Moffat Heating & Plumbing
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The following articles were authored by Ben

Be Proactive, Summer heating checks You Need To Do

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It’s that time of year again, the time to be pro-active and think about your heating system before you need it.

Before the ‘heating season’ gets into full swing and all the good engineers are fully booked, it is prudent to get your boiler serviced. If you already have servicing done at a different time of year then now is the time to carry out a few checks for yourself.

  1. The chances are that you haven’t had your heating on much these past few months, so the next day that it’s ‘nippy’ or you have washing that needs drying, turn your heating on. Check that each radiator gets hot and that the room thermostat works.
  2. Check that isolation valves turn on and off and aren’t stiff.
  3. Check oil level in your tank, oil suppliers prices are generally lower during the summer months.
  4. Make sure you can locate and turn off your mains stopcock and also your external mains isolation valve (usually with the meter).
  5. Check your immersion heater works (If you have one). This should only be used as a back up, but it is wise to have it working before needing it.
  6. If your boiler hasn’t been serviced this year, now is the time to get this done.
    A service and safety check will increase the efficiency of your boiler and could flag up any potential problems with your heating system, meaning you spend less time without heating and hot water when you need it the most.

The Fire Valve – An Important Safety Device, Protecting You And Your Home

A Fire-valve is an important safety device on your oil boiler system. Very simply, it shuts off the supply of oil to the boiler should it detect a certain temperature in the boiler casing, i.e. if there’s a fire. It should stop the oil from fueling any fire you have in and around your boiler.

There are two main styles of Fire-valves, Remote action and Handwheel head.

The remote action fire valve is required by OFTEC to be sited on oil lines to all new boiler installations. If an external boiler, this needs to be sited at least 1.5 metres away from the boiler itself. If on an oil line for an internal boiler it needs to be sited outside the property with the phial to be located inside the boiler casing. It should be fitted with the head (bulbous part) on top.

 

KBB - Fire valve

The Handwheel head style is still used in some modern installations, most notably on HRM Wallstar boilers where it id combined with a non return valve. If you have a Handwheel style fire valve in your boiler casing on a non HRM Wallstar boiler this should be replaced with a remote action fire valve.

FIREVALVE__FUSIBLE

Fire valves should be inspected on your annual service and replaced/relocated should they not meet current OFTEC standards.

Note: HRM and OFTEC are not agreed as to the suitability of the Handwheel style recommended on the Wallstar boiler. It is a ‘grey’ area.

Missing An Annual Service Can Affect Your Safety And Cost You More

wasting moneyMissing an annual service does more than costing you money in the long term. There is also safety to consider. When a qualified engineer performs a correctly done service they can check on many things…

Excessive smoke and partially burnt fuel can deposit itself in the heat exchanger in the form of soot, restricting the transfer of heat to the water in the heating system. A clean heat exchanger will transfer more heat giving you better efficiency. According to OFTEC, 3 mm of soot build up can bring about a drop of 8 {91bdfdb8e6beefb03730d8f87ad81b2cee89b80dc73190e0f9e6bd796d0945f5} in efficiency.

Photocells, which detect the light in the heat exchanger(the flame) can glaze over or get specks of dust/soot on them, this can cause the boiler to shut down. Boilers that frequently switch on and off are less efficient than those that run for a longer periods.

Electrodes create the spark that lights the oil/air mix inside your boiler, over time these can become worn and attract soot, if in poor condition, these may not produce the ‘correct’ spark causing the boiler to lock out. Also, if these aren’t positioned correctly, they can cause flame infringement further still lessening the efficiency of the boiler.

Oil nozzles are replaced every 12 months for a reason, they are a consumable that wear over time affecting fuel combustion, they could cause ‘sooting up’ of the heat exchanger due to too much fuel passing through.

Baffle plates, if not cleaned regularly can attract deposits which make it impossible to remove and clean them,again causing a loss in efficiency.

The service allows the engineer the opportunity to inspect the boiler and tank and make it as efficient and safe as possible.

When To Invest In A New Boiler

oil-boilerA shiny new boiler including installation can cost as little as £2000.00, though this is dependent on many factors. They include upgrades that might be needed for the heating system, the quality of boiler installed, the positioning and of course the tradesman.

If your boiler is over 30 years old the likelihood is that it is due for replacement, parts may be difficult and expensive to source and the efficiency won’t be that great.

If you are intending to have an extension, new kitchen e.t.c. then you might want to consider whether your boiler is in the right place for you and where the positioning of a future boiler may have to be. Your current boiler positioning may not be suitable for a new boiler due to flue and fire-valve considerations for example.

If your boiler is breaking down regularly, again, it might be wise to put those call out costs towards a new efficient, reliable boiler.

How Long Should An Oil Boiler Service Take?

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On average, a correctly done boiler service should take somewhere between 1 1/2 and 3 hours. Anything less than 1 1/2 hours and a full service has not been carried out. If the service lasts 20 to 30 minutes then you really should be asking yourself what has happened in that time. Would you be happy if your car service took less than an episode of Eastenders?

