What’s New?

27 December 2016  

No more gas fires

I’m having to give up working on gas fires indefinitely and probably permanently – my knees can’t take it any more.

Heating Controls article

New on my Home Tips page is an article about heating controls, including smart controls, which we’re all supposed to be wanting and buying.

Acquiring a new boiler

On my Home Tips page  I‘ve added an article which shares some recent and simple thoughts about choosing a new boiler – it’s all about the warranty, I reckon..

Boiler and heating care schemes

Another addition in July 2016 to my Home Tips page is a short article on care schemes that deal with boiler and heating breakdowns, based on recent observations. It may pay you to take a quick read. (Updated December 2016.)

Immersion heaters

Electrical immersion heaters provide an emergency source of hot water heating in systems with stored hot water when the gas boiler isn’t working. Often forgotten or ignored, they can  be invaluable.

I’ve added an article about them on my Home Tips page – it might be well worth your while paying it a visit.

Corrosion costs dear!

In 2015 I came across several boilers in serious trouble or wrecked by corrosion sludge in the heating water, to which modern boilers with narrow water channels are intolerant. If you’re having a new boiler, beware the lowest quote that omits cleansing the system (powerflushing being the most effective method – see below) – you’ll pay the price later.

Chemical dosing

Added to the Home Tips page is an article on how to dose an open-vented heating system with a chemical such as corrosion inhibitor or boiler noise reducer. It’s an easy DIY job, best done by two people – have a go!

Tip – exercise the heating system:

Even if there’s no need for warmth, set the timer to turn on the central heating for just a short period each day to exercise the valves and keep water flowing round the system hoping to avoid motorised valve failures and airlocks causing cold radiators.  This autumn has seen a crop of valve failures (I changed four in two days) and the odd seized pump.


I receive enquiries about power-flushing – while I have participated, I don’t have the kit and prefer to leave it to an expert – Bob Jones of Powerflush UK URL: http://www.powerflushuk.com/  

However, a power-flush is sometimes assumed to be needed when it’s not – if you contact me I’ll try to give you my best honest advice.

Diagnosing heating water circulation problems can be difficult

The pump sounds like it’s working, but how well? How much more flow does the new pump produce? Why are those radiators cold (hot) when they shouldn’t be? Why does the boiler burn so briefly? To help answer questions like these I can now employ a differential thermometer, infrared camera and an ultrasonic flow meter.

Combi boiler – poor flow rate at hot taps

Within the boiler, this could be due to a blocked filter, or a heat exchanger (typically in an older boiler) clogged with lime-scale in this hard water area. Replacing the heat exchanger can be quite costly, so it can be worth attempting to de-scale from outside the boiler – my first attempt in 2014 was successful and saved the owner a tidy sum.

Gas fire won’t light? Pilot jet (tiny orifice) may be blocked – usually not too difficult to clean.

Gas fire stops after burning for a while – POSSIBLE DANGER!  chimney may be blocked –don’t use the fire – call a gas engineer.

Heating controls

We can expect the long-term cost of fuel to heat our homes to go on rising, with price cuts merely temporary, so the importance of avoiding wasting heat increases too. Appropriate controls, such as programmers and thermostats, can help.

Wireless and smart controls are inexpensive (considering their sophistication) and easy to install. If the thought of the disruption caused by installing cables is putting you off adding controls to your system, fear no more – wireless works!

Thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs): a much-cited report by Salford University in 2013 showed that fitting TRVs to radiators instead of manual valves can save a significant amount of energy.     File: tacma_report_on_salford_heating_controls_tests_-_july_2013_final-1.pdf

Carbon Monoxide Kills: if you have an older “open-flued” boiler that draws combustion air from the room, or a gas fire on a hearth or a flueless appliance like a gas cooker or hob, get one or more CO alarms. They don’t cost much and they can save lives – don’t delay – and get your gas appliances serviced regularly.

URL: http://www.covictim.org/

(Modern boilers are “room-sealed” and if properly installed, pose a much lower risk.)