Appliance Safety For the Vulnerable Living Alone

Ability provides assistance throughout Kent, East and West Sussex areas including with gas appliances, as well as heating, plumbing and electrics.

With an increase in the elderly and disabled choosing to live independently at home, with support from carers and families, greater care needs to be taken to make sure all appliances are working effectively. Carers have a duty of care to those they look after and one of their main priorities is to keep these vulnerable people safe within their homes. Research, however, has shown that many people are at risk due to unsafe gas appliances.

It has been alarmingly reported that 1 in 5 people have unsafe boilers, fires and cookers in their homes. When asked in a recent survey, carers said they did not know the key signs of a gas appliance being faulty and could not say whether the people they looked after had a C02 alarm and whether it was working efficiently.

Ability has previously mentioned in other posts the importance of having a C02 alarm in every household to eliminate carbon monoxide poisoning when an appliance goes wrong and we can’t reiterate this point enough.

Carers and families looking after loved ones should check their appliances regularly and look out for signs and symptoms of faults and get these rectified immediately.

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Bright blue flame

Some of the main signs are; increased condensation inside windows, the pilot light on the boiler going out and regularly being relit, floppy yellow or orange flames on gas appliances when they should be bright blue and black sooty marks around the gas appliance.

If you would like Ability to carry out a repair, service or check a gas appliance is safe please call 01892 514495 or email info@ability.uk.com and we would be happy to assist

Pressure Dropping In The Heating System

Ability provides heating, plumbing and electrical assistance in Kent, East and West Sussex.  As the temperatures start to drop we receive an increased volume of calls from customers saying that the pressure on their boiler has dropped.

Boiler Pressure Gauge

The power to the system must be turned off before starting to re-pressurise the boiler.  It’s something the homeowner can do themselves but if the pressure continues to drop then a heating engineer will be required.  Modern boilers work best usually around 1.5 bar.  The boiler will have a pressure gauge which shows the minimum and maximum operating pressure.

There are 3 main reasons why the pressure could drop.

Bleeding Radiators Low Pressure

When bleeding radiators air is being let out of the system and can cause the pressure to drop.  This can be easily rectified by letting more cold water back into the system.  This is simple to do however each boiler is different so you will need to refer back to the boiler manual or the manufacturer’s website for direction.

bleeding your radiators-central heating system
Pets Warm at Home

Water Leak

If there is a leak in the system the pressure will continue to drop even if you have added more cold water into the system.  It can be very hard to locate a leak but the best place to check first is the radiator valves. Wipe the valves with kitchen roll and place a tray beneath it to collect any dripping water.  If you are unable to locate the leak then an engineer may be needed to locate and fix it because the leak could be behind a bath panel or floorboard.

Boiler Fault

It is important to have your boiler serviced annually as this helps to keep your boiler running efficiently.  Any fault will be detected earlier and can be fixed before further problems develop.  If the pressure in the system keeps dropping after cold water has been added, it could be the expansion valve has failed or limescale could have built up in the boiler.  A certified engineer will be needed to check this out.

If you need any assistance with the above please give Ability a call on 01892 514495 or email info@ability.uk.com.

Find The Right Boiler For Your Home

Ability provides heating, plumbing and electrical assistance throughout the South East of England. Purchasing the right boiler is quite an investment and when considering to upgrade it is important that you find the best one that works for you.

Right boiler System Boilers

System boilers directly heat the central heating system taking water from the mains and heating it through a storage cylinder. They could be the right boiler for you if you have a property with two or more bathrooms and showers. System boilers deliver great water flow even if the water is being run from more than one place at a time.

System boilers do require a tank so if you think this is the right boiler for you there must be space within the house to accommodate it. If your property has poor incoming water pressure then a System boiler will not rectify this and a pump or mains boost tanks may also need to be installed.

Combi Boiler

Combi boilers are a compact unit that provides both heating and hot water. It may be the right boiler for you if your home lacks space to house a hot water cylinder and a cold water tank in the loft. The combi works by heating water straight from the mains when a hot water tap is turned on.

Combi boilers may not be the right boiler for you if you have poor incoming water pressure. Unlike with other systems, you will no longer have a separate immersion heater to provide hot water as back up if your combi does go wrong.

