Archive 04

Gas News Forum: OLD GAS FORUM: Consumers: Archive 04
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By John Brooks (Croydoncorgi) on Wednesday, November 29, 2006 - 12:45 am: Edit Post

Pity Baxi chose to mount the pot off the board unlike most similar boilers. If they had, this whole saga would have finished at the PCB change (and we'd have never heard about it)!

Also highlights the problem with boiler faults that respond to a tap! In the case of a worn pot track, a tap ANYWHERE on the boiler would probably make it connect.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Mike Bryant (Mike) on Wednesday, November 29, 2006 - 09:14 am: Edit Post

Except that the pot IS part of the new control board assembly. It's mounted separately but a new board comes with a new temp control pot.

I note that the first post in this thread says that the old board (and presumably the old pot) was replaced with no improvement, so the old board was re-fitted. This means the pot was changed previously and made no difference. Then later, changing the pot DID make a difference. Why would that be?

I wouldn't be surprised to see this fault return.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By John Brooks (Croydoncorgi) on Wednesday, November 29, 2006 - 11:01 am: Edit Post

Maybe only board changed initially and original pot left .....tut, tut?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By John Nesbitt (John11668) on Wednesday, November 29, 2006 - 09:48 pm: Edit Post

Coming back to the thought of a guild , has anyone considered this further?
If all RGIs are equal where are the next generation of trainers coming from? Where is the incentive for development? Are you only distinguished by the number of tickets you collect or is it possible that an odd one or maybe two of you deserve to be more distinguished amongst the masses who have achieved the "lofty" status of RGI?

I am no longer an RGI but used to consider myself to be an above average one. There is an axe to grind here because a small number of Conscientious oil technicians most with tens of years of experience have now been swamped within Oftec by an influx of newly qualified and fully ticketed technicians . There are of course a few good uns amongst them but to use John Brooks phrase most will fit into the lowest common denominator category.
I feel that an inner guild would be valuable in both camps


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Mike Bryant (Mike) on Wednesday, November 29, 2006 - 10:12 pm: Edit Post

a small number of Conscientious oil technicians most with tens of years of experience have now been swamped within Oftec by an influx of newly qualified and fully ticketed technicians .


I'm one of those.

I feel woefully inadequate compared to the proper oil technicians here, but the bits of paper say I'm just as good, and that clearly isn't the case.

I'm a gas bod not an oily but the punter has no way of telling that, and that has to be a step backwards.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Will Crocombe (Willc) on Friday, December 08, 2006 - 12:35 pm: Edit Post

Afternoon,

I have an Ideal Response 120. It's been fine for over a year (since they fitted the new thermostat). Now it keeps fusing. I also think the noise it makes has got deeper. Could the pump be broken?

I am not going to attempt anything daft myself, but any advice would be good so I don't get stuffed when I finally manage to get someone out to take a look!

Cheers

Will


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Tony Glazier (Agile) on Friday, December 08, 2006 - 12:47 pm: Edit Post

Will, this site is not intended to give DIY advice on boiler repairs.

It sounds as if the pump may be faulty but the advice would always be to get a professional to deal with it.

I really dont understand why you would even consider that you might "get stuffed". Most professionals are just that, professionals. The TV programs are for entainment only and are made by calling firms which are already known to be rogue traders and filming them in action. Some of those they show are just incompetent rather than dishonest.

Tony Glazier


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Will Crocombe (Willc) on Friday, December 08, 2006 - 12:51 pm: Edit Post

Tony, forgive my flipancy. I am sure most professionals are just that. There are cowboy's out there though and I am only trying to arm myself with as much information as possible.
Is there anyone you could recommend in the Leeds area?
Will


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By John Nesbitt (John11668) on Friday, December 08, 2006 - 06:10 pm: Edit Post

My Spares merchant is an engineer who spent a lot of years as an RGI and a pretty good one at that.
He often finds himself biting his tongue as RGIs traipse through his shop gathering first this part and then that part, ocasionally up to five in total.

He tells me that of the RGIs he sees, less than twenty five percent are what he would define as adequately competent to properly diagnose modern appliances.
The rest resort all too frequently to the trial and error route. This is all very well when you can cover most appliances with a small van stock but with such a wide range of appliances from all over europe no one can do this anymore.
The result is that T & E merchants are in fact stuffing unsuspecting customers so I do not blame Will for being wary.

I dont know what the answer is but something will have to change or boilers will become a throw away item, like car engines, gearboxes and differentials.
Good for profits - Bad for the Environment.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Les Gradwell (Editor) on Friday, December 08, 2006 - 06:15 pm: Edit Post

My all time favourite was a couple of guys [consumers] who walked into HRPC while I was there and plonked a multipoint on the counter.

Said it had stopped working and asked if they could supply parts needed to fix it.

And ...


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Tony Glazier (Agile) on Friday, December 08, 2006 - 10:55 pm: Edit Post

I once received a request from a manufacturer to do a warrantee repair to one of their boilers.

