Oil heating system

Oil tanks and things to consider

Oil tanks and things to consider

When buying a new Oil tank you need to ensure you are complying with the law, but you also need a tank that suits you and your home’s needs. Hopefully this information will help you inform you on things you should think about and ask when getting a quote.

  • Where should you put your tank?

  • What type of tank do you need?

  • Is there east access for you and your delivery driver?

  • What is the best way to install you tank in order to maintain your tank warranty and reduce fire risk?

  • What is the most efficient way to remove your old tank and pipe work?

Firstly, we recommend you get in touch with competent tank installer, like Abbey Boilers, for advice. An installer can advice you on how to comply with various legislation, and make sure the tank works to suit your needs. They will look for nearby watercourses, loose fitting manhole covers, boreholes, a high water table, wells or sensitive groundwater areas. This is because any of these features can affect your tank and may mean you will need a secondary containment around your tank in order to comply with the law. This can all help you save money and avoid illegal tank installations. The best way to find legitimate oil tank installers is check OFTEC to find your local certified installers.

Households in England and Wales are urged to check on vulnerable neighbours and relatives following cold festive season

Following the cold festive period, households in England and Wales are being reminded to regularly visit vulnerable relatives, neighbours and friends to check they are keeping warm and well.

The warning comes after 50,100 excess winter deaths were recorded in England and Wales  during 2017/18*.

Those living in rural parts of England and Wales are more likely to struggle to keep warm during the winter season because their houses tend to be older and less well insulated, making them harder to heat effectively.

People living within these households are often at greater risk of developing health problems, such as respiratory conditions, which are made worse by cold temperatures. 

In response OFTEC, which represents the oil heating industry, is encouraging people to regularly check on older relatives and friends to ensure they are taking care of themselves over the colder months.

OFTEC has shared five top tips on things to look out for which could potentially save a life, as part of a free 'Keeping warm this winter’ guide. 

  1. Ensure main rooms are heated to at least 21C with other commonly used rooms kept to at least 18C

  2. Make sure the heating comes on at the correct time and radiators are turned off in unused rooms. You may also want to adjust the heating timers to match the weather conditions

  3. Check that nothing is blocking radiators as this reduces effectiveness

  4. If you use heating oil make sure there is plenty of oil in the tank. If it needs topping up, use a firm which is a member of the Federation of Petroleum Suppliers

  5. Check the boiler has recently been serviced by an OFTEC (for oil or solid fuel) or GasSafe (for mains gas) registered technician who has checked it is working correctly and efficiently. If it does breakdown over winter, visit www.oftec.org.uk to find the nearest local registered technician


Malcolm Farrow from OFTEC, commented: "This time of year can be a real struggle for many people, especially following the expensive festive period.  As a result, some households resort to turning down their heating in an effort to save money.

"However, this puts people at greater risk of developing health complications, especially if they are older and more vulnerable. This is reflected in the large number of excess winter deaths seen in England and Wales over recent years.

"With a high number of older and vulnerable people living in rural areas , it is more important than ever that we look out for our relatives, friends and neighbours to check they are keeping warm and their heating system is working correctly. This could be a regular visit or phone call to make sure they are ok."

More information and advice can be found at www.oftec.org and the 'Keeping warm this winter guide can be downloaded at http://bit.ly/KeepingWarmThisWinter. 



*Excess Winter Mortality Data, ONS November 2018

Myths about your central heating

Myths about your central heating

Did you know you could save yourself £250 a year just by switching off your lights and heating when they’re not in use? Oftec have released a list of mysthbusting facts to help you save money this winter.

Is your heating system ready for round two with the ‘Beast from the East’?

Is your heating system ready for round two with the ‘Beast from the East’?

With what it is meant to be the coldest winter in a decade, OFTEC are issuing advice on how to make sure you and your family stay warm this winter, especially in oil heated homes.

What is a Powerflush?

 

A Powerflush is a cleansing process which aims to remove deposits of sludge, rust and any other debris from your central heating system.

 

These contaminants, if left, can seriously affect the efficiency of a heating system and, in severe cases, a powerflush could be the only option available. Over time the water in your pipes, boiler and radiators deposits unwanted byproducts like rust. This rust (plus other dirt and debris) becomes an unpleasant, mud-like substance that professionals affectionately refer to as ‘sludge’.

Sludge in your heating system can cause to blockages and corrosion which will lead to both inefficiency and / or breakdown. In extreme cases it can be so damaging that a complete boiler replacement is needed.

When do you need a Powerflush?

If you carry out regular servicing and maintenance (professional servicing is recommended annually) then a preventative Powerflush should only be necessary every 5-6 years to clear debris and prevent significant blockages from taking hold.

However, this will vary depending on the system you have. For example, some boilers use copper heat exchangers rather than stainless steel which will corrode quicker.

