Telltale Signs You Need A New Boiler

One of the most used and most important appliances in your home is your boiler, but like many of the most important tools in our lives, we only tend to notice it when it goes wrong.

However, with a lot of discussions surrounding hydrogen boilers in the news as of late, as well as winter coming up, there is no better time than now to take a look at your boiler and ensure it is still in good working order.

Most boilers tend to be replaced every 15 years, primarily for efficiency reasons, but there are cases where a fault is so significant or so consistent that repairing the issue is merely throwing good money after bad.

Here are some telltale signs your boiler installation is in trouble and it may be worth investing in a new one.

 

The Boiler Smells Bad

Your boiler should not smell at all, but if it is giving off a bad odour, you need to call a professional right away, as there could be a carbon monoxide leak.

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that ordinarily gives off no smell nor taste, but can cause serious illness and death if inhaled in significant quantities.

Generally, this is caused by a leak causing the boiler not to burn properly, particularly if it uses natural gas.

If your boiler has a pilot light that keeps blowing out, burns yellow rather than blue or you notice dark soot stains, these can also be signs of carbon monoxide leaks.

 

Puddles Appear Around Your Boiler

Whilst this seems self-evident, generally, if a leak has become so prominent it has caused puddles to emerge around your home, it is generally a sign that your boiler is beyond repair with internal parts that are starting to disintegrate.

This should be fixed not only because of the damage to your boiler but because of the potential structural damage to your home, which can be considerably expensive to fix.

 

You Hear Banging, Clunking Or Whirring

Boilers aren’t completely silent, but the main noise you should hear from your boiler is a constant hum so low you have to focus on it to truly notice it.

Bangs and other odd noises tend to be a symptom of mechanical damage, although to what extent depends on the noise.

Switch the boiler off and call an engineer.

Energy Firms Continue To Collapse

Energy companies in the UK are continuing to collapse as a result of increasing gas prices, affecting nearly 1.5 million people across the country.

Over the last couple of weeks, several energy providers have had to cease trading, including Green Supplier Limited, Avro Energy, People’s Energy, and Utility Point, among others.

According to Sky News, wholesale gas prices have soared by 455 per cent in the last year, with costs surging by as much as 250 per cent since January 2021.

By Monday September 20th, the cost of gas reached a record high of £183 per therm, while prices are normally around £40 to £60 per therm at this time of the year.

The subsequent collapse of several energy suppliers has led to millions of customers being switched to other providers. This means many could be paying for a more expensive tariff than the one they had originally signed up to.

This is particularly the case as providers cannot currently offer a competitive price, due to the ever-increasing cost of gas.

Customers of Green Supplier Limited have now been moved to Shell Energy; those who had signed up to Avro Energy will be on Octopus Energy tariffs; and British Gas will now handle those who had taken out plans with People’s Energy.

While this is unsettling for bill-payers, Ofgem’s director of retail Neil Lawrence said: “Their energy supply will continue as normal, and customer credit balances will be honoured.”

 

To help reduce your gas bills, consider getting a new boiler in North London that is more energy-efficient.

How To Have A More Energy Efficient Home

Energy efficiency is high on the agenda at the moment, as the world’s climate becomes hotter every year, and the devastating results of global warming can be seen with frightening regularity. Near the top of the action list is improving the efficiency of UK homes, which are currently responsible for 20% of the nation’s carbon emissions.

 

Insulation

A very simple step you can take is to ramp up your levels of insulation. This will stop as much heat escaping, meaning you can turn radiators down, or turn the heating off earlier. Not only will this make your house warmer and drier, but you will also save on energy bills.

Fitting your hot water cylinder with an insulating jacket will preserve heat, save you costs, and reduce emissions. Cavity wall insulation can stop as much as a third of all heat leaking from your home, according to the Energy Saving Trust. Houses built after 1920 but before 1990 may not have any wall insulation, so it pays to have this checked out.

