Why Underfloor Heating Is Older Than You Might Think

The idea of fitting underfloor heating in a north London home might seem rather novel, despite all its many great advantages of energy efficiency and thoroughly effective warming.

In fact, the first London residents to have underfloor heating did so a long time ago – stretching back to when there first was a place called London at all.

What is now a bustling megacity was founded by the Romans, whose empire featured some very advanced engineering. Apart from their water and sewage systems, plus the capacity to build a wall that could stretch from one coast to the other, they created their own underfloor heating systems, called hypocausts.

Among examples of this are the baths at what is now Billingsgate, while another bath house site, also heated by a hypocaust, was discovered in Southwark in 2011.

The hypocaust system worked by using a double floor, with fires lit in the space in between. The heat would rise up and could warm up bath water or, in homes, the air in the living space above.

Other examples of Roman hypocausts can be found around Britain and around the empire. Suffice to say, only the wealthier and higher-ranking Romans had it in their residences.

You don’t have to be very wealthy or the owner of a public bathhouse to have underfloor heating in London today, of course. Although the technology used by the Romans was advanced for its time, it is safe to say the modern systems used are much better. For one thing, you won’t need servants to keep going downstairs to keep the fires stoked.

Instead, with one of our skilled engineers carrying out the installation work, you can enjoy the benefits of a modern energy-efficient system that represents a great investment for a present-day homeowner, enabling you to enjoy comfortable living without high bills.

Telltale Signs Of A Leaky Pipe

Whilst most issues serious enough to require the assistance of a plumber are often quite easy to detect, some that are not can cause a lot of long-term damage.

A clogged drain or overflowing toilet is easy to spot and the next step is to get in touch with a professional, but a leaky pipe might not become noticeable for a while, by which point it has caused some significant damage to your property.

The earlier a leak is spotted the better, and with that in mind, watch for some of these telltale signs of a leak in your property.

Damp, Mildew Or Mould 

Whilst not entirely an uncommon sight during particularly rainy months, damp, mildew or mould can sometimes be caused by a leaky pipe.

Check for the distinct unpleasant smell and discoloured stains on the walls and ceilings of your home, particularly if they seem to be developing quickly.

Brown Stains

Whilst we associate leaks with flowing water, often a small leak will dribble and accumulate over a long time, absorbed by the walls or the ceilings, so if you notice distinct brown stains or other noticeable discolouration, it could be a sign of a leak upstairs or in the wall.

Huge Water Bills

A lot of the time, water leaks are harmless in the sense that the wasted water is spilling nowhere near the property. However, where it can hurt and hurt badly is in your water bills.

If you notice a massive spike in your expenses, take a careful look at your water usage. Whilst it could be an administrative error, it is also just as likely to be a leak that you have not noticed yet.

Reduced Water Pressure

If you turn on the taps or the shower and notice that the water is not flowing as fast or as powerfully as you expect, that is typically a sign of a leak, unless there has been a reported issue with your water supply.

When Should Most People Turn The Heating Off This Year?

As soon as there is a peak of sunshine breaking through the clouds, Brits are already planning to dust off their barbecues and dig out their sunglasses. So with spring finally appearing to be on the way, most of us are beginning to think about when is the right time to turn off the central heating

Those who are still feeling the chill, despite the longer hours of daylight, will be pleased to know it is not imminent, and can enjoy having the radiators turned up for a few weeks more. 

By the end of the month, however, most households will be starting to switch their thermostat off, as the weather should be warmer and it is a chance to save money on their energy bills. 

Traditionally, lots of bill payers tend to use the clocks going forward as a marker to switch their heating off.

Director of Leading Trades Training Experts at Engineering Real Results Ricky Sharma told the Express: “While the exact date is a decision for each family, it’s usually safe to do so on the day the clocks go forward to mark the arrival of British Summer Time.”

For 2024, that date will be Sunday March 31st, though some people will do it earlier if they feel warm enough in their homes. 

Indeed, lots of Brits might be tempted to turn theirs off as soon as average temperatures rise above 10C, which could be as soon as March 22nd this year.  

Mr Sharma advised not turning off the heating too soon though, as it can result in mould and dampness in the house if it gets too cold. 

What’s more, there are health risks associated with low indoor temperatures, including a higher chance of developing respiratory conditions, inflammation of the lungs, and poor circulation.

Top Advice On What To Do If Your Radiator Starts Leaking

There’s nothing worse than coming home on a cold day to find the central heating hasn’t kicked into gear and the house is as chilly as it is outside. There are many reasons why your heating might not be working, including leaking radiators.

