A flue too far.

This is the condition of a flue up in a loft that I found while investigating poor boiler performance. The boiler had been serviced by British Gas every year and given a clean bill of health. On closer inspection of the flue I found it was hot to the touch on the outside (the cold air intake side) which led me to believe that exhaust gases were escaping from the inner pipe and contaminating the fresh air coming into the boiler. Naturally I placed an At Risk warning notice on the boiler and switched it off.

I was asked by the customer to investigate further and found, as expected, that the internal pipework had come loose and that the boiler was burning it’s own exhaust gases, creating high levels of carbon monoxide.

I don’t know how long the flue pipes has been disconnected but I am sure the ah-hoc installation was an original feature back in 2001 when the boiler was installed.

With the flue in such poor condition and the boiler 20 years old and performing poorly the clients elected to fit a new boiler. They decided upon a Viessmann 100w system boiler linked to a 250L unvented cylinder. The system is a high tech system running on weather compensation with domestic hot water priority using the Viessmann 4 pipe system, all managed via the Viessmann, ViCare App. The boiler has a built in WiFi module so there’s no need for expensive external third party controls.

The new flue has taken a similar route to the old one but, as you can see, has been secured firmly to the building structure to give it many years of excellent performance and life.

An unvented disaster – saved!

We were asked to look at the hot water system at a big house in Gosforth and found a terrible mismatch of poorly configured and installed high pressure unvented plumbing.

Virtually none of the pipework is secured to any of the structure and the electrics are politely dangerous, never mind prone to failure.

What was called for was for a complete removal, redesign and reinstalling of the cylinders with new valves and pipework.

The two cylinders had a combined capacity of 500L but when we tested them the hot water ran out after 183L. Clearly things weren’t right and so we set about proposing a complete removal and reinstall.

With the clients at home more often now due to the lockdown we needed to ensure they had heating and hot water at the end of each day. Consequently we organised to remove one cylinder at a time and replumb it while leaving the other cylinder able to keep the bathrooms going.

Having removed the left hand cylinder it was possible to built a proper level base and start rerouting the pipework around the walls and down the back so that they could be effectively supported to prolong their service life.

The right hand cylinder was then moved to the left position to enable the repiping to continue while keeping services on in the house.

While we had access to the pipework behind the cylinder this was insulated and pressure tested before the remaining work was done to the right hand cylinder pipework which included the repositioning of the pump and electrical control box.

How the wiring centre should look 😀

This was again tested for safe operation and the right hand cylinder refitted into the very tight space!

And that’s it folks! The cylinders were plumbed to run in series so no issues with balancing the two cylinders working against each other and now that all of the pipework is firmly fixed to the walls it should last a good century or two!

Boiler Bee reaches 800 reviews

We are delighted to have reached the wonderful milestone of 800 reviews on Checkatrade.

We’ve been really luck to have very appreciative customer who’ve taken time to give us positive feedback, so thank you all 😀

It’s been a very stressful summer and as winter approaches we traditionally get much busier with breakdowns as people switch on their heating systems. As before we are committed to attending to your needs but we do ask that you maintain a safe distance so that we can work in a risk and stress free environment.

If we can embrace the governments hands, face, space guidance it would be great for everyone.

Looking forward to the end of the pandemic 😀

Busy time at Boiler Bee

It’s been a busy few months at Boiler Bee. There’s been the usual array of breakdowns and repairs needed for my regular customer, for whom I always make time; but as well as them I’ve been extending my portfolio by becoming trained on mobile coffee machines so that I can install, service and repair said machines and keep the mobile vans selling coffee (other drinks are available) to the general public.

It’s become evident that there is a great shortage of qualified gas safe engineers able to complete work on mobile coffee vans. Without boring you with the detail, the law states that any gas appliance must only be worked on by someone who is trained and competent. Any machine, such as a gas powered coffee machine, with a gas element is therefore a gas appliance and requires a gas engineer with the appropriate qualifications which are CMC and Comcat2. These are the qualifications I am seeking to obtain.

The governing body, UKLPG has issued codes of practice to allow engineers to interpret the British Standards and comply with the gas laws.

This qualification will allow me to service and maintain coffee machines as pictured above.

With the increase in street trade and mobile food vendors it’s a growing market that needs skilled people.

Once again, Derek and I look forward to being of service to the wider business community in the very near future 🐝

How we do magnetic filters

Tricky little job today for Derek. Like a lot of kitchen located combis there isn’t much space below the boiler to fit a jug sized magnetic filter and so at this house in North Shields it seemed possible to fit it in a cupboard next the the pipework boxing.

There was already an access hatch so all the was needed was to drain the system, cut into the pipes and connect the filter – simple!

The first job of draining went well and so Derek started cutting into the 22mm copper pipes. There wasn’t much room but since he’s only the size of a bee, he managed to get it done.

The next stage was to accurately mark out where the pipes would go and cut the holes and adjust the side of the kitchen cabinet to allow the pipework to come through. With that done the pipework could all be connected up and pressure tested before filling the system. Again this was tricky job as it required assembling the pipework in a specific order as it couldn’t be adjusted or tightened in situ.