Loft insulation is also essential, to save as much as 25% of your heat from leaking through the roof. The investment will soon pay for itself, and you can carry out the work yourself, unless you have a flat roof. Also consider applying draught-proofing strips around window and door frames, and draught-proofing the chimney.

 

Underfloor heating

The thought of converting to underfloor heating may seem like a very expensive way to save money, but you might be surprised at how affordable it is nowadays. It is also a far more efficient way to heat a home, because underfloor heating systems need much lower temperatures to warm a room to a comfortable level.

Not only that, you will have a lovely toasty warm floor to walk on when you get up on crispy frosty mornings, and your home will feel more spacious without bulky wall radiators!

 

If you need a new boiler quote in North London, get in touch today.

What Are The Benefits of Solar Panels In The UK?

We are all seeking more sustainable ways to live our lives and can make purchasing decisions on everything from food to electricity based on a product or company’s eco-credentials.

Solar panels are a great way to help reduce your carbon footprint, but what are the pros and cons of solar energy? Aside from reducing carbon emissions, solar panels will reduce your energy bills, increase your property value, helps protect you against rising energy costs, and you can even sell your unused electricity back to the national grid.

The downsides include high up-front costs, which might not be a wise investment if you’re about to move home, and they may not work on every roof. If you only have small electricity bills, you may not benefit from the returns on your investment for many years.

Let’s have a closer look at some of the advantages.

 

Solar improves the value of your home

The Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) found that energy-saving home improvements, such as solar panels, could increase property values by on average £16,000. Even if you’re planning on moving in the near future, you’ll earn back your solar panel investment and then some when you sell your home.

 

Independence Off The Grid

Solar panels will provide you with an independent source of electricity. The light from the sun cannot be monopolised or privatised, and the electricity generated belongs to you.

 

Reduces Electricity Bills

Your solar panels will contribute to some of your energy needs, which in turn will help reduce your energy bills. How much you will save will depend on the size of your solar panel system, and your energy usage.

Not only will you save on your electricity bill, but there is also a possibility to receive payments for the surplus energy that you export back to the grid if you generate more electricity than you use.

 

Renewable Energy

Switching to solar energy cuts your carbon footprint, as it is a green, renewable source of energy. Unlike traditional electricity generators, solar power does not release any harmful carbon dioxide or other pollutants.

Estimates also show that solar panels for homes could save around one tonne of CO2 per year, which comes to approximately 25 tonnes over its lifetime.

 

If you’re looking for solar panels in North London, talk to us today!

How To Tell If Your Boiler Needs Replacing

Nothing lasts forever and your boiler is a particularly hard-working part of your house, giving you all the heating and hot water you need to enjoy living comfortably at home. Regular servicing once a year is a must to keep it in good working order, but there may well come a time when a new appliance becomes a necessity.

But how do you know that a new one is required? If you find that the appliance needs repairs on a regular basis or if you hear lots of funny noises coming from within, then it’s likely that you could benefit from investing in a new one.

Listen out for knocking or hissing sounds when the boiler is on, as this suggests that it’s on its way out. Parts wear out as boilers get older and it can be more cost-effective in the long run to replace, rather than repair.

If you know your boiler is more than ten years old, an upgrade could be a good idea, as well. New boilers are far more efficient than their predecessors, so you could do the planet some good and save yourself some money by switching out your old appliance.

Also look out for fluctuations in water temperature, as this is another indication that your boiler is about to pack up. Repairs could see improvements, but if it continues, a new boiler could be your only solution.

And, of course, it’s always worth remembering that a faulty boiler can not only be a nuisance but also pose a serious risk to your health. Faulty appliances can lead to carbon monoxide leaks, which can be deadly – so it’s essential that you make sure your boiler works as it should.

 

For help with new boiler installation in North London, get in touch with us today.

Spring has Sprung! It’s Time for Annual Maintenance

As London is enjoying some lovely warm weather, the last thing that is on your mind is your boiler. Unfortunately, the majority of people think about their boiler when they try to get it running again in the autumn. That tends to make us very busy as every job is urgent as the weather cools down. Get in early and get your boiler serviced now so that it’s in top shape for the next winter season.

