We have reorganised this section as an aid to website administration. Old messages have not been lost and will be found under 'Old Stuff'.
I have more than a passing interest in the plumbing/heating/gas industry.
I subscribe to a number of trade journals and as a regular reader of gas-news, I read
editorial No. 51. With interest.
As you say energy conservation is an important issue ,however for most of us money is an overriding factor,
At the moment I have an open vented system running off a 20 year old boiler, with room stat and motorised valves, so although old, pretty much to part L standards.
So , do I change the boiler ? .(sorry i mean have it changed , not being an rgi)
Whilst condensing boilers are coming down in price they can still be relatively expensive and the payback period (in fuel savings) is in years .and yes , for the sake of energy conservation thatís a small price to pay .
What about boiler longevity! spares seem to be more expensive ,and guarantees seem quite short. To be fair , some could go on as long as my faithful old boiler, however this would, I suspect , be the exception rather than the rule. So will I end up replacing the ďnewĒ boiler again in 3 to 5 years time ?.
Next we come to installation and planning , Its clear from regular reading of the gas-news site that you actively practice and promote good working practices , as do your regular contributors , ( a little creeping never hurts)but there is no doubt that whilst the condensing boiler will always be more efficient. A poorly designed and fitted system will suffer, be less efficient and could well contribute to a shorter boiler working life.
What about boiler choice , looking at the Boiler Efficiency Tableís , (under gas , condensing). brings back 270 possibilities , obviously all of various btu/kw ratings , but even when thatís whittled down , thatís a big range to choose from .
As a professional you will have your preferences , for reasons of quality ,ease of installation , servicing etc , but what of the less scrupulous and/or uninformed installers out there.
There is no doubt that boiler manufactures have made great strides with technology
But if they are really serious about efficiency why donít they reduce their boiler ranges , offer trade in discounts, old boilers for new .
We read and hear a lot about grant schemes and I stand to be corrected , but are any manufactures putting up any money, or offering good discounts?.
In A recent article in one of the trade journals , comments were made by one of the leading boiler manufacturers talking a lot about grants and incentives , but then the crunch , a suggestion that the removal of inefficient boilerís becomes a legal requirement.
How could you justify to a pensioner or some one on low income that there relatively new permanent pilot boiler was illegal, therefore they would need to find another £500 -£1000 for a replacement ? .
I don`t think there has ever been a suggestion that existing boilers would have to be replaced before they have reached the end of their life.
Boiler choice would surely be left to the advice of the ESTABLISHED BONA FIDE company who have a history of good quality workmanship. That criteria would also cover correct installation and commisioning.
Finally price , your comments are again unfounded I can buy condensing boilers at lower prices than there standard equivallents.
Proven quality with 2yr guarantee. Not the one normally given.
If your reading list includes H & V News you will know that the Energy Saving Trust have the Mother of all advertisements in there this week, or rather on there. Two front pages, the first being an Advertisement Feature, timed perfectly to shoot my recent comments down in flames. Letís hope people take note.
As the law stands incidentally there is nothing to stop DIY gas work providing you are competent. I might define that as a recently retired Registered Gas Installer fitting a new boiler at home to avoid the rigours of emigrating to Alicante.
If you look around, condensing boilers are actually reasonably priced and indeed below the price of some silly gas fires I saw this week in a DIY store. Certainly the difference between condensing and non-condensing is not significant, if any. Iím talking high efficiency non-condensing.
Asked to supply and fit a new boiler my default choice would be condensing. A customer not offered that choice would have reasonable grounds to complain in my view if they later discovered the technology and realised they had missed an opportunity they might have taken.
If circumstances did not support the condensing option (risk from pluming nuisance), that would have to be discussed in detail before other high efficiency options were considered (Donít forget, controls, insulation and commissioning).
I was at a Commercial Innovations event last night and one of the speakers (Mira Showers) placed great emphasis on their commitment to service and spares support with products for a guaranteed decade. Thatís probably about right. Everything wears out and Iíve just fitted the third thermostatic shower valve for my parents. Iíll be writing more on that CI event.
Boilers however are a different matter. Traditional boilers could probably last 50 years given a chance. A University boffin noted that in a survey he did on emissions and that paper is in our Library under ĎOld Stuffí. One of my ACS Lecturers drools over his veteran 50 year old boiler which does not need any electricity in support.
My parents have a 26 year old Ideal Concord RS 50 but Iíd be disowned if I suggested replacement. In the latter case insulation is up to scratch and bills are modest, though I agree that could be improved upon. Above all their boiler is reliable which gives me comfort as well as them.
My BG buddy serviced a 35 year old BBU this month and reports that as being in pristine condition. Parts likely to fail are still available and I bought a gas valve without any problem for the Concord before last winter for peace-of-mind.
Some modern boilers have a poor reputation for reliability. No question about that. Gas safety issues (fortunately rare) are reported in the Gas Installer magazine. Knowledge of other faults circulate on the jungle drums. Product training courses have included Ďprivileged informationí which is a euphemism for known faults, in either design or construction.
Iíve just been out to a heat only boiler this afternoon. My dog-eared copy of manufacturerís instructions contains notes about stuff that is not written inside but perhaps ought to be. That house is 4 years old and the gas valve has failed. Interestingly the customer there asked me how long the boiler should last and immediately suggested 30 years. Diplomatically (coward actually) I replied that it is difficult to put a date on such things, knowing that 15 years would probably be nearer the truth if they were lucky.
Speaking of 15 years one eloquent and qualified contributor to H & V News reported on a letter his Mother had allegedly received from BG. The letter helpfully provided data in support of their recommendation for a new boiler. Their numerical argument was based upon a 15 year life for the new boiler. However the existing BG fitted boiler was only 10 years old Ė Nice one that.
