annual boiler service is one of those chores that can be tempting to put off, particularly if your boiler seems to be working fine.

But regular servicing is vital in ensuring that your boiler stays safe and continues to run smoothly and efficiently for you. 

If you’re thinking about booking your service, you might be wondering what’s involved that makes it so important.

So, we’ve put together a list of checks that your engineer will take when conducting your boiler service, so that you know what to expect on the day.

We also explain why regular servicing is vital, whatever the age and condition of your boiler.

Who should conduct a boiler service?

Before we walk you through what happens during a boiler service, we want to stress that you should only ever use a Gas Safe registered engineer to work on your boiler. 

Only Gas Safe engineers can legally fit, fix, and service gas appliances.

Gas Safe engineers are authorised and regulated by the Gas Safe register. You can ask to check that your engineer is qualified to work on gas, by asking to see their Gas Safe ID card.

To find out why choosing a Gas Safe engineer is so important, you might like to read our related blog here.

Rest assured that our engineers at The Heating People are Gas Safe registered, and all of our work conforms to the highest standards.

What happens during a boiler service?

Now let’s look at what to expect when The Heating People service your boiler.

Just be aware that not all tests or checks will be applicable, it will depend on the type of heating system that you have:

Arrival of your Gas Safe engineer

An engineer advising customers.When one of our expert engineers arrives at your home, they’ll introduce themselves, and check that you were expecting the service.

Before they start, they’ll ask you a few quick questions about how your heating system’s been working recently, and whether you’ve noticed any issues with your boiler.

If your boiler has displayed any fault codes, or has done anything out of the ordinary lately, you should let your engineer know.

Your engineer will then prepare the area and protect your home by putting protective sheeting down, to keep your surfaces clear of any dust and debris.

Then the checks and tests can begin…

Check ventilation requirements

Your engineer will check that any ventilation requirements for the boiler have been met. Although the boiler itself doesn’t require ventilation, the waste gases produced by the boiler need somewhere to go. Your engineer will check that this is safe.

Visual Inspection of boiler and flue

Your engineer will visually check your boiler for any obvious safety defects.

This will involve inspecting your boiler controls to make sure that they are working correctly. Your engineer will look for any corrosion or leaks and will visually check the flame in your boiler.

Removal of the boiler casing

Your engineer will remove the boiler casing will and visually inspect the boiler, internally and externally, for any signs of distress.

Your engineer will check the functioning of the main component parts, such as the burner; heat exchanger; main injector; and spark/sensor probe.

Flue check

Your boiler’s flue is a pipe that carries exhaust gases produced by your boiler outside of your home and releases them into the atmosphere.

It’s very important that this is working properly, so that dangerous gases are not present inside your home. To check this, your engineer will conduct a flue test.

A flue test checks that the flue isn’t obstructed in any way and the flue components are sealed correctly to make sure that there are no unsafe emissions being released. 

Gas checks

Your engineer will conduct a gas pressure check to ensure that your boiler is operating at the right gas pressure. The gas valve will be adjusted to check the burner is combusing efficiently and correctly (using a flue gas analyser). A gas tightness test will be conducted to ensure there are no leaks.

Combustion analysis

Your engineer will use a flue gas analyser to test the products of combustion. This ensures that there are not high levels of carbon monoxide and to make sure the boiler is burning as the manufacturer intended it to.

Cleaning

Your engineer will clean the condensate trap, and if the other tests have indicated that it’s needed, the burner; heat exchanger; electrodes; and magnetic system filter; will also be cleaned.

Check the expansion vessel

Your engineer will check your boiler’s expansion vessel to ensure that it still has water pressure to the manufacturer’s requirements. Your engineer will top this up if needed.

Where safety problems are found

If your engineer discovers any safety defect(s) with your boiler, they will explain this to you, and will either fix them, or act in accordance with the Gas Industry Unsafe Situations Procedure (GIUSP).

If your engineer can’t rectify a safety defect, they’ll discuss with you any remedial action that needs to be taken, and will explain the options to correct the fault(s).

You might like to read our related blog: Condemned boiler? What to do next.

Documentation

Your engineer will complete the Benchmark service record in your boiler’s manual, which is important to maintain your boiler’s guarantee.

If you’re a landlord, you’ll be provided with a Landlord Gas Safety Record to provide to your tenants, as required by law.

Why is it important to have my boiler serviced every year?

Unfortunately, many people overlook the importance of regular boiler servicing.

A survey by the Gas Safe Register found that a worrying 24% of homeowners have either never had their boiler serviced or haven’t had it serviced once a year as recommended. This is a worrying statistic!