The warm weather gives us a chance to get the windows open and have a spring clean. The sunshine does show up the grime on the windows and the cobwebs in the corners so it’s not surprising that this is a time when everyone spruces up their home. Many people take the extra time off work around the bank holidays to decorate a room or get out in the garden and tidy things up. But not many people think about their hard working boiler that would also enjoy some well earned maintenance.

Best Practice

We advise people to have their boiler serviced annually. This means we can check it over, clean the filters and make sure the boiler is safe. All our service staff are Gas Safe engineers who understand the importance of a safe boiler and meet the standards required. Having your boiler serviced means that you can be satisfied that there aren’t any leaks. Carbon Monoxide is a silent killer that has no odour and is very hard to detect. Having your boiler regularly maintained by a professional means you significantly reduce the risk of being poisoned in your own home.

Time for a Change

If your boiler is old, the summer is the best time to replace it. The latest condensing boilers save you money on your energy bills and are clean and quiet to run. It is sometimes difficult to get the spares we need to repair old boilers, so getting them checked out in the summer could save you a real headache when you actually need your boiler up and running.

Taking time off work in November while you wait for a heating engineer in your cold house is not an ideal situation. Take a summer day off and enjoy your garden while your plumber is servicing your boiler.

Hot Water!

Don’t forget that your boiler is doing more than heating your home, it heats the hot water too. You really don’t want to be without hot water in the summer when nothing refreshes you better than a hot shower after a day at work in the city. It is far better to utilise your boiler to heat your hot water than use an electric immersion tank. If your boiler runs on gas you will find it cheaper than electricity to heat your water. Also, by using the boiler for hot water in the summer it keeps the boiler ticking over nicely so it will be ready to fire up to full power in the colder weather. After all, you don’t want to find yourself in the wrong kind of hot water – with a boiler that has broken down.

Whatever spring cleaning you do this spring don’t forget your boiler!

Helping the Plumber Over The Phone Can Save You Time And Money!

Whenever Bernard my master is asked what my favourite food is the answer is anything that’s on his plate! When it comes to anything a dog wants to play with it’s theirs but when it’s broken, it’s yours!

A bit unfair on humans, I know, but we are loyal and make the best guards and guides, which can sort out all sorts of safety prevention problems for our masters.

In fact sorting out problems is exactly what a busy plumber like Bernard is definitely about, of course. Customers are always looking for a great service at the best price and when a plumber needs to be found to fix a problem, there is always a worry over being overcharged or extra time being added to the final bill.

Experienced plumber – accurate estimate

A good and experienced plumber should firstly,  always tell the customer the exact cost and time of callout charges over the phone. Often problems can be rectified within the set call out period unless the job requires additional time to complete. Once again, an experienced plumber will be able to give an accurate estimate to include all parts and labour.

Even I have to wait to be fed while Bernard is busy fixing a boiler! But I always try to sniff out a half eaten chocolate bar or crisp bag to keep me going!

Information helps the plumber

However, a customer can often help themselves and the plumber with a little bit of plumbing knowledge. Rather than simply panic when waking one morning and finding you have no hot water, or a leak, for example, a few simple checks can save time for both you and the plumber.

A leak can be a straightforward problem. Firstly, find the stop-cock and turn off and then try to find where the leak is coming from so when you do ring a plumber you can provide the information, which will help pinpoint the problem and the likely time and cost to put right.

No hot water…

However, no hot water is probably the most common reason to call a plumber. Those with a gas water heater installed will need to firstly make sure the pilot light has not gone out and check the temperature setting on the water heater is set high enough to provide adequate amounts of hot water.

With an electric boiler heater, the first thing to do is see if there is power going to the heating elements. Check for a tripped circuit breaker or a blown fuse on the water heater circuit in the wiring centre or fuse box. If power has not been disrupted then it’s possible that the electric thermostat or a heating element has become faulty.