I will therefore suggest a 15 year life for the modern boiler which clearly contains much more to go wrong. I firmly believe modern boilers are far less tolerant of system abuse, both design and hygiene. My super-organism theory holds that we should review the whole once it is created then nurture that.
I spent years on new build trouble shooting and enjoyed it. There were designers, boiler manufacturers, controls manufacturers, heat emitter manufacturers, hot water storage manufacturers, contractors on a price, tradesmen working for buttons and principals drawn from accountancy rather than construction. In short superbly inefficient. I spotted a niche for someone to nurture the whole and jumped in.
System hygiene was and to a large extent still is something of an also-ran because by the time absence thereof is noted, everyone has legged it.
I would expect guarantees to be a minimum of 2 years under EU alignment and indeed Grundfos (pumps) last year (not last night) were talking about that. One boiler manufacturer has been boasting about 3 years as I recall. New build homes have a standard 2 year guarantee though that can become 3 years if they need to incentivise sales at the end of a site and hence pick up the tab for heating faults in the last year.
Let me emphasise that a condensing boiler is no more prone to failure than any other sort of modern boiler. I personally would never give that matter a second thought if choosing a new boiler for myself or my parents (if I could persuade them).
Spares can be dear where needed. A combination boiler diverter valve plus diagnosis and subsequent fitting is expensive. I have been used to years of virtually labour only charging on plumbing emergencies. Say no more than a tenner a job for parts and one visit. If you donít know anyone locally by recommendation I would opt for boiler manufacturers own support services.
Anyone can string together a heating system that heats up. On new build homes a major component supplier usually designs the whole system in accordance with BS 5449, using their own controls if they make them or a recognised brand if they donít. That task often falls to the boiler manufacturer or in some cases the unvented hot water storage manufacturer. The problem on new build is or was lack of supervision.
Things have improved there due to the high cost of corrective work (my bills !) and many have opted for thermal storage (self contained) systems where quality control is largely factory based therefore less to go wrong on site.
Boiler manufacturers instructions contain a wealth of information including recommended system configurations, too often side stepped. Broad principles are contained in our Feature 8 which is a bit of a hike but handy if you canít sleep one night. The related downloads have been very popular and currently threaten our bandwidth. Superb documents and well put together. See also the TACMA download.
The plethora of boilers is probably now damaging to the cause but that is the price of democracy and free trade. There have been one or two spectacular business failures and one of my customers (landlord) had a two year old boiler that had to be ripped out because spares were not available. E.L.M Le Blanc is in that boat now but HRPC still have some spares.
With all the competition I imagine boiler prices are squeezed to the margins. I refer again to the price of some silly gas fires where people cheerfully pay a bundle for gross inefficiency. One gas fire manufacturer was complaining recently about the price squeeze driven by DIY sheds, his argument being that the squeeze will stifle innovation and I reckon he has a point.
There were grants for condensing take up in the early days but they soon vanished. Industry is screaming for tax incentives as there are on low carbon motor cars but the Rt Hon Member at number 11 has other ambitions. One industry hopeful recently suggested grants for extra-over work such as vertical flues to serve a condensing boiler where pluming risk might preclude the standard (and cheaper) horizontal option.
Any Government that wants to avoid a 29% swing (?) would not compel Mr and Mrs Average Punter to become more eco-friendly. However there is EU pressure to enhance Part L2 (commercial) and make eco-cooperation mandatory, whether or not a system upgrade is planned. Talk is that will be incentivised further by a hike in fuel prices. This is on the way across the channel.
At the end of the day Mr and Mrs Average Punter have only got so much money to lash out. Some donít have any to lash out as they are paid buttons no matter how hard they work. Some pensioners (some) can still get affordable warmth grants. I enquired for one such recently but you only get one bite of the cherry.
Beef up your insulation throughout for nil cost but if your BBU goes belly-up thatís tough. And vice-versa. For grant information see the www.est.co.uk website as offers may change. If you canít find the info let me know and Iíll let them know.
If I was genuinely strapped for cash and low income Iíd opt for full insulation and controls first rather than an HE boiler. Iím not convinced the current energy efficiency drive is wholly based upon eco-altruism, more perhaps GDP friendly.
There are people out there busy inventing things we donít really need but ideas are drying up and homes are already filled with white goods, window openings with white goods (except the posh houses), cars and computers at saturation levels. HMG needs a new money spinner and Part L has been nominated.
For your information another email received today from a concerned consumer. Time the authorities supplied some literature for people who are discerning enough to seek out information.
I have in the interim referred the Gentleman to our www.gas-news.co.uk/feature8.htm in which I found a broken link to CHeSS which is probably the most important link. Please let us know if you see any more broken links.
The huge number oh hits you note (Ed Ė Comment 22) at the bottom of the article is almost certainly due the "Which Boiler" banner. I have just spent the best part of a day trying to obtain even the least advice concerning the make of boiler that I should choose to replace my old conventional system.
Unfortunately, there is very little information for the lay person in cohesive form. In desperation I punched in "which boiler" which brings up mainly manufacturers websites offering a choice of boiler types (combi, conventional , condensing or non). Nowhere does anyone address thoughts on reliability although (as the letter you quote) it is the one thing that consumers look for above all else, being an important cost consideration in its own right. This is clear from the impact of consumer surveys across all sectors from cars to white goods.
I would have liked at the very least to have been able to find a shortlist of products with comparable specifications which I could then research individually (across message boards and forums fro instance) rather than having to visit every manufacturerís website. The SEDBUK site may do this and your article cites 37 condensing boilers which are A rated, but when I tried a search I got no returns. I'm clearly not using it correctly, but therein lies the rub - if I don't know what I am looking for, how can I find out!
PS In case you can direct me to a suitable source of information, I think I am looking for a sealed tank system with a condensing boiler delivering an output of approximately 24kW.
I have had a new combi boiler (vaillant) and new radiators installed but the new circulator is very noisy when it stops and we can hear the pipes banging, is that a problem with pipes incorrectly fixed? are there circulators around that would put less stress on the system when they stop?
