Local gas engineer offers advice and insights on common heating and boiler issues that can save homeowners money, time and possibly even lives.
Gas Safety Week is the 16th – 22nd September and plumbing, heating and gas specialist Neil Marsh (MCIPHE RP RHP EngTech) MD of Forthwright Services, based in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire and Bromyard is keen to advise homeowners how to properly maintain their heating and plumbing systems to avoid costly repairs or dangerous accidents.
He says that easily avoidable issues are becoming bigger and more serious concerns that can cost huge amount of money or even put lives in danger and attributes this to people using sub-standard contractors or ignoring regular or proper maintenance of their systems.
Marsh established Forthright Services in 2013 with a vision to become a leading example of professionalism and quality in the industry and has gone on to become an established service provider in the region with a large customer base.
He says it’s the things we cannot see that often become most costly to repair.
Central heating sludge, which typically comes about from the corrosion of central heating radiators as they rust, is a leading cause of boiler and central heating component premature failure.
According to Marsh there are four common reasons for the build-up of central heating sludge, limescale and other sediments that wreak havoc within the central heating system.
1. Homeowners are miseducated by installers on the method used to clean a central heating system
2. The installer fails to do any flush at all
3. The client skips power flushing to ‘save’ money
4. Magnetic filters being advised as an effective alternative to power flushing.
But, he says all types of corrosion (including galvanic and chemical corrosion) are preventable by cleaning a central heating system thoroughly using the right methods and treating with a high-quality corrosion inhibitor.
The proper power flush
While most installers advise that a flush, chemical flush or a cleanse are adequate to clean an existing central heating system, the truth is that these methods will often fail to remove a lot of contaminants such as sludge, limescale and other sediments, leading to related issues down the line.
“The most effective way to clean a central heating system is to use an acid-based power flush. Without the acid-based chemicals, power flushing effectiveness will often be drastically reduced,” says Marsh, “However, as acid-based power flushing is more complicated, most installers opt for less effective chemicals when they do a power flush and the results are poor.”
What about filters?
Although magnetic filters can be a good addition to help protect expensive items, such as the boiler, Marsh says they have a limited capacity to do so because they do not stop corrosion and only pick up some of the magnetic corrosion that passes them, depending on their design. Effectiveness between models varies significantly.
“We regularly find boilers suffering from sludge related faults that have filters fitted before the boiler. If filters were as effective as they are made out to be, this would not occur.”
The right man for the job
Using the right installer can save a homeowner thousands of pounds as a clean central heating system, including the boiler fitted to them, will not only last longer but have fewer repairs.
“Finding the right installer can be difficult. However, an installer that advocates power flushing and takes the time to explain its importance is a good starting point,” says Marsh, “It’s a fallacy to expect to save money by skipping a correctly administrated power flush. We have seen central heating systems requiring significant amounts of repair just a few years old as a result of these sediments.”
It’s important to note that, currently, not all current boiler manufacture warranties and guarantees will cover repairs due to sludge, limescale or other sediments. Often a homeowner will be charged for such callouts and have to pay for the repair in addition, plus they will be required to clean the heating system thoroughly to be entitled to future callouts.
Don’t neglect your boiler
A correctly administered boiler service will not only ensure a boiler is working safely but will help prevent common faults and help identify defects that could lead to expensive repairs down the line and ultimately extend the lifespan of the boiler.
“If you want to ensure you are getting the best service possible, make sure your engineer advocates a detailed service. Boiler servicing not only saves money, but it can save lives too! Boilers can become very dangerous and lead to fires, carbon monoxide poisoning and even explosions!”
Many companies offer a safety check instead of a boiler service and, while a check is good to do, it may not be in-depth enough to identify defects that will lead to faults.
This Gas Safety Week, Marsh advises homeowners to prioritise the maintenance and checking of gas equipment throughout the home.
“Most home insurance policies require all equipment to be serviced as per the manufacturer recommendations and most gas equipment advises an annual service. Homeowners take a significant risk with their homes by not maintaining the gas equipment properly every year!”