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Saturday, 28 November 2009

Another Gas bill Reduced!

This is a new Potterton 'Promax' high efficiency boiler we recently fitted. It is a SEDBUK Band 'A' rated appliance. It replaced an old Potterton floor standing boiler which must have been forty years old. In the bottom left hand corner of the picture you can see the wet plaster I'd just finished troweling up. This was the former flue hole of the old boiler after it had been made good. It was quite a job lifting the old boiler out as it was a big cast iron, gas guzzling monster!
The cupboard in which it is installed now has more useful floor space as the new appliance is a wall hung model. We converted the system from an inefficient gravity hot water / pumped heating to a fully pumped Honeywell 'Y-plan' scheme. All of the radiators are now fitted with Honeywell thermostatic valves with the exception of the hall where the room thermostat is installed.
The system was being commissioned when the photo was taken and my Anton Flue Gas Analyser is measuring the combustion readings. Our customer will see a big difference in her gas bills now and will have much more control over the system. It will also benefit from having been flushed out, chemically cleansed and treated with corrosion proofing inhibitor.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

A Shocking Example Poor Workmanship

This was an installation by one of our former competitors. I say former as they are now, thankfully no longer in business. In reality they operated on a different level to us and to compare them to us, or to any reputable installer is like comparing fine art to creasoting....
It was a simple installation in a housing association property.
I was called to the property to, amongst other things investigate a report of poor hot water performance from the boiler. I knew straight away who was responsible as I pulled up outside the address. Even by their low standards it was still a shocker. The flue terminal of the new boiler was too close to an openable window. Inside the house one of the plugs was missing from the flue turret elbow {pictured}. Luckily it was the air in take rather than the flue gas outlet or it could have been fatal. Rather than neatly core drilling a hole for the flue an air brick had been smashed and filled with expanding foam {pictured}. The system controls didn't conform and weren't wired up correctly. The combustion had never been set on the boiler. They had left all of the rubbish and waste materials from the job up in the loft. The tenants floorboards had been butchered. The list goes on.....and on.......Whilst it wasn't the worst job I've ever seen it was certainly in the top 10.
We spent the best part of two days carrying out the remedial work and getting the system up and running as it should have been. Everything now conforms and is running efficiently. The tenant has the hot water flow he should have. It's a shame that in these very difficult times ridiculously low tenders are so readily accepted. It's not just in the social housing sector either the private sector is worst. A very apt saying springs to mind ~ If you think hiring a top quality engineer is expensive, then you should try hiring a cheap one!

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

The New Ideal 'Logic' 30 Combination boiler

I attended the grand sounding product launch for this new boiler a couple of weeks back. This is the first one we have fitted and it performed quite well. It was a full new system we installed in a bungalow which previously only had a multipoint water heater.
From a future maintenance point of view there are a couple of components which look a little tricky to access if they need replacing. The hot water flow rates remain the same as the previous two models. I'd have liked to have seen improved flow rates but maybe next time?
Will we be fitting more?
Yes I am sure we will.
Was the customer pleased?
Yes it's a big improvenment on his old multipoint and the radiators are much better than the old economy 7 electric heaters he was previously using.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Real Mens Plumbing / Gas Fitting!

Three of the five external gas meter boxes at some flats we done in Litherland Park. The supply pipes from the meters to the flats was routed in galvanised mild steel on the outside of the building. It is then ordinary mild steel in the communal hallway / stairwell before switching to copper tube inside the flats. The cutting, threading and jointing of the steel brought back happy memories of my apprenticeship were we done a lot of this type of work. All of the joints on this job were cut and threaded using our hand threader. On bigger steel jobs or when working with larger bore pipework we will normally hire a threading machine.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Another New High Efficiency Boiler Installation

Jon Mitchell makes the final electrical connections to a new Vaillant 'Ecotec' 837 condensing combination boiler we fitted this week. It's a boiler we were very impressed with and a fine piece of German engineering. The boiler it replaced was also a Vaillant but a standard efficiency model which was about 15 years old. The customer wanted to stay with the Vaillant brand but wanted to upgrade to a modern high efficiency model. The pipework on the original appliance was rather poorly installed so we tidied it up at the same time and also upgraded the system controls. The customer will now benefit from cheaper gas bills and an improved hot water flow rate at his taps of 15.2 litres / minute. The installation was in a garage and the boiler is flued vertically through the flat roof. The rain stayed off just long enough on Tuesday for us to get the new flashing in placed and all sealed weather tight. We are also going to be looking after all future servicing and maintenance of this boiler.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Boiler Breakdowns