Back to basics: The pump will be the correct one for the boiler. Invariably a high head pump and set on full speed or fixed on full speed. Alter that and you will have problems.
As youíve guessed, probably a system fault therefore correct the system. Get the Installer back.
Is DIY central heating installation illegal?
At the risk of upsetting the professionals I'd like to set the scene...
About fourteen years ago I installed a Worcester 350 combi system, employing a CORGI fitter only to make & test the gas connection. The Worcester engineers who visited on numerous occasions to fix the boiler under warranty (that is another story) complimented me on my standard of workmanship.
We have recently moved to a 1970s bungalow with a gas central heating system. The CORGI registered fitter who installed the system in the late 1980s made a real hash of it!
1. The horizontal flue emerges about 150mm below the PVC clad eaves & guttering, which are discoloured. There is no evidence of a protective heat-shield ever having been fitted.
2. Every TRV is fitted the wrong way round (flow arrows clearly visible). As they shut down we are entertained by high-frequency water-hammer of deafening intensity.
3. All radiators are fed from the loft above due to concrete floor. Only one out of the seven is fitted with a drain cock.
4. Due to the low roof pitch the uncovered & unlagged header tank is jammed into the apex between roof timbers(it took me several hours of struggling & cursing to change a worn ball valve washer). The normal water level when running is about an inch below the overflow level. The increased level caused by the worn washer resulted in continuous pump-over due to the lack of headroom for the expansion pipe. A surge arrester should have been fitted to this pipe as per the MI.
5. The overflow from header and cold water tanks discharges into a rainwater gutter, so a worn header tank washer can, and did, go unnoticed for months, especially in rainy weather, the pump-over of hot water causing severe condensation in the loft.
6. Most of the radiators are fitted to internal walls instead of under the windows, so the hot air travels across the ceiling, is cooled as it passes down the windows, then back across the floor, keeping our feet nice and chilly.
On moving in we fired up the boiler and were concerned by a slight smell of fumes. Via Yellow Pages I obtained quotes for a service & safety check from three local CORGI registered fitters. The lowest price seemed ridiculously cheap, so I picked the middle price, which I guessed, equated to a couple of hours work & therefore seemed sensible.
The man duly arrived in a very smart van, emblazoned with the CORGI logo. He agreed that there was a smell of fumes, and set about servicing the boiler, a model he said he had never worked on before (Ideal Elan 60F). I dug out the MI for him. He dusted the heat exchanger & burner etc. then replaced the casing. The casing seal looked to me to be in poor condition, but he said it was OK. The fume smell remained. He said he thought it might be caused by inadequate draught failing to remove the combustion products due to insufficient gas pressure at the burner. Accordingly, he set the pressure for maximum, although the rating plate on the boiler had been clearly marked to indicate that it had been set to the mid setting on installation. He fired the boiler briefly & convinced himself that the fume smell had gone.
I pointed out the discoloured eaves & asked if he would fit a heat shield (at extra cost, of course). He agreed that one was needed, but said that he did not have one. End of story.
After he had left I discovered that the boiler would begin to kettle continuously a short while after ignition. The heat input was now too great for the design flow rate.
I decided that I would rather break the law and be safe, than be law-abiding and at risk.
I reset the burner pressure to the mid setting - end of kettling. I ordered a set of seals and fitted them. The smell was much reduced but not completely eliminated, so I sloshed suds around all casing joints and blew nice big bubbles from four different locations. Some silicone sealant fixed the problem. I made and fitted a heat shield under the eaves.
I also installed a carbon monoxide alarm for added peace of mind.
I have heard glowing reports from neighbours about both the CORGI fitters involved, which only goes to show that personal recommendations are of no value where technical competence is concerned.
I now intend to replace the whole system, basing it around a condensing combi. I am confident of my ability to do the job myself, and you will understand from the foregoing why I would wish to do so. I would comply with the installation instructions, building regs (including part L1), IEE 16th edition, & water bylaws. I would not be tempted to cut corners to save a few pounds (e.g. by not fitting drain cocks to all radiators). In short, I would do a more competent job than the professionals involved with the current system. I would also be able to execute the work in convenient stages so as to minimise inconvenience.
I am wondering whether I will be likely to find a CORGI fitter willing to make the gas connection to a DIY installation, and sign the Benchmark log book to that effect.
Can I sign it as the competent person responsible for the rest of the installation, proof of competence resting on the quality of my work?
Or has the tighter regulatory regime effectively made it illegal to do a DIY installation?
Superbly described. Interim reply.
To leap to the end of your posting:
(a) It is NOT against the law per se for you to do DIY gas though for reasons you will understand I obviously must refer you to the www.corgi-gas-safety.com website for more advice on that.
(b) In a pre-planned situation I would have no qualms co-operating with a DIY heating system providing I did all the work subject to the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations. That includes pipework carrying gas or intending to carry gas. I ask you to bear in mind I have had dodgy Landlords install everything except the last metre of gas pipe and ask me to take responsibility (in effect) for the whole system.
(c) Iíd be happy to complete Benchmark providing I was permitted by you to carry out all relevant tests, including testing the system water and controls.
More detailed reply noting points along the route of your text.
This is not and never will be a DIY website but your posting is entirely welcome nevertheless as the thrust is clearly a responsible one.
For all practical purposes you have to be a registered gas installer to touch gas and even then Installers can only touch appliances on which they have proven competence. Multi-level certification exists in gas work and the back of an Installer's card shows what they can legally touch. For example I canít touch LPG gas.
The www.corgi-gas-safety.com website explains about DIY gas. Our only advice is to read that.
When TRVís started to be introduced on new build with BS 5449 I saw many fitted incorrectly and diagnosed those easily with a differential thermometer (highly recommended).