It is quite common for radiators to leak, but it is important to take steps to stop the leak as quickly as you can, not only to keep yourself and your home warm but to prevent further damage being caused to your radiator.

The best thing to do is to find out where it is leaking from. The leak will typically originate at the valve or at the pipe connections, so check these areas carefully.

To ascertain where the leak has started, use a kitchen roll to wipe over the different areas and see when it comes out dry or wet.

Another sign there is a leak is if there is a gurgling noise coming from the radiator or a hissing sound from the pipes or valves.

The next step is to turn the radiator off and wait around 30 minutes so it can fully cool down.

When it feels cold, you can try to drain the radiator yourself or you could call out an emergency plumber to look at the problem for you.

If you choose to do it yourself, close the thermostatic and lockshield valves and place a bucket underneath the system.

Take the thermostatic radiator valve nut off and the water should start bleeding out of the radiator.

The next step is fixing the leak, which can be done with plumber’s tape over the hole, replacing the radiator valve, or pouring a solution in the central heating system.

If these don’t work, it could be a more serious problem, such as your pipes or the radiator itself having started to corrode. In this case, you need expert assistance or may have to replace the radiator.

Will The Clean Heat Market Mechanism Affect Boiler Prices?

The types of heating systems that people will install into new and existing homes may start to change beginning with this year.

In April 2024, the first step of the government’s Clean Heat Market Mechanism (CHMM) scheme is set to launch, which is a complex policy of interlocking clean heat and clean energy targets that heating manufacturers need to follow to avoid potential fines.

The specific details are somewhat complex, but the primary aim of the scheme is to encourage the installation of heat pumps alongside green energy grants to help reduce the prices of installation and implementation of a heating system that is still relatively new in the UK.

How the system is set to work is that each manufacturer will earn credits for the number of heat pumps that are installed, and need to reach a target tailored to the size of their company or face fines for doing so.

There are some caveats, like how any company with a surplus of credits can sell them to other manufacturers to make sure they meet their targets, but several of them have responded to the scheme by raising the prices of their boilers, in some cases by as much as ten per cent.

This has a consequential effect on the price of boiler quotes and the stated reason, as well as the reason why CHMM is characterised as a levy or a tax is because the claimed demand for heat pumps in the UK is too low to meet the proposed targets.

It is deeply unfortunate that the clean heat scheme’s costs are potentially going to be passed directly onto consumers, and could lead to some people deciding to wait and see with their boiler or opt for a less efficient boiler with higher long-term costs, particularly with regard to maintenance and further replacement.

Exactly how the scheme will work in the long term remains to be seen, but this is an unfortunate short-term consequence.

Why You Should Keep Underfloor Heating On All The Time

Most homeowners are currently facing a conundrum about how often they should put the heating on and how high they should set their thermostat, thanks to the combination of high energy bills and freezing temperatures. 

Although many want to save money on their heating expenses, the wintry conditions that are likely to remain for the next few months makes it very difficult to stay warm inside if the house is not sufficiently heated up. 

This is what leads many households to regularly turning their thermostat up and down, trying to use as little energy as possible until they can no longer handle the cold and need the house to be warmer. 

However, for those who have underfloor heating, it is better to have them constantly on instead of frequently turning them on and off. 

According to uHeat, having it on all day, even when nobody is in, means it will be quicker to warm up and it will be more efficient. 

“As long as you opt for a well-built, properly installed, high-quality underfloor heating system, you can be confident of leaving the system switched on all day every day without any problems at all,” it stated. 

This ensures the room will receive some heat throughout the day, but homeowners can also increase the temperature if they need extra warming up when they want. 

Without leaving it on all day, it is difficult to feel the true benefits of underfloor heating, as it can take a couple of hours to properly warm up. Therefore, once the room is no longer uncomfortably cold, it might be time to go to bed! 

What Factors Go Into The Price Of A New Boiler’s Quote?

During a bitter winter cold snap is often the time when people use their boilers the most, and often when they start contemplating starting the new year with a new unit.

The first step they will take is to contact local suppliers and get a quote on what price they would be expected to pay to replace their older unit with something new and more efficient. 

Getting a boiler quote can be interesting and the results can vary because whilst the largest part of the quoted price will be the boiler unit itself, there are a lot of other factors that can affect the price, and it is worth investigating why certain quotes you receive are more expensive than others.

One of these is the fuel type itself, although this often affects the price because it affects the types of boiler that can be installed, as well as the complexity of installation.