IMPORTANT: If you are planning to replace your boiler it’s important that the engineer performs a Powerflush before the installation. Otherwise, you risk contaminating the new boiler with damaging sludge and debris that’s hanging around in the old pipework.

Get quote for a poweflush from Abbey Boilers here.

Signs you need a Powerflush

There are signs to look out for that suggest that all is not well in your central heating system.

  • Cold areas on radiators e.g. at the bottom
  • Excessive noise from the boiler or the heating system pump
  • Discoloured water when you bleed the radiators
  • Heating is slow to warm up
  • Cloudy tap water (limescale in system)
  • Some radiators struggle to heat up as well as others
  • Radiators cold but pipes are hot
  • Boiler regularly shuts down and needs restarting
  • No water escapes when you bleed a radiator
  • Noisy radiators and or / boiler
  • Small leaks in radiators.

If any of these problems sound familiar to you, it’s time to contact a professional engineer. While a Powerflush may be all that is required to get your heating back on track, unfortunately, it is not always that simple. A system may be so damaged that it is actually cheaper to replace rather than repair. If that’s the case you will need to consult with at least two professionals to make sure you’re getting the right solution at the best price.

What are the benefits of a Powerflush?

It’s not all doom and gloom; there are lots of positive reasons to get a Powerflush carried out too.

  • Radiators will heat up quicker
  • Radiators will get hotter
  • Quieter radiators / boiler
  • More energy efficient system = cheaper energy bills
  • Higher hot water temperatures
  • More reliable i.e. less chance of breakdown
  • Increase the life of your heating system.

How does a Powerflush work?

An engineer will connect a pump to your central heating system. If it’s a Combi it will be connected at the pump head but if it’s a system boiler it will be connected at the circulation pump. This pump will push special chemicals through the pipes, boiler and radiators.

This includes a chemical that will remove sludge and rust, a descaler to remove limescale and corrosion inhibitor to help prevent future rust from forming. The engineer will collect and dispose of any contaminated water, debris or particles that they remove from the system.

The engineer may also use special tools on the exterior of the radiator to dislodge stubborn blockages. They should be able to measure the temperature of your radiators before they have started work and then show you the improvement after the Powerflush.

The whole process can last anything from 6 – 10 hours depending on the number of radiators in your home, the age of the system and the severity of the sludge in the system. The engineer may find more problems than originally anticipated such as needing new parts to replace those that have been damaged beyond repair. Most Powerflush jobs can be completed in one day but some of the more severe cases may require longer.

A qualified engineer will be able to perform repairs, replacements and carry out a Powerflush.

Who should carry out a Powerflush?

Not all companies will perform a Powerflush to the same standard. There are a range of chemicals and equipment on the market and, as with all industries, there are providers with varying levels of expertise and attention to detail. Always check independent review sites and request customer recommendations. We recommend sourcing at least two quotes from professionals so you can compare costs.

Boiler Guide has a network of 5,000 reputable engineers across the UK and can provide you with up to 3 free of charge, no obligation, competitive quotes.

Can you perform a Powerflush without a professional?

Put simply, not really.

While there are Powerflushing kits for hire and instructional videos available on the internet, it’s a risky and complicated job. A professional will make a Powerflush look easy, clean and safe but the reality is it’s a job that has the potential to get very messy. Specialist chemicals and equipment should only be handled by those trained to do so.

It’s also possible that carrying out the work on your heating system by yourself may invalidate any manufacturer’s warranty you have. A professional engineer will provide you with a certificate to prove that the Powerflush has been carried out. This is crucial if you need to evidence to a manufacturer or insurance provider that you have had all work carried out by a professional. Get quotes.

Finally, if the work is completed incorrectly it could cause more damage than you had to begin with.

NOTE: Installing a magnetic filter will not deliver the same benefits as a Powerflush procedure, but it can protect a system (that is still working well) from future sludge blockages.

How much will a Powerflush cost?

There are lots of factors that will affect the price of a Powerflush such as size and complexity of the heating system, not to mention any incidental troubleshooting that crops up. A Powerflush can cost anything between £300 to £1000+ but will also vary from engineer to engineer. Sometimes there will be additional costs like extra descaler chemicals or replacing the TRVs.

It is important that your central heating system is as efficient as it can be at all times and, although a Powerflush can be an expensive process, it can also save a lot of money over time in reduced heating bills.

Is a Powerflush always the solution?

In some particularly severe cases you may find it is actually more cost effective to replace the system than carry out a Powerflush. A Powerflush will not fix broken parts. If a blockage has caused a part to break that will add time and cost to the job to get the system back to optimum performance. A professional will be able to advise you if this is the case.

10 Things to Know About Oil Tanks

If you find yourself moving into a new property with a heating oil tank or you just want to recap on what's good practice for your oil tank, our top tips are sure to help. 

1.  Understand you tank

If you have recently moved into a property with an oil powered central heating system, examine your tank, find the sight gauge, find the filter and learn where the cut off valve is, in case of an emergency.