I telephoned the owner to ask for the address where the boiler was installed.

He replied that it was in the boot of his car !!!

Tony


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Diane Fortenberry (Diana) on Sunday, February 04, 2007 - 07:55 pm: Edit Post

Hello -- can anyone tell me where to find a spare part for an ancient Glow-worm? We have a Glow-worm 52B Super Balanced Flue Boiler that is at least 35 years old and probably closer to 50. I know it should be replaced, but we simply cannot afford the thousands that a new boiler and accompanying building work (don't ask) would require. The pump failed last winter and was successfully replaced, but now the gas valve is sticking and needs replacing as well. Our plumber tried his normal sources, all of which apparently told him that the part (1/2 inch BSP Midgitrol gas valve by Maclaren, part no. K6466), is not available. I have since searched the internet, with no better luck. Are we fated to huddle in front of electric fires, or does the part (or its modern equivalent) exist somewhere?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Les Gradwell (Editor) on Sunday, February 04, 2007 - 08:25 pm: Edit Post

Fascinating. Check out:

http://www.mjtcontrols.co.uk
http://www.partscenter.co.uk

If the part is defective and has been removed, take that to the above suppliers or lift off all the data.

Meanwhile somebody who knows more may drift by.

And youíre right, it would cost a great deal of money if the boiler is deceased.

By law we now have to review the whole system and the knock-on effect can be traumatic. But if people donít have the cash then they donít have the cash and thereís nowt the Minister, whoís no doubt sweltering thanks to our taxes, can do about it.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Diane Fortenberry (Diana) on Sunday, February 04, 2007 - 09:10 pm: Edit Post

Many thanks. I'd already tried both sites, but no luck: 'part not available'. If anyone should find himself replacing an old Glow-worm that has a functional gas valve, please let me know -- I'll pay well for it!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Les Gradwell (Editor) on Sunday, February 04, 2007 - 09:20 pm: Edit Post

Don't give up yet. Much depends upon what you searched for and how. There are now probably a hundred old different Glow-Worm boilers.

Boiler will not be listed but the part may be as they are third-party manufactured.

You can't pick 'n' mix by the way. Must be the original.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Mike Bryant (Mike) on Sunday, February 04, 2007 - 11:27 pm: Edit Post

You can't pick 'n' mix by the way. Must be the original.

Not necessarily....

If you can get Glow Worm to specify an alternative gas valve to replace the no-longer-available item, that will do. The gas regs prevent us RGIs from modifying the manufacturer's design but AFAIK the manufacturer remains free so to do.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Les Gradwell (Editor) on Sunday, February 04, 2007 - 11:33 pm: Edit Post

Acknowledged - Manufacturers certainly can as long as they run it passed the [or a] 'notified body', at a cost to themselves.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By chris hutt (Chrishutt) on Monday, February 05, 2007 - 12:11 am: Edit Post

I've got a very old ITT gas valve (UK 48 RBB01 24V 1/2") which is the same as a Maclaren. It has the brown circular control knob and 24 volt solenoid. If it sounds promising email me.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Diane Fortenberry (Diana) on Monday, February 05, 2007 - 06:38 pm: Edit Post

Dear Les, Mike and Chris -- Thank you so very much for your help! What a wonderful site! Chris, that part is the same manufacturer's part number as the one I need, so yes, it sounds like just the thing if it works. When I tried to email you directly, a message came up saying 'does not take private messages', so please let me know how to make contact. Diane


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Les Gradwell (Editor) on Monday, February 05, 2007 - 06:43 pm: Edit Post

One of you give me permission to pass on an email address.

I would not do this normally but Chris we know.

Please employ a CORGI registered gas installer to fit your new valve.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By chris hutt (Chrishutt) on Monday, February 05, 2007 - 06:49 pm: Edit Post

It seems Diane does not take private messages either! Do pass my email on Les. Just for the record I will only supply the gas valve on the understanding that it is to be fitted by a Registered Gas Engineer.

Les, would it be in order for any price agreed to be donated to Gas-news as a contribution to running costs?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Les Gradwell (Editor) on Monday, February 05, 2007 - 06:58 pm: Edit Post

Email address passed on.

Thanks for the thought but we cannot accept cash. That would require accounts and the tax man [or woman] would become involved; We are obliged to pay tax on earnings but we are not required to have earnings.

