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.

Gas Boilers To Be Banned In New Homes By 2025

It has been recommended to the government by the Committee on Climate Change to make a blanket ban on gas boilers being installed in new homes from 2025 to help tackle climate change.  The Chancellor has announced that it will be illegal for gas boilers to be installed into new build homes from 2025. They predict that non-fossil fuel boilers will, of course, be better for the environment but will also be cheaper to run. These drastic measures are being taken because the UK will not meet their targets to reduce greenhouse emissions by 80% by 2050 as anticipated.

It has been recommended that low carbon energy should be used as an alternative to the gas we currently use. The use of methane gas, which releases carbon needs to be phased out and replace with low or zero carbon gas such as biomethane or hydrogen.

Green gas compatible boilers

What Is The Alternative To Gas Boilers In The Future

It is suggested that green gas compatible boilers should be installed into new homes to enable the transaction from normal gas to green to happen seamlessly. The technology has been tested but further investment needs to be made for green gas to be implemented into our homes. With 90% of our homes using the gas foundation already it is essential that these investments are made. Currently, one-fifth of greenhouse emissions are being created from our homes and a high percentage of that is due to us burning fossil fuels for heating and hot water.

heating alternatives in the home

The alternative to using green fuel would be to return to electric heating which is very expensive to run and a step back in our progression to become as energy efficient as possible.

Ability have carried out boiler installations and repairs to gas boilers in the Tunbridge Wells, Sevenoaks, Tonbridge, East Grinstead, Heathfield and Crowborough areas for many years, so if you require any assistance one our friendly engineers will be happy to assist.

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.

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 corse 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 powerflush is carried out with minimal disturbance and disruption to the normal operation of the system, often without disconnecting the boiler or any radiators.

Gas Safety Check and Certificate

Ability is members on the Gas Safe Register. We carry out gas safety checks for landlords in the Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge, Sevenoaks (Kent), East Grinstead, East Sussex and West Sussex areas.

A Gas Safety Certificate will be received when a registered engineer installs a gas appliance in your property or when a gas safety check is carried out. It should be received within 28 days of installation.

gas combination boiler-gas safe-worcester bosch boilers

The CP12 will contain details of the landlord and of the appliances tested and their results. The engineer will note down any gas safety issues identified that will need attention. The engineer will then sign and date the CP12 certificate.

The most common appliances include gas fires, gas boiler, gas fire water heater, flued cooking ranges and water air heaters. It is important that gas appliances are checked regularly as this will prevent gas leaks and stop carbon monoxide being released. Carbon monoxide poisoning can be fatal. Some of the signs of carbon monoxide escaping include increased levels of condensation in the room with the gas appliance, soft yellow flames, sooty stains or discolouration around the appliance and fumes or smoke. A carbon monoxide detector should be fitted as an indicator.

It is the responsibility of the landlord to ensure that gas safety checks are carried out on an annual basis as they have a duty of care to their tenant. The engineer carrying out the gas safety check must be a member of the Gas Safe Register. Failure to do this could lead to prosecution. A landlord has 30 days to have renewal inspection completed otherwise penalties can be applied and the landlord will then have to complete a new registration form.

If you require a gas safety check (cp12) in the Kent, East Sussex and West Sussex please give Ability a call on 01892 514495 or by email info@ability.uk.com

Boiler Servicing. Ability’s guide to an annual boiler service

What’s best practice for gas boiler servicing? Here, Ability Plumbing Heating and Electrical Engineers outline agreed industry best practice.

The first thing we recommend is to have the manufacturer’s instructions for the boiler to hand, regardless of experience, these are always important.

Does Your Boiler Need a Service?

Please do operate the boiler briefly to ensure it appears to work correctly. We recommend you isolate the boiler/heating system electrically and confirm this with suitable test equipment. When servicing the boiler we always check the fuse rating for the boiler/heating system is correct; most digital appliances will run on a 3amp fuse.

boiler servicing-manufacturers instructions
A serviced happy boiler

We will remove the boiler case and visually inspect the appliance, internally and externally, for any signs of distress, such as corrosion or water leaks, checking all components.

If necessary, Ability will clean the boiler and its components, including the primary heat exchanger, main burner, and the condensate trap, always referring to the manufacturer’s instructions for boiler servicing.

