I can’t remember how many times I’ve been asked why a radiator or two are not working or why a radiator takes longer to heat up than others or why a room is colder than the others, or why a radiator doesn’t get as hot as others. For these scenarios we would make sure the radiator valves are working properly, then we would need to determine if there could be a blockage in the pipes and one question we would ask, if it isn’t obvious is “has this radiator been added onto the system after the original heating system was fitted?” This scenario would arise from having an extension with new rooms with radiators in them, or some renovations where radiators have been changed.
If the answer is “yes” and it was proven that the issue is not the radiator valves or a blockage in the pipework, we would then need to find out how the radiator has been plumbed into the heating system. When we do find out the result 99% of the time is the 1st fix plumbing was not done properly. By this I mean either the pipe size is too small, or where the pipes branch off to the new radiator is plumbed in the wrong place, or there are too many bends in the pipe. Either way the end result is the customer will have to pay for the plumbing to be done again, and pay for the plastering to be done again and the painting to be done again because the person who did the work won’t come back, because they’ve already been paid in the summer when the work was done but you’ve only realised now because it’s winter, or something like that. Obviously I’m generalising on the scenario as I know there are good plumbers who do pay for their mistakes, and there are some plumbers who don’t.
There are laws in place which mean you could take legal action against the company involved but it’s not straightforward and you’ll need to get a solicitor involved etc, etc. Basically it’s a massive hassle.
If you are planning an extension or renovation make sure of the following:-
If you make sure the above questions have been dealt with you have done all you can to have a properly working heating system, or at the very least won’t cost you an arm and a leg to rectify.
Below is a before and after picture of a radiator installation. The radiator in the room was undersized which meant the room was never warm in the colder months. For this job we had to fit larger pipes going to the radiator, then fit a larger radiator after the walls were plastered.
Pavlou Plumbers have years of experience in plumbing in heating systems properly so if you’re planning a renovation, extension or need a new heating system get in touch with Pavlou Plumbers.
Even though recent temperatures have been around 27 degrees celsius it’s always recommended to switch your heating on for 5 – 10 minutes every couple of weeks to avoid any mechanical parts seizing. Depending on the type of heating system you have and its condition parts such as the pump and motorised valves can get stuck in one position if left un-used for too long. These parts can seize on all systems however older, open vented systems are more prone than others. Open vented heating systems are those that have water tanks in the loft. As the water in the system is open to the atmosphere oxygen can get back into the water which causes rust. As you may know the black sludge in the heating system is unoxidised rust. This sludge is magnetic and would stick to the magnet in the pump motor. The sludge can also block up other parts such as the heat exchanger on the boiler and the pipes themselves, in a similar way that eating a high fatty diet would block up your arteries.
If you know you have an old heating system that has not been treated or flushed in the last 5 years, then ultimately the best thing to do is to have a central heating flush. However in the meantime turning on the heating system for a few minutes will prolong the life of the parts on the heating system. If sludge is left to settle the sludge turns into a solid. For those of you who have smart heating controls have the benefit of being able to turn the heating on remotely while they are not home, so they’ll stay comfortable
If you have any concerns regarding your heating system get in touch to arrange a free review.
As from April 2018 there will be new rules that must be followed when installing a combi boiler in order to comply with new government legislation in the UK. The reason being the current regulations came about a long time ago and there is new technology out now that makes heating your home and hot water even cheaper. The main aspects of the new legislations means that one of the following needs to be installed when fitting a new combi boiler.
I’ll briefly explain what these four different options are.
Flue gas heat recovery systems – This is another heat exchanger that would sit on top of your boiler, and would extract the very little heat from the fumes that go through the flue of the boiler. This heat exchanger would then apply that heat to the cold water inlet of the boiler.
This flue gas heat recovery system takes up a lot more space and costs around £500 / £800 plus fitting. Not exactly my first choice.
Weather compensation – A weather compensator would be an additional feature of your heating controls (timer). This would measure the outside temperature, using a sensor or online information and switch your heating on later on a warmer day and earlier on cooler days. These can vary in price depending on the boiler you have.