I recently had to almost strip off to squeeze through a narrow slit in a dormer wall to replace a pump. Iíve told the customer not to call me again unless those (two) slits are widened. The header tank is so tight to the ridge you could not get a standard BS 2456 float through the gap. S plan system and valves are there also.
As well as the gas regulations there are the Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations which should be observed.
I agree the optimum position for radiators is under windows theoretically (mine are not) but with the modern fashion for storey height curtains and TRVís the benefit of that is now lost. Everything needs to be weighed up. Surprisingly many customers on new build used to turn off TRVís behind curtains and then complain they are cold.
You might want to consider underfloor options if you are starting from scratch.
I canít comment on the service because I was not there but from what youíve said, if there is cause for concern then Corgi would investigate it, assuming you canít get the guy back. The flue sounds what we call NCS or Not to Current Standard. All NCS items should be noted.
Having said that I know of one case where an installer was abused by a customerís husband because he pointed out NCS items as he should. I know another where the engineerís (non technical) boss later told a customer the engineer was being over fussy and to forget the NCS report.
Your boiler is probably a positive pressure boiler (see Feature 11) so extra care is needed. Silicone not recommended. Boiler will be on the HSE watch list. Anything other than manufacturerís approved seals not recommended.
If you donít know anyone recommended try one of the Trade or Professional Associations including the www.idhe.org.uk
I would suggest you take advantage of your knowledge and follow the advice of HMG set out in Feature 8. Iíve just had my cavity walls done and will be installing a condensing boiler this year. Make and model top secret.
Iíve had customers do all the labouring, ripping up floors, forming holes and a host of other tasks. One big heating company I know has a diamond cutting team to save engineer time for example. Nowt wrong with that.
I would co-operate with any customer who wanted to save money providing I was brought in on day one.
As far as I recall signing Benchmark as a competent person is simply a quicker alternative to the formal Building Control route and is deemed to satisfy the regulations.
That said, providing I could see and test all (wet) pipework Iíd co-operate.
I qualified as a Chartered Builder and used to quite properly guide people through self build on extensions, having drawn the plans for them. In those cases I used to ensure Building Control were brought in at the correct stages etc.
I recall one guy who says he charges £14 per hour and £20 per hour if you want to watch. We are not all like that as youíve probably guessed. Each case (job) on individual merit.
Les, I would querry your interpretation of the NSC relating to the flue. As I understand the "rules" if there is no sign of distress then, yes NCS. However as the soffit/gutter is discoloured then I would put that down as At Risk.
I fully accept that as a fair comment.
It is question of degree. Although the boiler may not be at risk there may be a risk anyway of fire.
That said it is I am sure a positive pressure boiler and risks should not be taken.
Thanks for your replies Les,
I'm encouraged that I should be able to do everything but the gas side of the installation with a clear conscience. I'll certainly try to locate a decent CORGI fitter via one of the trade bodies for the gas work. I must say though that I'm astonished at the level of ineptitude displayed by the two professionals cited in my previous post. I had expected the CORGI logo to provide a guarantee of competence & integrity.
The Ideal Elan is indeed a positive pressure boiler. I take your point about the manufacturer's approved seals, but the beast was still leaking with a new set fitted, and looking at the design & construction, I'm not surprised. In the circumstances I feel that my use of silicone sealant (not in high-temperature areas) was the only realistic alternative to immediate junking of the boiler.
Regarding the extra charge for watching, I'll pay through the nose for that, because after my previous experience I'll be watching like a hawk!
I'm intrigued to know which boiler you will be going for. I checked the Which magazines at the library, but they appear not to have covered boilers in the last 5 years. At the moment I'm veering towards the Alpha CD24. I like the fact that it modulates right down to 5.5kW so it should be really efficient when the system is up to temperature. The downside is the max DHW flow rate of 9.6l/min, which will appear like a trickle after the Worcester 350. Perhaps I'll go for the CD32 with its 13.2l/min, although it will be overkill for the heating and only modulates down to 7.3kW.
Does anybody out there have any opinions as to reliability, ease of installation & servicing of the Alpha models?
Thanks again Les,
It is inevitable that in any population of individuals there will be a number who fall short of reasonable standards. Happens in all professions and it would not surprise me if there was a waiting list for lawyers (in particular) to be struck off.
It is not Corgiís job Iím afraid to look at general quality though they will follow up any concern on a gas safety issue without exception. Corgi have a (contractor) guarantee scheme which is referred to on their website if you drill down from the consumer page link above.
Regarding Which magazine I can say they are on our to-do list to investigate. A report by them in 2003 appeared on the face of it to be unsafe. The summary information suggested a problem with their survey model. I wrote to the Editor and offered to purchase the full report but did not receive an answer. We will be investigating whether their (contractor) selection process was devised to ensure good copy.
Although anyone is free to comment providing there are no sweeping and unsustainable derogatory comments, I doubt anyone will venture to suggest what is best. I note HMG is increasing MI5 staff by 1000 but even that will not be enough to find out what boiler Iím getting.
The trick is to ensure the whole system is spotlessly clean. You should expect a two year guarantee as a minimum. Ensure also it is serviced each year. A simple check with a flue gas analyser is not good enough. You must check for leaks inside just in case you get a Monday morning boiler.
I would not (could not) make a regular habit of co-operating with what you suggest but now and again it could be interesting. I have customers who let me try out new ideas (such as powerflushing etc) in exchange for free service. Many of the visitors here are scientists even though they donít wear white coats.
To back up what Peter said, I did know a case where a gutter melted and water then dropped into the flue.
Regarding your question about which boiler is best, they all seem very similar in terms of engineering quality once you get inside. I suggest a way of differentiating would be to look into quality of after-sales support on offer.
Make a shortlist of possible boilers, then pretend you are already a customer with a problem and try to get in touch with each manufacturer in turn. Once you reach intelligent life you can come clean, explain what you are doing and ask how long it would take them to get an engineer out to you at the moment if you really did have a problem.