If a water heater is leaking, then it’s likely that rust has eaten away through the bottom of the water storage tank, and the water heater may need to be replaced.

Once again, having made the simplest of preliminary checks and carefully explaining the symptoms over the phone to the plumber could save precious time and money!

It also means that Bernard might get to feed me on time and save me having to raid the biscuit barrel!

Preventing Limescale Building Up A Large Scale Boiler Problem

Bernard’s family all settled down to watch “101 Dalmatians” on the TV over Christmas.

When it finished, Bernard was asked how it was possible that I was staring so intently at the screen almost as if I was really involved with the movie! It was noticed that I whimpered at all the sad moments, moved around nervously in my basket at scary bits, but most of all, howled like crazy at the funny parts.

“Yes,” said Bernard “It was weird of Moo to do that. He hated the book!”

Woof woof!

There was a lot of terrible wet weather over Christmas and New Year but it’s been mild so no emergency callouts to deal with freezing pipes like last year – yet! We hear that some of the polar conditions currently being experienced in the US are due to arrive here in the UK next week! But Bernard and I are always ready and know exactly what to do when pipes freeze, radiators or boilers stop working…

1 in 6 households are in hard water areas

A particular problem in the greater London area where Bernard mostly works is the build up of limescale, which can cause major problems in central heating systems. More than six in ten properties around the UK are supplied with hard water rich in minerals such as limestone. The average household living in an area with hard water will accumulate around 70kg of limescale in just 12 months, clogging up hot water pipes, appliances and heating systems.

Of course, I don’t mind how hard the water is as long as there is plenty always in my bowl (or else I will find a drink elsewhere – woof, woof!

First signs of a problem will be boiler noise

Limescale is formed when water is heated above 55 degrees and tends to form in the hottest part of the system. The first signs of a problem will be boiler noise caused by overheating of the water as a result of steam bubbles, which collapse loudly as they move away from the heat transfer surface and into the cooler water.

As limescale builds up on the heat transfer surface it has a direct impact on system efficiency, which can be reduced by 12 per cent by just a 1.6mm layer of scale, according to British Water. A loss of heat transfer efficiency means the boiler has to work harder by burning more fuel, resulting in an increase in home energy bills.

Bernard often finds that it is the build up of limescale that is the culprit when investigating a customer’s noisy boiler!

Protecting appliances and pipework

Preventing a build up is easy these days. From using chemical water softeners (for appliances such as kettles, washing machines and dishwashers) to installing electronic descalers to protect the pipework and ultimately, the boiler. Never try to forcefully chip scale away from tap nozzles or heating elements as this will likely to cause structural damage.

I have to admit the I’m not too keen on tasting the white crunchy bits of limescale myself – I much prefer one of Bernard’s tasty hobnobs!

Best To Be Gas Safe Than Sorry You Didn’t Check First For Plumbing Credentials!

On the 1st April 2009, Britain’s gas safety scheme known as Corgi was replaced by the Gas Safe Register. From that date onwards, by law, anyone who works on gas appliances, such as boilers, now needed to be on the Gas Safe Register.

Naturally, the fact that a Corgi was no more is something we canines are more likely to know than humans! But it is still of concern how Corgi continues to be mentioned whenever the issue of finding a properly trained and qualified plumber comes up in conversation. You may even spot a trade van with a Corgi sticker still attached to the side door.

Passionate about the job

Doing the job properly by a trained and qualified installer is something my master, Bernard feels passionate about. Just at the end of November he read about a gas explosion at a private residence in Manchester caused by damage to live electrical wires, which burned a hole in a gas pipe while a new boiler was being installed.

Apparently, the plumber had burnt the cables while using a blow torch to solder together gas pipes that ran alongside. Despite being badly charred, the cables were then wrapped in plastic tape instead of a proper repair made.

According to official figures, around 40 people are fatally injured each year from gas explosions and more than 25 people will die from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning due to badly installed or not properly maintained gas appliances. Even more people suffer health problems from CO exposure directly related to a gas appliance.