Back Boiler

Back boilers were traditionally placed within the chimney of a property and would have a gas fire attached to the front of it. It provides heating and hot water throughout the property.

Although back boilers are still being used they are being frequently replaced with combi boilers. Back boilers are more expensive to run and let off more toxins than the combi boiler and this should be considered when deciding if the Back boiler is the right boiler for you.

If you would like a free no-obligation quotation or a service on your boiler whether it be gas, oil or lpg please give Ability a call on 01892 514495 or email info@ability.uk.com

Emergency Plumber in Maidstone Boiler Repair Near Me

Last night we were called for an emergency plumber in Maidstone, Kent. The customer has searched for Maidstone boiler repair near me, and Ability plumbers in Maidstone were to the rescue.

We can attend your home for your plumbing or heating problem within a 1-hour response. Our emergency plumber Tom arrived in 30 minutes of the phone call and had the water leak stopped within 15 minutes of arrival

Maidstone Boiler Repair Near Me

A Brief History of Maidstone

Maidstone is a large town situated in Kent in the South East and has a population of over 113,137 people.  It lies 32 miles east-south-east of London.  The River Medway runs through the centre of the town linking with Rochester and the Thames Estuary.  There is evidence of settlement dating back to the stone age.  The River Medway has been used for trade and the town is the centre of what is known as the Garden of England.

It has been suggested that the name Maidstone derives from stones set into the river to allow clothes to be rinsed in the cleaner water away from the banks.

During the English Civil War, the Battle of Maidstone took place in 1648, resulting in a victory for the Parliamentarian, Andrew Broughton, who was Mayor in 1649 (and also Clerk to the High Court of Justice) was responsible for declaring the death sentence on Charles I, and today a plaque in the Town Centre memorialises Broughton as ‘Mayor and Regicide’.

Paper mills, stone quarrying, brewing and the cloth industry have all flourished here. Today, residents are employed in the retail, administrative or service sectors; there are industrial estates around the town providing employment. Some of the workforce commute to other towns, including to London

Plumbers in Maidstone

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Your local plumbers-our friendly team

Our engineers are Gas Safe registered and understand the importance of gas health and safety within your property.  For this reason, it is vital that you choose a trained Gas Safe professional to undertake any gas fire, cooker, boiler or appliance work, so call us for our Plumber in Maidstone today.

We serve areas in Maidstone and surrounding areas including, Allington, Alyesford, Barming, Staplehurst, Bearsted, Kings Hill, East Peckham, Kingshill, Wateringbury and Laddingford.

Which Smart Thermostat Is Right For You?

We have been carrying out an assessment of the new and available digital room thermostatic controls here at Ability.

Traditional thermostats are pretty much a fumble to use. It feels like it takes a million button presses to set or program anything and forget adjusting the temperature if you’re not at home or in the correct room. If you’d rather adjust your thermostat from your phone, with your voice, or if that isn’t futuristic enough, let it adjust itself automatically, you’ll want a smart thermostat like one of these new models that we have on offer here at Ability.

Google Thermostatic Control

Google’s Nest is the biggest name in smart thermostats, and with good reason. Originally designed by Tony Fadell, the father of the iPod, the Nest series use a click-wheel interface for turning the temperature up and down that feels incredibly intuitive. The Nest’s biggest feature, though, is its ability to learn your habits and adapt its temperature schedule accordingly, negating the need for you to futz with it.

Nest Thermostatic Control

Nest Thermostatic Control

The Nest Learning Thermostat is probably what you think of when you picture the Nest, but it isn’t actually my top recommendation for most people. The Nest Thermostat E, in our opinion, is a better buy. It’s cheaper but contains almost all the same features, and its clean white housing is more likely to blend into the walls of your home.

The Nest Thermostat E’s display isn’t quite as nice, but that’s a small downside considering the savings. It does, however, lack compatibility with some HVAC systems – so check Nest’s compatibility tool to see if it’ll work with your home, and keep in mind that if you don’t have a C-Wire, it may not be advisable to use the Nest at all (even though it will technically work). You can read more about C-wires on-line.

Honeywell Thermostatic Control

If you’re on a stricter budget, the Honeywell T5+ gets you the most important smart features in a great package. It’s not exactly “cheap”, and it isn’t as attractive as the other options on this list, but it’ll get the job done, you can control it from your phone or with your voice using Alexa and Google, and use its geofencing features to automate energy savings when you aren’t home.