I think this exercise may help you trim the shortlist substantially.
Les, this "CORGI = competent heating engineer" assumption that consumers generally make is something that needs to be tackled in my view.
I am forever explaining to customers that CORGI registration simply means the bloke knows about gas safety, and nothing more. It DOESN'T mean he understands how to design a heating system, fix a boiler, run a sound business or anything else. Hence the disappointment and puzzlement of people like Kevin when their gas-competent CORGI bod demonstrates shortcomings in the broader spheres of heating engineering and/or business ethics.
The real and narrow meaning of CORGI needs to be promoted in my view. The public deserves to have it's expectations brought into line with reality. Either that or CORGI needs to start vetting its RGIs more broadly.
Some people knowingly make a rod for their own back.
I had a customer who worked at my bank. Told her I donít do combi boilers but one day I caved in. She got BG in with a view to 3* service and quite rightly they baled out. The 9 year old obscure boiler was built into a cupboard and cover would not budge.
Got MI several days later and removed the cupboard. FGA went right off the scale. Flue and boiler filling with ivy climbing plant. Took me ages to clean the delicate Copper HE. Months later in winter it broke down. She went away for a few days and heating went off. Thick with frost.
Carefully diagnosed gas valve failure and phoned HRPC. They promised overnight. In the interim customer noted HRPC number I had written down. When I left she phoned them and called them all sorts of names for not getting GV sooner. I picked it up the following day as promised and they told me what had happened. Fitted the valve and got the beast working. Told her never to phone me again. Told HRPC what Iíd done.
She did phone me again. Eventually had some kitchen work done and a new boiler. Cheap job. She brought Corgi in but the work was gas safe and nothing more Corgi could (or should) do. Except perhaps publicise as you suggest. She knew it was a cheap job, gambled and lost.
I took your advice when we moved PC platforms. Cap in hand I pretended I had already bought a PC from big stores and needed extras. All referred me to high street PC shops. So that is where I bought all our stuff. We now have a top class professional. Not the cheapest but theyíve never failed.
My answer to consumers is that corgi provides the driving licence and doesn't mean that because of that. That doesn't mean that they can drive every thing going or wants to.
Whilst legaly within the moduals taken they are qualified that doesn't mean they know everything.
Just because someone has a car licence they can technically drive up to a 3.5 ton truck but can they ?
just a thought
Last year I decided to replace my 35 year old cast iron floor standing boiler with a wall mounted condensing boiler. I did invite quotes from local gas installers but they declined the job or gave prohibitively expensive quotes because the installation required a lot of work and a long flue (7m) which would need to be installed inside the old flue chimney. (The house is a sixties mid-terrace large windows so insufficient outside wall to hang a boiler)
I decided to do the work myself but had a gas installer, who's name I got from the boiler supplier, come round to review my plans and agree to commission the boiler when installed.
On completion of the installation (Vaillant Ecomax Pro) I called the gas installer. It took 2 weeks and two missed appointments but he did show up in the end. He inspected the installation and said the work was of good quality. He did a gas pressure "drop test" and followed the manufacturer's commisionning procedure. When he had finished and the boiler was working he said he would come back in a couple of days, re-check the burner pressure, flush the system and add inhibitor, and then sign off the benchmark certificate and warranty.
That was the last I saw of him. It is now 3 months later but, in spite of several calls and texts and promises to call back, he has failed to turn up. Now his phone is no long active and I don't have an address for him.
I have flushed the system and added inhibitor myself. All is working fine but I don't have a benchmark certificate or the signed warranty document.
My question is whether, in the opinion of the professional contributors, I could reasonably expect another Corgi registered person to pick this up and sign it off?
By the way I don't question the competence of this person, though I didn't check his Corgi documentation. Also he hasn't "ripped me off" because he wouldn't take any money until the job was finished so I haven't paid him anything.
Fascinating tale with both legal and technical interest.
We'll be back soon.
I donít take any pleasure in spoiling Sunday dinner for anyone but in this day and age, boiler flue options are seemingly limitless and boilers can be sited almost anywhere with the right bit of kit. One example includes a 20 metre (presumably equivalent length) x 50mm (plastic) flue. Click here for one 418K pdf example: Our advice to consumers is to assume anything is possible until proven otherwise.
I fitted a modern, room sealed, warm air upgrade with an (equivalent length) 12 metre flue not too long ago.
It is possible (I donít know) that your errant Installer has gone away, discovered something he did not like and decided to cut his losses.
Benchmark has two functions:
(a) Assuming such a document is valid in the Building Regulation context, it is deemed to satisfy Regulation L1. However, thereby may hang a problem. Even if the boiler installation is 101% perfect, the rest of the system has to be reviewed under L1. The system may be wonderful in the eyes of DEFRA and ODPM or it may not be. If not then Benchmark cannot be signed. Trawl through Feature 8 when you have a week to spare.
(b) It may be a condition of warranty that Benchmark is valid in the context of the boiler installation. Although the system can affect the boiler and therefore warranty, The ODPM and DEFRA issues will not (cannot) per se affect warranty. To put it another way, no boiler manufacturer would insist on TRVís fitted to bedroom radiators as may be required under Part L. Indeed (just to cause trouble) many professionals might argue (including boiler manufacturers) that TRVís in some cases might impact on the benefits of condensing technology. That might be an interesting topic for the boffins at the http://www.idhe.org.uk
Still with me ?
If (if) the boiler is 100% kosher I doubt the boiler manufacturer would kick up a fuss without Benchmark. Even with Benchmark they can (and do) kick up a fuss if their beloved technology has been abused in some horrible way (and I donít blame them). Basically we canít speak for any boiler manufacturer. They may (I donít know) offer a commissioning service themselves. I know some do. Ask them. Time to get it right is now. You have a tasty bit of kit so look after it and enjoy lower gas bills.