Please donate to Childline our usual beneficiary.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Diane Fortenberry (Diana) on Monday, February 12, 2007 - 06:55 pm: Edit Post

Hello -- I just wanted to post a concluding note following up on the previous 11 postings. Tony Glazier, who was recommended by Chris and who also posts on this site, has just finished installing the new/old gas valve offered by Chris, and so far everything seems to be working perfectly. With luck it will see us through the next year or two until we can afford to have the old boiler replaced. I can't thank Chris, Tony and Gas-news.co.uk enough for your help. As agreed with Chris, a donation will be made this week to charity, in lieu of payment for the part. Thank you again.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By John Nesbitt (John11668) on Monday, February 12, 2007 - 10:26 pm: Edit Post

Diana's plight raises a question.
If Chris had not been able to come up with a suitable used valve would an RGI be permitted to replace the old Mcclaren with say a Honeywell?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Les Gradwell (Editor) on Monday, February 12, 2007 - 10:29 pm: Edit Post

Whatever is used would have to have official sanction at some point. Anything else would be reckless.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By chris hutt (Chrishutt) on Tuesday, February 13, 2007 - 08:17 am: Edit Post

I don't agree about reckless. The only operating variable between different brands and models of gas valve (suitable for traditional domestic boilers) that I can think of is the ignition speed, and on older boilers I don't think that is critical, as long as it's not explosive.

As far as I know most of these valves have Ĺ" threads, operate with the same thermocouple voltages and the solenoids are either 24 or 230 volts. The pressure governor can of course be adjusted to suit. The only problem might be the pilot feed pipe connection (are the threads standard?) but an adaption shouldn't be too difficult.

If it was my own boiler I wouldn't hesitate to mix-and-match, as someone put it. Of course one would in theory be in breach of the regulations and I would hesitate to do it for a customer, just in case some unrelated complication exposed me to prosecution!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By John Brooks (Croydoncorgi) on Tuesday, February 13, 2007 - 09:34 am: Edit Post

I'm not convinced about replacing a 'fast open' valve with a 'soft start' one. I suspect that with some older burner designs / injector sizes you might easily provoke a 'light-back' leaving the flame inside the burner.
Since I recently came across this as a (very)intermittent fault on a 'modern' (7-year old) boiler with the correct valve and injector, I'd be very cautious indeed! It would NOT be adequate to test it for 50 light-ups - it'd probably light-back on the 100th!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Les Gradwell (Editor) on Tuesday, February 13, 2007 - 06:14 pm: Edit Post

What you do on your own home is your business but anything done in a customer's home must be by the book.

Any alteration to any gas appliance that could affect combustion performance has to be referred back to the 'notified body' every time.

In other words if the manufacturer changes such a component that has to be referred back also.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By kate sly (Katkin) on Thursday, February 22, 2007 - 11:49 am: Edit Post

Hi,not sure if this is the right place to be or the right thread to post on but..... I live in a 1940s red brick house that originally had open fires. Sometime in the past the fireplace in one room was removed and a back boiler put in. This has subsequently been removed for a new central heating system. I would now like to put back a gas fire. There is a 150mm flue liner in the old chimmney. There are now no firebricks or back but I have a builder who can put those back. Talking to a fireplace shop man today he said that I need to have my flue certificated - is this true? I understand the fire needs to be installed by someone registered but can I reuse the flue or does it need to be taken out? Is this cost prohibitive? Hope I've given enough information, thanks in advance. Kat


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Les Gradwell (Editor) on Thursday, February 22, 2007 - 12:04 pm: Edit Post

Perfectly correct place to post.

The good news is that notwithstanding faults, you can employ a gas fire on what is termed a Class 1 flue.

The correct [and simplest] procedure is to employ a registered gas installer to look at the situation and advise, having regard for the type of gas fire being considered. Donít buy a gas fire and hope someone can fit it as you may be disappointed.

The flue liner may prove to be fine but too far back. I had that once on a failing gas fire. Flue spigot too far from the flue but in that case the flue spigot could be extended using a manufacturer approved component.

The Ďholeí where the gas fire fits is referred to as a Ďbuildersí openingí.

I repeat, the correct [and simplest] procedure is to employ a registered gas installer to look at the situation and advise, having regard for the type of gas fire being considered, as there are too many imponderables to enable us to say for certain.

Credit to the builder for being cautious.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By kate sly (Katkin) on Thursday, February 22, 2007 - 12:34 pm: Edit Post

Thanks for the info, have tried to ring a few gas people but they are obviously all too busy working at the moment! Will continue to investigate, love Kat


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Les Gradwell (Editor) on Thursday, February 22, 2007 - 05:00 pm: Edit Post

You may be better served by a company specialising in gas fires.

Multi-level certification exists in gas and Registered Gas Installers [RGI] can only work on appliances for which they have accreditation. Details are listed on the reverse of their CORGI card, assuming CORGI manage to get that right.

A RGI with accreditation to fit boilers cannot necessarily work on gas fires. Gaining accreditation for gas fires, as with everything, costs more money. For many it is simply not economical.

Manufacturers have complained in the trade press about lack of RGI to fit their gas fires and at the same time, the Editor of Fires and Fireplaces was complaining there ought to be multi-level certification, when in fact multi-level certification existed then as now.

Accreditation for boilers includes the BBU or Back Boiler Units with integral gas fire. A far more complex appliance than any gas fire known to me. Yet gas fires are not included in boiler accreditation. The same applies to multipoint water heaters.

