No Summer Check Up? You Could Have Winter Heating Problems!

If you saw the recent TV programme in which hidden cameras revealed just how much my fellow canines get so fretful when we are left alone in the house, you’ll understand why Bernard, my master, lets me sometimes travel in his van when he’s away a lot on call-outs.

When customers see me, Bernard is suddenly called upon to give his ‘expert’ advice on the welfare of dogs as well as working out what’s wrong with their boiler! One customer actually asked Bernard if he knew how to keep his dog from barking in the front yard. Bernard told him to put it in the back yard! Woof Woof!

Central heating turned on – nothing happens!

From the start of autumn we are always very busy responding to calls from customers who may have just turned on their central heating for the first time since before the summer months – and nothing happens!

One piece of ‘real’ advice Bernard always gives is to check that your system is still running by putting the heating on for about 15 minutes once a month. It helps to keep the boiler pump free from debris accumulating. At the same time, it’s always worth having the boiler serviced too – just like my seasonal visits to the vets for a check-up!

Whenever there is a potential problem with a boiler, the key advice is to always call a professional, trained, qualified and industry-approved plumber like my master, Bernard.

Many types and brands of modern boilers today are sophisticated electronic systems, which are constantly being upgraded and require their own specialist knowledge. Yet it’s simply staggering how some people think that they can simply get “this mate of a mate from down the road to come and have a look – it won’t cost anything!”

Simple checks that homeowners can do

On the other hand, there are some simple checks that homeowners can do, which can help identify common but very simple and obvious boiler problems that you should be able to fix yourself.

The most obvious is to check to see if the boiler pilot flame is alight or power light is on. A pilot flame can be relit by carefully following the manufacturer instructions while the power on newer boilers may be restored by checking to see if a circuit protection device has tripped and needs to be reset.

It’s not unusual for a meter, which is in a cupboard alongside many other stored items, to have its on/off switch knocked off.

Another simple check is to see if the central heating programmer been set correctly or if an individual room’s thermostat is set too low preventing the heating from coming on. If the system has not been used for a while or if there is a leak, then it’s likely that the boiler pressure is not correct.

Beyond the simple checks described above, no attempt at plumbing DIY should be made with the boiler – especially if it’s a gas boiler! My master always recommends the importance of making sure a gas boiler is checked and serviced regularly in order to cut the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

I can normally sniff a biscuit half a mile away and can never understand why some humans can’t do the same!

Peace Of Mind Guaranteed Or Counting The Cost Of A Cowboy Plumber

“It’s enough to make you barking mad!” says the master who just came across a recent survey, which reports that nearly 70 per cent of people admit they choose their plumber “on cost alone”.

According to a study of around 2,000 consumers, finding a cheap plumber trumps any concerns over whether they are registered with Gas Safe and other approved contractor schemes or even if they have any professional training or qualifications.

The master says quite rightly that it’s the “cowboy” element that constantly gives the professionally trained and qualified trade a bad image. Incredibly, the survey found that nearly a quarter of the people polled said they “have fallen victim to a rogue plumber” and a further quarter know someone else who was also caught out by a botched plumbing job.

Trying hard to cut back on unnecessary costs

The master knows that times are tough and everyone is trying hard to cut back on unnecessary costs. So it can be a real disaster in more ways than one if you wake up in the morning and the house is cold and there’s no hot water. The challenge of a repair or replacement of a boiler that has suddenly “stopped working” can be seen in different ways by different people.

For far too many, their response means they seem willing or oblivious to suffer costly problems weeks or just days later. More than 50 per cent said they are prepared to risk asking an unqualified person to carry out plumbing work in their home. So it should come as no surprise to find that 80 per cent of those asked also said they “don’t always expect their plumber to do a good job.”

Hot water and heating vital to everyone’s daily lives

The proper, legal and safe functioning of gas or oil fired hot water and heating systems are vital to everyone’s daily lives. Yet the necessary training, qualifications and experience required to ensure that the systems do work are considered of less importance than finding the cheapest quote and accepting a substandard, even dangerous level of workmanship.

Consequently, nearly 70 per cent of those surveyed also stated they always get a second opinion to see if they’re being charged the “going rate”.

The master absolutely agrees with customers being careful to see that the quotes they receive do generally reflect a genuine, accredited industry level of service quality expected of a fully qualified and experienced plumbing and heating installer.

Guarantee

Today, a boiler can account for more than half of a household’s total energy bill, and energy prices are set to continue to rise, so having a properly functioning and efficient boiler is vitally important. Installation of a quality, energy rated boiler can now be guaranteed for at least 5 years by a fully compliant plumber.

Can you say that about your boiler?

I say “woof, woof” – if the master has done it for you – and I’m definitely not barking mad!