I recall one HVAC company reported in a Trade Journal who were so fed up with warranty claims that they insisted on properly completed commissioning documents or they would refuse service.
Aidan what type of flue did you use up the centre of chimney?
Thanks for that Les. I will try a few local Corgi installers and maybe Vaillant if I get no joy.
Alan. The flue I used, which was part of the reason for the choice of Vaillant, was the Vaillant standard 100mm concentric flue. On the ECO Max Pro you are allowed up to around 10m vertical flue which, even with a pair of 45 deg bends with 0.5m equivalent length, provided sufficient length for me. I used the vertical terminal on a flat roof adapter which is mortared to the top of the chimney stack after removing the chimney pot to give the chimney stack a flat top. I originally planned to use the Potterton twin tube flue but when I broke into the brickwork I found that it was lined with a 5in clay pipe set in mortar all the way up so had to rethink my plans. I still had to break into the side of the chimney to put in supports for the flue.
I did call Vaillant tech support to check I wasn't smoking something re the flue and they said it was fine as long as it was properly supported in the chimney, which it is.
It's good quality and very flexible system. The exhaust inner is plastic with neoprine seals and the intake outer is aluminium. It comes in a variety of lengths and can be trimmed to size to some extent. Only problem is that it's very expensive - the flue cost nearly as much as the boiler. A set of 5 mounting brackets are £65 + VAT!
I am a little surprised that you identified the installer who helped you but you now dont seem to know his name, address, CORGI No. or apparently anything about him apart from a now defunct mobile number. Surely you can retrace your steps to when you first found him. If you email me with the clues then I will identify him so at least you can pay him.
In spite of what Les has inferred, the Benchmark Certificate cannot be required by the boiler manufacturer before providing warranty service.
The Benchmark certificate is however required to be completed by a CORGI registered engineer under the building regulations. If not, you could in theory be required to complete an application for Buildings Regulations Approval and pay the fees.
In view of Tony's last paragraph, I suppose there is always the possibility that, in time, no Benchmark certificate could affect the sale of the property as does no Planning Permission at the moment.
I do know the installer's name and I know the town where he lives. In fact I had his card but lost it so was just left with his mobile number in my notebook. He's isn't local to me but frequents the plumber's merchant which I used because it's a midpoint in his 50 mile comute to work. I could call in there and get it again but it took many calls and two missed appointments to get him to come and commission the boiler. I have since called and texted him to remind him to return and he always says he will but never shows. You get to a point where it doesn't seem worth trying any more. Having said that, maybe I'll try once more.
The real issue by the way is the signature on the warranty documentation because Vaillant offer an additional year's warranty if you have all the right paperwork and you have the boiler serviced after the first year. Having found reference elsewhere in this site to Ecomax HEs failing within two years, that seems worth having.
Thanks to all for your comments. I do try educate myself prior to embarking on these kind of projects but you can't beat experience.
Give me his name and town and I will try to get a BT telephone number, name and address and CORGI number.
Of course in this case he hs done nothing wrong and you haven't paid him although you do owe him something.
As you say, Vaillant offer a second year warranty if the paperwork is right and you remember to get it serviced within the first year.
Thanks Tony. As you say this man has not done anything wrong other than not turn up. Hence I'd rather not put his name on the forum but, if it's OK with you, I'll Fax the details to you at Agile Services NW10.
I'm sure Tony intended you to pass on the name privately. We don't permit personal names posted here anyway, below the rank of CEO.
Quote - In spite of what Les has inferred, the Benchmark Certificate cannot be required by the boiler manufacturer before providing warranty service - Unquote
Manufacturers have often mooted not accepting warranty calls without Benchmark but it will never happen. They can insist on what they want but .. this does not affect your statutory rights.
I know of instances where service has been refused because (in effect) the Benchmark logbook cannot be completed properly. I.E. where the gas pipe is grossly too small.
Better to send an email than a fax.
The example Les has quoted of service being refused is not based on the Benchmark but on the boiler not having being installed in accordance with the Manufacturer's Instructions. In that case they are perfectly entitled to refuse warranty service until the installation defects are put right.
The bigest example I have seen was an installation of four Grant 38 kW oil fired boilers at a school. The flues were too close to each other side by side so the manufacturer's refused to commission them.
From a kosher Manufacturerís Service source. Name of company disguised as (the wrong number of) XXXXXXX:
XXXXXXX initially declined two visits without Benchmark book completed. Suggested that customer contacted Installer. First to fill in details but if boiler broke and figures not taken at commissioning [if commissioning had been done] you can't commission a broken boiler. Ultimately they stopped asking about Benchmark.
Did you have any joy finding the gas installer from the details I sent?
Time to apply the guillotine to that one I suggest.
Tonyís email address is available in his profile for offline communication on the subject.
Your profile does not accept email and I have not received any fax or email from you.
Email in my profile or agile services *** @ *** aol.com ( remove stars ! ).
Fax 0700 580 1583
Thanks to Tony for checking the Corgi register for my "installer". I was not entirely surprised to find that there was noone registered under his name in the area.
If there's anyone working around the Hornchurch area who would be interested in the formal commissioning of my boiler (ECOMax Pro) in exchange for cash, I'd be delighted to hear from them.
Thanks all for your help. This forum is a mine of great information for DIYers such as myself who want to do things properly, legally and safely.
Maybe offering to pay cash is not such a good idea. Didn't this start with what looked like quick and easy? How about 'prompt payment' instead?
This was never expected to be "quick and easy". Choice was spending around £1,000 for the boiler, flue etc. and doing a quality job myself, or paying someone £3,000 to do it for me.
The new boiler, along with a conversion from gravity to fully pumped, from a timer to fully programmed, along with replacement of much of the pipework and some rads with TRVs, all worked from the first time it was turned on in December and has performed flawlessly since.