But that discount has to cut corners somewhere: it doesn’t integrate with SmartThings, doesn’t support room sensors, and doesn’t learn your habits the way Nest does, but if you want basic smart home integration at a more affordable price, the T5+ will do the job.

Ecobee Thermostatic Control

Canadian company ecobee is the other big name in the smart thermostat space, and their latest offering is known simply as the ecobee SmartThermostat. It has a decidedly more techy look, with a black touch screen that’s easy to navigate and adjust, along with sensors for different rooms just like the T9. the ecobee sensors are slightly less powerful as the T9’s, since they don’t detect humidity, but they’re still quite useful. Like other thermostats, you can control it from your phone, set schedules, and automate energy savings when you leave the house. You can check compatibility with your home’s HVAC system here.

If your not sure which thermostatic control is for you then please give us a call here at Ability 01892 514495 and we can discuss the best option for your needs.

Raising Carbon Monoxide Safety Awareness at Festivals

Ability provides heating, plumbing and electrical services in the Kent, West and East Sussex areas. The majority of us are aware of carbon monoxide safety within our homes and many of us have detectors. Of course, if readings become high companies such as ourselves are called in to rectify the problem, however, this tends not to be the case when having a bbq or attending a festival.

Festival organisers are being encouraged to raise awareness of the risk of CO poisoning. The All-Party Parliamentary Carbon Monoxide Group (APPCOG) have held discussions in parliament.

BBQ in open spaces

It is very easy to have a carefree attitude when attending festivals whilst the priority is to have fun, we do need to be aware of the risk of exposure to carbon monoxide.

BBQs should not be used in confined places such as tents. Manufacturers of BBQs will be asked to flag this warning on the packaging.

Staff working at the festivals should be trained to raise awareness of the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning and intervene if somebody is acting recklessly.

Some of the signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide are: dull headaches, vomiting, shortness of breath, confusion, blurred vision, dizziness and loss of consciousness these can all, of course, be signs of someone being intoxicated so staff should be trained to be vigilant. CO poisoning is particularly dangerous therefore for people who are intoxicated or asleep as these symptoms could easily be mistaken for something else.

Carbon Monoxide Safety Awareness

It has also been suggested that awareness should be raised on social media, mobile phone advertising, festival apps, promotional material and bands playing at the festival. They have also suggested that leading representatives from festival organisers, carbon monoxide campaign groups and gas industry should also get involved.

If you require assistance from Ability please call on 01892 514495 or email info@ability.uk.com

Bringing The Right Plumbing or Heating Engineer Into Your Home

Contacting a plumbing or heating engineer to repair leaking or burst pipes, service your boiler or gas fire in your home or office is a necessary exercise, and choosing the right company needn’t be costly. Make sure that you are hiring the right company, like Ability, for the job.

Hiring a plumber requires plenty of trust, after all, you’re allowing a complete stranger to enter your home.

Ability, a plumbing and heating company based in the heart of Kent, offers a checklist of the most important factors that all plumbers should comply to

1. Certification

It is extremely important to hire an accredited and registered plumber and heating engineer, even better if the plumber is registered with CIPHE or the heating engineer with Gas Safe, these are just two of the many governing bodies we are registered with here at Ability. Many people claim to be plumbers, but are in fact ‘jacks of all trades’ or ‘handymen’.

Avoid them where possible because they may not possess the quality workmanship, experience and knowledge or skills needed to comply with the plumbing standards issued by CIPE and Gas Safe and may also be uninsured.  More often than not, people who use uncertified plumbers are left with larger and more costly messes after the so-called ‘plumber’ has left. We see this time and time again, it gives the industry a bad name and pains us.

When hiring a CIPHE registered plumbing company, or Gas Safe engineer you can feel confident that they possess the skills and expertise to deal with any plumbing or heating problem you may encounter, be it major or minor. Also, only CIPHE registered plumbers and Gas Safe engineers are authorised to sign and release a certificate of compliance, which is needed when a house is sold, or as a guarantee of a plumbing and heating job done well.