2. Check your tank regularly. 

Oftec (the Oil Firing Technical Association) recommend you look over your tank weekly. Look for any cracks, scratches, bulges or rust, which may allow the fuel to leak. 

3. Replacing your tank

Oftec suggests that the lifespan of the average oil tank is 20 years. This number can fluctuate depending on the amount of maintenance the tank has received.

4. Tank and Oil Insurance

A lot of household insurance policies do not include your heating oil tank. The environmental agency recommends you take out another insurance policy that covers your tank for any loss of oil, any expensive environmental cleanups and the cost of cleaning your own and any neighbouring properties. 

5. Getting to your tank

It is important that your Heating Oil delivery driver and your heating engineer are able to access your tank for inspections, deliveries and maintenance. 

6. Protecting your tank and oil. 

Although not common, oil theft does happen, especially in more rural, isolated, properties. Although it is important for tradesmen to have easy access to your tank,  it is also important that the tank is not obvious to everyone else. You can limit the chance of theft by shielding your tank form the road, installing a security light or alarm and regularly monitoring your oil usage. 

7. Checking your oil levels

Running out of oil is an easy but problematic and expensive thing to do. Running out of oil means you will require an emergency fuel delivery and possibly an oil technician to re-start your heating system.  

8. Leaking tank

Heating oil is toxic and dangerous for the environment and wildlife. If your tank does leak, try to limit the damage as much as possible by; trying to stop the leak, placing a bucket or something similar down to catch the leak and phone Abbey Boilers on 01403 275512  

9. Water in your tank. 

Condensation and leaks can happen in your tank. This causes a buildup of water. Water can contaminate the fuel in your tank and cause problems with your central heating, boiler, or Aga. Our annual service includes a tank check. If water is found by our engineer, it can be easily removed and save you a whole world of trouble. 

10. Service your boiler and tank annually. 

An annual oil service at Abbey Boilers costs £72. Here at Abbey Boilers, we follow the recommended guidelines set out by OFTEC and suggest your oil heating system is serviced once a year. At the inspection, our engineer will check your oil boiler, in addition to your tank, your supply pipes and your filters. For the reasons, you should get an annual service, click here. 

All Things Oil Tanks

Below, is a brief guide to oil tanks. From price to size to oil regulations Abbey Boilers has the experience and the expertise to answer all your questions. 

The tanks themselves:

Oil tanks can be installed inside, outside, or underground. Heating oil tanks are made of fabricated steel or plastic. Both of which can be integrally bunded (tank has two layers)  or single skinned. Integrally bunded tanks are made of one tank inside another. The outside one housing the main tank's fittings and vents. This type of tank tends to offer better protection than the single skinned tanks because there is more room between the two layers to prevent oil leaking externally. 

The essentials:

Most single skinned tanks need to have a bund built around them for protection. However, the necessity of this is dependent on where you live and the position of your tank. The bund is designed to hold up to 110% of your tank's contents in order to avoid spillages. 

Checking your tank:

OFTEC (the Oil Firing Technical Association) recommend you look over your tank weekly, for any cracks, bulges or rust, which may allow fuel to leak and damage the surrounding environment. 

Nonetheless, it is also important to get a qualified oil engineer to inspect your tank annually. Abbey Boilers inspects your oil tank as part of your annual service for just £72.  It is also recommended to do this if you have recently moved into a new property with an oil tank. 

Furthermore, steel tanks have an oil-resistant coating. this coating needs maintaining in order to prolong the life of the tank. It is best to check with the manufacturers to find out what kind of maintenance your tank needs besides its annual service.  

Buying your oil tank:

It is essential for your safety and the safety of the wildlife and the environment that you get an oil tank that is OFTEC approved and fitted by an OFTEC registered engineer. 

Abbey Boilers both supplies and fits oil tanks. Click here to contact us for more information about the type of tank you should have and where it should be placed in order to meet oil tank regulations. 

Tanks vary in size depending on your requirements. They can hold between 1,000 to over 3,500 litres (although the larger tanks tend to be for commercial use). The prices of the tanks generally vary between £500 to £2000. 

All about the oil:

The amount of oil you will need is hugely determined by different factors including:

  • The size of your house
  • How long and often you have your heating on 
  • How efficient your boiler is

The best way to ascertain how much oil you are using is to monitor the gauge on the tank over a period of time. 

There is usually a gauge of some type on your heating oil tank. It could be on the tank, next to the tank or displayed remotely. However, sometimes this is not the case, you can buy a gauge for anything between £25 for a basic gauge, to over £80 for a digital remote one.  It's crucial you monitor your oil levels so they do not get too low.  Make sure you order before it becomes less than a quarter full, especially in winter.  It's worth noting that you only need to fill your tank to around 80-90% of its capacity to avoid spillages. 

 

Get in touch with Abbey Boilers to find out more about Oil tanks, Oil services and how to maintain your oil heating system.