It’s most essential to reinstate the electrical supply safely. Then to carry out a check of the boiler’s gas burner pressure, a gas-rate inspection (taken at the gas meter), or both, where possible, will determine the correct working pressures.

Next, our engineer will visually check the flame picture (where visible) and carry out a flue gas analysis test, this if the boiler is a high-efficiency product or requires this procedure.

It is critical to ensure any combustion analysis test points are correctly replaced, and any boiler case seals are forming an effective seal. Boilers must not run with incorrect seal.

boiler servicing-manufactures instructions
Three regular serviced boilers

An excellent visual check that any ventilation requirements for the boiler have been met. Sometimes may include taking measurements.

Boiler Servicing

If the appliance is an open flue ability will check the boiler chimney/flue throughout its length, including its point of termination. Carry out flue-flow and spillage tests; this is usually a smoke test.

It’s essential to check that any boiler safety devices operate correctly. Check there is no escape of gas from the boiler or connecting pipework to the boiler.

In the event of any safety defect(s) being noted, Ability will always advise the customer of the details, and either rectify them or act in accordance with the Gas Industry Unsafe Situations Procedure (GIUSP) Paperwork will be provided.

Where rectification is not possible, we will discuss with you, the customer if any remedial action is required, and give you all the options to correct the faults, the best way possible.

Finally, we will complete the Benchmark service record, and provide any additional work documentation while on-site or via email if you are not able to be present at the time of works.

Plumbing Throughout the Ages

Ability provides plumbing services in the Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge, Sevenoaks and East Grinstead area. We are skilled specialists in the installation and maintenance of water systems. In order to become a plumber, a license from a trade or vocational school and a background in various aspects of the industry has to be obtained.

The Development of Plumbing Pipework

The Minoan Palace on Crete is the oldest known structure to have sewerage and water pipes. Plumbing goes back to Crete four thousand years ago. The ancient Romans created complexed systems that transported water in and out of cities via aqueducts and bridges.

The pipes were originally made from lead and this is where the name Plumber comes from, the Latin word Plumbum meaning lead.

Lead water pipes-lead pipes
Images of water pipes

The Egyptians were the first to use copper piping as a safer and better alternative to lead.

Places like China used hollow bamboo reeds to carry fresh water and natural gas to and from the ancient salt mines.

In 1940 the War Production Board restricted the use of iron steel and copper. This meant that other materials such as cast iron and plastic had to be used in the manufacturing of plumbing materials. The use of lead piping decreased after World War II as people were becoming increasingly aware of the dangers of lead poisoning.

The Plumbing Inventions Of The Bathroom Appliances.

The first flushable toilet was designed in the Elizabethan era and was described in 1596 by Sir John Harington. Toilet paper was not invented until 1857 by an American man, Joseph Getty. In 1870 the first single piece ceramic flush toilet was manufactured and created by Thomas Twyford.

The first bathtub was made in 1883, it was a cast-iron horse trough with four feet added to the bottom and covered in an enamel finish. The creator was an American man called John Michael Kohler.

If you require a plumber in the Kent and West Sussex area please call Ability on 01892 514495 or alternatively email info@ability.uk.com

Water Softener Installation And The Benefits

The benefits of water softener installation in a home, especially in hard water areas can prevent the build-up of limescale in kitchen and bathroom appliances.  This can extend the appliances’ life span.  It is, however, an additional source of revenue and a good way to make plumbing jobs profitable.

The installation will be dependent on where the location of the incoming mains water stopcock is positioned, however it can be fitted in various places throughout the home.  It may be that there is existing cupboard space that will be an ideal place to install the water softener rather than beneath the sink itself.

Water Softener Installation Process

The installation of the water softener will take between three to four hours.  The first step is to turn the water off and drain down the system to complete all necessary pipework.  This enables the water to be turned back on as quickly as possible and minimise disruption.

The bypass set will need to be assembled and tightened before putting it into the correct position.

Alterations to the pipework may need to be carried out to accommodate the bypass set for the water softener.  This pipework will need to be prepared and fitted into place.

Whilst fitting the water softener many customers may choose to have a hard water feed incorporated alongside the bypass set for a drinking water supply.  When these works have been completed the mains can be turned back on.