2. Work Experience

Work experience is important in all careers, and it’s equally important in plumbing and heating. Most plumbers should have at least ten years’ of plumbing experience, with additional knowledge and experience in construction and renovations. Here at Ability, our plumbers and heating engineers have over 15 years’ experience each and the company being established now for 40 years this year, our knowledge of the industry is second to none.

3. A Business Bank Account

It’s very important for a plumbing company to have a registered business bank account. Not only is it professional, but it also makes you feel more confident that you’re dealing with a legitimately registered business and not a ‘fly-by-night’ who might disappear with your deposit without starting (or finishing) the job.

Rather spend your hard-earned cash on hiring a CIPHE registered plumber and gas engineer who has a registered business that can be tracked. Our bank details are available on our invoice and quotations and upon request when calling us up by telephone.

4. Well-maintained vehicles with visible branding

All our vehicles are clean, well-maintained and branded with our company logo.  We believe that the vehicles our plumbers and heating engineers drive are an extension of who we are and reflects the pride we have in our work and business.

Plumbing repair the sink waste

5. Neat and clean presentation

Hiring a plumber or heating engineer requires plenty of trust, after all, you’re allowing a complete stranger to enter your home. It is important to us that we make a good first impression and all our employees will always look neat and presentable.

6. Able To Do Physical Labour

It is necessary for plumbers and heating engineers to maintain their ideal fitness levels, as they are often required to exert themselves physically. They climb into small and tight spaces, lift themselves over walls, and lift heavy objects and equipment. Plumbers and heating engineers who are unfit could possibly struggle to perform their tasks optimally.

7. Punctuality

Our plumbers and heating engineers take pride in themselves, our business and work is always punctual. Being punctual is associated with a positive work attitude, which our plumbing and heating engineers pride themselves on, they can be relied upon to get the job done on the time agreed. A plumber who is late reflects a disinterest in customer service and in performing to the best of their abilities.

8. Communication skills

It’s important for our plumbers and heating engineers to conduct themselves in a professional manner at all times. This includes the manner and tone in which they communicate with customers and their colleagues.  Hiring a plumber or heating engineer that shouts over the phone, is unapproachable and disrespectful will more than likely result in a poor relationship. Trustworthy plumbers and heating engineers are normally polite, approachable and easily contacted.

9. Reachability

Don’t hire plumbers and heating engineers who are difficult to reach and who doesn’t answer your calls, emails or WhatsApp messages. Although plumbers and heating engineers have families of their own and are also tired in the evenings after a long and hard day at work, it’s reassuring to hire a plumber or heating engineer who cares about their work and customers enough to take the time to discuss matters with them and who will also respond in the case of an emergency.

10. Willingness To Correct Problems

Even qualified and experienced plumbers and heating engineers can make mistakes under pressure. If you notice what appears to be a mistake in your plumber’s or heating engineer’s work and you discuss it with them, they should be willing to fix the mistake or be willing to take time to explain why it appears to be a mistake, but actually isn’t one.  If there is a problem with the job we always return and we guarantee our work.

Maintaining Our Home Boilers Throughout The Summer

With the Summer hopefully on its way, it’s hard to think about the cold times ahead however at Ability, we find that when our customers come to use their home boilers again in the winter, problems occur and we are called in to fix problems that could sometimes have been avoided. 

Enjoying the Sunshine

Ability has heating engineers in the Bromley and Orpington area along with engineers in other areas of Kent and Sussex.  It costs on average between £150 – £400 to repair a broken home boiler and although unlike some, Ability does not charge a call out fee there are a few simple things that can be maintained throughout the year to keep your boiler in good working order.

Keeping your hot water at a low setting can actually be more cost effective than turning your home boiler completely off.  Home boilers can seize if they are not used regularly so by keeping the hot water on constant but at low temperature will ensure the boiler runs smoothly throughout the year.

Although it seems madness to turn the heating on when the temperatures are soaring outside, by doing so for just 10 minutes a week will help to keep the boiler healthy and avoid incurring costs when the winter comes.

Summer is always a good time to have a home boiler service carried out as plumbers and heating engineers are quieter during the Summer months. It is recommended that boilers are serviced annually to ensure they are working efficiently. If a fault is found during the service it will be less disruptive to have this fixed during the Summer as the household is less reliant on the heating and hot water.

