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.
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’s very important to get your boiler serviced regularly. The manufacturers state this must be once a year which is a good general rule however if you have a boiler is in a building that is not occupied all year round then you could get away with having the service done less often.
However for those of you who do get your boiler serviced regularly your boiler may not be getting a proper service.
The purpose of a boiler service is to clear any ash from the main heat exchanger and the condensate trap, which is caused by the burnt bugs, dust, bits of plants etc that can be sucked into the boiler when it’s being used. Depending on the boiler other checks would be done on other parts such as the fan, expansion vessel, water filter and sensors. A check would be done on the boilers performance by checking the amount of gas that is being used and the emissions coming out of the flue. The boilers safety devices would also be checked.
There are some manufacturers, Worcester being one of them who state in their manufacturer’s instructions to only clean the main heat exchanger if the emission / pressure reading are outside certain parameters. To me this doesn’t make sense. I say why let the readings go outside the parameters in the 1st place. If the readings went outside the parameters that would mean the boiler is not working efficiently. That is why I do a proper service every time. If you get a service make sure the engineer does not just do the tests to see if the boiler needs a service but actually does a service. After all you are paying for a service so you may as well get a service.
And one more thing, it’s really handy to keep the boiler manufacturer’s instruction and to have them ready for the engineer for the service. Most engineers should have access to digital versions of the manufacturer’s instructions however a paper copy is always easier to work with. There will be information in the manufacturer’s instructions on how to carry out a proper service and the correct readings the boiler should be performing at.
If Pavlou Plumbers currently service your boiler then you’ll be sent an email reminder when the service is due otherwise get in touch to arrange a boiler service before the summer ends.
Stay Gas Safe
I would just like to say a big THANK YOU to all my customers who have taken the time to write a testimonial for Pavlou Plumbers. It really means a lot. Thanks again.
The testimonials can be found at www.pavlouplumbers.co.uk/testimonials
A customer in Hawarden had an old Worcester 280 which was expelling water from the pressure relief valve and the hot water temperature was not constant. Like a car, when a poorly maintained boiler gets to a certain age parts will start to fail one at a time. Its at this point the boiler owner needs to decide if they would be happy to wait for the boiler parts to fail one by one. Is happy to have to wait in for a gas engineer to attend to look at the boiler then wait in again to repair the boiler when the replacement part is sourced. Is Happy to deal with no heating each time the boiler breaks down.
Boiler break down covers are a good idea for customer who have an older boiler however some companies will not cover your boiler when it passes a certain age. I have heard of cases where customers have been paying a monthly fee for years then needed to make a claim only to be told that the customers heating system is not covered!
This Hawarden based customer who had the boiler pictured below installed decided he did not want to pay a monthly fee for his boiler break down cover because this combi boiler comes with a 7 yr manufacturers warranty. Other boilers come with a massive 10 yr warranty! Instead this boiler owner will have hassle free heating for at least 7 yrs (providing the boiler is serviced every year), and lower gas bills.
If you would like any advice on the state of your boiler then please do not hesitate to get in touch by phone 01244 88 88 01 or email firstname.lastname@example.org