An ‘easy’ service on a boiler such as a floor standing Thermecon, without a hospitable brew from the householder can be done in 90 minutes whereas a service carried out on a new Worcester combi condensing boiler can take you into the 3 hour zone.

Remember also, that a service should include an inspection of the oil tank, oil-line and heating system as well as the boiler itself.

If you are worried that a service may not of been carried out correctly, please get in touch for advice.

When Should You Invest In A New Oil Tank?

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Your oil engineer should inform you as to your tanks condition during his annual service visit, it’s an important part of his inspection. Though the cost of replacing an oil tank can cost over £1,000, this is a small amount when compared to the cost of an oil spillage or you and your families safety.

Costs associated with an oil spillage include:

  • Emergency call-out
  • New tank installation
  • Clear up of oil spillage
  • Damage to neighbourly relations
  • Time spent without heating/hot water (upset family members)
  • Damage to garden

 

A few signs to look out for are:

  • Rusting (on metal tanks)
  • Overhanging of plastic tank
  • Tank located near flammable materials/road/heating flues

 

In short, if your tank needs replacing, look to do it sooner rather than later.

Five Things You Can Do To Protect Your Heating Oil From Theft

residential-fuel-tankLocal police authorities have been encouraging owners of oil heating systems to hide their oil storage tanks behind fencing and hedges. Whilst I despise the theft of oil from a persons property, it needs to be noted that erecting a timber fence or trellis goes against OFTEC advice when it comes to protecting your tank from fire.

When erecting a fence or trellis or anything that is intended to hide your oil from unscrupulous so-and-so’s please take into account OFTEC’s  advice, it’s there for a reason.

It’s a dog eat dog world and if someone wants your oil, they will have it. The best thing you can do is make your oil less attractive than others;

  • Site the tank in a position away from sight of the road
  • Add a padlock
  • Add a tank alarm
  • Close gates e.t.c.
  • Go as far as to install CCTV in the area if possible.

 

Read more on the latest advice from the Suffolk Constabulary.

Boiler Servicing Parts Price List

Your annual oil boiler service may alert us to parts that need replacing. To make things as transparent as possible, please find below a price-list containing the most commonly replaced items at a service.

Nozzle/jet free
Flexi-oil hose(s) £15.00 each
Short Crossland oil filter element £5.00
Long Crossland oil filter element £7.50
H.R.M. (grenade style) oil filter element £7.50
Fire rope seal £2.50-£25.00
Burner gaskets/seals £5.00-£15.00

Note: You are not under any obligation to change parts that you do not wish to.

T.R.V.’s – What Are they And How They Can Save You Money

Thermostatic Radiator Valve

On your radiator you should have something similar to the picture above. These are called T.R.V.’s or Thermostatic Radiator Valves.

T.R.V.’s are self regulating valve fitted to the radiators on a heating system. Traditionally, they have a wax plug which expands and contracts with the temperature around the valve. The plug is connected to a pin,which is connected to a valve. As the temperature around the valve increases, the pin decreases the flow of water through the valve thus allowing a maximum temperature for each radiator to be set.

T.R,V.’s can dramatically decrease the amount of fuel your household burns and thus save you a substantial amount of money as well as providing a comfortable temperature in your individual rooms.

But they must be set correctly to achieve this. Luckily this is an easy process.

  • Step 1 – Make sure your room thermostat is turned up to around 20 degrees
  • Step 2 – Turn every T.R.V. to setting 4 out of 5 (or equivalent) and turn on your heating system
  • Step 3 – Turn down 1 /2 a notch (setting) of the T.R.V.(s) of the room you are in. Give it approximately half an hour and if you are not cold, turn down another 1/2 a notch . Repeat this process until you feel a bit nippy.then turn up 1/2 a notch.
  • Step 4 – Repeat this process in each room. Remember that, you need to take into account what you would typically be doing in each room when setting the T.R.V.’s. i.e. sitting in armchair in your lounge, bathing in the bathroom so try to recreate this when setting the valve.

 

Note. I said it was an easy process, not quick, you may have to do this over a few days/week. You may also have disagreements with partners, housemates and pets as to what is cold and what is hot. The management take no responsibility for any disputes that arise from following this advice…

The Importance of oil filters

typical-fuel-oil-filterThe oil filter, regularly overlooked by oil service engineers or those posing as service engineers. This small but important part of your oil line needs to be inspected and replaced at regular intervals (usually your annual service if using kerosene).

Failure to do so can result in fuel starvation at the boiler and ultimately a breakdown and call-out cost. Regular inspection is doubly important if you have an ageing steel tank as these tend to accumulate more ‘crud’ than the newer plastic tanks. For the cost of between £5.00 and £7.50 a year this represents a good investment when compared against the reduced efficiency of the boiler and a potential call out fee.