Load Compensator – This means the boiler would increase the water temperature in your radiators when the house is cold and not so much when the house gets warmer. As far as I’m aware these are only available when you use certain boiler manufacturers own more expensive heating controls on their own boilers. Alternatively if you have a boiler and heating control that supports OpenTherm then this would compensate the load, however this is very rare at the moment. Again, as far as I’m aware only certain Ideal and InterGas boilers currently have OpenTherm.
Smart controls featuring automation and optimisation functions – There are a lot of ‘smart’ heating controls available at the moment however, the only ‘smart’ control that would not only provide automation and optimisation functions but would also act as a weather compensator when connected to the internet, and a load compensator if installed with an OpenTherm compatible boiler would be the Nest Learning Thermostat. The Hive, Tado, Salus and all the others do not work like the Nest.
Even though the Nest Learning Thermostat can be used with an internet enabled device the Nest will save you money because it automates your heating. What does that mean? As the Nest has a motion sensor built into the device if the Nest does not see any movement for a while then it won’t switch the heating on. What it also means is you would never have to programme the heating schedule again. All you would do the 1st few days you have the Nest is to turn the temperature to your preferred temperature when you are home and when you are away or in bed and that’s it.
The Nest Learning Thermostat can do a load more stuff, too many to mention in this blog so I’ll just say The Nest or the Nest E (cheaper version) really is the best there is for most boilers. The Nest can be fitted to any heating system, not just combi boilers. The Nest will make even the oldest boiler a lot more efficient. Your standard heating controls would be charged from around £50 upwards. To have a weather compensator fitted could cost an additional £60 plus depending on the boiler. The Nest currently cost £200 and the Nest E will be cheaper when it is available in the UK. Fitting a Nest control to a combi boiler would be my first recommendation because they are easy to fit and comply with the new regulations.
For more information on how to get a new boiler or better heating controls feel free to contact Pavlou Plumbers.
Here’s a picture of Louie because he’s ace!
If there is one device in your home that will save you the most money on your heating bills it’s your room thermostat. This is the control that will switch off your heating when the room the thermostat is in reaches temperature. The thermostat should be positioned in the room that is used the most such as a living room. Previously the regulations stated the room thermostat control should be in the coldest room which was usually the entrance hall but now that has changed.
You may not realise but you do have a choice what heating controls you have. If you have no idea how to use your heating controls, or if you travel a lot, or if you are a landlord of a House of Multiple Occupancy who pays for the heating, or if you would prefer to have a heating control that has some style and is one of the most efficient heating control on the market the Nest heating control is for you.
Designed by former Apple employees amongst others this heating control is simple to use and will save you money. As well as being able to control your heating and hot water using any internet enabled device the nest thermostat is a learning thermostat. It learns how long your property will take to reach temperature and how long it takes for your property to cool down.
Although the Nest heating control does not need the internet to work when it is connected the Nest heating control will get local weather information to make sure your house reaches the temperature you want when you want it.
For those of you who travel a lot or for those of you who randomly have an empty house the Nest control will automatically know the house is empty and will deactivate your heating for you. For those of you who are landlords of HMO properties or if you would prefer certain members of your family or household not to play with the heating controls then the Nest heating controls can be locked so the temperature can not go higher or lower than your chosen numbers.
If you would like any heating control fitted then get in touch.
With all the changes currently going on the world right now non are as important to me as this. The main change I have to do in my working life is the amount of working hours. As many of you will know the 1st few months of a child’s life is the most precious and this time will never come round again. This is why I’m doing my best to spend as much time as possible supporting my wife by being with our son. I am also aware that not sleeping properly can affect one’s performance. This is another reason I think it’s a good idea not to work as many hours as have done.
Even though my wife and I have just had our 1st child I know the world does keep turning and my customers may need serving. This is why I have arranged for a friend who I trust with my customers to help me during this period. This is why Dan may be completing certain jobs for me. I would like to thank my customers who have accommodated my circumstances so far.