ACS accreditation is essential in support of gas safety. But the current regime in support of that is an official rip-off and nothing more. They're as bad if not worse than anyone appearing on Rogue Traders.

I have accreditation for all domestic appliances including the separate one for gas tumble-driers. There is one exception. I canít install a gas point outside your home for the BBQ.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By kate sly (Katkin) on Thursday, February 22, 2007 - 05:30 pm: Edit Post

Thanks, fortunately I'm not wanting a gas bbq! Seems that as with any governing body there are bizarre rules. From what I've read in the building regs I need a 175mm flue to be class 1 but of course mine is 150mm. But if it draws correctly can I be ok (this is what the one gas man i managed to speak to today said) I'm ringing him later to arrange for him to come and assess me and my chimmney! Thanks again, Kat


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Les Gradwell (Editor) on Thursday, February 22, 2007 - 05:33 pm: Edit Post

The instructions [MI] with any chosen gas fire will tell you exactly what is needed. They take absolute precedence always. You almost certainly will not need a 150mm flue let alone a 175mm.

MI rules OK


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Steve Hall (Roberts) on Monday, February 26, 2007 - 08:09 pm: Edit Post

Hello - I hope this message is in the right place.

I'm looking to upgrade an open-vent back boiler to a new 'greener' heating system.

It's a two bedroom terrace with loft and one bathroom.

I'd like a stainless steel modulating gas fired condenser, ideally with external programmer so it could go in the loft. I don't want to rule out the potential to harness solar in the future, especially if it could preheat boiler water and washing machine as well as hot water.

Is it best to go for combi, system or open vent? I'm minded to go for Atag or Viessmann, which seems to rule out open vent, but this will be expensive. Combis are popular in this area, but I'm concerned about firing up/ down all the time and losing the heat store. On the other hand, I'm not keen on high maintenance charges for a system boiler, or how much disruption to expect to existing pipework.

I assume a power rating of around 26kW modulating down to 4-6kW wouldn't be OTT.

Any comments would be welcome. I've tried posting this question on two other forums without much luck!!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Les Gradwell (Editor) on Monday, February 26, 2007 - 08:26 pm: Edit Post

A little knowledge is dangerous.

It appears to me that youíve stitched together snippets of Ė not necessarily related - information, with a view to forming a strategy in favour of an energy efficient sytem.

As a patchwork it is technically incoherent, though the posting includes some useful observations.

My back-to-basics rule applies here, so be patient and wait for some feedback from me and hopefully others.

Properly considered, the posting would make an excellent examination question for aspiring professionals, with the simple question:

Discuss.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Les Gradwell (Editor) on Monday, February 26, 2007 - 08:49 pm: Edit Post

Back to basics.

In the early days of Gas-News I used to get emails presenting nightmare scenarios in which the alleged consumer was trying to decide how to modify their old system to run with new, this, that and the other.

The emails were invariably from people in the industry, sat in offices, with not enough to do. In their efforts to lend verisimilitude to the tale of woe, theyíd use a number of terms making it obvious they knew a lot more than they pretended.

However, I am happy that the above posting is genuine, and welcome it.

But the same back-to-basics principle I responded with applies here. More especially now, if energy efficiency is the imperative.

Design the optimum system for your home and keep the bits of your system that will fit into the strategy. Bin the rest or compromise will be the result.

And donít forget insulation. Low cost, easy to DIY and may do more than the rest of your improvements to save you money. You can also get good offers on cavity wall insulation at certain times of the year.

You may already know the http://www.est.co.uk

Iíll start soon by introducing one or two pointers of interest. My learned colleagues may add more.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Les Gradwell (Editor) on Monday, February 26, 2007 - 09:20 pm: Edit Post

Your open-vented BBU [Back Boiler Unit] may [I donít know] be years old with copper-coated steel pipework [try a magnet]. The radiators may be 20 years old with twin-entry radiator valves and 8mm pipework. If any of that applies, time to re-cycle.

Many boilers [of any description] may have the option of a RF [Radio Frequency] control therefore a not-too-accessible boiler is feasible. Regulations however could add a substantial unexpected cost to the job, if a boiler is sited in the roof space. Unless of course you already have stairs and a floor in the roof space.

As it is a terrace it may require a through-the-roof terminal at extra cost, unless an end terrace of course with suitable space at the side.

And Iím mystified by the suggestion that system boilers somehow have higher maintenance charges. I lawfully Ė in effect Ė converted my last boiler to a system boiler, when I brought the roof space into use, though Iíve now installed a condensing combi as part of a package of improvements which are thwarting the rise in energy costs.

Combination boilers are fine in many situations but you need to be sure the water supply will meet the needs of the boiler. A question too often not asked. I went to see an allegedly Ďcrapí boiler one day only to discover the water supply was too poor. You canít get out more than you put in.