Can we fix it? The answer is yes. Whilst we are mainly installers, boiler breakdowns, servicing and repairs make up a large part of our business too. We pride ourselves on being able to fix any make of boiler unlike many of our competitors. Only this week we fixed a boiler in a commercial premises that two other installers had failed on. One said a new PCB was required costing over £200 just for the part, whilst the other recommended a complete new boiler! It actually turned out to be a small relatively inexpensive component that simply needed replacing.  We keep up to date with all of the new products and technology which is constantly coming out to ensure we are fully conversant in this fast changing sector.
Boiler parts are becoming more and more expensive. Indeed if you bought all the individual parts to build a boiler yourself it would cost you more than buying a complete boiler.
We only use the manufacturer’s genuine parts rather than some of the cheaper universal or copy parts which are becoming more common.
It’s good to see that some of our parts suppliers will now only sell parts to Gas Safe Registered installers. This should go some way to ending some of the botched and dangerous DIY repairs we regularly see on boilers. We are always happy to discuss and advise on any matters relating to boiler repairs and maintenance.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Out With The Old, In With The New

This week’s boiler swap was replacing an old standard efficiency combination boiler, which was about twenty years old, with a poor SEDBUK rating of only ‘G’. This particular appliance was probably around only 62% efficient. The system controls were also not up to standard. We also noted that the gas supply to this boiler was undersized. This will have affected the hot water performance. To make matters worse it had been fitted with the flue terminating too close to an openable window.
We flushed out and chemically cleaned the whole system and removed the old boiler. The former balanced flue hole was bricked up with matching face bricks. The new boiler fitted {pictured above} was an Ideal ‘Espirit’ 35KW model. This is a SEDBUK band ‘A’ rated appliance which is over 90% efficient. It has a hot water flow rate of 14.4 litres / minute which matched the customer’s requirements. The system controls and gas supply were also upgraded.
This customer will now enjoy greater comfort, more hot water and lower fuel bills. The new flue terminates in the correct position too.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Heating Controls

Correct controls on central heating systems are vital. Everyday we see systems with inadequate or incorrect controls which do not conform to the building regulations. Gas and oil which are the main fuels for heating systems are expensive. Incorrect or inadequate controls mean increased fuel bills.
We tend to favour Honeywell controls for all of our installations as their range meets most of our needs. Occasionally we use Drayton or Danfoss controls too.
We are always happy to discuss and advise upon the most suitable and energy efficient ways of controlling your heating and hot water systems. Some energy saving controls attract a reduced rate of VAT and most will pay back your outlay in a short space of time.

Towel Rails

A straight chrome towel rail fitted perfectly in this narrow space in an en suite bathroom, between the doorway and the entrance to the shower cubicle. Space was at a premium and the customers thought they wouldn't be able to fit one in. We can supply and fit a large range of towel rails in straight or curved design and white or chrome finish.

This particular bathroom was stripped out completely. We then replastered the walls and lined the shower area with waterproof tiling board. All service and waste pipes were concealed and walls and floor were fully tiled using waterproof adhesive and sealing with waterproof grout. The tiles were white, broken up with a central border.

The sanitaryware was from Ideal Standard's 'Space' range which we find perfect for small bathrooms. All work was carried out by our own engineers.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Same Some Space

We created a feeling of 'more space' in this lounge by removing the old fire, surround and hearth.
The opening was remodelled to suit this new Valor LFE gas fire with pebbles. This involved bricking up the base of the builders opening and raising the lintel at the top. Some patch plasterwork was also involved. The old gas supply pipe was rerouted and fully concealed.

Gas Fires

We supply and install all manner of gas fires, ranging from basic radiant models for social landlords to the latest state of the art remote control models for discerning homeowners.
We also take care of any associated building work when the opening may need remodelling, surrounds need fitting or flue liners need installing.
There is no need to be sourcing other trades such as bricklayers, plasterers and roofers as we take care of everything.
We can also advise on suitability of chimneys and terminals as not all fires are compatible with all chimneys.
Our suppliers have a wide range of fires and surrounds from leading manufacturers such as Valor, Robinson Willey, Flavel, Baxi & Be Modern.
As Gas Safe Registered installers we can supply and fit all of these products at competitive prices.
Please call us if you would like a brochure or any advice on such matters.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Thinking of Changing Your Boiler?