Please feel free to still get in touch with any plumbing and heating enquiries you may have as I will do my best to either see to your job myself or arrange for the work to be done by Dan.
Thank you from me and Louie Patrick Pavlou.
Picture by Slinky Media Photography Studio
No one wants to feel like they are getting ripped off which is one reason why I’m writing this article. On small jobs where there is no floorboards to lift up or pipes to bury in walls there is no room to manoeuvre on price. However when on a big job a customer asks if I can do the job any cheaper than the estimate provided I always say the following:- ‘the amount on the invoice may be less than the estimate as there are some unknown factors in the job, because we don’t know what we’ll find when we lift up the floorboards etc which may mean we’ll use less materials however the labour cost will be the same and the we won’t charge more than the estimated amount.’
Pavlou Plumbers offer their best price every time. I believe those tradesman who agree on a lower price than what they have written down are basically saying ‘I thought you were stupid so I tried to rip you off, but you’re not so I can reduce the price’.
On small jobs the VAT is not as noticeable however beware of paying for big jobs for ‘CASH’ in an attempt to save money. I know VAT is a bit of a con however, for those of you who don’t know a company must be VAT registered if their annual turnover is above a certain amount. It’s the law. The only way you can avoid paying VAT is to find a smaller company who is not VAT registered. There are plenty out there. Otherwise if you choose a busier VAT registered company to do your work but pay them cash then don’t expect your new boiler to be registered with Gas Safe or the warranty to be registered with the boiler manufacturer, or the the commissioning checklist of the boiler to be completed as the fitter will want no record or proof of the job ever taking place. In fact you would be lucky if the fitter ever returns even to rectify an issue the fitter had caused.
For any business pricing has got to be one of the most important fundamental parts to get right. Price too high and you won’t get the work, price too low and the business won’t last long. At Pavlou Plumbers a lot of time is spent pricing work which is made easier with the use of spreadsheets. However finding prices for all the required parts, working out how long the job will take, entering the customer’s details into the accounting software, filling out the estimate sheet and emailing it to the customer is a process which needs to be done. Each estimate usually takes between 20 minutes and 2 hours to complete depending on the size of the job. Last month I sent 49 estimates which, if you do the maths is a lot of my time. As I provide free estimates it is vital that I provide the best estimate I can otherwise I am wasting my time which no one wants to do.
In order to provide some customers with an insight of how I work out my labour rates are calculated I have to take the following expenses into account:- Wages, Bank charges because business banking is not free, van insurance, public liability insurance, tool insurance, mobile phone insurance, the excess on those insurances which I must have available, income protection insurance, mobile phone, diesel cost, the cost of replacing tools because they don’t last forever or they get robbed or lost which does happen, personal protective equipment, clothing, the cost of keeping up with training, membership to various organisations such as Gas Safe, Water Safe, accountants fees, vehicle maintenance, software subscriptions, marketing, online storage space, stationery and business savings to pay for any mistakes. Mistakes happen which we always learn from, by putting money aside we are better equipped to deal with mistakes properly. I believe the quickest way to learn from your mistakes is to pay for them.
All the above is vital for Pavlou Plumbers to continue to provide the best service possible for our customers today and tomorrow.
I’m pretty certain when you invest your hard earned money into property and the rental market the last thing you would expect is a prison sentence. Neither did Christopher Hobaiter of Harburn, Stockton-on-Tees. His rental property had wall ventilation grills that supplied air to the boiler. These ventilation grills were blocked up for some time. The appliance was then discovered to be leaking deadly Carbon Monoxide into the living room. This was enough for Christopher to be sentenced to 26 weeks in prison suspended for 24 months and charged £1904.02 in costs.*
Any tenant or owner of a property that has a gas supply is entitled to contact Gas Safe directly and request for Gas Safe themselves to check the property they occupy at no cost. This would be done if you are not happy with any work done on your gas installation or if you suspect something is wrong with the gas installation and your landlord is not willing to rectify the issue. This service would not be suitable for a boiler breakdown or if you need a landlords gas safety certificate.
