OFTEC has supplied some basic Gas and Oil safety guidelines to help protect students in their search for a rented property.
Millions of homes in the UK have unsafe gas appliances because homeowners and tenants don’t ask the correct questions or know what to look for when looking for an central heating engineer.
An aga has been an iconic centrepiece in the British kitchen since their invention in 1922. An Aga is a cast iron cooker. Each Aga is built to order but there are staple elements in any Aga. These include the simmering oven, roasting oven and at least one hot plate.
You can buy Electric, Gas and oil Agas, but Agas don't come cheap so is it worth it?
1. Food Just tastes better.
The cast Iron nature of the aga means it uses radiant heat compared to the drying heat of an ordinary fan oven. The radiant heat ensures plenty of delicious moist roasts and solidarity with the forgetful cook who leaves things in the oven a little too long.
Agas were originally designed to never be turned off so they could warm old farmhouses. This means there is seldom reason to have both the radiators and the aga on at the same time, especially with modern housing insulation.
This constant heat could be problematic in the past but now with the new generation Agas you are able to pick and chose which ovens you have on, and when.
Whilst Agas are still a main feature in quintessentially British kitchens, due to the Aga's flexibility in colours and size they can suit any style of kitchen.
Agas come in a variety of colours from duck egg blue to heather and sizes from the small Aga Module to the 5 oven Aga.
4. It is multiple appliances in one
The aga has different ovens and hot plates at different temperatures making it a good all-round kitchen appliance. It can take the job of a toaster, a slow cooker and a rice maker among other things.
you can also use the floor of the roasting plate as a pizza stone, the simmering over as a rice cooker, the hot plates as a toastie maker and you can even make fried eggs, pancakes and drop scones directly on to the hot plate.
5. Made in the UK.
Agas have been made in Shropshire since 1940s with generations of families working side by side in the factory. Unfortunately, the Coalbrookdale foundry closed in November 2017
6. Long lasting
Agas are well documented for their longevity. The average lifespan of the aga is nearly 40 years, much longer than an ordinary oven. This is due to the quality of the materials used in an aga. the cast iron casing and enamel finish are built to last.
Aga ran a competition recently to find the oldest working Aga in England. The award went to the Hett family in Sussex who were still using their 1932 long barrel D aga. The Hett aga has been in use for 80 years.
7. They are an investment
The City-60 Models can be bought on 0% finance, with £465 deposit meaning Agas are becoming more affordable for everyone. Furthermore, the new designs of the Aga mean they can be transported much easier so if you move house it can easily come too.
Abbey Boilers service oil, gas and LPG Agas for £87.33-£93.60 plus VATand for those of you without an Aga, yet, Abbey Boilers installs range cookers too so you can always have your deliciously cooked food. Click here for more information.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The UK trade marketing manager for Sentinel, Daniel Cheung, claims, 'an up close and personal' approach is essential to maintaining a long-term, healthy, heating system.
Filthy water circulating in your heating system is both common and damaging, as corrosion is the number one cause of boiler breakdowns. Corrosion can cause other expensive problems with your boiler including; repairs, part replacement, complete boiler failure, increased energy consumption, ineffective heating as a result of radiator cold spots, loss of boiler warranty and higher heating bills.
Research from two leading boiler manufacturers found that in over 5000 homes 35% of heating systems under 5 years old and more than 50% of systems over 5 years old contain dirty circulating water. It is recommended for heating engineers to always consider dirty water when looking for solutions to boiler issues. For example, 'if the heat exchanger is clogged in a relatively new system' of it the pump shaft is broken it could be because of rust flakes in the water.
Considering a dirty system doesn't end with checking the quality of system water, but should also include a system cleanse. In order to do this effectively, the correct cleaning agents must be used and this is determined by the type of dirt present in the system. it is similar to how you wouldn't use shampoo to wash your clothes or washing up liquid to wash your toilet, different cleaning chemicals do different jobs.
there are three main types of cleaners:
- cleaners for new systems
- cleaners for heavily-fouled, older systems
- fast-acting cleaners for older, more lightly-fouled systems
The cleaners designed for new systems are made to remove installation debris, greases and oils from new components, and flux residues. In summary, contaminants that are particularly prevalent in new heating systems.
In comparison, cleaning agents for older systems are primarily focused on removing corrosion deposits.
In most cases, more severely corroded systems require more heavy duty products whereas, systems that require the removal of dirt can be cleaned with fast-acting, one-hour cleaner.
Experts claim, 'correct system cleaning is a prerequisite to effective protection and maintenance'. On the other hand, if there is fouled water circling a system, then any attempt to protect that system will be compromised.
In summary, it is important to ensure your system is clean in order to have it running with optimum health at maximum efficiency.
If you would like to book a power flush with Abbey Boilers, please click here.