For example, biomass boilers will tend to be more expensive than gas, combi or electric boilers, which are far more common and have more engineers experienced in the process of removing, swapping and installing a brand new boiler.

Another aspect of this expense can come from the difficulty of installing the boiler itself. Most boilers tend to be placed in areas that are relatively easy to access and thus all of the components can be swapped out, but if the installation is non-standard, it may require additional planning and work, which will add to the cost.

As well as this, if you want to move the boiler, that will lead to additional costs, as will any work to upgrade the overall system such as from a back boiler to a combi boiler system.

Finally, there are some fluctuations in the cost of labour time in different parts of the UK, so that can sometimes affect the quote.

Does It Save Money To Leave A Boiler On A Low Temperature?

With people mindful of their energy bills and wanting to save money as the mercury drops, a lot of tips, conventional wisdom and myths tend to be spread alongside vital advice. 

The best way to save money on your bills is by consulting a professional to see if they can install a more efficient boiler or whether your insulation and heating system could help keep more heat in your home.

However, one particular piece of advice that is often stated as fact is that it is better to leave the boiler on all day at a low temperature and let it steadily warm the house rather than turn it on whenever it is needed.

There is a logic to this; much like a car engine, a boiler uses the most energy when it is turned on and heats up the central heating system quickly. However, in practice and in all but the most thermally efficient homes in the country, it will quickly do more harm than good.

The reason for this is that so much heat is lost through poor insulation, so your boiler would be burning far more gas or using more electricity than you may think to try and keep it at this low temperature, making many people’s heating bills considerably worse.

Generally, if you are using a smart thermometer or turning the heating off when the house is warmed up, you will be using far less energy overall, which in combination with efficient sources of heat and improved draught-proofing can save you far more money in the long run.

As well as this, heating the person rather than the home can also work a lot of the time, such as wearing additional layers and wrapping up warm whenever you can.

Why Does Your Natural Gas Boiler Need Annual Maintenance?

It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that a property owner needs to organise an annual service for all of the boilers in a building. 

The biggest and most obvious reason for this is obligation; landlords must ensure that gas appliances have checks every year, many business insurance policies require an annual service to ensure it remains valid and annual services keep a boiler’s warranty period valid as well.

However, for some people who have had a boiler installed by an expert in the last year and had absolutely no issues, it can seem like a service is unnecessary, however, it is important for many reasons beyond being a requirement.

The first, and by far the most important is that it helps keep everyone in the building safe. Boilers are complex, and a fault can have the potential to be very dangerous if left unchecked.

It will ensure that every component is properly installed, is working effectively and can potentially signpost where issues could come from in the future, tweaking and fixing parts.

This saves money in the long run, as an annual service is far cheaper than an emergency callout, particularly if expensive parts are required.

Beyond this, it can also help to reduce energy bills. Gas engineers are highly knowledgeable about the inner workings of a boiler, and they can see if a boiler is not only working well but is as efficient as possible, which costs you less money.

This can become more critical as a boiler gets older and its performance starts to degrade. An engineer will often be the first to point out when a boiler has reached the tipping point where replacement is more cost-effective than maintenance.

An engineer can also provide advice on which settings would provide the most value and reduce bills the most, as well as show you how to manage automatic switch-on and shut-off times for central heating systems.

Why Combi Boilers Are Always A Top Choice For Homeowners

Homeowners who are looking for a new boiler will have to decide which type to go for. 

If you are considering a combi boiler, here are some reasons why it is a popular choice these days. 

Cost-effective

Perhaps the main reason why more and more people are opting for combi boilers is because they warm water on demand whenever the tap or heating is turned on. Therefore, there is no need to heat up an entire tank of water and then having to store it. 

The reason this is cost effective is because you do not need to preheat the water, thereby only heating what you use. 

Energy-efficient

New combi boiler installations need to have an energy efficiency rating of at least 92 per cent, which means homeowners can benefit from wasting as little power as possible to heat up their water and home. 

This will reduce energy bills, which have shot up in the last year, as well as be better for the environment. 

Convenient

As combi boilers mean hot water is available whenever you need it, it is the more convenient option. You don’t have to plan when you’ll want a shower or bath, or wait a long time if you want to do the washing up. 

At the same time, it is easy and quick to install, as it does not require a hot water cylinder or tank. 

Space saving

Those who live in small houses or flats will surely be keen on getting a combi boiler, as they take up much less space than a system boiler, which also needs a hot storage tank. 

Good water pressure

As the water comes from the mains, it will have a strong flow. Therefore, homeowners can enjoy powerful showers with a combi boiler!