Whatever system you settle on, I imagine every manufacturer will have a boiler to suit, including [most certainly] Veissmann, who also have stunning solar technology.

I once took a boiler with a pre-heat out as it was driving the customer nuts with the noise at night, and the boiler was not in the bedroom. Theyíve altered that one now.

Careful siting of a boiler can profoundly affect general efficiency, including minimising loss of water, an important subject. I lagged some of my my internal pipes where appropriate and ran hot water pipes [only] in some cases, next to heating pipes. Without a pre-heat there is immediately enough hot water for a wash and shave and no waste.

Finally [for now] the actual heat output needs to be calculated first. If you are planning to insulate [you must] do that first and work the information into your calculations.

Iíve recently installed a new kitchen and fitted Ė over the external door Ė a Myson Sterling Heater which is served by the heating system. Absolutely superb with the optional external [Part L compliant] controller and saves wall space.

You can see there may be much else to consider in the above, off the top of my head, musing.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Steve Hall (Roberts) on Monday, February 26, 2007 - 11:17 pm: Edit Post

Les

Thank you for such a detailed reply. It is very useful.

This is a genuine post!

You are right that I would like to insulate first. Unfortunately that is not easy. This is a solid wall house in a conservation area so external wall insulation (rear only) and double glazing (again, probably rear only) are the main (expensive) options; internal wall insulation and secondary glazing at the front are possible, but not preferred. To add to the problem, the water tanks in the loft need some warm air to circulate, so there is an area without insulation.

My heating system is steel radiators and copper pipes; the pipes appear to be 15mm generally. Currently there are six radiators and one gas fire in front of the boiler.

I moved in three years ago and the system has been very reliable. The main concerns I have are (i) safety (the open flue boiler) and (ii) energy efficiency: these are the reasons I want to upgrade the system. There are some potential energy efficiency spin-offs from changing the system (i) the air brick in the living room could be closed; (ii) the insulation in the loft could be improved if the tank system is changed.

The loft will always be tricky to convert to living space because of lack of space for stairs, so my logic is to use it for light storage and any necessary heating equipment (we don't have a cellar). To this end, I have installed a permanent light and a line of boarding to the far wall where the pipework emerges, so that there is the option to put a boiler here. I have also hinged the loft hatch and bought pull-down stairs to be fitted to the top of the hatch. I believe that this could all meet Regs as long as handrails are installed around the opening.

Boiler options:
(i) system - said to be expensive to service, e.g. link below: and what disruption can I expect to pipework? .. but seems to be high performance, adapts well to future solar and retains stored hot water.
http://www.plumbingpages.co.uk/featurepages/HWunvented.cfm

(ii) open-vent - assume the least disruptive option, could adapt to solar, retains water store, but tanks would remain in loft, would reduce options for boiler (e.g. no weather compensation options - e.g. Vitodens 100 compact), extra pump would be needed for shower and performance may be less attractive?

(iii) combi - many examples of conversions to this in the area, removes tanks, solar compatible options seem to be available but no hot water store, inefficiencies turning on and off all the time.

Location options:
(i) loft; retains use of existing vertical pipe runs, flueing can be done through roof, no loss of space, but controls really need to be wired to the living room, cost of flueing through roof, and remoteness from kitchen hot tap (and potentially cylinder if retained in downstairs cupboard).

(ii) downstairs cupboard; in the heart of the house, sited midway between kitchen and bathroom, minimising losses, but may then need to relocate water tank, and flueing very difficult (would need to run two storeys up through the roof, behind bathroom with the pipe work or perhaps across and out through adjacent chimney?

(iii) kitchen; convenient for servicing, usual solution, but somewhat remote from bathroom, remote from any water tank, space an issue.

I think that the best long-term solution for the house might be a quality stainless steel condensing system boiler in the loft space, with lagged pipes to a small unvented cylinder, also in the loft space or in the downstairs cupboard. With weather compensation, the rating of the boiler may not be so critical (it can then modulate down to a low power rating). Solar conversion in the future could be with a dual coil cylinder, although I am concerned about the size (and weight and cost) of 300 litre cylinders suggested by companies like Viessmann. If the boiler and cylinder were together in the loft, the cylinder could act as a heat store? The tanks would be removed, and insulation improved as a result.

On the other hand, this all might be ridiculously uneconomic. I'm looking for an all-in figure of around £5K (excluding solar) not £10K.




Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Les Gradwell (Editor) on Tuesday, February 27, 2007 - 08:28 pm: Edit Post

This is becoming a blog.

Weíll leave insulation as Iím sure you can exploit the options that do exist. Iím a Green but donít subscribe to the global warming theory current hysteria. But why waste money on fuel when you donít have to. We were insulating roofing before it was enshrined in the Building Regulations.

And, back to basics again. Iíd rip the lot out and start again that being a terrace. The nightmare scenarios mentioned above were two homes rolled into one and houses formerly in multiple-occupation, rolled into one. etc.