Deciding if the plumber is right as well as the price

Luckily for me, I can smell gas right across north and east London where Bernard spends most of his time installing boilers and taking care of customer’s central heating systems.

Humans may have bigger brains but can they smell a rat? The kind of rat I’m talking about is the type of installer that humans seem to not worry as much about checking up on their Gas Safe credentials as they are on securing a suspiciously low price.

Unfortunately, trying to decide over the phone if you have found a good plumber when they give the pricing for even small jobs may not be the answer. Most good plumbers will prefer to provide quotes only when they are actually front of the job to be done so their ‘fixed quote’ is certain to be 100 per cent exactly correct – and customers will have no nasty surprises later!

Check to ensure a plumber is fully licensed

Apart from guarantees, references, online reviews and obtaining different quotes ( for the same amount of work to be carried out), it’s always crucial to spend time checking to ensure a plumber is fully licensed and carries full insurance to protect you and your neighbour’s property in the event of a catastrophe. While asking about “long they have been in business for” may be reassuring, it’s not always the case that reputable trades-people last while rogue traders simply disappear!

I’m proud to be able to say that my master, Bernard is Gas Safe registered, a Worcester Bosch Group partner and gives a 5 year guarantee – and he replaced all his Corgi stickers, but sadly not with pictures of Moo!

Freezing Temperatures Could Mean A Problem Condensed Coming Down The Pipe!

Are we going to see a repeat of prolonged, freezing Arctic conditions in the winter months ahead that we’ve experienced in recent years? It’s not so bad for me – I love the snow, my legs never shake nor get snow or ice stuck in between the paw pads. What do you call young dogs who play in the snow? Slush puppies! Woof Woof!

So it’s a great, fun time for a dog to be out digging deep in the snow and sniffing out all sorts of strange scents. But some humans can have real problems keeping sufficiently warm in their house if the temperature drops below zero. Even I admit it can be tough trying to break through ice to find bones I’ve buried!

Exceptional problems with keeping warm

So, apart from turning the thermostat down one or two degrees in a bid to avoid a nasty quarterly bill, why should there be a problem with keeping warm if we have one of today’s modern advanced boilers nicely installed?

In the exceptional winter temperatures of recent years, the mercury plunged down between -9C and -20C. However, the average minimum temperature around most of Britain tends to be around 3 – 4C, dipping down to just below freezing when snow is forecast and often for several days afterwards.

Outlet pipe overlooked

This can sometimes mean that the outlet pipe on the modern condensing boiler, which siphons left over cooled water vapour – or ‘condensate’- can freeze if it’s on the outside and not on the inside of the house. This often results in a blockage, which will shut the boiler down, meaning no hot water or heating!

Being a short-haired dog, my master always wants to strap a special doggie coat around me when we go out in the freezing weather. It’s the same, of course, with the outlet pipe. It needs to be properly weather insulated! It’s amazing how this vital pipe can be overlooked because it’s outside.

Usually, a fault code will show on the boiler’s display (or an alarm will sound) and the code can be looked up in the boiler instruction manual.

Unfreezing the blockage

Unfreezing the outlet pipe might not require Bernard to take a look. The blockage is likely to be at the most exposed external point, or at a bend or dip in the pipe. It can simply be a matter of gently thawing the ice.

However, please note – it’s absolutely vital that boiling hot water is NOT simply poured directly onto the pipe! Instead, wrap a soft hot water bottle around the pipe and allow to slowly thaw – and it can take some time! The boiler can be restarted by following the instructions in the boiler manual.

While pipe insulation will help to prevent ice from freezing, when exceptional temperatures occur, it’s always recommended to contact a qualified, experienced plumber like my master Bernard, for further detailed guidance according to your type of boiler, heating system and layout.

Meanwhile, I shall be looking forward to seeing the first snowflakes – I love snacking on the stuff even if humans don’t!