Only problem I have is that the law regarding gas DIY is ambiguous and the manufacturer's warranty, especially the second year, could be in question without a Corgi commission.
Happy to pay cash, cheque, credit card etc. promptly to any Corgi registered installer who's happy to approach the job with an open mind and not assume that, as a DIYer, I've done a gash job.
Preamble - Apologies for absence. Family crisis blew up yesterday just after new site rolled out but weíre on top of it now and everything OK. Apologies also to people I should have written to but have not had chance to including our Beta-Testing folk and those on the mailing list.
I understand the spirit of your posting but it is not safe in my view to solicit an Installer through this (or any other) forum as we have no control who reads the pages (and would not want to).
As recommended in the Consumers section youíd best contact Corgi or one of the Trade and Professional Associations, if no one otherwise arrives recommended.
Personally I would not touch it. One of the best heating jobs I ever saw (wet side) was a DIY but that was manifestly an exception to the rule. My judgement (whether to commission yours) would be based upon statistical data.
Bearing in mind I spent many happy years on emergency service work (not gas) and most of those were DIY screw-ups. Some amusing some not so amusing.
The law regarding DIY gas is not ambiguous as pointed out before. See http://www.corgi-gas-safety.com for the only safe source on the subject. We are not attempting to circumvent Corgiís role with this website.
As also pointed out before to commission it I would have to include system water analysis and all the other stuff. If the gas pipework (and / or boiler installation) is DIY then I would not touch it but only for legal reasons.
If the person who fitted your boiler is not registered then (legally) it is a DIY job.
I personally have no problem co-operating with a customer who wants to have serious input to save £££ but I must be full in control of the legal bits. That includes water (where applicable) and gas.
Went to a guy yesterday who has specified a top of the range high efficiency boiler but almost immediately resisted (as I expected) suggestions of a beefed up gas pipe and system clean. Told him I will not touch it (combi swap) under any circumstances unless it is done by the numbers.
His current aging combi has poor hot water delivery. He also complains he has to turn the hot tap almost off to get hot water. Incoming pressure at the time 4 bar and flow rate 18 litres per minute. Iíve also insisted on a PRV and he is (was) resisting that.
I know (as he probably does) that he could get his choice fitted in one day as a direct swap for cash and it will cost him much less. He now has a Ďgambleí to make. My main reason for visiting was to study the psychology involved as that interests me.
I quotes from www.corgi-gas-safety.com :
"Anyone carrying out work on gas appliances or fittings as part of their business must be competent and registered with CORGI."
The implication is that anyone carrying out work on gas appliances which is not as part of their business (it's not part of my business) is not required to be competent or registered with Corgi.
"Only a competent person can carry out work on gas appliances or fittings."
Nowhere is "competent" defined. It clearly doesn't equate to being Corgi registered or the first quote wouldn't say they need to be both competent and Corgi registered.
"Do-it-yourself work on gas appliances or fittings could be dangerous and is likely to be illegal."
This does not point out in which circumstances it is illegal. The fact that it says "likely to be illegal" implies that in some circustances it's not illegal.
Can't see how it could be much more ambiguous.
The MI is fully of similar ambiguous phraseology.
I would also like to take up your comment "I personally have no problem co-operating with a customer who wants to have serious input to save £££ but I must be full in control of the legal bits. That includes water (where applicable) and gas."
As per my original posting I did invite the "gas fitter" to review my plans before I started, which he did, and I invited him to do the gas pipe-work and anything else that he thought appropriate. Basic problem is that, because his name was provided by the plumbers merchant, I assumed he was Corgi registered. Clearly a lesson to be learned for me. Also this is an indirect system, not a combi, and the water has been flushed around a dozen times, had a sludge remover used, flushed again and an inhibitor added. No leaks, no flow problems, no airlocks.
Statistics can always be misleading - you wouldn't expect to get too may calls to well installed systems.
A contributing factor to my decision to install myself was that the private installers I invite to quote told me that what I wanted to do was not possibe because there wasn't a flue narrow enough and long enough and, if there was, they wouldn't be interested in the job because it was too much work. This is where Corgi registration works against the consumer because there seems to be sufficient work around for those registered without the need to undertake the more challenging jobs.
I hope I don't cause offence with these comments. The contributers to this forum clearly care about providing a quality service or they wouldn't subscribe. This is just one possible consumer view.
No offence caused that is the whole purpose of debate.
Actually I was being slightly naughty. Corgi info is sometimes as clear as mud but understandable here as they were given mud to interpret. There are no Corgi rules by the way. Corgi simply (?) interpret the rules, pointing to the relevant source which in this case is GSIUR or the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations. Corgi necessarily have technical expertise but given their role sometimes get carried away with their own importance. Essentially they are administrators working at the behest of the HSE who have rarely jumped in and corrected a corgi technical faux pas. Not set in stone incidentally if you wish to bid for corgiís role next time it is reviewed.
Iíll try to translate it into English for you. Given the Ďcompetenceí motif which is set in stone (GSIUR), DIY gas work really is always illegal but Ďtheyí do not want to say so categorically because you are also a voter and HMG do not want to incur the wrath of voters. Hence they say a lot and tell you nowt worthwhile. Unless you caused a bang or C0 poisoned someone, nothing is likely to happen. Basically the necessary wording is firmly in place should anything go wrong. The rules are primarily designed to protect Ďthemí from criticism rather than the public from danger; Personally Iíve no strong views either way.
But youíve made another interesting point. Being registered does not make anyone a heating engineer. Far from it. You really need to be contacting one or more of the Trade and Professional Associations. No connection here with any association so no axe to grind. Not every plumber is a gas fitter and not every gas fitter is a plumber. Not everyone who is a plumber and gas fitter is a heating engineer.