Iím moving shortly and plan to do the same. Quick, clean, painless and I reckon the overall result will be the best, having regard for my principal imperative, energy efficiency.

But why the Unvented Hot Water Storage system I wonder. Expensive in all respects and usually requires a 25mm polyethylene water main upgrade unless local pressure is substantial. It certainly is not around here.

And the word storage is a misnomer. If the cold water supply dries up, then so does your hot water, until the cold water supply is restored.

There may be confusion on System Boiler physiology. Basically a traditional boiler with a pressure vessel where the F&E [Feed and Expansion] tank should be [though not literally].

NB: Some [only] modern heat-only boilers can be converted to an unvented system.

Iíll be opting for a traditional system but using a system boiler so I can utilise the roof space. Iíll also employ a traditional hot water cylinder but a modern [compliant] high-recovery model. The HWC will in turn be served by a CWT and Iíve only ever used http://www.polytank.co.uk from whom I have not had any freebies and donít want any. I have bought and paid for their training manual in the past.

Theyíre built like er Ö tank [should be built].

And Iíd site the boiler in the kitchen if possible for when it is serviced so Ďer indoors and the kids donít have someone who looks like me wafting across the champagne carpets, through the house and climbing a loft ladder, tutting all the time.

In a gaff like that Iíd keep it simple, with all the modern control trimmings.

Unless the Installer is an official Mikrofill Commissioner on £250 per hour, the cost should be modest.

ANYONE want to deliver an argument for a combi [I canít think of one].


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Steve Hall (Roberts) on Tuesday, February 27, 2007 - 11:03 pm: Edit Post

Les

Most helpful!! I'm sorry I did not intend to make a blog.

Can I check that I have understood you correctly? I think you are saying that by replacing the feed and expansion tank and piping with a boiler with pressure vessel (a.k.a. system boiler), but retaining the cold water tank and standard pressure cylinder, you get the benefits of 'sealing' the boiler and heating circuit but make cost savings by keeping the rest of the system gravity fed? An interesting suggestion that I have not come across before.

Presumably I could choose any system boiler, (e.g. Atag or Viessmann) for that setup.

I would also have to choose a cylinder. The obvious solution would be to keep it in the downstairs cupboard; the current one is about 150 litres; it would be difficult to fit in much bigger than 180 litres, but this is still too small for a dual coil cylinder? Can you get cylinders that are upgradeable from one coil to two?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Les Gradwell (Editor) on Tuesday, February 27, 2007 - 11:10 pm: Edit Post

More tomorrow, I'm working on a treatise.

But there are some tiny high-recovery [fast] HWC now which will heat up during the average bath time.

(a) Primary side sealed
(b) Secondary side open vented

Start off as you mean to go on. I'd spend the solar money on extra insulation and other measures, including air-tightness which is something John Prescot was getting excited about before he got excited about his diary secretary.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Steve Hall (Roberts) on Wednesday, February 28, 2007 - 12:36 am: Edit Post

Thanks Les

I now see that there are a lot of cylinders on the market around 170l with dual coils.

As I understand it, I can have a system boiler and vented cylinder; the former needs no feed and expansion tank; the latter does, but it can be 'packaged' with the cylinder and does not need to go into the loft.

So I am now interested in whether to go for a traditional gravity water system (which means keeping a cold tank in the loft) or a mains pressure water system (which means a dry loft, but swapping the cylinder for a thermal store).

I see that you can get thermal stores of around 170l (e.g. Gledhill).

What would be better, DHW cylinder or mains pressure thermal store?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Les Gradwell (Editor) on Wednesday, February 28, 2007 - 06:21 pm: Edit Post

Thereís lots of superb technology about these days, but that does not mean youíre missing out or disadvantaged in some way if you donít use it all. For a bog standard house I would ordinarily opt for a traditional set up, if possible.

Iíve never owned a combi at the same time as having a partner and 2.4 kids [1.7 it is now].

The problem with many allegedly traditional systems is that they were cobbled together by half-trained people or DIY. Or even people trying to upgrade as you are. Iíve seen hundreds over the years. For far too many the result is endless niggling problems.

A properly crafted traditional system incorporating some modern enhancements, will provide a long lasting, trouble free and hugely efficient experience. Iím talking now about premier division plumbing and construction expertise.

ACS gas training is the highway code of gas and nothing more. It constitutes less than 1% of my overall learning. Something the gas colleges and Corgi are blissfully unaware of because they donít own that knowledge or experience.

As I said, Iíd start again from scratch. Plan ahead. I have no doubt that many professionals will, like me, be able to envisage every move in advance. They can see it, smell it and even taste the dust in the mindís eye. The end result is a neat job and an hugely rewarding experience.

Iím musing now.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with an open-vented secondary system. Polytanks are superb, with a lid as tight as a duckís bum. Soundly built and supplied with a Byelaw 30 kit to exclude insects, dust and of course light.