The highly respected consumer watchdog magazine 'Which' reports that independant heating companies are much more reasonable in price than British Gas. Well I could have told them that a long time ago.
'Which' decided to investigate this matter after many of its readers pointed out the considerably discrepancies between British Gas quotes and those of local independant heating installers who are often near to half the price. Much of British Gas's installation work is given out to sub contractors too........ The picture is the flue of an Ideal 'Isar' HE35 condensing combination boiler. The white plume of flue gas indicates that the appliance is in condensing mode and running at its most efficient. It is one of the many we we have installed. Boiler swaps are one of our specialities. If you are thinking of changing your boiler and have had what you consider a high quote off Britsh Gas or anyone else for that matter then you need to speak to us.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

A Very Dangerous Boiler

January 22nd 2009. A CO {Carbon Monoxide} alarm had gone off in a private residence in South Liverpool. It was sited outside of a compartment, on the first floor landing, which housed the central heating boiler. Adjacent to this cupboard were four bedrooms. Directly above it the loft had been converted into a fifth bedroom. All rooms were occupied.
The householder rang Transco to report the incident. Their engineer duly arrived, isolated the boiler and attached a warning notice. He advised the householder to call a C.O.R.G.I. registered gas installer to check the boiler. I received that call at about 10.00pm that evening and arranged to visit the property the following day.
Upon arrival we first looked at the generally installation of the appliance. The boiler was a room sealed model with an extended flue system. The flue rose vertically up into what had previously been the loft. It had originally terminated at roof level. When the loft had been converted the flue had been rerouted beneath the new floor of the loft conversion to terminate horizontally to the rear elevation of the property. This work had been carried out by unregistered installers. The flue terminal was now passing through the timber soffit and touching the plastic gutter. The minimum distance it should have been from the timber soffit was 200mm. The minimum distance it should have been from the plastic gutter was 75mm.
Next we looked to see if there was any service history with the appliance. The householder said it was last serviced three years previously. The service engineer hadn’t noted the incorrectly routed flue and terminal which suggests he wasn’t very thorough. We noticed some staining around the flue hood of the appliance suggesting leakage of combustion products.
We reinstated the gas supply to the boiler, restarted it and carried out an ambient CO test in accordance with British Standard 7967 using our flue gas analyser {pictured above} taking readings from around the compartment area. Within less than two minutes the gas analyser was warning us of high levels of CO in the atmosphere at above 50 ppm {part per million}. These products of combustion were escaping from a perished gasket joint on the flue hood of the boiler, where we had noted staining. This is what had triggered the householders audible CO alarm.
The manufacturers servicing instruction of the appliance clearly stated that 3 gaskets needed to be changed during a service. This hadn’t been done. The price of the gaskets was just £12.00.
Readings taken from the appliance sample point showed it was producing potentially deadly levels of CO of 9874 parts per million {PPM}.
At 6400ppm severe medical symptoms can occur within 1 – 2 minutes and fatal consequences within 15 minutes. At 12800ppm immediate medical symptoms and fatal consequences can occur within 1 – 3 minutes. This appliance was mid way between the two. The industry category would be IMMEDIATELY DANGEROUS.
As well as being very dirty due to lack of regular servicing the appliance had a damaged burner. This coupled with the incorrectly installed flue convinced the householder to replace it with a modern equivalent high efficiency appliance.

Fully Kitted Up

We are currently using some Mercedes 'Vito' vans which we find perfect for the job. We carry all of the common parts and fittings we use which makes more efficient use of our time. I don't like standing in queues in merchants. If the part is on board it means we can complete most maintenance calls in one visit. This means less cost to the customer.
We can also get on a full heating pack comprising of boiler, radiators, controls, tube, or even a full bathroom suite etc. This means no waiting around for deliveries. We find our lettered vans one of the best forms of advertisement too.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Starting Out On The Road To Business

The last three months of my apprenticeship were spent on a placement with an outside contractor, to gain wider experience. The I.C.I. apprenticeship finished at the end of August 1984 and I was kept on by the contractor. However his workload was unpredictable. Worst still so was payment of wages. We parted company by November. Jobs were few and far between at that time unless you "Got on your bike" to London.
I decided to try my hand at starting my own business and quietly 'launched' in December 1984 aged just twenty.
In February 1989 I went into partnership with Jon Mitchell. We rebranded the business as Plannet Plumbing Services and began to expand.
Within a couple of years we had a small fleet of vans on the road and a busy office in Wavertree.

Starting Out On The Road Of Plumbing

I started out in the Plumbing industry in September 1980 as a 16 year old apprentice with I.C.I. I am the handsome one in the bottom right hand corner! The bulk of the apprentices were Fitters, Instrument Articifers, Boiler Makers or Electricians. I was one of two Plumbers. It was a four year apprenticeship but with five years at day release college and night school. This was acheived by doing two years at college during the first year. Our time at I.C.I was split between their apprentice training school in Widnes and the site I was assigned to which was Castner Kellner Works in Runcorn. It was a good apprenticeship because as well as the factory / industrial work we maintained the I.C.I housing estate too where I learnt domestic work. After four years I was 'released' into the big wide world as a fully qualified Plumber.


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