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.

LPG-propane gas boiler-calor gas repair-lpg boiler breakdown-boiler gas emergency
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.

AGA Technological Advances For A Greener Future

Ability plumbing, heating and AGA engineers cover a wide area of the South East from Maidstone to Orpington and Bromley in Kent to Crowborough and East Grinstead in East and West Sussex.

The AGA cooker was invented in 1922 by a Swedish physicist, Gustaf Dalen.  He was forced to stay at home after losing his sight in an explosion and saw how his wife struggled with the cooking.  He then decided to invent a new way of cooking which has since been the heart of many homes for decades.

AGAs make a wonderful feature in any kitchen

AGA cookers are made from cast iron which retains heat and transfers it from the core to the oven and hot plates.  They are available in 2,3,4 and 5 oven models, with a boiling and simmering plate.  It will not only warm the kitchen but can be used to heat the whole house.

Developments

AGA in the past has been slated for using large amounts of energy and being bad for the environment. However, developments to accommodate our change in lifestyle mean they are now much more environmentally friendly. AGAs have thermostatic controls and cook using radiant heat which is gentle on food and locks in moisture, flavour and goodness.

AGA

AGA has to adhere to the latest environmental standards and is subject to rigorous controls. Advances in their technology now mean that they have, switch on/off hotplates to reduce running costs. Their latest models ‘Total Control‘ and ‘City60’ have independently controllable ovens meaning they can be turned off when not needed.

The AGA is also almost entirely recyclable.

Here at Ability we can install, service or repair your AGA. We have qualified and experienced engineers trained especially in the maintenance of this classic, quality appliance.  If you would like assistance, please call us on 01892 514495 or email info@ability.uk.com.

If Your Heating System Working To It’s Full Potential

Ability provides assistance with heating system, plumbing and electrical assistance in the Tunbridge Wells, Sevenoaks, East Grinstead, Maidstone, Bromley, Orpington and surrounding areas in Kent, East and West Sussex areas.

Heating systems currently attract dirt and obtain air within them.  It is important to service regularly to remove these to ensure that all is working to its full potential.  If dirt and air are left untreated it will inevitably lead to problems and could, therefore, lead to system breakdowns, which usually happens at the most inappropriate times

Debris in the heating system

Ability has found that whilst technology has moved on and heating systems are far more advanced with smart controls etc we have also noticed that unfortunately, they are more sensitive to contamination from dirt particles and with airlocks.

Whilst many of us will have our boilers serviced regularly, we do not tend to think about the quality of water that is running throughout our heating systems.  An inhibitor to minimise corrosion should be applied particularly in hard water areas.  It is recommended that a heating system should be flushed every 5 to 6 years to ensure efficiency and stop limescale build-up and remove debris and rust.

Common Heating System Complains

Here at Ability we look at some of the most common system complaints to look out for, which suggest air and dirt which could jeopardise the performance of a light commercial or domestic heating system.  

Noisy System – if the system is becoming unusually noisy when in operation this is usually because there is air and build-up within the heating systems resulting in the radiators and pipework banging and clanging as the water tries to pass through.

Cold radiators – If radiators have cold spots or are cold at the bottom but warm at the top, this would suggest there is a build-up of debris within the systems and therefore a power flush may be required.

Corrosion within the system

Air – if there is increased air in the system, this will accumulate in the radiators and potentially clog up the pump, this will usually be noticeable by a noisy system and should be treated as soon as possible to prevent problems.

Replacement of Parts- if parts are being replaced faster than expected this could be due to contamination within the heating system.  When there are debris and air within the system the parts such as the pump are having to work harder to achieve the same output, leading to strain and excessive wear on parts.  Replacing parts can be very costly and can be avoided by keeping the boiler regularly services, water treated and radiators bleed.

If you require any assistance please contact us on 01892 514495 or email info@ability.uk.com

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

Power Flush and Magnetic filters

Power Flush and Magnetic filters work in helping the efficiency of your heating system. Here at Ability, we look at the idea behind these devices. Once a magnetic filter is installed, the idea is that corrosion within a sealed wet central-heating system produces sludge – which can block up boiler heat-exchangers, pumps and radiators – and that because this sludge is ferrous in its nature  (in that, it sometimes results from iron or steel corrosion), it can be trapped by a powerful magnet and this is what the filter does. Our team recently carried out tests on systems in Orpington, Kent and East Grinstead in West Sussex.

This theory is very much true. But sludge can also result from the corrosion of copper, zinc or aluminium components as well as existing debris or chemicals. This is nonferrous, and will not be caught by a magnet. So this is why a power flush is recommended.

Ideally, your central-heating system should not contain any sludge anyway, because it should be dosed with corrosion inhibitor from the beginning after its installation unless of course, it is an old system that was installed before the introduction of these chemicals and procedures or a previous installer did not correctly carry out the work. We have come across this in the last 3 months in Crowborough Near East Sussex and Dunton Green in Sevenoaks Kent.

This is easy to do, but some heating engineers do not routinely install inhibitor or even check for its presence, preferring to sell magnetic filters to their customers instead. This is why adult Ability we always carry inhibitors and regularly introduce them into your system.

This is of a concern to us at Ability, because we know that some boiler manufacturers, when called out on warranty visits to your home or claims, will sometimes carry out testing to the system water for inhibitor, and they may decide that if the inhibitor concentration is not adequate, then this invalidates your  warranty on the boiler. At Ability, we are sure to see that this is not the case for you, our customer.

Power Flush

The central heating Power Flush procedure is completed by one of our Heating Engineers connecting our special Power flush machine to your central heating system

The Power flush machine pumps high velocity/low-pressure water around the system to remove loose debris from the system causing blockages and restricting flow.

The introduction of high strength chemicals further aids the Power flush process, dislodging and removing dirt, rust and harmful corrosive deposits from the system.

Each radiator is then isolated and flushed individually to ensure the system is left completely clean and blockage free allowing your system to run smoothly.

The whole process of the power flush is carried out with minimal disturbance and disruption to the normal operation of the system, often without disconnecting the boiler or any radiators.