Enter finesse. Numerous professionally crafted tappings off the tank to serve each purpose, ensuring no stagnant corners [if a big tank]. The hot water cylinder tapping highest so that if the supply does dry up, the hot water flow to showers dries up first, not the cold water. And so on.

Working with one RSL [Registered Social Landlord] revealed a proliferation of isolating valves, introduced for convenience everywhere, each a potential source of blockage [and often are] as well as seriously reducing pressure. Those Iíve seen technically illiterate and oblivious to these causes.

Iíve met tenants topping baths up with kettles of boiling water since a combi replaced their traditional system. Tragic beyond belief.

Use full-bore valves everywhere a valve is needed. To stop DIY tampering use lockshield gate valves [one merchant recently not heard of them]. Why not feed the loo off the tank with a low- pressure float operated valve. And buy a loo with a name you can pronounce so that if you do need spares you can get them.

Surprising how much illegal [to fit] stuff is on sale. Buy WRAS approved taps and problem solved. Tank fed bath/shower mixers donít require check valves [non-return valves] thus a good and consistent flow is ensured.

You may have a half-decent water supply now but it may not be enough if more houses are built [weíve seen that as well] or enough to drive an unvented system on a Saturday morning when all are washing cars or using those pressure-washers on the drive.

Back to the roof space.

Interlocking flooring [chipboard] is cheap enough, screwed [not nailed] to ceiling joists providing you can consider structural needs and donít create a nightmare for electricians rewiring. A light is an obvious need.

Lag the rafters and underdraw with plastic before adding screwed tile battens and plasterboard. Then create a well crafted stillage for the tank. One which can be encased but still provide access for maintenance. I used to buy boxes of clips not half a dozen.

Some never use clips so when the christmas decorations, suitcases or the Mother-in-Lawís picture is slung in the roof space, pipes sag and airlock.

Secured pipes are never a problem and cold draughts cause bursts, not cold as the winter of 1996 proved beyond any doubt. Lag pipes by all means but also wrap with taped bin liners to keep draughts out. Lagging is designed to keep heat in, not cold out. Thatís my theory anyway.

The snag is that the finesse which creates a lasting work of [plumbing] art, cannot be posted here without sight of the installation address. Hence a truly professional plumber [with ACS] is your best bet to ensure a lasting result and peace of mind.

Next, air tightness.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Les Gradwell (Editor) on Wednesday, February 28, 2007 - 07:20 pm: Edit Post

Keep it simple.

Iíve never worked in an area with Ďfunnyí water. Many of our contributors do, so Iíll defer to their expertise on that subject. Unvented systems are expensive and need maintenance. Get the manual first and read it.

To answer an earlier question the choice of boiler remains a wide one with a traditional system, complete with controls. An unvented primary system will allow a roof space radiator whereas an open-vented system may not [depends obviously].

Air tightness.

Screwfix sell a nice set of those expanding foam cannisters, complete with cleaner and a professional gun. Well worth the investment but read the instructions. Ideal for enhancing a good job, not for sticking together a bad job.

Iíve had cavity wall insulation but there was a gap around a wee door outside leading under the stairs where bits of insulation escaped. Those gaps now filled. Also handy around pipes through walls before pointing neatly with mortar.

Often plenty of gaps to be found under the bath from old waste pipes. Bits of MDF with silicone will cover those otherwise inaccesible bits in the floor as well. Once expertise with the gun is realised youíll be filling holes everywhere.

I had a uPVC porch fitted a couple of years back [on half brick]. I told them to install it and run. They left the clever bits to me as most of those people Iíve met professionally are half-trained, leaving huge gaps behind plastic trims.

So pleased they were I was endowed with a mountain of trims, sealants and chemicals. Iíve now completed the job properly.

New standards for heat-loss calculations include thermal-bridging matters, and with other measures are working towards the ambition to heat a home with little more than 3kW. Once that day arrives I believe weíll see a return of Ė a different and clean Ė warm air system.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Steve Hall (Roberts) on Thursday, March 01, 2007 - 08:04 pm: Edit Post

Thanks Les

In summary, I think you are saying that it may better to spend more money on the insulation relative to the boiler and plumbing.

That is fine, but it does pose a dilemma when you have a solid walled house with single glazed windows in a conservation area! There are no cheap solutions. Even the loft space is difficult - keeping the traditional system means keeping the tanks (with no insulation below this large area) and a reasonable area of chipboard. To make things worse, I want my boiler up there, so must fit a pull-down ladder, making insulating the hatch difficult as well. I am now considering insulating at roof level in a last-ditch attempt to keep the heat in.

I still have to choose a new boiler, and my view is that it is worth investing in quality, which is why I am considering stainless steel with weather compensation!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Les Gradwell (Editor) on Thursday, March 01, 2007 - 09:59 pm: Edit Post

Actually Iím not and my last input suggests insulating at roof level which is what Iíve done [as well]. Quick, cheap and easy to do. And Iím left with a clean storage room in the roof space. Small radiator added with TRV.

