I’m Ian of St Albans, UK – welcome to my personal website!

(Like it or not, it’s nearly all my own work!)


News – end of an era – and thanks

At the end of February 2019 I shall be curtailing my work in St Albans in order to focus on a major personal project. I’ve been very fortunate to work for such a pleasant, interesting and appreciative group of customers – a very big “thank you” to you all. 

Though it doesn’t make me any money, I’ve always enjoyed trying to help people via e-mail and phone, and recommend a colleague or two if I’ve not been able to attend in person, so do please get in touch, and I’ll continue to do my best.  


My offering: boiler service & repair, landlords’ Gas Safety Record (certificate CP12), heating system repairs, gas cooker  & hob installation, unvented hot water service & repair and heating controls installation, including smart controls.

(I don’t do major plumbing or installation work, but I can recommend a colleague.)

Note: domestic natural gas only – not LPG

I created my site to tell you about me and what I do in the hope that some of you will consider becoming my customer. However, I also set it up to share information – I’ve found members of the plumbing and heating community generous in this respect so this is part of my attempt to join in and give something back. It’s been very gratifying to receive occasional appreciative e-mails from people who’ve found the material useful.

Some pages such as “Home tips” are aimed at customers & householders, while the “Tech Notes” contain technical information for professional colleagues or students of science who will see basic rough & ready science used to produce results of practical value.

I’d be pleased to have suggestions, and do let me know if there’s something I’ve not made clear or you’d like me to add.


Phone calls –  I do try to respond to phone calls. I only have two hands and these may be in a boiler or on the steering wheel so please leave a message indicating what you need. If you call my landline and don’t get a response, please try the mobile – I may be away. I’m afraid I don’t answer calls where the number is withheld. For non-urgent enquiries, e-mail works and I even try to respond to calls and e-mails when on holiday.  


Inadequate boiler servicing!

The Consumers’ Association (Which Magazine) carried out a covert series of observations of boiler services: the findings make very uncomfortable reading:- here’s how I found out:

URL:http://hvpmag.co.uk/news/fullstory.php/aid/3505/Undercover_Which__investigation_reveals_engineers_failing_to_meet_minimum_legal_requirements.html

I don’t pretend to be perfect but I do try to do my best. During every service, I complete an extensive checklist.


Several reasons for having your boiler (properly) serviced:

  • Heat exchanger may be clogged with deposit (see image right and note below about power flushing), perhaps stressing the fan.
  • The expansion vessel may have lost all its air.
  • Combustion settings may need adjustment.
  • Condensate trap may need cleaning (a blockage can stop the boiler working).

I’ve encountered (older) boilers that haven’t been serviced for years, which are fine, and one or two that have been so wrecked there’s nothing for it but replacement. Winging it with a modern boiler is simply foolish.


Gas fire safety

The most vital aspect of a traditional gas fire is that the chimney is working and the ventilation is adequate. A gas fire with a blocked chimney is a potential killer – I’ve  encountered them. I don’t regard a gas fire as safe to use unless the chimney is bird-proofed and there’s a carbon monoxide alarm in the same room as the fire that’s within date – regardless of the state of the battery, the sensor life is generally 7 years – if yours is older, get rid of it and get a new one.


You can check me out on the Gas Safe register by clicking on the link below, and entering the numbers shown, depending on whether you’re checking me as an individual engineer or a business (sorry about the photo!) – my current engineer’s licence number is 4444744.

URL: https://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/

   

“At present I am all day at the Laboratory, which is emerging from chaos, but is not yet clear of gas-men, who are the laziest and most permanent of all the gods who have been hatched under heaven” – James Clerk Maxwell


Every now and then I come across a situation where the problem with a boiler is not the boiler itself, but the state of the water going through it. Either the boiler itself becomes blocked up with rust and sludge or the pipework in the system is itself blocked/partially blocked.

In situations like this I might recommend a “power flush” of the complete heating system, including the boiler. When called for there is only one firm I can hand-on-heart recommend and that is “Power Flush UK”. I’ve known the owner for some years now and, in my opinion, they are the only firm I have come across who give enough time and have the right experience to make sure that the job is done properly.  They have been specialising solely in power flushing for over 12 years and also provide a 5-year guarantee for your peace of mind.