The water softener unit can now be fitted. 

A hole for the overflow will need to be drilled from the outside in to avoid damage to brickwork and the hose cut down to the right size and fitted.

If the customer has decided to have a hard water feed incorporated alongside the water softener then a three-way tapwill need to replace the standard tap.

If the water softener system is not electric it will not require any further maintenance.  The customer should be advised that one salt block per household, per member, per month, will be required to ensure the water softener works efficiently and this will reduce the use of household products.

Please call Ability if you want to consider having a water softener system in your home.

Boiler Company Vaillant Celebrates 120 Years

Ability take a look at one of the Uk’s leading boiler company and manufacturers brands. This Easter, Vaillant will be celebrating its own iconic bunny as the company marks 120 years of its ‘hare in the egg’ logo.

boiler company

The Founder of the boiler company Vaillant, Johann Vaillant came across the image in a magazine which started it all on Easter Sunday, all the way back in 1899. He discovered a picture of a hare hatching from an egg, surrounded by dwarfs and animals, and this is when the boiler company acquired the copyright for his company’s trademark.

Over the years, the mark has been re-designed six times, adding the Vaillant name and inserting of  a box around the original egg, amongst many other changes. However, crucially it has never lost its central theme of the hare, which came to be known as Johann in honour of the founder, as it varied his name.

Where It All Began-For Vaillant Boiler Company

The hare even starred in its own comic in 1935, where the boiler company journeyed through history, at one point advising a monarch on the benefits of a hot bath, thus keeping the hot water industry piping hot!

The very familiar Vaillant boiler company colours also have their roots in history, drawing inspiration from the black, white and green traditionally incorporated into the exterior design of homes in Vaillant’s native Bergisches Land, Germany.

boiler company
New Vaillant System Boiler

Whilst the boiler company design has had many changes and improvements and evolved significantly from the picture which originally caught Johann Vaillant’s attention, the iconic hare and egg have remained throughout, and stood the test of time. The green which represents the origins of Vaillant, shows that the company is very proud of the history and it marks a real mile stone for the boiler company.

please call Ability if you have a Vaillant boiler or want to use a Vaillant.

Does your Central Heating need a Power Flush?

Does your Central Heating need a Power Flush? We know that 80% of central heating systems require a power flush. We can now test your water in the radiators or boiler to determine the content and what will need to be done.

ABOUT THE PROBLEM

When our customers are experiencing poor circulation in their homes, such as ineffective radiators, it could be caused by hydrogen in radiators, and so it is essential to accurately identify the cause of the issue to resolve it properly. This guide can help you to conduct checks which will lead to an accurate diagnosis of the circulation problem.

central heating-power flush
The Ability Family

Identifying the Issue

  • Check if the boiler is operating correctly. Check the pressure of the burner. Does it remain alight?
  • Take a sample of radiator water. Examine it for suspended solids or discolouration which can indicate corrosion.
    • If there is a reddish tinge to the water, it indicates that iron oxide is present, suggesting active corrosion. The system may be drawing in air.
    • If there are black particles present in the water, these are most likely to be magnetite. As this is the final stage of corrosion, large deposits can be expected within the system.
    • If the water is clear water, it suggests that the system is free from active corrosion, but does not eliminate the possibility that corrosion has occurred in the past. It is possible that the circulation rate is not enough to keep debris in suspension. In this instance, you should check that the cold feed is not blocked.

Central Heating Cleaning and Power Flush Tips

central heating-power flush
Some of our registered bodies
  • If you are dealing with an open system, check the feed and expansion cistern. Is it clean, with no signs of pumping over or sucking-in through the open vent?
  • Check the pump. Is it correctly orientated and performing satisfactorily? Open all radiator valves, and, if necessary, vent the radiators. Note if the problem appears to be localised or general.
  • See if increasing the speed of the pump improves circulation. It is highly important to identify if there any radiators which fail to heat at all. If this is the case, it indicates that the system is blocked. Check all valves for free operation. If none are sticking, they are not the cause of the blockage. If you have established this, draw a sample of water from a cold radiator to check for sludge build up.
  • Do the system radiators need frequent venting? If gas is accumulating in one or more radiators, it is important to determine whether the gas is hydrogen sulphide, hydrogen or air.