Here are the reasons why you should have your boiler serviced annually, regardless of its age:

Regular servicing keeps you and your family safe

One of the most important reasons to have your boiler serviced regularly, is to keep you and your family safe.

After all, your boiler is a gas burning appliance, and we all know that gas can be dangerous.

Boilers have built in safety features to keep us safe. But if you neglect your boiler, faults can develop, leaving your boiler in an unsafe condition.

Unsafe gas appliances pose risk of fires and explosions, as well as carbon monoxide poisoning.

According to the NHS, around 4000 people are reported to go to A&E each year because of carbon monoxide poisoning, and sadly, 60 people will lose their lives.

Regular servicing ensures that your boiler is combusting fuel safely and efficiently, and any small faults can be fixed before they develop into anything potentially life threatening.

Regular servicing prevents problems from arising 

We all know that prevention is better than cure – and servicing your boiler is important for this reason.

You wouldn’t dream of driving a car without having a valid MOT, so it shouldn’t be surprising that something as hard-working as your boiler also requires some upkeep.

Servicing your boiler is a preventative measure to make sure it stays in good working order.

Your engineer will check, clean, and maintain your boiler to keep it running smoothly, and reduce the chances of it breaking down.

And whilst nobody wants to spend money on a boiler service, a service is much cheaper than a big repair bill or having to replace your neglected boiler!

Regular servicing will catch boiler problems early

Related to our point above, regular servicing allows your engineer to catch small problems before they turn into serious faults.

Problems only get worse the longer you leave them, and this could result in your boiler breaking down altogether.

A boiler breakdown is not only inconvenient, but typically more expensive to put right. And if you’ve neglected your boiler too long, it could be a complete write-off, and you’ll need a boiler replacement.

So, addressing boiler problems early will save you the hassle of a full breakdown, and money on future repairs.

Regular servicing maintains boiler efficiency and keeps your bills low

A family putting money into a piggy bank next to green shoots.If you’ve read our blog about boiler efficiency, you’ll know that an efficient boiler can help you to save money on your energy bills.

And the good news is, regular boiler servicing helps to maintain your boiler’s efficiency, thereby keeping your energy bills as low as possible.

But how does a boiler service help with boiler efficiency?

Well, over time, dirt and debris will build up in your boiler, preventing it from working at its maximum performance.

During a boiler service, your engineer will clear the internal combustion areas from dirt and debris, thereby improving the heat transfer. This allows your boiler to light more easily and burn efficiently, which can lead to lower heating bills. 

By having your boiler serviced regularly, you’ll be ensuring that your boiler is working to the best of its ability.

Regular servicing extends the lifespan of your boiler

A boiler is a big investment, and you’ll want it to be keeping you and your family warm and comfortable for as long as possible.

Looking after your boiler with regular servicing will help your boiler to run smoothly and efficiently, and will help to extend its lifespan.

With careful maintenance and regular servicing, your boiler will be able to work hard for you for 10-15 years or even beyond!

Regular servicing maintains your boiler’s guarantee

A viessmann boiler with a 10 year guarantee badge.Another important reason to have your boiler serviced every year is to maintain its guarantee.

We can supply guarantees of up to 14 years with our boilers. This gives you the peace of mind that should any faults develop within that time, they will be repaired free of charge.

But this will only remain valid as long as you keep up to date with regular servicing.

 

Regular servicing is a legal requirement for landlords

If you’re a landlord, a qualified Gas Safe registered engineer must, by law, check your gas appliances and flues annually to ensure that your property is safe for tenants to live in.

As a landlord, you’ll be required to present a gas safety record each year.

When should I get my boiler serviced?

Now that you know why it’s so important to keep up with regular servicing, you might be wondering when’s the best time to have it done.

The Heating and Hotwater Industry Council (HHIC) recommends booking your boiler service during the summer. This is to avoid any nasty surprises when the weather turns colder, and you need your boiler the most.

How long does a boiler service take?

A boiler service usually takes less than an hour, but this depends on what sort of appliance you have, and what condition it’s in.

Final thoughts…

A warm cat relaxing next to a radiator.We hope that you’ve found this article useful in understanding what’s involved in a boiler service, and why regular servicing is so important.

As well as keeping your boiler safe, maintaining your boiler will almost certainly save you money in the long run. Not just on your energy bills, but also in avoiding the cost of repairing or replacing a neglected boiler.

So spare a thought for the most hard-working appliance in your home, and probably the one you rely on the most, and book in for that service!

Check out our realted blog: 5 Benefits of your annual service.

Useful links:

HHIC: When to get your boiler serviced

HHIC: Consumer guide to boiler servicing

The Gas Safe Register