Corgi is the highway code of gas. Important yes but nothing more than the highway code. Signs of their encroachment into other areas is being monitored closely here. They must stick to their highway code role.
To confuse you even more, only a corgi registered business can undertake gas work. A sole proprietor gas installer is a corgi registered business. A fully legally competent person who is an employee cannot undertake gas work in their own free time unless they are also registered as a business in their own name. One such was prosecuted last year. What you could call dual registrations and the number of those shot up last year. Be interesting to see what the numbers are this year; Annual report due soon.
It does not end there. I can only undertake gas work for which I am deemed competent. On the back of my corgi card is a list of stuff I can undertake. I can do all domestic work. Actually I cannot. I can install anything except a barbeque outside. I expect few are registered for warm air heating or gas tumble driers. I cannot take on board anything LPG, only Natural Gas. I cannot touch gas on any gas pipe exceeding 28mm diameter.
I have a customer who has moved to an address with a natural gas boiler served by a 28mm gas pipe. However it is a forced draught burner and I cannot touch those either. As I recall there are about 97 components in all. I could take that boiler out but not work on it in any way.
Thus multi-level certification exists. And with each level the cost rises. Therefore installers may only undertake competence assessment on matters they are likely to carry out on a regular basis. Many are only registered for boilers (central heating). If that applies they cannot fit or repair your gas hob or multi-point water heater, no Sir.
It gets worse. Snag is that just as you donít know for certain whether or not an Installer is competent, I do not know for certain whether or not a DIY person is competent. Iíd be loathe to Ďfinishí or commission any job even if I knew for certain a registered installer had done it. Commissioning a new boiler is also now a Building Regulations matter. Not technically but actually. To be precise, in England and Wales all new and replacement boilers. In Scotland new boiler installations only.
One should distinguish between technically challenging and financially challenging. I personally prefer a stimulating scenario but some jobs we instinctively know have a high probability that much labour intensive effort could result in a nil return. Nothing is certain but probability (statistics) and experience count for a lot. Receiving a cold call from someone proffering your situation would result in polite termination of the call. Given the foregoing it is basically not worth taking a risk.
Few know this but when I first started fiddling about on the web (years ago now) my original ambition was to broadcast the range of high efficiency and high quality products that most installers will never see paraded at the plumbers merchant. Thus many will not know about the superb flue options that exist. It is tragic really. We may now be going full circle with the new website.
Message from a consumer here.
Our central heating boiler went the other day, and the general consenus has been that it needs replacing. It is an old Gloworm cast iron boiler used for central heating only (the flats hot water is from a separate instantaneous boiler), and it is obvious it needs changing.
We've had a few quotes etc, but having read the previous discussion about PCBs on Microns going, I have been surprised as 3 out of 4 engineers are advising Microns.
Any advice ? or suggestions for alternate makes ?
Due to supplying heating only, and only having to supply a ground floor flat only the boiler only really needs to be about 40-60,000.
Also can anyone recommend a supplier and fitter in the NW London (Harrow) area ?
If you read on all new microns have new boards in them it is only the old ones which have the orange lights all new ones have green lights.
The micron is a small well made boiler they just had some trouble with the "first" batch. I look after some where in the region of 250 to 300 of them and the only other parts in 3 years is. Is 2 fans and one stat, oow and 1 new board (but there is always 1!)
so in my book with the new boards fitted they are good but it is like everything else time will tell
I rehoused the posting by Taposh.
Recommend contact one or more of the Trade and Professional Associations.
Installers cannot be sourced from this website. The only current guaranteed source of information on who is suitably registered is http://www.corgi-gas-safety.com where there is a database you can interrogate.
I am a cosumer with a problem.
My existing boiler 'which is 13 years old and runs with an expansion tank and hot and cold water tanks only runs my central heating.I run two immersion heaters for hot water(we made two flats into one).Problem is concrete floors and the existing copper pipeing is embedded into the concrete.Also the present pipes must have been in place for 30years.
My plumber suggests replacing the boiler with a combi and hopes to join the hotwater to it throgh the ceiling space, rather than digging up the floor(its a basement flat)
I invited British gas around,and they say they would only replace the boiler as long as they repiped on the surface-this would ruin my living area!
Does any know the life expectancy of copper pipes in this situation? My plumber didnt mention repiping at all.HELP
The copper pipes could last for years or one could fail tomorrow. If you had ever seen an old copper pipe that has been buried in concrete youíd understand.
You may wish to know of the Copper Development Association (http://www.cda.org.uk).
Problem for British Gas (I agree with them) is that they may be asked to take the system onto 3 star after a boiler is fitted. In that case they would not and I would not, want to guarantee any pipework.
It is a gamble Iím afraid.
If this copper pipe is table Y and plastic coated throughout its length It should be okay. The problem will be, as Les assumed, that it is not. The most likley is bare table X burried direct in concrete.
To tell the difference look where the pipe enters the concrete. If you can see the plastic coat you can breath easy, but if not my recomendation would be to start making some plans.
PS table X & Y refer the grades of copper pipe, Y being a thicker tube wall.
Thanks very much for prompt replies.The pipes arent plastic covered unfortunately.Im going to have to have a big think!Thanks again.
Hope someone can help. I recently had a supply to a gas hob installed, and about a week afterwards noticed a smell of gas in the kitchen (the hob hadnt been fitted at the time as kitchen still being installed.) Anyway, turned the gas off at mains & smell remained. When the plumber came back to connect the hob he pressure checked the system & checked all the joints & there was no evidence whatsoever of a leak. I am confident in his abilities, but the smell is still there (it comes and goes). Could there be anything else that might smell like gas & be throwing me off, like damp or something? My wife can smell it too so it's not just me. There is no smell outside, so dont think it can be drifting in from anywhere, it's just in the kitchen.
Hope someone can help 'cos I think I'm going mad!
Best ring Transco Emergency Service on 0800 111999 - could be their main into the property.