The job turned out to be really neat and we then proceeded to flush the system to clear out all of the years of debris running round the rads. The boxing cover was replaced and hides away all of the pipes. The filter is a mini Worcester Bosch unit which is very well made and sits neatly behind the cupboard door.

Another great bit of team work with Derek🐝

New shirts for Boiler Bee

I am delighted to be sporting our new Boiler Bee work shirts.

The old shirts had been in circulation for about 15 years and, although they were still fine, were due a replacement.

The new shirts have been custom made by Canterbury of New Zealand and embroider by Global Image in North Shields

I hope you’ll agree they look fantastic!

A plasterer is NOT a heating engineer’s best friend (sometimes)

…and so the saga of boiler flues continues.

It’s every good heating engineers job to inspect flues. Sometimes this means getting your step ladders out with your torch in hand, inspecting what’s hidden in the loft.

Sometimes flues are more accessible but can also be at fault. Today’s job was just to service a Main water heater which is a relatively simple task. However, on inspection of the flue I found that the plasterers had left some of their product where it shouldn’t be.

Continue reading

Flues at wrong angles (again!)

We are increasingly being asked to look at boilers that have developed leakage problems from the flue joints. 9 times out of 10 we find that the clues have not been placed at the correct angle of 1.5-3.0° depending on manufacturer and so condensate liquid (carbonic acid) collects in the seals and destroys them.

This time the faulty flue was on an Ideal iMax 60kw commercial boiler and so made the whole job a lot more complicated.

The whole flue system was replaced and then fitted at an elevation necessary to create a 2.5° fall. This meant lifting the flue terminal from its original position so that it has sufficient gradient.

The flue was then effectively supported with clamps at ensure there was no movement and that it stayed at the correct angle and the angle of fall checked with a laser.

Unfortunately, for the church, the second boiler’s flue has also been installed at the wrong angle and this will need replacing soon.

But for now the boilers are up and running and the church is once again a warm place to worship.

How we do….under sink plumbing

Ok, it’s hidden away behind the bottles of zing, bling, ziff and tide but best practice says that unsecured pipework will eventually leak causing superficial and possibly structural damage to walls and floors.

We were recently asked to tidy up the under sink plumbing at a property in Tynemouth, see pic below.

The original work had been carried out by the kitchen fitting company and the customer had been preoccupied with a sick child at the time and so didn’t challenge the workmanship.

The hanging pipework places stresses on the joints and on the flexible hoses that connect to the kitchen tap. That stress exacerbates the strain on the pipe materials and significantly shorten the life of the components. A failure of these pipe would be catastrophic as they carry mains hot and cold water. After a few minutes the kitchen could be flooded.

By securing the pipe work with pipe clips it takes all of the stress away from the pipes and allows the joints and materials to continue their happy lives for many years.

The back of the kitchen units is usually very poor quality hard board and not strong enough to hold a pipe clip. Therefore a section of 12mm ply is glued to the hardboard thereby making a solid surface on which to mount pipe clips. The photo below shows this in place along with the pipework neatly cut to the correct length and the correct fitting used to connect the flexible taps hoses.

We can now be confident that the integrity of the pipework will not be compromised by poor fitting and know that this will last a life time!

Gas Safety Week

Gas safety week is 14-20. September but for us every week is about gas safety. We’ve just visited a property in Whitley Bay to service a boiler. On removing the boiler air tight cover we found the boiler heavily stained with rusty water and wondered what was happening.

Damage to the inside of a boiler like this is a great cause for concern as this will dramatically shorten the life of the boiler and could result in damage to other internal components such as the fan and gas valve.

Before servicing the boiler the source of the leak needs to be found and rectified. After a closer examination of the flue it was discovered that a similar rust pattern is evident and this leads one to think that products of combustion, which are high in water vapour, has been escaping and eating away at the seals in the flue.

This means that the flue has failed (in its job to transport all of the combustion products outside) and is now unsafe.

Products of combustion entering the home is unsafe because they could contain carbon monoxide which is a deadly gas and if left to continue would kill all of the occupants in the house.

It looked like the boiler’s flue has not been fitted square to the wall probably because the boiler had replaced an older boiler which had a different flue position and which had not been adjusted to fit the dimensions of the new boiler.

This fault was created at the time of installing the boiler and is not related to its warranty, service or age. The company responsible (British Gas) for fitting the boiler need to rectify the fault and make it safe again.

Your safety is always of primary concern, no matter who’s fault it is, no one should be left with an unsafe situation. We completed a Gas Safety Warning Record and passed responsibility on to the home owner who agreed, in writing, to take over the problem.

Hopefully British Gas will recognise the fault and rectify it quickly.

****** Update 20/07/2020******

British Gas have attended the problem and determined that the seals have perished. They said this was a common problem on the earlier Worcester boilers but they were happy to replace the flue system free of charge.

I spoke to Worcester about their flues and they confirmed that there was NO problem with the seals and that the flue must have been fitted with an incorrect drainage angle at the time of installation.

If a flue is not fitted with a back fall of 53mm per 1000mm the condensate fluid (carbonic acid) will collect in the seal recesses and destroy the seals.