Last month I was called out to a boiler breakdown which I repaired and I discovered that the air vents in the wall were also blocked up because the occupant sometimes felt a draft that they didn’t like. If a gas appliance does not have enough oxygen the flame will be distorted and will produce a much higher level of Carbon Monoxide (an odourless deadly gas which is heavier than air). After making the occupant aware of the risks I was given permission to unblock the vents.
On another job I was asked to cap off a gas fire which was in a bathroom of all places. We passed through the living room I noticed something wrong with the gas fire in the living room. After checking the manufacturer’s instructions it was confirmed that the new laminate floor the occupant had fitted was positioned too close to the fire. The fire needed a certain amount of space around it where no flammable material was allowed.
The most common issue I come across when servicing or checking gas boilers is not being able to service or check the boiler, because the boiler is situated in a fitted kitchen and the kitchen fitter has not checked the manufacturer’s instructions of the boiler to see the clearance required to service the boiler. So I’m left to give bad news to the customer who has paid thousands for a new kitchen that they are going to either pay me more to modify the cupboard around the boiler in order to service it, or to try to get the kitchen fitter back to rectify the mistake. If a gas appliance can not be serviced this breaches the Gas Safe regulations.
*Referenced from Registered Gas Engineer issue 93
The main purpose for this blog is to save customers money as I am coming across more and more situations where the customer has tried to repair a leaking pipe or pipe fitting and failed.
When you spot a leaking pipe or pipe fitting I can perfectly understand the 1st reaction is to try and repair the leak however unless you are experienced in repairing leaks then your efforts may end up costing you more money, for the following reasons :- your time to go to the store to buy the required materials, doing the repair, the damaged caused by the failed attempt, these are all avoidable. A lot of people like to use an epoxy resin (see pictures below) or tape over the leak which just slows the plumber down adding more costs to the customer. The epoxy resin does have its uses but only in certain circumstances. As a professional I’ve only used it a handful of times. Any tape that claims to repair leaking pipes is designed as a temporary fix and should only be used if the water can not be caught in a container or a plastic rubble bag.
If you spot a leaking pipe and you are not 100% confident that you can fix it then call Pavlou Plumbers. We’ll be more than happy to show you step by step how to fix the leak so you’ll be confident next time.
It is commonly known that your boiler needs regular servicing to make sure it is running efficiently and safely. What is not commonly know is your hot water cylinder may do as well. Unvented hot water cylinders are the hot water system of choice for many new build properties with more than one shower coming from the hot water system. This is because they provide enough water flow for more than one shower to be used at the same time. If you have a hot water cylinder but do not have any water tanks in the loft or high up in a cupboard, then you’ll have an unvented hot water cylinder which looks similar to the pictures below.
These systems have certain safety devices which in effect prevent your cylinder from exploding. As extreme as that sounds it is the truth. When hot water is in a sealed environment the water has to be able to expand. This is the job of the expansion vessel. If however the expansion vessel should fail there will be a pressure relief valve that will automatically open to let the hot water out and the cold water in. This will in turn reduce the pressure in the cylinder. If another fault should occur with either your heating controls or boiler which would cause your hot water to remain on, there is a valve that would automatically open should the hot water temperature get too high. If an unvented hot water cylinder did not have functional safety devices then the picture below will show you what could happen.
This explosion happened in America where unvented hot water cylinders are more widely used. I’m happy to say the UK have better regulations on who can fit and service unvented hot water cylinders which means explosions like this are extremely rare in the UK.
A common symptom of an un-serviced hot water cylinder is a dripping is seen or heard when the water in the cylinder is being heated. The dripping will be seen from outside or the tundish, see below picture. If the tundish is wet then your unvented hot water cylinder needs a service urgently.
Make sure your service engineer is qualified to work on your unvented hot water system. The engineer must have a ‘Domestic Hot Water Storage Systems’ or ‘Hot Water Systems & Safety’ qualification. These comply with Approved Document G of the Building Regulations.