Wearing my other hat weíve been project managing some new-build in a conservation area up in the hills. All double-glazed but wood Ė Yet every home en-route now has uPVC.

As many installers will know, if you change a boiler [or HWC] you are supposed to review the whole system under Building Regulations [mandatory].

What they may not know is that the same principle applies to a wall [or roof]. If a substantial part is stripped, the whole must be reviewed. So if I strip the plaster off an external wall, I must review [and upgrade] the U value. Hands up anyone who Ö

I reckon youíve already decided what system you want therefore:

Budget - Cost of planned system = What you can spend on insulation

If you want to invest in quality then that will need connecting to a quality system. I.E. a scrupulously clean system. Modern technology will not tolerate the filth that exists in your current system. Rip the lot out.

Which reminds me. While Iíve been out and about in the hills Iíve seen some abominations called solar collectors of whatever sort. Do these escape the attention of planners in conservation areas. Some Iíve seen are grotesque.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Steve Hall (Roberts) on Thursday, March 01, 2007 - 11:36 pm: Edit Post

Les

Thank you for those observations - certainly confirms that I must get the roof insulation done.

I feel despondent about ripping out and replacing all the central heating pipework. We have had floors done throughout the house, and the floorboard gaps sealed up downstairs; and the upstairs bathroom has been refurbished and retiled.

Other households around here happily fit combination boilers without changing all their pipework. I would have hoped that a power flush would get rid of most of the junk and (fingers crossed) no leaks. Then I would like to fit a descaler to the water supply as well.

Surely a budget boiler is more likely to need frequent maintenance with any gunk in the system?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Les Gradwell (Editor) on Friday, March 02, 2007 - 06:32 pm: Edit Post

This interesting bit of dialogue demonstrates the difficulty in trying to analyse a situation without having seen the job. As Iíve said before, it canít be done.

If youíre definitely using a combi [unvented] then renewal of pipework is not essential usually. If it was my home and I was installing a traditional system, re-piping would be essential.

Crossed fingers not required either. I would drain the system, suitably prepare, connect my gismo and punch the pressure up to 3 bar. Then if all OK leave overnight. No problem, easy-peasy and nothing to worry about.

Except when the home is a customerís.

A more careful approach required which takes longer, in case something blows. It is also a useful way of testing valves at the same time.

No such thing in my opinion as a budget boiler. There are dearer boilers and cheaper boilers. There are boilers [which may be perfectly good] that you canít find out who will maintain after it is installed. Half the email we get is about rarely seen boilers with Ďfunnyí names.

You may get a Ďbigí one that will deliver 20 lpm hot water but it will only do that if youíve a lot more than 20 lpm being delivered to the boiler. You need to test the water supply. The same applies to unvented hot water and indeed thermal store systems like the powermax and flowmax. Donít forget youíll lose pressure significantly as water rises to the roof space, to feed a combi.

May not be a problem where you are but it certainly is in most areas I know. Many RSL homes I've seen won't drive a basic combi. Some have added a [unnecessary] descaler which drops the pressure further.

The www.boilers.org.uk website is currently showing 224 natural gas condensing combi boilers in Band A. Bottom of the range has 90% seasonal efficiency and the top dog is only 91.5% [Oil 97% by the way]. My Ďbudgetí boiler, British Made, with a stainless steel heat exchanger offers 90.5%. But with my top of the range insulation and careful system design, Iíll do better than most with any fancy gismo on. All relative.

All modern boilers need a clean system regardless of pedigree.

We were becoming interested in stories of parts for cheaper boilers being excessive pro-rata though we have not as yet followed that up. Some boilers are notorious for particular failures and I believe one was flagged by Watchdog recently. This is a subject we are studying carefully for the new Gas-News website.

I believe my Ďbudgetí boiler has as much chance of a long life as any, providing it is properly maintained. I have long since discarded the notion of a boiler and a system. I prefer always to think of the whole as a super-organism, and maintain it as such.

I have also fitted a www.magnaclean.co.uk [which I bought] to help maintain system hygiene.

If your boiler is working and you get chance to do a system pre-wash then do so. Sling some system cleaner in now, while youíre pondering.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Steve Hall (Roberts) on Saturday, March 03, 2007 - 07:26 pm: Edit Post

Thanks Les. Checking the mains pressure and cleaning the system now are obviously important.

I'll get a couple of views of plumbers now and see what they come up with.

One who discussed it in detail on the phone agreed that the loft was the best place for the boiler. Do you know any restrictions/ regulations on extending gas pipes? The pipe would need to rise from the gas meter in the airing cupboard behind the false stud wall in the bathroom and into the loft space (with all the other water supply and return pipes). I have heard that ventilation has to be provided. It is open at the top - is this sufficient? I have even been told by one plumber that you could re-use an existing copper water pipe!!