Ability, has heating engineers in the East Grinstead, Maidstone, Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge, Sevenoaks, Orpington and Bromley area so please feel free to give us a call on 01892 514495 or alternatively email info@ability.uk.com to book a service in.

Coal Effect Gas Fire and the Emergency Call

We received a call yesterday evening from a regular customer of ours, who lives in East Sussex, in a panic.  She was an elderly lady with an open inglenook fireplace and a coal effect gas fire, supplied, fitted and maintained by Ability over the years.  A bird had come down the chimney and was flying around in her lounge. 

The coal effect gas fire was not in use at the time and so the bird was able to fly into the lounge and was frantically flapping about, of course very disorientated and wanting to get back into the open air. When our engineer arrived, our customer was in a bit of a panic and so it was suggested she remain in the kitchen, while our gas engineer isolated the fire and remove the bird and release it back into its natural environment.

coal effect gas fire

The bird was quite distressed, so our engineer opened the French patio doors to the outside garden, after making the coal effect gas fire safe.  The bird seemed to calm down once human life was no longer present and the engineer took control of the situation.

The Free Bird and the Coal Effect Gas Fire

Ability’s engineer found a cane in the garden and gently enticed the bird onto the stick, with a gentle conversation and spiritual chant. Once a zoo keeper’s assistant, our engineer had a general knowledge of animals as well as qualifications in working with the coal effect gas fire.

The bird once free from the stress and upset of its experience gave a little look of gratitude and flew off back to its nest with minor upset and no harm done.

coal effect gas fire

The coal effect gas fire has now been reinstated and the chimney checked and tested for safety of performance and efficiency.  A new bird guard cowl has been fitted at the terminal of the chimney pot. Our customer is happy and safe in the knowledge that the fire is now back in use and the situation has been resolved.

If you live in the Kent, and Sussex area and would like plumbing or heating or any other gas work then please call Ability today……

Homeowners Oil Boilers and Heating Systems

With the house moving season in full swing, homeowners looking to sell their property are being urged not to ignore their heating system, it’s important to have your oil boiler checked to avoid putting off potential buyers. Here at Ability we can carry out an oil boiler and system safety checks for your survey or purchaser, in the Kent, East Sussex and Surrey area.

oil boiler

The advice follows a recent survey of house hunters which reveals outdated boilers were more of a turn off than old kitchen appliances or unsightly radiators, so changing your boiler or maintaining your oil boiler is highly recommended.

With many owners struggling to sell their properties in a sluggish market,OFTEC, which represents rural homes on oil heating, has produced a helpful checklist for households to ensure their heating systems are in tip top shape before going on the market. At Ability we are here to help on this with  The advice

This includes:

Get to know your oil  boiler’s history

The oil boiler should be serviced at least once a year to make sure it is working correctly and efficiently. If you haven’t had the system checked over, contact a GasSafe (for mains gas) or OFTEC (for oil or solid fuel) registered technician who are recognised as fully competent and will provide you with evidence, such as servicing reports. Using non-qualified technicians to carry out any work could make buyers more cautious.So check the registration and reputation of the installer or service engineer

How much does it cost to run an oil boiler?

Inside oil boiler

Energy costs are often one of the most important factors people consider when buying a property so make sure you know the facts. For homes off the gas grid, heating oil remains the cheapest major fuel, currently, over £400 less than LPG and over £800 cheaper than electric storage heaters when comparing typical annual running costs for an average three bedroom house. We can carry out an assessment for you to determine the efficiency of your home heating and oil boiler

How smart are the heating controls?

Outdated heating controls could potentially put off a buyer because they can make it more difficult to regulate the temperature, leading to higher energy consumption and fuel bills. Upgrading to more efficient technology which enables you to set different temperatures for each room, can be an additional selling point. Modern systems can also connect with smart devices which offers even greater flexibility. We now offer smart control radiator thermostats to keep each room comfortable at the right temperature.

How old is the oil boiler?

Modern condensing boilers are more efficient, quieter and cheaper to run. If the boiler is over 15 years old, it may be worth replacing. Make sure you obtain the ‘building regulations compliance’ certificate which identifies the age of the boiler and confirms it meets the required building regulations. This should be issued shortly after the oil boiler is installed. At Ability once we install your new boiler we register your warranty and guarantee then we register with the governing body.